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June 13, 2014

Mergler to join Honors College in teaching post after sabbatical

NORMAN — For almost 20 years Nancy Mergler served the University of Oklahoma as senior vice president and provost, but now she’s ready to be back in the classroom teaching.

“I grew up an academic. My mom was a high school English teacher. Once I went away to college, I never left,” she said.

Mergler earned her master’s degree in cognitive developmental psychology at Syracuse University. She began working at OU in 1979 in the psychology department.

“I loved the department. They were good to me, and I enjoyed my colleagues. Then I got married, had two children and earned tenure,” Mergler said of her early years at the university before she joined the honors program as director.

“I got the offer and said, OK, am I going to go into academic administration or am I going to be a faculty member?’ It was kind of a bellwether moment,” she said. “I decided to jump, and I loved it. I loved working in the honors program and creating a lot more vibrancy and working with those super bright students.”

By 1995, OU President David L. Boren appointed Mergler as provost of the Norman campus. Mergler said she thinks she came to the attention of Boren through people, faculty and students who had seen the work she’d done in the honors program.

“When he called me into his office, I thought he was going to ask me my opinion about the direction or goals of the university. So I was dumfounded when he asked me to step in to be interim provost.”

As chief academic officer, the provost is responsible for intellectual standards, institutional planning and budgeting, and the recruitment, retention and development of faculty and students, as well as program development and review, academic policies and procedures, and enrollment management.

“I was so excited about the energy and vision he (Boren) had and just how bright he was. He’s not an academic in terms of having a traditional Ph.D., but he is so bright and so intuitive about people and how to do things that I said, ‘This is going to be crazy, but I’ll do it,’” Mergler said.

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