CEDAR FALLS, Iowa - The University of Northern Iowa is working to plan, develop and implement a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program to support the health care needs of Iowa communities thanks to the approval of the Iowa Board of Regents on November 10. To reach that goal as quickly as possible, UNI has selected Dr. Nancy Kertz to serve as the university’s executive director of nursing and chief academic nurse administrator (CANA).


Owning 17 years of experience in higher education leadership and nursing program development, Dr. Kertz will lead UNI’s efforts to launch its first stand-alone nursing program. Dr. Kertz will play a strategic role in developing a cutting-edge curriculum, in addition to obtaining state and national accreditation. Dr. Kertz will also figure prominently in developing strategic community partnerships with clinical experience providers and future employers of program graduates.

“The addition of Dr. Kertz to the UNI community marks a pivotal hire for our university as we seek to help fill a vital need in the Iowa workforce,” President Mark Nook said. “Research also indicates that nursing is one of the most in-demand fields of study among Iowa students seeking a four-year degree. We believe UNI is uniquely positioned to provide the combination of hands-on experience and curriculum necessary to serve the students and residents of our state. We are enthused to have Dr. Kertz join us to lead these efforts.”

Dr. Nancy KertzDr. Kertz joins UNI after serving as the vice president of academic affairs and provost at Mercy College of Health Sciences in Des Moines, where she oversaw all instructional programs and multiple departments and offices. Dr. Kertz also served on the president’s cabinet where she provided leadership in areas including academic and governance matters, strategic planning, institutional metrics, and diversity and inclusion strategies. As a result of her leadership, Mercy College of Health Sciences has seen a 17% increase in diversity within its student body as of Fall 2020.

“I am delighted to join the University of Northern Iowa community and lead this important initiative to educate nurses and other health care professionals,” Dr. Kertz said. “The national nursing shortage is intensifying at an alarming rate, and the state of Iowa is certainly being impacted in both rural and urban areas. I applaud the vision of President Nook and the UNI leadership team in developing an academic program that will help make a difference in the lives of countless Iowans.

“The reality of having fewer nurses in the field means the responsibility of caring for more patients,” she added. “Continuing to stretch already overburdened nursing staffs can lead to life-threatening situations and other negative patient outcomes. The University of Northern Iowa is responding to the needs of Iowa communities by offering in-demand health care training backed by one of the Midwest’s most respected brands in higher education. I am honored to embrace the challenge of educating nurses and other professionals who will care for future generations of Iowans. I appreciate the faith that Provost Jose Herrerra and his team are placing in me to lead this endeavor.”

Additional data from the Iowa Board of Nursing indicates that over 20% of current nurses in Iowa are currently eligible for retirement, while 35% of open nursing positions in the state take over three months to fill. These statistics point to the urgency of getting more students enrolled in health care education programs. UNI is poised to help meet that challenge under Dr. Kertz’s leadership. The University of Northern Iowa anticipates that its initial cohort of undergraduate students in its BSN program in Fall 2024 will consist of approximately 24 students.

Prior to her role as vice president and provost at Mercy College of Health Sciences, Kertz served as the college’s dean of nursing, where she led collaborative efforts to revise curriculum and develop new programs. During Kertz’s tenure as dean, the college saw a 30% growth in enrollment.

Dr. Kertz holds both a bachelor’s degree and PhD in nursing from Indiana State University and South Dakota State University, respectively, as well as certification as a family nurse practitioner.