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Greg Zimmerman follows his heart back to CMU


Greg Zimmerman poses in his office in the Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow College of Health Professions Sept. 11.

After almost two decades with Central Michigan University on his radar, alumnus Greg Zimmerman finally found himself back in Mount Pleasant.

When he heard about the job opening for The Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow College of Health Professions Associate Dean, it seemed like the stars were aligning for him. 

“I’m very passionate about CMU, I have a lot of Chippewa pride,” Zimmerman said. “It’s great to be back.”

When Zimmerman started CMU, he had intentions of being a special education major.

“When I arrived on campus, it seemed like everyone I met was going into the same field, so I began to question, 'oh my gosh what’s the job market going to be?'” Zimmerman said. “At the same time, Central Michigan Life had a new article about a new major – sports medicine.”

He received his bachelor’s degree in sports medicine and public health education in 1984. He got a master’s degree in health services administration in 1991. He earned his doctorate in higher education leadership from Nova Southeastern University in Florida.

Zimmerman worked with two sports teams right out of college: The Birmingham Stallions American Football League team and the Atlanta Braves baseball team. 

In 1986, he worked at General Motors where he started off treating the injured workers and then become a regional administrator for the teaching program at GM University.  Later, he worked for a tier-1 car part company with a similar teaching program.

“At that point I said, 'you know what, let’s heighten my effort for getting into traditional academia or getting back into the clinical environment using my health experience,'” Zimmerman said. “A hospital in northern Iowa, Mercy Medical Center, hired me to manage their leadership development program, which aligned well with my skills and abilities.”

Zimmerman took a job at Ferris State University, where he worked as head of the department of clinical laboratory science, respiratory care and health care administration. He was also appointed to the Michigan Board of Occupational Therapists by Gov. Rick Snyder, a position he holds until Dec. 31, 2021.

“I’ve always strived for more, as my career would be testimonial to,” Zimmerman said. “I’ve been looking for that associate dean or dean role, always keeping my eyes back on CMU because that’s where my heart rests.”

Zimmerman is currently commuting to work from Big Rapids until his teenaged sons, Tyler and Caleb, graduate from high school. After that, he and his wife, Celia, plan to move to their cottage in Clare. 

While serving as the associate dean of CHP, Zimmerman said he would like to see a greater international connection, more study abroad options and to move more into the mentor-mentee model.

“Some of that [mentoring] goes on informally. I’d like to formalize that a little bit more and actually make myself available to students who may want some assistance in guiding their career,” Zimmerman said.

He said he plans to support the college, students, faculty and staff as much as possible as the associate dean.

“While overseeing the operations of t

The Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow College of Health Professions is paramount, I expect to be devoting significant time to enrollment management including recruitment and retention of students,” Zimmerman said. “I’m also hoping to garner resources for faculty/students to be able to conduct research vital to our communities.”