Dr. Nicholas J. Pace
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Nicholas J. Pace Professor & Interim Dean, College of Education & Human Sciences

Ed.D. Educational Leadership, University of Northern Iowa, 2005
M.S.E., Educational Administration, Drake University, 1997
B.A., Sociology, University of Northern Iowa, 1992


Dr. Pace joined the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 2017 as professor and chair of the Department of Educational Administration. In fall of 2023, he was named Acting Dean of the College of Education and Human Sciences.

His research focuses primarily on the principalship. He has researched and written on the school experiences of gay and lesbian students, as well as the use of role play activities, case studies, and other tools in the preparation of school leaders. His most recent project is a second edition of a book entitled, The Principal’s Hot Seat Observing Real-World Dilemmas which features video footage of an authentic role play exercise for principals, was published in 2022 with co-authors Drs. Shavonna Holman and Cailen O'Shea. Other books include Reality Calling and Seeking Balance, which tell the story of a fictional principal’s first year on the job. Dr. Pace’s other scholarly interests include school administrator wellness and the ways school leaders seek to grow and improve their leadership practice. In addition, Dr. Pace has an interest in qualitative research, mentoring, inclusivity, and school culture and climate.

He has taught a variety of courses related to change leadership, orientation to school administration and standards for administrators, the principalship, human relations, and activities/extra-curricular programming, and administrators’ use of technology.

Prior to arriving at Nebraska, Dr. Pace served as a faculty member and administrator at the University of Northern Iowa (UNI), and as a middle and high school principal, teacher, coach, and as a mental health social worker.

Areas of Expertise

  • Principalship
  • School culture and climate
  • School administrator wellness and life balance
  • Mentoring

Dr. Pace advises students who are completing qualitative dissertations related to P-12 school leadership.

Dr. Pace is currently working on a second edition of The Principal’s Hot Seat: Observing Real-World Dilemmas in collaboration with Drs. Shavonna Holman and Cailen O’Shea.

  • EDAD 948: Instructional Leadership: Emerging Practices and Trends
  • EDAD 811: Principal Practicum

Professional Highlights

Honors and Recognition
2020, Big Ten Academic Alliance Leadership Program Fellow2015, Inducted, Iowa Academy of Education2012, UNI College of Education Award for Outstanding Scholarship2012, UNI Diversity Matters Award2010, Iowa Friend of Civil Rights Award
2023-Present, Acting Dean, College of Education and Human Sciences, University of Nebraska-Lincoln2017-2023, Professor & Chairperson, Educational Administration, University of Nebraska-Lincoln2015-2017, Professor & Department Head, Educational Leadership and Postsecondary Education, University of Northern Iowa2008-2015, Associate Professor & Principalship Program Coordinator, University of Northern Iowa2005-2008, Assistant Professor & Principalship Program Coordinator, University of Northern Iowa2000-2005, Instructor & Student Teaching Coordinator, University of Northern Iowa1998-2000, Principal, North Tama County Junior-Senior High School, Traer, IA1996-1998, Teacher, Davis County High School, Bloomfield, IA1994-1996, Teacher, Seymour Community School, Seymour, IA1992-1993, Social Worker, Missouri Department of Mental Health, Kansas City, MO
American Educational Research Association (AERA)University Council for Educational Administration (UCEA)National Council of Professors of Educational Administration (NCPEA)National Rural Education Association