Thanksgiving has always been a time for me to pause and reflect on all of my blessings.
I am thankful for the opportunity to be part of the remarkable close-knit community that is Nichols College. And I am particularly thankful for our alumni, who volunteer their time and talent for the College, and who have been incredibly generous donors to the capital campaign, which has enabled us to design and build the new academic building, undertake renovations in athletics, and nearly double the number of endowed scholarships over the last four years.
I’m also thankful for the students. They have embraced our mission for them to become leaders and are preparing for their careers by learning to communicate and present themselves well, and by developing the other skills that their future employers will covet.
Dudley, our hometown, and Webster nearby are in my thoughts on this day as well. Dudley has provided a safe and attractive community for our students and our partnership through the Nichols Academy with Bartlett High School in Webster allows us to engage high school students and help them prepare for college. I believe I speak for all of the Nichols community in sharing good will with our neighbors.
Like all of us, I am most grateful for my family — two great children Kristy and Jason and their spouses Brad and Erin and four delightful grandchildren – Grace, Liam, JJ and Addie. And of course, the world’s best husband, whom I married while an undergraduate student myself. I am also thankful to still have my parents at age 89 and my mother-in-law, who is 99.
The last two weeks of October provided an opportune time to reach out to the families of Nichols students—and to a new extended family of students from neighboring Bartlett High School in Webster.
As in previous years, our annual Family and Friends Day, which took place on Saturday, October 24th, allowed Nichols parents and others to see, enjoy, and learn more about the College. As part of the festivities, I spoke to the attendees in a town meeting format. The room was packed with parents, students and their younger siblings, and even grandparents. Many came up afterward to express their appreciation for what they feel is a great community at Nichols.
I discussed elements of our 2012-2017 strategic plan that I thought would be most interesting to families. This included endowed scholarships, the new academic building and how it facilitates teamwork, the newly renovated fitness center, the increase in the proportion of classes taught by full-time faculty, and the current $35 million capital campaign which has fostered these projects and will raise the funds needed to keep tuition costs as low as possible.
On another front, for the past two years Nichols and Bartlett High School have been forging educational and cultural ties and—through the newly created four-year Nichols Honors Academy—offering exciting opportunities for dozens of Bartlett students.
Almost two dozen Bartlett freshmen made the most recent visit to campus on Thursday, October 22nd for their induction into the Honors Academy. The students I talked with remarked that their participation could distinguish them in the college search process. And they felt it would provide an easier transition to college. I was impressed that ninth graders are already thinking that far ahead.
I also talked with students who are now in the Honors Academy for year two. They were excited to belong to the inaugural group that got to shape the program and would be serving as mentors to the newest students.
The two cohorts attend presentations and other activities on campus. Next year, our cohort of high school juniors will begin taking classes at Nichols that will transfer credits toward a bachelor’s degree.