My Experience as “President for a Day”

Written by Irving Eggleston Jr.

I wanted to be president for a day because I was really interested in finding out what the president does and how busy her days can be. The average student see’s the president at graduation handing out diplomas or at alumni events and even some sporting events on campus, but there is so much more that goes into her position on campus. Furthermore, switching places with the president of your institution is not an opportunity that is offered every day.

2016 4 20 PrezDay IE4Starting the day off presenting my three ideas for things I would change at Nichols in front of the President’s Council was a great opportunity for me to relay a few of the student ideas that could potentially better the Nichols College experience for them in the near future. The ideas I discussed were: keep the dining hall open later hours, create a shuttle service to local plazas around the Webster and Dudley area for students who don’t have vehicles, and create an annual spirit week in the fall semester that students and faculty could participate in.

2016 4 20 PrezDay IEI found it amazing to sit down and discuss topics that affect incoming freshman, current students, and the alumni who support the school in a variety of ways. I learned, through firsthand experience, that the president has one of the toughest jobs on campus and there is a reason why Nichols has improved so rapidly over the four years that I have been fortunate enough to be part of the herd. It is because she is able to wear so many different hats successfully. One moment she may be asked to handle a res life issue and the next moment she could be asked to give a presentation to alumni highlighting all of the new renovations happening on campus.

2016 4 20 PrezDay IE 2And, no matter how busy her schedule is, she frequently finds time to go to the Dining Hall and have lunch with any student who wants to talk. The highlight of my day was calling different alumni on the telephone and discussing my day and briefly exchanging memorable moments on campus with them. I personally found it humbling that these successful individuals, who once roamed the same halls as me, still dedicate their time and resources to the Nichols College community and the students who aim to follow in their footsteps.

I would highly recommend students to apply to become the president for a day because of the experience as well as the knowledge you come away with after the experience is over. That should be more than enough to entice students years to come to apply and embrace the experience if selected.

Student for a Day

On March 29, I had big shoes to fill (literally and figuratively) when I traded places with senior Irving Eggleston who was selected to be “President for a Day.” I had a great deal of fun in the classes and was excited to learn new information. Lucky for me there class prep was not onerous, so I wasn’t up until the wee hours.

2016 4 20 PrezDay SWE2My first class of the day was Introduction to Political Science with Professor Smith. It was eye-opening for me to learn details about the Electoral College and the nomination process that I hadn’t known. How timely in this election year! My second class was Accounting for Non-Profit Organizations and Governmental Entities with Professor Behrens. There was a terrific presentation by a student on the Wounded Warriors Project and a lively discussion on how to evaluate the effectiveness of nonprofits with respect to spending on their stated priorities. Religion 270 with Professor Berard ended my day with meditation and a movie. I must admit it was my first experience with meditation, and learned it does actually help to lower stress. Hmm, probably should have learned this long ago. All three of the classes were interesting and great learning experiences.

2016 4 20 PrezDay SWE3I wanted to live the day as Irv does, so that included having a lively lunch conversation with his buddies, Guy Cherenfant, Shrey Chetteri, and Marcos Echevarian.

2016 4 20 PrezDay SWE4After lunch I went to the gym for a pick-up game of basketball with the team. Actually, for me there was no game, but I did get instruction on how to make free throws. Never knew it was all in the wrist flick. Later in the afternoon, I shot some pool with Irv’s roommates Dino Porcic, Nick Saint Jean, and Shrey Chetteri. I had a great time chatting with the guys but am mediocre at best at pool.

Looking back on the experience, I am excited about the lessons I learned and the students I met. Looking forward, Irv and I are planning a town hall meeting to discuss his suggestions for change. Also, I’m already looking forward to the experience next year!

Inspiring the Women of Our Region

At Nichols, we care deeply about developing the next generation of female leaders. What also distinguishes us is our commitment to women already in the workforce, especially those in our central Massachusetts region.

2016 4 20 EWIB 2On March 24th, the College hosted its sixth annual Empowering Women in Business Conference. The event is targeted to women in local organizations and businesses. And the mix is interesting, from those early in their careers to those in senior positions.

This year 200 female business professionals gathered to network, attend seminars on business-related skills and issues, and hear keynote speaker Adrianne Haslet-Davis. Many had attended in the past, which says in no uncertain terms that we are serving a need in the community.

2016 4 20 EWIBOver the years, successful and articulate women have provided the keynote, and this year was no exception as the audience—including myself—came face to face with an inspiring survivor of the Boston Marathon bombing four years ago. Haslet-Davis lost her left leg below the knee, a tragedy made all the more tragic because she is a professional ballroom dancer. She was determined to beat the 1,000,000 to one odds that her doctors had set for her return to that career, and she reminded the audience that when you’re told that something cannot be done, it does not reflect on you but on the teller. Adrianne did a remarkable job of describing her own personal story of survival and the will, perseverance, setbacks, and emotions that were part of her recovery and readjustment to her “new normal.”

I also attended the breakout session “Resilience,” which introduced the acronym FAIL—First Activity in Learning. The facilitator explained the importance of failing early and often, which makes us stronger and more likely to succeed because it involves both risk and learning. It made me look forward to the successful FAILING by our female students—and, for that matter, by all of our students as their Nichols education continues.

Students Rise with Elevator Speeches

When you think of elevators, what may come to mind is the silent ride up or down with an often tightly packed group of peers. But every spring at Nichols, elevators actually provide a source of inspiration.

We’ve just finished our fourth annual Elevator Speech Competition, which challenges student contestants to come up with a compelling and compact self-introduction. The idea is to develop a speech that they could present to a potential employer sharing the same elevator. The biggest challenge: there are only 45 to 60 seconds available before the doors open.

2016 4 20 Elevator SpeechOn this one evening every year, a number of those students show just how far they have come in their self-knowledge and their ability to put it into words. Nichols Business Communication Chair Luanne Westerling came up with this novel and productive contest, which capitalizes on the many times that students have had to make presentations during their Nichols careers.

From a handful of competitors four years ago, the Elevator Speech Competition has expanded to dozens of participants, who this year had to prevail in an elimination round to make it into the finals. The prizes have grown as well, with the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place finishers winning $500, $400, and $300 respectively.

The speakers who moved me the most during this year’s competition talked about overcoming personal tragedy or challenges—the loss of a loved one or having a father who worked nearly round the clock to support his family. It was remarkable to me that students would be able to talk about these things without breaking down—I sure sniffled a bit here and there.

I would be proud to share an elevator with all of them.

Dinner with a Dear Friend

2016 4 7 Kuppy dinnerNichols has been fortunate to have a treasure trove of alumni and trustees who have given back to the College in so many ways. On Tuesday evening, March 22, our faculty were the first-hand recipients of that generosity as they gathered for Kuppy’s annual dinner held at the Publick House in nearby Sturbridge.

For the record, Kuppy is Robert B. Kuppenheimer, who graduated from Nichols in 1969. Since then he has given back to his alma mater in so many ways, from monetary donations to scholarships bearing his name. The most personal of these gifts is the Faculty Appreciation Dinner, which has taken place for almost two decades. Kuppy has long said that this is his way of thanking and recognizing the Nichols faculty.

In my years of attending this event, I’ve always been pleased to see the large turnout of faculty and their guests. Also attending are the recipients of Kuppy’s scholarships, available to Nichols students from west of the Mississippi.

I’ve also truly enjoyed the guest speakers, including this year’s speaker Michael Detarando, the CEO of Charlton-based Incom, which makes state-of-the-art fused fiber optics.

In his address, Michael shared with the audience the “profound” impact that the Nichols onsite, customized Master of Science in Organizational Leadership program has had on his company’s participating employees, who graduated last spring. Michael felt our degree program helped those employees be more creative and innovative in their leadership at Incom. He also described the courses his employees took as “fantastic,” and that “the faculty is second to none.”

As for Kuppy, his generosity is exceeded only by his modesty. When I can get him to talk, he always speaks from the heart about how important the Nichols faculty are to students’ connection to and love for the College, as well as to their career success. And he did so again this time around. Kuppy told the faculty: “You are the heart and soul of this institution; you are appreciated, 100 percent. This institution is indebted to you for what you are doing to help students meet the challenges of the business world.”

At Nichols, Kuppy’s dinners have always brought a new meaning to Bon Appetit.