A Memorable Commencement

It’s always a bittersweet day for me to say goodbye to students that I’ve gotten to know over their four years here.   Commencement 2016 was no exception, as my remarks to the 456 new graduates reflected.

2016 6 14 CommencementI told them that we—the faculty and staff of Nichols—had been proud to mentor and challenge them and help them learn to lead during their years at Nichols. And I also emphasized that we were inspired by their growth and development and confident in their future endeavors.

This year’s commencement will be remembered in other ways, not the least of which was the moving and memorable speech by Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, who received an honorary doctorate from the College. The governor’s description of the strength and dignity in his mother’s long battle with Alzheimer’s disease brought tears to many in the audience.

Uncharacteristically, the ceremony took place away from the Hill in Dudley at the DCU Center in Worcester due to the reconstruction work on Center Road. To my surprise, when we surveyed the new graduates about their experience, they recommended the DCU Center again for next year, primarily due to their ability to have unlimited guests, and also for the convenience of the location and the fact that the location is not impacted by weather.   So come next May, we’ll be back.

Now we’re only weeks away from welcoming the Class of 2020 to campus. The rhythms of the academic calendar provide a unique opportunity for a steady stream of hellos and goodbyes. You think I would be used to it by now, but I always choke up a bit when I say, “No matter how far our Bison roam, they will always be welcomed home on the Hill.”

Travels to Alumni

I travelled recently to receptions for Nichols alumni in New York City and Hartford, Connecticut. On these annual trips, it is always fun for me to talk with alumni about their Nichols experiences and their career paths. I’m always struck by the credit they give to Nichols for their success and love to hear stories about their favorite professors and the long-lasting friendships they made on the Hill.

2016 6 14 HartfordWhat struck me most about both the NYC and Hartford alumni events is the wide range of alumni who were there – folks who represented classes in the 1960s up to last year’s class of 2015. It has only been in recent years that we’ve begun to draw a large number of alumni who are such recent graduates.

Some came from afar this time around. At the NYC event, there were several alumni who traveled from Texas to reunite with classmates and spend time together the day after the event.2016 6 14 NYC

At these regional events, we provide an update on initiatives at the College and share progress on the capital campaign. One focus this year was to substantially increase the number of endowed scholarships. I’m proud to report we have doubled the number of endowed scholarships over the past five years.

When alumni hear first-hand from current students or see a video about the impact of scholarships, they are motivated to help those who resemble themselves years earlier.