One evening last month, the Nichols faculty gathered off campus—not for a presidential address or a development workshop. They were enjoying a dinner that has reprised itself for almost three decades, courtesy of a revered Nichols alum and trustee.
Robert Kuppenheimer ’69 is known around the Nichols campus as Kuppy and is renowned here as a benefactor with a genuine interest in the life of our college. While we’ve been fortunate to have a number of generous and involved alumni, and while Kuppy has funded everything from scholarships to building projects, the annual Faculty Appreciation “Kuppy” Dinner stands alone. And while there are probably plenty of other schools that get substantial financial support from individual donors for faculty-related activities, I have never heard of this level of personal involvement.
Kuppy truly enjoys his time on campus interacting with faculty, students, and staff. Before dinner he met with a group of faculty members to discuss their research activities, talked with members of the Student Alumni Society about philanthropy, and met with English Professor Jeff Halprin about a Kuppy-inspired yearbook he’s preparing for the Class of 1969. In all of these meetings, Kuppy as always was genuinely interested and eager to listen, as well as to provide his opinions.
Jack Finning, our featured dinner speaker, talked about his experience with the 20 Nichols graduates he’s hired over the years at AAFCPAs, the large regional accounting firm that he co-founded. He explained that he surveyed the 13 current Nichols grads he employs about how they thought their Nichols degree prepared and differentiated them. Jack also talked about where we could do better. And that’s what it’s all about! Understanding where we do well, while working to address areas where we could improve.
Kuppy always glares at me when I tell him I want him to speak. Then he stands up and wows the crowd with his passion about the importance of student-faculty relationships. I also love the fact that Kuppy’s brother attends this event every year. A longstanding tradition that is always a great night.