Written by Emily Barden
My day as President was one of the best days I have had at Nichols. The opportunity to learn more about the operations and inner workings of our school as well as to learn more about President Engelkemeyer and her position, was one that I could not pass up. I am thankful for applying and will encourage anyone to apply in the subsequent years.
I began the day presenting to the President’s Council on the changes I would like to implement that would benefit current students, staff/faculty, future students, and alum. That was a great experience on its own. I presented to a group of very remarkable and vital members of our institution and it was very rewarding hearing their input as well as the questions they had for me.
From there, I had various meetings where I learned about and discussed enrollment, marketing, fundraising within our capital campaign, the honors program, and other plans Nichols has in store. I even had the opportunity to call various alum who have recently created their own endowment scholarship and thank them for their contribution. The conversations I had with the alumni I spoke to, were very interesting and it was great to hear that they have all given back to Nichols because they are so thankful for their time on The Hill.
My day was amazing, to say the least. I loved learning about the various responsibilities President Engelkemeyer has, the different departments she works with, and how valuable her role is. I am so thankful I had the opportunity to switch places with the President and hope many others decide to apply next year.
On April 4, I traded places with Junior Emily Barden who was selected to be “President for a Day.” I wanted to live the day as Emily does, so that included taking on her schedule while she assumed mine.
Emily’s Tuesday schedule includes two required business core classes. My first class of the day was Operations Management with Professor Duhaime. I taught operations management for 14 years at Babson College, so it brought back fond memories of discussing supply chain and inventory management issues and methods. I had fun giving a brief presentation on operations in the news with classmates Isabella, Daisy, and Alexandra.
My second class was Business, Government, and Regulations with Professor Lambert. The preparation for this class involved reading and watching an eye-opening video on supplements. The lack of regulation and quality control for these products is startling. No trips to the supplement stores for me anytime soon! Both classes were interesting and great learning experiences.
My afternoon included working in Student Life, and getting in trouble with Dean Boggio for emailing on my phone while I was working. While there, I enjoyed chatting with Kathy, Carmen, DJ and Andrew, and seeing students come through for their interviews for Orientation Leader.
But the highlight of my day was a scheduled workout in the weight room with women’s ice hockey. The team was very welcoming and took their workout quite seriously. Not wanting to look like someone my age, I was determined to keep up. It felt good at the time, but I had to nearly crawl up the stairs to bed Tuesday night, and my thighs were still killing me the next day. One lesson I’ve learned is that age 20 was so very long ago. It also reminded me why I chose equestrian sports as a young person – the horse does all the hard work!
Looking back on the experience, I am excited about the lessons I learned and the students I met and am already looking forward to the experience next year!
We’ve done a good job at Nichols keeping our promise to promote women’s leadership. The latest installment was evident on March 23rd at our annual Empowering Women in Business (EWIB) conference. This event regularly draws more than a hundred female leaders—and aspiring leaders—to the Nichols campus to hear a distinguished speaker and to participate in a range of breakout seminars.
This year’s keynote speaker—Olympic women’s soccer gold medalist Angela Hucles, the chief empowerment officer of Empowerment Through Sport, certainly made an impression on the audience—and me.
Angela’s story about how she almost retired from soccer the year before the 2008 Olympics was very powerful. She was not getting much playing time on the vaunted U.S. women’s team, but she decided to return because she felt she still had something to contribute. She was expected to play a backup role in the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, but an injury to soccer icon Abby Wambach forced Hucles into a starting position. She responded by scoring four goals, including two against Japan in the semi-finals. Her efforts helped the United States to the gold medal and she finished second in goals scored. The importance of passion.
March was a busy month for the Nichols Institute of Women’s Leadership (IWL), which hosted the conference. The IWL also released its biennial index of women in leadership positions throughout Massachusetts, including CEOs, executive directors, mayors, college presidents, and schools superintendents.
The index has since gotten plenty of attention, including from Boston National Public Radio affiliate WBUR. Credit goes to IWL faculty director Jean Beaupre, who was interviewed for the piece.
Based on the percentage of leadership positions occupied by women, the state’s total score came in at 39 out of 100—a three-point rise over the first IWL index results three years ago, but a wake-up call that we need to do a lot more. Programs like the EWIB, the efforts of the IWL, and the teaching of leadership skills to all of our undergraduates can be part of the solution.
Every year, I eagerly mark a date in the early spring on my calendar. It’s for the event we’ve affectionately come to know as Kuppy’s Faculty Dinner—a wonderful evening off campus where faculty and spouses mingle, have a great dinner, and hear from a distinguished guest speaker.
Kuppy, of course, refers to Robert Kuppenheimer ’69, a beloved Nichols alumnus, trustee, and benefactor, who for almost two decades has happily picked up the tab at the annual faculty dinner. The faculty here could not have a more ardent and friendly supporter than Kuppy.
And the dinner he sponsors never gets old. This year his guests dined on a wonderful meal —and on what Kuppy and two fellow alums had to say. The guest speaker was Douglas Hillman ’68, who was introduced by John Harrison, a Nichols grad of the same year.
I was struck by the strong and lasting relationships developed among Kuppy, John, and Doug during their time here on the Hill in the late 1960s. Doug, who distinguished himself with a decades-long stewardship of the iconic London Fog clothing brand, told a story of seeking out opportunities, finding success through passion, taking risks, and learning from mistakes. These are the same career imperatives we imbue in Nichols students today.
At the end of the evening, it was Kuppy’s heartfelt comments about how he is there to support us that we took home with us. “You, as professors, are at the epicenter of change—the future of business and how students will run businesses in the future,” he said. “You are the people who will teach them how to be successful in the future. You are the epicenter of knowledge, and I am here to support you forever.”
While the end of the semester is always a stressful time for students, it’s fun to see them also becoming excited and gearing up for the holidays and a return to family and friends. The last week of the semester has been full of rewarding contact with those students, as well as with a recent Nichols grad and even some four-legged members of our community.
Irving Eggleston, who graduated last May, returned to campus to attend a basketball practice and talk with me about his experience this semester playing basketball in the U.K. while working on a master’s degree.
I commissioned senior Cristina Szepanski – a jewelry designer – to make pendants for my daughter and daughter-in-law from stones that I had collected from their favorite beaches. The pieces Christina created are gorgeous!
Last Tuesday afternoon, I stopped to pet some furry friends – dogs of staff members – who were in Fels Center for students, a kind of exam week pet therapy. I fell in love with Coach Gobiel’s French Bulldog. But then I’m partial to bulldogs, since I often babysit my son’s 90-pound English Bulldog.
I’ve been heartened this term to see student initiatives raising funds and donations, ranging from can drives for the Webster/Dudley food bank, to supplies for a local animal shelter, to funds for a memorial for K-9 dogs.
I also discovered that the players on the men’s hockey team have just 10 days off and return to campus on December 26th. Now that’s commitment.
I’m looking forward to spending time with my four grandkids and their parents over the holidays, squeezing in some date time with my husband, and heading to Florida for a few days with my 90-year-old parents.
I wish everyone a happy holiday with family and friends. Travel safe and return in January rested, relaxed, and ready to dive into the spring semester!