Nichols College Spring/Summer Magazine

Page 1

MAGAZINE Volume 15, Issue 1 | Fall/Winter 2020


From the President

Springing into fall with a solid plan In June, following a semester like no other I have experienced in my 30 years in higher education, Nichols College began work on a comprehensive plan to safely reopen campus for the fall. Putting the protection of students, faculty, and staff at the forefront, a Safe Campus Task Force set out to tackle complex operational challenges and prepare for a new normal in academics, campus living, and athletics. The decision to reopen was indeed complex and not made hastily. There was – and is – still so much uncertainty about the progression of the COVID-19 pandemic. And, despite the battery of preventative measures imposed by the state, health officials warned of a fall resurgence which would be further complicated by the onset of the flu season. We carefully weighed the options, balancing the safety concerns of the faculty with the demands of our students for an on-campus experience with the financial health of the college with our fundamental responsibility to carry out our mission of providing an engaging and effective education. The plan that emerged was the result of hundreds of hours and hundreds of thousands of dollars, and arguably one of the most comprehensive among colleges in the region. When classes resumed on August 26, Nichols was ready. Classrooms had been reconfigured to accommodate the HyFlex format, allowing for 50 percent of the class to attend in person while the other half participates online. Dining facilities and other common areas were modified to promote social distancing. Policies were enacted to ensure mask wearing, limit visitors, and pause large-scale

events; cleaning protocols were established; protective gear distributed; and a quarantine wing was created to isolate affected students unable to return home. While fall sports competition has been postponed, student-athletes found a way to stay active and safely practice, in the hopes of returning to play in January 2021. And COVID-19 testing, which Nichols is offering free of charge to students, faculty, and staff, became part of the weekly – and in some cases, twice-weekly – routine. The college even adopted the Healthy Herd Pledge to underscore the role and responsibility of each member in keeping the community safe. By the midpoint of the semester, amid national news of colleges experiencing unmanageable spikes in COVID-19 transmission, Nichols had performed more than 18,000 tests resulting in only nine positive cases. It is expected that students will remain on campus until Thanksgiving break, after which all classes will transition to online only until the close of the semester on December 9. We can attribute much of our success this fall to having a solid plan, but a plan is only as good as its adherents. Credit is due to our students who have shown restraint and resilience. They seem truly grateful to be on campus and have been genuinely committed to protecting themselves and others. It is through this mutual understanding and respect for our shared responsibility that keeps us thriving as a herd in this critical time.

Susan West Engelkemeyer, PhD President



Vo l u m e 1 5 , I s s u e 1 Fall/Winter 2020

EDITOR Susan Veshi VICE PRESIDENT FOR ADVANCEMENT Bill Pieczynski CONTRIBUTORS Brent Broszeit Pete DiVito Rae Glispin



President Engelkemeyer announces plan for 2021 retirement


New certificate arms leaders with strategies to fight cyber-attacks


Nichols launches competency-based pathway for non-traditional degree earners


4 EWIB goes virtual

for 10th anniversary 2020 marks the 10th anniversary of Empowering Women in Business, a conference that brings some 200 career and aspiring businesswomen to Nichols College every year to gain professional and personal insights from inspiring speakers, skill-building workshops, and each other.

Jillian Riches Ron Schachter Molly Thienel DESIGN Steve Belleville

A T H L E T I C S Blink of an eye

PO Box 5000 123 Center Road Dudley, MA 01571-5000 508-213-1560 8:00 a.m.–4:30 p.m., M–F


C L A S S N O T E S Nichols College



Vinny Lombardo ’96


Bob MacPherson ’71


Naomi Plante ’07


Nichols College MAGAZINE is published twice a year by


Margaret Oglesby MBA ’05




6 A fruitful internship This summer, three Nichols College students learned about business literally from the ground up, recording essential data for fellow Bison Jim Jackson ’69, owner of Royal Bluff Orchards, and growing their appreciation for farm work and life outside of Dudley, Mass.




Nichols College, Dudley, MA.


20 Marketing a legacy As one of the youngest members of the Colonel Conrad Society, Amahl Williams ’02 is using a planned gift to invest not just in Nichols College but in a family legacy that bridges the past, present and future. Students carved out fall fun on campus such as Student Appreciation Day, rings for basketball, and time in the great outdoors, including an early snow.

Nichols College Magazine



President Engelkemeyer announces plan for 2021 retirement; Nichols commences national search for its eighth president In September, Nichols President Susan West Engelkemeyer, PhD, announced her plans to retire in June 2021, capping a decade-long era of leadership marked by persistent growth at the college. During her tenure, enrollment has been increased

desire to start the next chapter of her life, which

by 20 percent, retention by 30 percent, and the

includes spending time with her family, and

graduation rate by 50 percent. The college com-

expressed confidence in the future of the college.

pleted a historic $45 million comprehensive cam-

“While the global pandemic has slowed our pace

paign, inspiring an unprecedented level of giving,

as we work to actualize our vision to become

and built a new academic building and student

‘a college of choice for business and leadership

center. Endowment has been nearly quadrupled,

education,’ I am confident that we will quickly

with the number of endowed scholarships rising

regain our footing and emerge stronger than

from 21 to 81.

ever,” she added.

“These years have been the highlight of my

“Susan is a visionary and strategic leader who

professional career in so many ways, and I am

has steadily advanced Nichols College through

truly grateful to the Nichols community for your

one of the toughest periods in higher education,”

partnership, your support, and your commitment to

said John H. Davis ’72, chair of the college’s Board

our mission, and to our incredible students who are

of Trustees. “Her dedication to this institution is

at the center of all we do,”

matched only by her genuine affection for the

Dr. Engelkemeyer said

students it serves, and Nichols will long benefit

in a memo to the campus

from the foundation she has set for our continued



Engelkemeyer said her

The college is planning to celebrate the achievements

decision was based on a

of President Engelkemeyer throughout the year.

“These years have been the highlight of my professional career in so many ways, and I am truly grateful to the Nichols community for your partnership, your support, and your commitment to our mission, and to our incredible students who are at the center of all we do.” 2

Nichols College Magazine

l Fall/Winter 2020

The Board of Trustees has formed a Presidential Search Committee, chaired by Trustee Randy Becker ’83 MBA ’96, and selected Isaacson, Miller in Boston to guide the national search for Nichols College’s eighth president. The committee comprises a diverse and representative group of college stakeholders: Trustees Carolyn Burke MBA ’92, AVP, Talent Acquisition, MAPFRE Insurance

New certificate arms leaders with strategies to fight cyber-attacks

James Coghlin Sr. ’67, Chairman and Coach, Coghlin Companies, Inc. Chair John Davis ’72 (ex-officio), Chairman & CEO, VIMCO Corporation Vice Chair Thomas Hall ’69, Managing Director-Investments, TowerMark Wealth Management Treasurer Thomas Lodge ’79, Retired Partner, PricewaterhouseCoopers

Graduate and Professional Studies

“Today’s leaders have an inherent

has announced a new master’s

responsibility to guide their IT teams

certificate program, Cybersecurity

in combatting cyber-threats which

for the Global Environment, to help

can have catastrophic and costly

public, private and government

consequences for their own

leaders protect their organizations

organizations and the global

from cyber-threats. The non-technical

business arena.”

Stefany Mendez ’13 MBA ’16,

certificate is designed for municipal

Procurement Category Lead,

administrators, business managers,

The program is nine credits and takes

and healthcare professionals who

four months to complete. In courses

seek to understand the threat

taught by industry professionals and

landscape and develop strategies to

academics, students learn about

secure their networked, data-driven

the current and evolving threat

infrastructures against malware,

environment, build a foundational

ransomware, phishing, DoS attacks,

understanding, identify cybersecurity

and corporate espionage.

best practices, comprehend effective

Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Faculty Jean Beaupre, Associate Professor of Communication and Marketing Allison McDowell-Smith, Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice

governance strategies, and write

Alumni Christopher McCarthy ’92 MBA ’97,

“Cyberspace touches every aspect of

President, Chief Operating Officer,

our personal and professional lives,”

Fidelity Bank

says Tom Stewart, associate dean of

The newest certificate is one of

Graduate and Professional Studies.

several offered by Graduate and

Staff-Administration PJ Boggio, Vice President for Student Affairs/Dean of Students

protection plans.

Professional Studies, which are available to every professional with a bachelor’s degree. They are


Leadership, Advanced Critical

Darrien Waugh ’21, Men of Distinction/

Thinking and Decision Making,

President of Community Outreach

Project Management and Innovation Leadership, Data Analytics, and

For more information and updates on the presidential search, visit

Strategic HR Management.

l Nichols College Magazine



EWIB goes virtual for 10th anniversary When the Institute for Women’s

opportunities through practical

Leadership at Nichols College was

presentations and dynamic networking.

forced to cancel its annual Empowering Women in Business (EWIB) Conference

Weisler, the 2020 speaker, is noted

in April due to COVID-19 pandemic

for sparking her own empowerment

empowering messages of hope,

restrictions, organizers were determined

movement. She published a website in

resiliency, and triumph in the face

to commemorate the 10th anniversary

2013, at the age of 14, which grew into

of adversity.

of this popular regional event at some

the Validation Project, an international

point in 2020.

organization that works with 6,000+

Among them are Liz Walker, award-

teenagers in 105 countries to turn

winning television journalist and

They are making it happen, albeit

passion into positive action through

virtually, on December 10, with its

mentoring and social justice

originally scheduled keynote speaker,

assignments. Her self-designed

Valerie Weisler, founding CEO of the

kindness curriculum is taught in

Validation Project.

nearly 1,000 schools.

founder of My Sister’s Keeper, an organization that advocates for women and children in southern Sudan; Amy Roloff, an entrepreneur and motivational speaker from the reality television series, “Little People, Big World;” Adrianne Haslet, 2013 Boston

EWIB began in 2010 as a grassroots

Marathon Bombing survivor and global

effort of Nichols faculty and staff to

advocate for amputee rights; Angela

bring together a community of female

Hucles, former Olympic Gold Medalist

entrepreneurs, business owners, ex-

in women’s soccer and founder of

ecutives, and students. Today, it is a

Empowerment through Sport;

featured program of the Institute for

Tracey Noonan and Dani Vilagie,

Women’s Leadership, which was

mother and daughter founders of

established by President Susan

IWL Director Rachel Ferreira and students Lynn Thibault and Sachelle Mercado

Engelkemeyer in 2013 to develop the leadership potential of students and

Wicked Good Cupcakes; and Mary Carlomagno, best-selling author on life simplification.

serve as a resource and authoritative

She will be the latest in a long line of

voice on women’s leadership for the

inspirational speakers to engage EWIB

For more information on the Institute

community at large. Over the years,

participants, who range from college

for Women’s Leadership or the

EWIB has helped thousands build

students to young professionals to

Empowering Women in Business

skills and confidence, and discover

seasoned businesswomen, with their

Conference, visit

Liz Walker and President Susan Engelkemeyer

4 Nichols College Magazine

Amy Roloff

l Fall/Winter 2020

Adrianne Haslet and students Elizabeth Gargone, Amanda Haley, and Gina Petruzzi

Susan Engelkemeyer and Angela Hucles

Nichols launches competency-based pathway for non-traditional degree earners Nichols has launched a Competency-based Education (CBE) program that offers non-traditional students a flexible and independent pathway toward attaining a bachelor’s degree.

“I’m going to get my bachelor’s done in

CBE assesses mastery of a subject

The demand for trained managers

one year, because I

based on a student’s knowledge,

is significant, according to the

can get it done on my

skills, and abilities, rather than the

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, yet

prescribed amount of classroom

the postsecondary attainment rate for

own time, on my own

time required of a traditional

adults is 40 percent. CBE is regarded

college education. It is targeted

as an affordable and flexible option

jobs and I’m a mom,

to professionals with years of

for adult learners to complete their

so CBE allows me to


degrees and advance their careers,

take the courses when

especially for those who must In the Nichols program, students

also balance family and work

enroll in 7-week terms, taking two


schedule. I work two

I have time, but I also have support in the background when

courses at a time at their own pace. If they finish a course before the end

“With the degree requirement for

of the term, they can add another.

more jobs growing, and the attainment

All courses and learning resources are

rate for adults lagging, the need for

felt like I was alone

online, and students are charged an

Competency-based Education has

going through this

annual subscription fee, regardless

never been more critical,” says Kerry

of the number of courses they take

Calnan, vice president for innovation


in a year. Students who successfully

and institutional effectiveness at

complete the program will earn a

Nichols. “Nichols is committed to

Bachelor of Science in Business

providing this alternative and viable

Administration degree, with a

pathway to help today’s professionals

concentration in management.

achieve their goals.”

I needed it. I never

— Sarah Kac

For more information on CBE at Nichols, visit

Dani Vilagie, Traci Noonan, Susan Engelkemeyer, Rachel Ferreira, and Associate Professor Jean Beaupre

Jean Beaupre and Mary Carlomagno

Valerie Weisler, keynote speaker 2020

l Nichols College Magazine


A fruitful internship by Ron Schachter

You can look at the Royal Bluff Orchards

This past summer, three student interns

To that end, father and daughter

through its orderly rows, or trellises,

from Nichols got an up-close view of

travelled cross country this past

of predominantly apple, as well as

all three perspectives, especially the

February to personally interview almost

cherry, trees growing on just over

last one, as they helped Jackson and

20 applicants on the Nichols campus.

500 acres around Royal City, Wash.

Bringolf launch a new IBM enterprise

Or you can read about the company’s

reporting system designed to track —

industry leadership in Good Fruit

in minute detail — the output, costs,

Grower magazine.

and earnings from the more than five million apples in the annual harvest.

Or you can view the agricultural complex covering four farms through

“At a Nichols alumni meeting with some

the new software program that CEO

of my friends on the West Coast, the

Jim Jackson ’69 and daughter Julia Bringolf have just implemented. Jackson co-founded the orchard almost 40 years ago.

They chose three — then-senior Oscar Chavez, and current junior Kevin Chetwynd and sophomore Hunter Girard — with a particular aim. “We were interested in exposing kids who may not have been out of New England to a different part of the

subject of internships came up as a way

country,” Jackson explains. “It was also

to introduce students to the real world,”

likely that they hadn’t been exposed

Jackson recalls. “And it just struck me

to agriculture.”

that ‘Hey, we could do this at Royal Bluff Orchards.’”

“My grandma is 74 and still picking in the blueberry fields. She was excited to hear about my experiences apple picking because she had never picked apples.” — Oscar Chavez ’20


Nichols College Magazine

l Fall/Winter 2020

“The data we were organizing will help produce better fruit growing — which plots of land are going to produce apples more efficiently, and whether certain plots of land would do better with Fujis or Granny Smiths.” — Kevin Chetwynd ’22

“I’d never seen a farm at all,” Chetwynd

The greatest challenge proved to be

The data will make a difference in

agrees. “He wanted to know if I wanted

going through with the internships

traditional orchard management,

to take on a very different experience

during the worsening COVID-19

Bringolf says. “After 30 years, trees stop

in a different part of the country. When

epidemic. Washington had been one of

producing at the level we want,” she

you’re seeing fields more than an office,

the first hotspots of the coronavirus

notes, adding that the expiration date

it’s definitely something you don’t

outbreak in the early spring. The student

happened not long ago with a group

expect as a management major.”

crew likely became the first Nichols

of Granny Smith trees. “We pulled all

interns to undergo a two-week onsite

of the trees from the ground, installed

In heading to Washington state, the

quarantine as part of the more than six

a new trellis and irrigation system, and

three selected students would be

weeks they spent at the farm, from

planted Granny Smiths, Honey Crisps,

following in the footsteps of Jackson,

mid-May to the end of June. Their

and Galas.”

who launched his career back east

presence also represented the exception

at a Big Eight accounting firm before

rather than the rule in the age of COVID.

Based on the data-driven system, those

heading west to Washington and

Girard points to three or four Nichols

decisions can come earlier — and with

starting his own practice. It was there

classmates whose scheduled internships

more informed solutions. “We’re hoping

in 1982, at age 35, that he joined forces

were cancelled. “It was hard for a lot of

it will tell us how well our blocks are

with a client who wanted to plant an

people,” he says. “I have a friend who

producing, as we get data points that

apple orchard. Jackson took over the

had a great internship at Disney World

help determine the level of production

business by himself five years later.

in Florida and lost it.”

in each block compared to the level of financial return,” Bringolf predicts.

Not that there wasn’t some worry

The house set aside for Girard and his

about how the interns would transition

mates allowed them to quarantine and

Growers traditionally have had to rely

to farm work. “My dad definitely had

hit the ground running at the same

more on their judgement. The staff of

a concern,” admits Bringolf. “He said,

time. “We had to gather the physical

Royal Bluff Orchards plans to use both

‘These kids are not going to know what

paperwork of apple sales and revenue

data and their own assessments, a leap

to do!’ But after we sat down with them,

and transfer it to the new program,”

forward not lost on Girard. “It provides

we didn’t get the sense that they were

Chavez notes.

concrete evidence to review what were

city kids who wouldn’t understand small town life.”

educated guesses in the past,” he says. That meant amassing and coding the information in each “pack out report”

Chetwynd also gets the bigger picture.

from the frequent shipments of apples

“The data we were organizing will help

to one of five packing houses that

produce better fruit growing — which

Royal Bluff Orchards uses. The coding

plots of land are going to produce

included the different sizes, varieties,

apples more efficiently, and whether

prices per pound, and which of the 37

certain plots of land would do better

blocks — or land plots in the orchards —

with Fujis or Granny Smiths.”

produced the apples.

l Nichols College Magazine


“It would be good if the college continued what we’ve done with other alumni businesses out here. My thought was to set an example of how students might get out of provincial New England and see what the rest of the country looked like.” — Jim Jackson ’69

“We’re five to seven years ahead of the

“I pretty much knew nothing about

Chetwynd also made a discovery close

curve. We’re the first orchard to do this

apples,” he says, including the newer

to home. “I’d found out that Jim came

as far as I know,” says Bringolf, adding

generations of genetically engineered,

from Reading, Mass., the same as me,”

that the family business took a similar

V-shaped apple trees growing close

he says.

lead two years ago in implementing

to the ground. “The trees aren’t very

the program Field Clock, which tracks

tall,” he explains. “That makes for more

What the future holds for internships

every aspect of field labor — harvesting,

efficient harvesting,” without the need

at the Royal Bluffs Orchards remains

mowing, maintenance — by location

to use ladders.

undecided, although Bringolf would like to continue. “2020 was a rough year,”

and time spent, and arranges the data in an accounting format.

Chavez, Girard, and Chetwynd agree

she says, laughing. “These interns were

that they encountered a different

a bright spot.”

“It’s definitely helped us analyze our

world than they were used to…but not

labor efficiency,” Bringolf reveals,

all that different. Native Oregonian

Next year, she notes, the emphasis

adding that she is aiming to merge

Chavez engaged in shop talk with his

would fall on data analysis of the

that data with the new IBM database.

grandparents who have worked as

extensive database this year’s interns

lifelong fruit pickers. “They were excited

helped build. “I know moving forward

Besides coding three days a week,

for me,” he says. “My grandma is 74

Chavez, Girard, and Chetwynd spent

and still picking in the blueberry fields.

one day outside on the farm, where

She was excited to hear about my

workers were agriculturally distanced

experiences apple picking because she

because of COVID restrictions. “Part

had never picked apples.”

of the internship involved working in the nursery, temporary home to the

Girard, meanwhile, identified with

youngest apple planting. We could see

the orchard workers he met. “There

the lifespan of how it all works,” says

were similarities with the people I’ve

Chavez, whose horticultural education

surrounded myself with at home in

did not stop there.

Dudley — blue collar down to earth, hardworking people,” he reveals.

that there’s always work to be done, always problems to solve,” Bringolf says. “The more people you have to solve these problems — even on the intern level — is valuable.” Jackson has a larger agenda. “It would be good if the college continued what we’ve done with other alumni businesses out here,” he suggests. “My thought was to set an example of how students might get out of provincial New England and see what the rest of the country looked like.”

“Do it. It’s worth it, especially if you haven’t been out to this side of the country. It’s what Nichols makes possible. Take advantage of it.” — Hunter Girard ’23


Nichols College Magazine

l Fall/Winter 2020

His main message: Come west. Girard offers this advice to his Nichols peers if the internships become available again. “Do it. It’s worth it, especially if you haven’t been out to this side of the country,” he insists. “It’s what Nichols makes possible. Take advantage of it.”

Harvesting opportunity during a pandemic As many college students and recent

During the pandemic,

grads saw internships and job offers

fortune was also smiling

become casualties of the COVID-19

on McKenna Gernander,

pandemic, some at Nichols College

who was able to complete

found success through flexibility,

her summer finance

open-mindedness, and a little help

internship with Aetna,

from the campus community.

even if the experience was

“Friends at larger universities can’t believe that a professor worked with me weekly to find a job. I am lucky I went to Nichols College.”

slightly different from what

— Isabelle Leonardi ’20

“My goal was to find a job within the

she expected. “Rather than working

events and event planning industry,

at the corporate office in Hartford,

and now that events are on pause

Conn., I worked from my kitchen

for a bit, it completely forced my

table in Coleraine, Minn.,” she says. “I

For those whose internships did not

search process to do a 180,” says

didn’t get any in-person interactions

materialize, some Nichols faculty

Rebecca Siegel. Like Siegel, fellow

with my co-workers or any other

members came through with

hospitality management major and

interns, but I was still able to get

alternative opportunities. Bryant

2020 graduate Taylor Ward faced

to know them well through group

Richards, associate professor of

dismal job prospects, and Isabelle

projects, networking sessions, and

accounting and finance, invited

Leonardi’s search for a marketing

virtual coffee chats.” Gernander, a

10 students across disciplines to

position proved fruitless. “Companies

student in the 3+1 Program, gets to

serve as research associates in the

working remotely don’t want to hire

continue her role at Aetna through

college’s innovative Robotic Pro-

you because they can’t train you,”

2020 and will begin a full-time job

cess Automation program, and Tim

she says.

there in June 2021.

Liptrap, associate professor of sport management, convened a group of student interns to offer consulting

But thanks to a long-time connection between Windsor Communities and Liz Horgan, director of the Career and Professional Development Center at Nichols, all three landed positions as leasing consultants. “I give tours to potential residents and deal with the day-to-day operations of customer service and follow-through on new leases or renewals,” says Ward. “And my favorite thing is I get to plan the events every month for the residents!” Siegel is also thrilled with the “opportunity to incorporate my love

“I give tours to potential residents and deal with the day-to-day operations of customer service and follow-through on new leases or renewals. And my favorite thing is I get to plan the events every month for the residents!”

hometown of Coventry, Conn. Gernander advises students and new graduates to consider all options during this time. Siegel agrees: “You might not get a job that is your dream job right away, but patience is key.” As is the support of the Nichols network, says Leonardi, who was aided in her search by Associate Professor Len Harmon. “Friends at larger universities can’t believe that a professor worked with me weekly to find

for events” through the position, and

a job,” she notes. “I am lucky

Leonardi welcomed the relocation from her native New Hampshire to

services to businesses in his

— Taylor Ward ’20

I went to Nichols College.”

warmer climates in Boca Raton, Fla.

l Nichols College Magazine



Blink of an eye by Pete DiVito, Sports Information Director

On the morning of Thursday, March 12, the Nichols College softball team departed for Florida from T.F. Green Airport to begin a stretch of 10 games in six days at the PFX Spring Games event in Clermont. Hours after landing, however, their schedule had been trimmed to just three games as colleges and universities from across the country shifted their spring break and, subsequently, spring semester plans, due to the growing COVID-19 pandemic. Some programs chose not to travel to Florida to compete while others left the Sunshine State early, cancelling their remaining games and returned home for myriad reasons. Ultimately, Coach Kristan Mallet had to deliver the heartbreaking news that the entire spring sports season would be cancelled, effective Friday the 13th. “Emotions definitely ran high when Coach Mallet dropped the news on us,” said senior backstop Taylor McIntosh. “There were no dry eyes among the group of seniors.” Classmate Alexis Ferris, who holds several pitching records at NC, said, “It took a little while to completely process that everything was taken away in just the blink of an eye. We worked hard, hours on hours of practicing to make this season ours, and then it was gone just like that. I felt sad, frustrated, and disappointed.”


Nichols College Magazine

The Bison baseball program faced a similar situation. “We found out our season was going to be cancelled when we arrived at the airport to depart for Florida,” said Christian Naccari, senior and First Team All-Commonwealth Coast Conference third baseman. “When we heard the news, we didn’t know exactly what the next steps would be. Were we going to turn around, pack up and go home? Or, were we going to continue our trip and find some games to play with teams already down there? Luckily enough, we still got to go on the trip even though it was shortened.” The softball team scraped together six games with the remaining schools at the tournament and posted a 3-3 record, the final contest ending on a walk-off bunt from senior Katrina Valeri. “When we found out that these were our final games of the season, it motivated us to play our hearts out,” explained Valeri. “At the time, we didn’t know what the future held for us as seniors, so we just played. I kept reminding everyone that Nichols and Western New England were the only CCC schools down in Florida playing, and to be happy because not every conference

l Fall/Winter 2020

school received this opportunity. The games became very important and our team had great energy.” Winners of four of their first six games before heading south, the baseball program sported a perfect 4-0 mark at the Russmat Invitational in Auburndale and won the final Division III baseball game played in 2020, a 9-2 triumph over Keene State. “Despite the cancellation of our season, we didn’t lose sight of the main focus, which was to win,” said all-conference first baseman Kyle Bouchard. “As a senior, I found myself looking around at the field and taking it all in. I thought these games would be my last times on a baseball field. I was honestly in so much shock that it didn’t hit me until the absolute last game against Keene when they started to honor their seniors.” Both programs held ‘Senior Days’ to honor members of the Class of 2020 in softball (eight) and baseball (seven). The student-athletes received posters created by their teammates and took photos with parents and classmates.

Members of the men’s and women’s tennis teams celebrate the 6th consecutive men’s championship.

At the PFX Spring Games, the remaining teams were treated to a complimentary BBQ and cake on the final day of competition courtesy of the event staff, who recognized each senior over the PA system prior to the first pitch. Several weeks later, the NCAA did indeed grant all spring student-athletes another year of eligibility, which would allow the seniors on both squads another chance to have a magical senior season. This fall, Mallet welcomed six of the eight from the Class of 2020 — Valeri, McIntosh, Ferris, Taylor Commesso, Alex Rodi, and Amanda Alioto — while the 2021 ‘Herdball’ squad will feature Bouchard, Naccari, Jack DiCenso, and Andrew Charbonneau.

All Photos: Pete DiVito

“I always knew I wanted to go to grad school. I was just unsure if I wanted to go right out of school or take a break and go back later on in my life,” explained Alioto. “When I was presented with the opportunity to come back and play another year, it was a long, thought-out decision for me. It wasn’t a question of whether I wanted to play or not, but more about if I was going to face regret if I didn’t go back. I considered that many of the companies I would be applying to jobs with would be in a hiring freeze because of COVID-19. This made me realize that I wanted to continue my education a little bit longer and continue to play the sport I love with my best friends. Knowing that most of the seniors were coming back also influenced me because we were all so close.”

Naccari added, “When I heard that the NCAA gave our year of eligibility back, I instantly made the decision to return. I always planned to attend graduate school at Nichols. Now, I was going to be able to do that while playing baseball for another year. How could I pass that up? Last year’s team was special and I 100 percent believe we would have made some noise in the conference and reach heights the program has never seen before. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to get another go-around with the same group of guys and get to contend for a championship.” Ferris, meanwhile, spoke candidly about the decision to return, explaining that she had not planned to attend graduate school. “After I graduated, I had planned on getting a job and figuring out what I wanted to do within my major in accounting,” she said. “More schoolwork was not in my plans! However, learning that I would be able to play again is what changed my mind.” Bouchard will enter the 2021 campaign with 167 career hits, which is 43 shy of the program-record of 210, held by former teammate Cam Cook. Naccari, meanwhile, has 143 career hits and is likely to finish in the top five at NC. Bouchard spent the summer playing with the Nashua Silver Knights in preparation for his final season of collegiate competition, saying, “During my four years at NC, we’ve dealt with so much adversity, including playing nearly the entire 2019 season on the road. I couldn’t end my career the way the last spring ended. Our senior class has something to prove. We want to win for each other and for Coach [Tim] Mayo.”

For Naccari, this past season changed his outlook on baseball and his time as a student-athlete. “[It] showed me in the blink of an eye, things can be taken away from you. It gave me a deeper appreciation for the game of baseball and the Nichols baseball program. Our team worked way too hard last year and was seeing positive results from all of the work we had put in, only to see our progress to come to an abrupt stop. The 10 games we played last year showed how much potential our program has. I know guys are going to come in with a hunger to train harder than ever before because the goals we have as a program are 110 percent achievable.” With most of her Class of 2020 back for one more run, coupled with a strong recruiting class, Mallet’s 2021 squad will feature a deeper lineup and pitching staff than any she’s ever had at Nichols. The Bison will have no shortage of leadership, either. “I am going to approach the 2021 season a little bit differently,” said Alioto. “I will always keep in the back of my mind that nothing is guaranteed, that everything could be different in the blink of an eye. I’m going to try to express this to my younger teammates. I want to teach them the importance of being on a team like ours and how lucky we all are to have this opportunity to grow, learn, and play softball at the collegiate level. I was always close with my teammates, but this year is going to be special.”

l Nichols College Magazine







Class Champion:

Class Champion:

Class Champion:

Jim Mulcunry

Donna Small

Jillian (Hayes) Smerage

Jenny Ferrari celebrates her bridal shower with fellow alumnae.

336-692-5157 John Wheeler, Rich Merrill and Jim Mulcunry were spotted in


Sarasota, FL.

Class Champion: Mark Alexander

1973 Class Champion: Jay Reese (508) 359-7862

Melissa Jackson

Keith Hofbeck

Chip Beckert was a marshal for the U.S. Open, held September 17-20 at the Winged Foot Golf Club in NY, where he is a member.



Class Champion:

Class Champion:

Erica Boulay

Danielle Troiano Sprague


Devin B. Haughey has acquired Fisher Insurance Agency Inc., becoming the owner, president, and CEO of the agency. Located in Milford, MA, FIAI is an experienced and established multi-line insurance agency offering commercial, personal and life insurance products to businesses, families, and individuals throughout the

Class Champion:

United States.


Class Champion:

Class Champion:



2000 Class Champion:

Rob Russo and Heather Kohn were married in Plymouth, MA, on July 26, 2020. Rob is a visiting assistant professor of information technology at Nichols.

Nicole Curley

2010 Class Champion: Katelyn Vella

2011 Class Champion: Alexandria Hallam

Andrea Sacco


Class Champion: Meaghan Larkin

Steven Taylor MBA ’02, has been promoted to dosimetry technician at Electric Boat in Groton, CT.

2001 1985 Class Champion: John Donahue 609-257-8717

Class Champion: David Twiss 978-979-7658

Meaghan Larkin married James Sheehan on March 14 at the Granite Links Golf Club in Quincy, MA. “COVID-19 did not stop the Bison herd from showing up to celebrate, right before everyone was quarantined!” she said.

Please send your Class Notes news directly to your class champion. If you do not have a class champion, news may be forwarded to Digital images are preferred, but please do not crop them! The higher the resolution the better — 300 dpi (dots per inch) is best. Digital images may be sent directly to the Alumni Relations Office Prints may be sent to: Nichols College, Alumni Relations Office, P.O. Box 5000, Dudley, MA 01571.


Nichols College Magazine

l Fall/Winter 2020

Music man Vinny Lombardo ’96 Making it in the music business isn’t

in the summer sun.” As Pilot Touhill,

easy; Vinny Lombardo just makes it

Lombardo says he aims to “spread the

look that way. Since graduating from

good vibes,” which fans and critics

Nichols College in 1996 and moving

alike pick up from his “catchy songs

to Los Angeles, he has toured

and soulful melodies.”

internationally with Building a Better Spaceship, made a name as

Lombardo writes most of the music

the critically acclaimed Pilot Touhill,

and collaborates with other musicians

and recently debuted as solo artist

and friends as well. Where does he

Vinn Lombardo.

find inspiration? “[It] can come from anywhere really,” he says. “Life

A prolific singer and songwriter,

experiences mostly, but sometimes

Lombardo has garnered a loyal and

just telling a story can work, too.”

growing following since his days with

Fast Times Magazine agreed when it

Building a Better Spaceship, which

wrote, “Pilot’s songs charm the listener

released two records. “I did most of

with stories of life, love and loss. It’s

my touring with this band,” he states.

very nice to hear an artist whose

That included 42 of the 50 states,

lyrics actually mean something.”

Europe, Asia, and South America. “Russia is still on the bucket list,” he

Pilot Touhill has released five albums

shares. They opened for bands such

and is keeping fans clamoring for the

as Incubus, 30 Seconds to Mars,

sixth, “The Last Butterfly,” by releasing

Lifehouse, 311, and The Killers.

songs on social media during the pandemic. The band is also keeping

But just as his career was taking off,

the good vibes going in the COVID-19

tragedy struck. “My dad was killed by a

era by streaming concerts where the

drunk driver in 2008 and that basically

fans pick the songs they perform. “It’s

ended the band,” says Lombardo.

worked out great so far, and we’ve

“I moved back [home] to New York

gotten a great response,” he reports.

and took a break from music.”

And his first solo single, “Don’t Leave Me Alone,” is winning even more

When Lombardo returned to LA,

followers, who note Lombardo’s

Pilot Touhill was born. The California

“silky” and “one-in-a-million” voice.

beaches and bars proved to be the perfect stage for his music, which has

Lombardo cherishes the fans, many

been described as a “mix of rock and

of whom have become good friends

pop with a modern twist on reggae

over the years, he says. “Some have

that goes down easy like a margarita

even designed artwork for albums

and posters,” he adds. “It’s nice to have friends from all over the world.” And old ones closer to home, as well. The White Plains native who “loved the small town feel of the Nichols campus” as a student, still maintains contact with many classmates and hopes to return for a homecoming football game one day. “Some of my best memories were being a part of the football, lacrosse and especially the rugby teams,” he says, adding, “The parties in ‘New Dorm Pit,’ as we affectionally called it, were epic and some of the most fun times of my life.” And in a life that is now filled with performing, touring, and cutting records for adoring fans, this humble rock star also recalls the simple pleasures that Nichols offered: “I miss the cafeteria and having a buffet of food made daily for me to eat.” – Susan Veshi

l Nichols College Magazine



2017 Class Champions: Nicole LaBrack & Gina Petruzzi

2019 Summertime Bison sighting: Ian Ledger, Tatyana Carasquillo ’20, Kiki Guerin, Brian O’Riordan. Classmates gather for a mini reunion at the Mystic Aquarium.

2013 Class Champion: Ryan Flavin Kendra Noll and Devin Cassinelli ’12 (above) were married September 14, 2019, surrounded by fellow Bison!

Lindsay Gagnon, along with boyfriend Spiros, welcomed two fur babies: Kylo in June 2019 who turned 1 in May, and Penelope in June 2020 who turned 4 months in August.

2015 Class Champions: Andrew Haas & Mike Ricci

Erin Sheehan and Darby Geno ’16 were married September 5, 2020 in Woodstock, VT. Bison friends and family include, from left, Jesse Vieira, Paul Prescott, Kayla Fort, Nicholas Baldino, Caitlin Llewelyn, Sarah Babcock, Erin Geno, Darby Geno, Brieanna Baron, Kevin Lengendre, Megan Sheehan, Reece O’Connor, Jordi VanGal, Anthony Verville. Bison from the classes of 2015-2017 celebrate Independence Day. Friends and loved ones: Cora Lincoln, Sarah Ward and daughter Quinn, Paige LaFlamme and daughter Aria, Rachel DeMarco, Stacie Converse and dog Ace.

2016 Class Champion: Stacie Converse Blaine Cobb shares an update: “I completed graduate school back in May, obtaining my Masters of Science in Healthcare Administration/Management, and was promoted at my job into a management role.”


Nichols College Magazine

Dave Arute and Jen Doherty were married in Colchester, CT, on October 13, 2019. Bison in attendance included, from left, Dave Arute, Ryan Pichel, Bobby Lucy IV, Ben Harrow, Zach Levy.

l Fall/Winter 2020

Ian Ledger and Brian O’Riordan were also spotted on the Cape with another fine group of alumni, from left, Ian Ledger, Shanlee Crowell, Sarah Williams, Brian O’Riordan, Marissa Stone ’18, and her uncle, Nichols College Trustee Sam Haines ’73.

A degree of success Bob MacPherson ’71 Bob MacPherson ’71 found his way to Nichols College through both an interest in business and by his connection with Coach Mike Vendetti, who was from his hometown of Leominster, Mass. MacPherson ended up playing football and lacrosse at Nichols. “I knew that I didn’t want a big college experience and that I did want to study business,” he says. “My family wasn’t wealthy growing up, and I figured that getting a business degree made sense because it would provide me with a good living and a better chance at employment.” He helped cover tuition costs by working campus jobs, such as dorm proctor. MacPherson thrived at Nichols and enjoyed playing football under Coach Vendetti, who he describes as “a big guy with a soft side.” He remembers with a laugh a particularly chilly latefall practice in a hard rainstorm that left players wet, cold, and miserable: “As we were heading off the field and on the way to the locker room and a hot shower, Coach Vendetti said, ‘So, you think you guys are wet?’ And with a running start he slid belly first through a giant mud puddle on the field to lighten our mood.” In the classroom, MacPherson, an economics major, recalls being pushed by professors who really cared about their students’ success. He graduated from Nichols magna cum laude and earned a scholarship to UMass Amherst where he received a master’s degree in labor relations. He went back to school in his 30s for an MBA at Boston University. MacPherson began his career at Foster Grant Corporation as a labor relations representative, eventually rising to director of human resources for the company’s sunglasses division. In 1987,

he took a job at Lockheed Martin where he spent the remainder of his working life, including 16 years in California. He retired as vice president of human resources for the Lockheed Martin Advanced Development Company. “The highlight of my career was being on the management team which won the F-35 contract for military aircraft. This was the largest military aircraft contract ever signed, and it was very important to the company,” he notes. After a hectic career, MacPherson now has time to “perform my civic duty and volunteer,” which he does in his current hometown of Bedford, N.H. He serves on the Bedford Conservation Commission, the board of the Bedford Public Library Foundation, and the town’s Rotary Club. As an avocation, MacPherson was a football referee at the high school and college level for 38 years. Recently, he returned to his football roots as a clock operator at Division III Colleges throughout New England. MacPherson gives back in other ways, too, driven by a desire to help students achieve their dreams and goals. “When I look at the cost of education today, students must be able to make a good investment, and I feel confident that Nichols College gives its grads the ability to get a good job and find success in their careers after graduating,” he says. He believes the path to that success, like his own, starts with the study of business. He established the Kathleen M. MacPherson Endowed Scholarship in Business Administration at Nichols. “I named the scholarship for my wife, who is a former teacher, to honor her education background. What better person to name this scholarship for than someone who spent her life helping students succeed?”

Bob MacPherson, right, with Nichols Assistant Football Coach Henry Large

MacPherson enjoys spending time with Kathleen, their two daughters, and especially watching the baseball, basketball and volleyball games of his six grandchildren. He is also eying the next travel destination on his bucket list. “I have visited every major league ballpark except for four – Atlanta, Houston, St. Louis and Kansas City. I am hoping to knock those off the list eventually so I can say I have visited them all.” He maintains a map with a pin in each city he’s seen an MLB game. Among his favorites are Wrigley Field. “It has a nice old time feel, friendly fans and a great atmosphere. However, the best hot dog I’ve had would be The Chicago Dog at Guaranteed Rate Field, home of the Chicago White Sox. It’s right up there with The Fenway Frank.” A business education, a rewarding career in human resources, and a full retirement have given MacPherson a unique perspective to share with Nichols students and alumni alike: “Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Just don’t make them over and over. Everything won’t be perfect all the time. Never give up and never quit on yourself. Perseverance leads to success.” – Brent Broszeit MBA ’02

l Nichols College Magazine



Educational investment unlocks keys to the world Naomi Plante ’07 Naomi Plante ’07 grew up in Phoenix, Ariz., but summers spent in Massachusetts introduced her to not only the East Coast lifestyle, but professional opportunities as well. She started working with Bose Corporation at its Framingham-based headquarters in 2001. Plante learned and advanced quickly, starting in loss prevention, but wanted to invest in her education as she hadn’t yet in the traditional way of many of her peers. With her employer’s financial support, she enrolled at Nichols College in 2005 and spent the next two years completing her ABA in an evening accelerated program. “My education at Nichols provided a confidence in my career that I didn’t have before,” she says. In addition to her degree, she sought certifications that helped her to self-promote internally and gain new experience to the senior-level position she holds today as a program and project manager for customer service globally.

In this role, she has traveled to China, Dubai, Australia, India and Portugal. Recently, her teamwork brought her to the Netherlands 20 times over two years. Though there is no scheduled upcoming travel, her professional experience abroad has encouraged personal growth with a deep appreciation of the cultures and cuisine overseas. Development and implementation of an enhanced online presence proved timely with the pandemic. Finance and technology are “working together more than ever” to adjust to changes and challenges in the US and internationally that may impact the customer experience. Along with pursuing continued education, Plante’s advice to young professionals and current students would be to never underestimate the value of communication skills. “The most effective team members have to communicate clearly, no matter what their specialty is.” She shared the example of how some of her IT colleagues, whose main responsibility is coding, are still accountable to presenting and

communicating in biweekly timelines. Her teams utilize the Scrum framework to solve problems and optimize their brand. Her journey at Bose has evolved organically over the last 19 years, and she looks forward to the future without set plans, except maybe relocation to warmer year-round climates further down the road. Outside of work, her family has been one of many to add gardening to their 2020 hobbies. Plante looks forward to getting back to fitness competition, a commitment she has enjoyed in the past. She resides in Central Massachusetts with her husband and his two sons. – Molly Thienel

The Bison Care Fund The fund increases scholarship aid to Nichols College students hardest hit by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Please help them to keep their education on track. Go to Thank you!


Nichols College Magazine

l Fall/Winter 2020

2020 Even though in-person Commencement has been postponed for the Class of 2020,

Photo by Amanda (Fallows) Doty ’03, Amanda Doty Photography

the Nichols campus was still a destination of choice for many regalia-clad grads.





5 1 AnneMarie Graves and Liam Gorman 2 A herd of 2020 alumni take a break from playing cornhole to show their Bison spirit. 3 Erin Kelley, Taylor Ward, Maggie Noelk, Meg Gardner, Lindsey Taylor, and Katrina Valeri 4 Ashley Tarantino 5 Gretchen Carlson 6 Chris Brainard

6 l Nichols College Magazine



E Carl W. Plaza ’49, of Worcester, MA, July 1, 2020. E George W. Dreier ’56, of Ocala, FL, June 4, 2020. E James E. Morse III ’57, of Salem, MA, May 13, 2020. E Warren A. Shaw ’57, of Lancaster, MA, April 30, 2020. E David R. Umba ’58, of Bethel, VT, July 1, 2020. E Thomas H. Clark ’59, of Portland, ME, June 23, 2020. Peter D. Shapleigh ’60, of Cincinnati, OH, July 14, 2020. E David W. Quimby ’66, of Pepperell, MA, February 12, 2020. E Thomas A. Budd ’68, of Red Hook, NY, August 3, 2020. Leslie A. Hinckley Jr. ’68, of Windsor Locks, CT, April 29, 2020. E Paul A. Malboeuf ’69, of Worcester, MA, May 9, 2020. Gary C. Desmond ’73, of Shamokin, PA, October 5, 2020 Paul D. Rantala ’74, of Worcester, MA, April 30, 2020. E Paul M. Mason ’75, of Oxford, MA, July 8, 2020. John J. Plunkett ’78, of Somers Point, NJ, July 5, 2020. James S. McInerney III ’85, of Norwalk, CT, June 4, 2020. Kevin W. Smith ’89, of Kensington, CT, June 10, 2020.

A hero we never knew: Margaret Oglesby MBA ’05 Margaret Oglesby MBA ’05, a retired decorated major serving with the U.S. Army National Guard and retired chief probation officer in Massachusetts, died August 28, 2020. During her 28-year career with the National Guard, she served in Afghanistan in 2003 during “Operation Enduring Freedom,” where she oversaw 154 soldiers as the commander of the 747th Military Police Company and was responsible for the security and base defense of the Kabul Military Training Center, which included 300 U.S. personnel and 1,500 Afghani recruits of the Afghan National Army. For her service and dedication, she was awarded the Bronze Star. As a civilian, Oglesby worked for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Probation Service for 27 years, retiring in 2018.

Barbara L. McCall ’10, of Millbury, MA, May 20, 2020. FACULTY/STAFF E Edward J. Carroll, former NC radio host, of Dudley, MA, February 23, 2020. E Prescott Grout, former professor, of Chicopee, MA, February 28, 2020.

“Margaret was a 100 percent ‘can-do’ leader, enthusiastic and kind of like a pied piper,” said Tom Stewart, associate dean of Graduate and Professional Studies who previously worked with Oglesby at the Massachusetts Army National Guard. “She was a very confident, positive-minded, knowledgeable leader who inspired people around any cause.” She leaves her husband, Frank; three children; and two grandchildren. Among her survivors is niece and fellow Bison Kamarie Eddington ’19.

E Denotes service in the United States military

Golden Bison Deadline: The deadline for the next Golden Bison Bulletin is Friday, December 18. Be sure to send your submissions and any updated seasonal address information to: Nichols College Attn. Jillian Riches PO Box 5000 Dudley, MA 01571 or Catch up on past editions and the happenings of alumni who have celebrated their 50th reunions and beyond.


Nichols College Magazine

l Fall/Winter 2020

GREEN WITH ENVY As you may know, all Nichols College alumni are eligible for a 10% discount off of tuition.



We invite you to share your tuition discount with your friends & family.


NEW CLASSES START JANUARY 4 & MARCH 1, 2021 4 degrees • 5 certificates 6 annual starts • 7 week courses 800-243-3844 l


l Nichols College Magazine


Amahl Williams ’02: Marketing a legacy Amahl Williams ’02, a senior marketing

understand the value

executive and ongoing contributor

of his lessons until

to Forbes magazine, says he owes

I started my first

his career choice to his Auntie Pam.

job in marketing.”

He recalls, “Growing up, when I was starting to think about careers, I asked

Williams has also come

my grandmother, ‘Who makes the most

to understand the

money in the family?’ She answered,

importance of giving

‘Auntie Pam; she’s in marketing.’”

time, talent and treasure to support

“I don’t consider this a gift but an investment in Nichols College, my son, and our family legacy. The legacy of this fund will be a story of a father who loves his son and who has instilled in him the transformative power of education... I have a 5-monthold daughter, who wasn’t born when I established this fund. I’ll have to work a little harder to create one for her, too!”

causes he cares about most. At Nichols, that means serving on the Board of Advisors; as a mentor to Men of Distinction, a student club that focuses on diversity and inclusiveness; and

in earnest at Nichols College, where Williams learned the fundamentals he still uses today as vice president of marketing for WonderBotz. “A lot of my classical marketing training came from

marketing program.

guest speaker, among other

“I don’t consider this a gift but an

volunteer roles.

investment in Nichols College, my son, and our family legacy. The legacy of

“Our collective power as alumni is in

this fund will be a story of a father who

our human capital,” he points out.

loves his son and who has instilled in

“You’d be surprised with the impact

him the transformative power of

you can make by speaking to a class,

education,” he states, adding with a

answering an email from a student

smile, “I have a 5-month-old daughter

or fellow alum, engaging in social

who wasn’t born when I established this

media by sharing other alumni

fund. I’ll have to work a little harder to

accomplishments, or putting in a good

create one for her, too!”

word for an alum during the hiring process.” As Williams puts it, “The answer to how you can give back is somewhere between nothing and a

As one of the youngest members of the Colonel Conrad Society, Williams shows that it’s never too soon to think about a legacy of giving back and blazing a path for others to follow.

Within that spectrum, Williams has also decided that including Nichols College in his legacy was the right move for him and his family. Through planned giving and a future

Professor [Larry] Downs,” he notes.

estate gift, Williams has vowed to

“I didn’t fully

create the Jachson Williams Endowed

20 Nichols College Magazine

and aimed at enhancing the Nichols

in the classroom as a distinguished

building with your name on it!” And so, his journey in marketing began

Fund, named for his 6-year-old son,

l Fall/Winter 2020

If you are interested in learning more about including Nichols College in your legacy, please contact Jillian at


Class of 1971 graduate to Golden Bison

Moments in Time Your alma mater and classmates want to keep in touch with you! Sign up for the alumni email newsletter Nichols & Sense by sending your email address to: | l Nichols College Magazine @NicholsAlumni ` Nichols.College



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