Nichols College Magazine Fall/Winter 2021 Final

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MAGAZINE Volume 16, Issue 1 | Fall/Winter 2021

The Nichols Way

Even before I began my presidency in July, I knew that Nichols College was a special place. It wasn’t just the pervasive feeling of family that attracted me and my own family to the position, or the campus sitting high atop a hill. It was the grit and perseverance in the face of adversity displayed by this small but mighty community time and again, and especially over the past 18 months of the pandemic.

I call it the Nichols Way. And it’s what we gathered to celebrate when I was officially installed as your eighth president in a community-wide convocation on September 24.

Former U.S. Representative Joseph P. Kennedy III referred to it in his keynote remarks when he described the “Green and Black” as “tenacious, ambitious, and willing to go the extra mile, even when it’s hard.” And I echoed his sentiment in my inaugural speech when I said that, in these historic times, when we have witnessed the greatest mobilization of U.S. society since the conclusion of World War II, Nichols rose to the occasion once again with its noteworthy desire to “win.”

The Nichols Way is the drive to fight on when others are ready to give up or surrender, to work harder than before or thinkable when others get tired or lazy, to become even more ambitious when others become satisfied and content, and to seek change and innovation when others are mired in the status quo and remain dull.

It is embodied in this quintessential New England college and will be our rallying cry for confronting the challenges of today and tomorrow as we take Nichols to greatness.

We will bring our collective perseverance, tenacity, ambition, and creativity to bear on increasing enrollment, highlighting our return on investment, growing our endowment, offering a dynamic portfolio of academic programs, augmenting our world-class faculty, increasing athletic dominance, and building an unrivaled residential campus.

As president, I will dedicate myself, along with my wife Marla, to put our heart and soul into making this magnificent institution well known – regionally, and then nationally prominent. To start, we will sharpen our focus on becoming the business college of choice in the commonwealth, for women in particular; ensure that every Nichols graduate will have enjoyed an internship or other full experiential learning opportunity; and commit to exposing all students to data science, a critical skill for today’s workforce.

The Nichols Way will get us there, and beyond.

Go Books. Go Bison.

From the President

6 The bot builders: Students lead Nichols into the age of automation

Students are learning to solve business problems using Robotic Process Automation, as Nichols prepares graduates for the next industrial revolution.

8 Nichols launches the

Center for Intelligent Process Automation

CIPA is a ground-breaking partnership between business education and the tech industry to showcase Nichols as a leader in digital transformation.

10 Nichols rides

the airwaves with community DJs

Polka Bob and Barry Wilson have been beloved fixtures with a faithful following on WNRC for decades. 12

Mauri Pelto, aka Dr. Ice, has made a media splash with recent observations on glaciers.

FALL HILL ON THE EDITOR Susan Veshi VICE PRESIDENT FOR ADVANCEMENT Bill Pieczynski CONTRIBUTORS Brent Broszeit Pete Divito Rae Glispin Mauri Pelto Jillian Riches Molly Thienel PHOTOGRAPHERS Pete Divito Dylan Mitchell ’22 Lizzie Fontaine Ed Collier Photography Pat O’Connor Photography Brian Foley Timothy Power DESIGN Steve Belleville Nichols College PO Box 5000 123 Center Road Dudley, MA 01571-5000 508-213-1560 8:00 a.m.–4:30 p.m., M–F Nichols College MAGAZINE is published twice a year by Nichols College, Dudley, MA M A G A Z I N E Volume 16, Issue 1 Fall/Winter 2021 CONTENTS Nichols College Magazine 1 Sulmasy installed as eighth president in 2 community convocation and celebration Nichols hosts first artist showcase 4 Additional Bloomberg terminals 4 funded by local foundation Student Profile: Olivia Antonson’s 5 passion for politics From the Archives 9
of media
ON CAMPUS 2–9 Sometimes you just have to press play: 18 Eric Aukstikalnis ’17 Keep calm and adapt: Alf Anderson III ’98 20 CLASS NOTES 16–20 STAY CONNECTED 25 NICHOLS REMEMBERS 22-24 Alumnus bequest supports students with 24 learning differences: William S. Edmunds
Season openers: New coaches 14 make Bison debut ATHLETICS 14-15
Between the Herd kicking off winter sports in a crowd full of Bison Pride, a Pink Out for breast cancer awareness, food trucks, and our first annual PumpkinFest, students enjoyed a fall full of fun.

Sulmasy installed as eighth president in community convocation and celebration

Nichols College hosted the “Celebration of Us” on September 24, an event that combined convocation, an official welcome to the Class of 2025, with the formal investiture of Glenn M. Sulmasy, JD, LL.M as the eighth president.

The program featured the participation of the entire campus community and a keynote address by former U.S. Representative Joseph P. Kennedy III.

The ringing of the 1883 Academy Bell signaled the start of the faculty and dignitary procession over Budleigh Hill and the Class of 2025 procession from Academy Hall. Despite the occasional heavy downpour, the first-year students were in good spirits as they touched the nose of the bronze bison statue (“Thunder”) for good luck, were greeted by the cheers of hundreds of upperclassmen flanking the sidewalk, and gave high fives to President Sulmasy as they made their way to the tent on Shamie Hall Quad.

Emcee Jean Beaupre, EdD, dean of business, explained that keeping the event’s focus on community was the idea of President Sulmasy and his wife Marla. “They recognize that what is special about this institution…is the community,” she announced. “A community that provides a sense of belonging, a community that both challenges and supports each other to grow and develop and become our best selves. A community that gives back. And a community that is on a collective path to greatness.”

Her words were echoed by Shannon Spitz ’99 MBA ’01, who offered remarks on behalf of Nichols alumni. She recalled her first time on campus, initially intimidated by many uncertainties. “I also remember this extraordinary feeling of being quickly enveloped by a sense of family and belonging,” she said. “The kind that is so real you can feel it. The kind that still permeates through the campus today.”

The ceremony also included the reciting of the student pledge (“Bison Creed”) by new students and the reading of an original poem written for the occasion by a faculty member.

As keynote speaker, Kennedy congratulated Nichols for its accomplishments over the past year when the college was able to provide a safe campus experience for students and keep COVID-19 cases to a minimum.

“This tiny virus shut down the world, but you persevered, and battled, and came back stronger than ever,” he said. “This is particularly noteworthy as this has always been my perception of the Green and Black here on the Hill in Dudley — tenacious, ambitious and willing to go the extra mile, even when it’s hard. Especially when it’s hard. Some might even call it the Nichols Way. That is what we celebrate today — the Nichols Way.”

2 Nichols College Magazine l Fall/Winter 2021
“The grit, the perseverance in the face of adversity, and this almost uniform desire to win — this is what represents the best of Nichols. It is that magic permeating all you do and all that is Nichols. It is the Nichols Way, and Marla and I have fallen in love with it.”

Kennedy also shared his insights on Nichols’ new president, a family friend. “I know that Glenn is the perfect fit for Nichols College and his academic background, government service, extraordinary higher education leadership abilities will lead this college to unforeseen heights over the next few years,” he said.

The investiture ceremony was conducted by John Davis, chair of the Nichols College Board of Trustees, with special assistance from President Sulmasy’s brother, Dr. Daniel Sulmasy. and first lady Marla Sulmasy.

“Today…we gather in this distinguished company to honor a man of outstanding leadership, academic experience, and energy, Glenn M. Sulmasy,” said Davis. “We are confident that President Sulmasy will embrace the culture of Nichols and foster change that is both progressive and rooted in the college’s esteemed traditions.” He then presented Sulmasy with the symbols of his office, including nineteenth-century china embossed with scenes of Nichols Academy, the academic gown, and the Presidential Medallion.

To enthusiastic ovations (and the sudden end to the afternoon’s intermittent rain), Sulmasy gave his inaugural address. He thanked family, friends, and colleagues in attendance, including Ronald K. Machtley, the former president of Bryant University, where Sulmasy previously served as provost, and praised the Nichols community for its response to the pandemic: “The grit, the perseverance in the face of adversity, and this almost uniform desire to win — this is what represents the best of Nichols. It is

that magic permeating all you do and all that is Nichols. It is the Nichols Way, and Marla and I have fallen in love with it.”

Noting the challenges facing higher education, Sulmasy outlined his charge to the campus community, which included increasing enrollment, reassuring students and their families of the value of a college degree, and highlighting the Nichols’ return on investment.

“This sort of effort requires all hands on deck, meaning every aspect of our institution must buy into this vision — to shatter, once and for all, that notion of Nichols being the best kept secret in higher education,” he said. “We have begun, but today, let us commit that together we will ensure regional prominence, then national prominence of this shining college on a hill.” l Nichols College Magazine 3
“We have begun, but today, let us commit that together we will ensure regional prominence, then national prominence of this shining college on a hill.”
President Glenn M. Sulmasy, JD, LL.M
President Glenn Sulmasy reacts to the ovation following his inaugural speech, with, from left, his brother Dr. Daniel Sulmasy, Board Chair John Davis, and Joseph Kennedy. The bagpiper leads the procession of students as they are greeted by dignitaries. Students enjoy the company of friends and food trucks following the ceremony. President Sulmasy confers with Joseph Kennedy. Flag bearers lead with Loyalty, Service and Culture.

Nichols hosts first artist showcase

The campus of a business school is not a typical spot for an art exhibit, but Marla Sulmasy, wife of Nichols President Glenn M. Sulmasy, wants to change that. In September she initiated an artist showcase, the first of many, aimed at enriching the student experience.

“Art is simply part of the academic experience and it is essential for our students to enjoy an appreciation for all that art brings to culture, leadership, experience, and higher education,” said Mrs. Sulmasy. “The faculty, staff, and perhaps most importantly, the students have embraced this initiative. Our graduates are leaders, and efforts such as this art exhibit help to provide an expanded education.”

The showcase, displayed on two floors of the Academic Building for the fall semester, features American painter Brian Keith Stevens and Polish-born photographer and mixed media artist Pola Esther, two internationally exhibited artists based in Connecticut.

Stevens’ painting of a bison will be a permanent fixture at the college, donated by the Sulmasys.

Additional Bloomberg terminals funded by local foundation

Nichols College received a $168,000 commitment from the Affinity Group Charitable Foundation, supported by Dexter-Russell, Inc., to expand the number of terminals in the college’s Bloomberg Finance Lab, which was launched in 2018. The grant underwrites the annual cost of increasing from 12 to 16 terminals, enabling more students to earn Bloomberg Market Concepts (BMC) certification.

In addition to increasing access to this experiential tool in the lab, 300 web logins are available so students can complete their certification remotely. This was particularly helpful in providing uninterrupted student access to Bloomberg during the pandemic. To date, some 850 students have earned BMC certification, a requirement for first-year business students at Nichols.

Alan Peppel, president and CEO of Dexter-Russell Inc. who earned an MBA at Nichols, said, “As a leading employer in the Southbridge/Dudley community, Dexter-Russell supports endeavors that can benefit our community, employees, and their families. The Affinity Group Charitable Foundation was established to support these efforts, and we are pleased to underwrite students’ educational aspirations at Nichols College, the leading business school in the area.”

4 Nichols College Magazine l Fall/Winter 2021 ON CAMPUS
Brian Keith Stevens (second from left), the artist of the bison painting, stands with fellow artist Pola Esther, flanked by President Glenn Sulmasy and his wife Marla, at the artist showcase opening on September 23.

Student Profile: Olivia Antonson’s passion for politics

Olivia Antonson admits that she flew “way under the radar” during her first year at Nichols College. “I didn’t take advantage of any of the opportunities presented to me, didn’t apply myself in the way I know I could and wasn’t realizing my full potential,” she states. Since then she has skyrocketed and is poised to continue the ascent on her way to a career in politics.

Antonson blamed her comfort zone for holding her back. The realization propelled her and was an apt theme for her award-winning elevator speech. “I didn’t come to college to stay in my comfort zone,” she declared before a panel of judges on Zoom, 22 fellow participants and dozens of YouTube viewers at the April 12 event. “I came to take risks and to challenge myself… to take advantage of opportunities and to grow as a person. The minute I stepped out of my comfort zone is the minute I started growing. And I haven’t looked back since.”

Antonson took first place in that competition, adding to her mounting list of achievements, which already included four internships, a research presentation at the New England Peer Tutors Association conference, participation in the North American Model UN, a 3.95 GPA, and service as a tutor and teaching assistant.

Confronting her fears unlocked opportunities that fed her passion for politics, an interest sparked in Introduction to Political Science. “I knew within one week this is

where I want to be, where I belong,” she says. In fall 2020, she became a teaching associate intern for that course.

Other internships followed, most recently at Vote Smart, a Des Moines-based nonprofit organization that provides free, factual, unbiased information on candidates and elected officials, and the Massachusetts Center for Civic Education, where she built a website from scratch. In September, Antonson began an internship with the Town of Dudley to test the waters of a future in local government.

This summer, she participated in the NEW Leadership conference, a national bipartisan program that engages women in civic leadership. “I met inspirational women across political science, law, lobbying, state and local and federal government, nonprofits, academia,” she says. She also benefitted from the mentorship of Richard Moore, a Massachusetts state senator from 1996 to 2015 and long-time Nichols trustee. “Olivia demonstrated a clear interest in public service, and she combines this commitment with integrity and intellect. I expect her to be a leader in the practice of government and the academic study of public administration,” Moore says, adding, “I’d like to see more Nichols students learn, as she has, that success in business is enhanced by an understanding of

came [to college] to take risks and to challenge myself… to take advantage of opportunities and to grow as a person. The minute I stepped out of my comfort zone is the minute I started growing. And I haven’t looked back since.”

how government works and intersects with every business.”

Each experience solidifies her decision to pursue politics, Antonson notes, but none more so than being a TA and a tutor in the Academic Resource Center, where she has initiated research on best practices for peer tutors in political science. “I’ve been able to immerse myself in the academic side of politics, which is a nice contrast to the industry experience I’ve gotten from my internships,” she says.

Antonson, whose parents are both Bison, will graduate in December with a degree in business administration (general business) and further concentrations in civic leadership and politics, management, and communication. Plans include graduate school leading to a career in either state/local government or academia.

Will we see her name on a ballot one day? “I don’t have interest in being the candidate,” she says, “But I can see myself being the person behind the candidate.” l Nichols College Magazine 5
Olivia Antonson ’21

The bot builders: Students lead Nichols into the age of automation

Nick Kolodziejczak took his first accounting class in high school, and he liked it enough but, more importantly he says, “It was one of the few classes they offered that I could see leading to a good job.” But the more courses he took, the less interested he became, and by the time he was a sophomore at Nichols College, he began questioning whether the field was a good fit for him.

He was at that crossroads when Professor Bryant Richards invited him to participate in a research associate internship in the spring of 2021 on something called RPA — Robotic Process Automation. Not considering himself particularly tech-savvy, Kolodziejczak was skeptical, but remembers Richards saying, “Trust me, this is the wave of the future.”

6 Nichols College Magazine l Fall/Winter 2021

“I’ve been working with him since February, and I love it!” says Kolodziejczak, now a junior. He is among a handful of students who have pioneered RPA at Nichols, creating “bots” to solve business problems. The skills and real-world experience they are gaining have markedly altered the trajectories of their careers and are giving Nichols a competitive foothold in preparing students for the burgeoning automation economy.

Before you conjure images of the Terminator and r2d2, know that the bots Nichols students are building do not have a physical form or human characteristics. These are software bots, designed with a set of instructions to perform a task, usually one that is routine or repetitive. For instance, bots can be used to copy and paste journal entries into a general ledger or collect data from the web or other digitized format and compile it in a usable structure, like an Excel spreadsheet, for analysis and reporting.

“The easiest way I explain it to people is I create a computer process to reduce the repetitive tasks of a job that a person really shouldn’t have to do, that a computer should be able to do anyway,” says Christopher Haverty ’21, who has been hooked on RPA since also taking the internship last spring. He has developed dozens of bots. He programmed one to identify which Nichols professors have or have not uploaded their syllabus to the college’s course management system, and he is working with the Mohegan Sun Casino on one that ensures check requests have the appropriate approvals — jobs typically requiring a manual process now made more efficient and reliable.

Haverty and Kolodziejczak, along with fellow pioneer Jacob Ortega, are quick to point out that RPA is not intended to replace jobs, but to help people work smarter. “Most RPA tools are not capable of making decisions, but it can simplify data gathering and processing

to help humans make better decisions based on data.” Kolodziejczak offers, “It saves people brain space.”

With its ability to perform tedious and rules-based tasks, RPA has transformed the accounting industry — PwC surveys state that 73 percent of all internal processes can be automated. It was at the urging of firms like PwC and Deloitte that prompted Richards, associate professor of accounting and finance, to investigate further. “We were hearing from big accounting firms that RPA is something they’re training their folks to understand and use now, and if students learn how to do this, it would be very useful to them in their careers,” he says.

The college became part of the UiPath Academic Alliance, which gave students access to free software, and by 2019, started to introduce RPA into the undergraduate accounting curriculum.

“We found quickly that this technology was a great fit at Nichols,” says Richards. “Our students loved it and became successful at it. Within weeks they were building bots and by the end of the semester they were designing automated solutions for small accounting firms, large banks, and even Nichols.”

Providing consulting services to local business and nonprofit organizations took RPA education at Nichols to the next level. “Of the 80 U.S. colleges and universities within the UiPath Academic Alliance, few have expanded as quickly as Nichols into curriculum advances, student programming and consulting,” states Richards. “And there is currently no school that has a full circle deployment of automation tools to support training, education, and consulting.”

In 2020, Nichols entered another stratosphere when it partnered with NICE Ltd. to provide the software and

pave the way for the Center for Intelligent Process Automation (CIPA). (See page 8.)

“The data science field is revolutionizing the business landscape, and we intend to be at the forefront of tech business and leadership education,” say Nichols President Glenn M. Sulmasy, JD, LL.M. “Bryant and our RPA students have laid an excellent foundation for my vision of ensuring that all students are exposed to this critical skill set.”

RPA software became the fastest growing segment of the global enterprise software market in 2019, according to NICE, with growth accelerating in 2020 when the pandemic forced organizations to abruptly change practices. The technology research and consulting company, Gartner, predicts that 90 percent of all large enterprises will adopt RPA in some form by 2022. And McKinsey and Company says automation technologies, such as RPA, will have a potential economic impact of nearly $6.7 trillion by 2025.

“RPA is a game changer for Nichols,” says Fran Carlo ’90, vice president for global services at NICE, who was responsible for getting Nichols free resources and consultation. “The opportunity to learn about and be hands-on with a complimentary technology that truly solves business and operations problems will give students a competitive advantage in the job market and add significant value immediately in their careers.”

Amahl Williams ’02, a partner at the Reveal Group and founding advisor of CIPA, goes even further in saying, “We have created a scenario where Big 4 firms will come to Nichols to compete over talent,” he says, contending, “Our student capability is better than MIT’s now.” l Nichols College Magazine 7
Continued on page

Continued from page 7

Williams, a self-described “zealot,” estimates there are currently 80 million RPA jobs in the U.S. With his extensive knowledge and background in marketing new technologies, he motivated Nichols towards exploring partnerships with industry leaders. “We are talking about transforming lives,” Williams adds. “We are changing the way people feel about their ability to drive their careers in the future of work.”

Graduates like Bethany Faford ’19 MSA ’20, a senior accountant at AAFCPAs who is credited with building the first bot at Nichols, are already seeing the impact. Shortly after she joined the firm, the managing partner began talking about investing in company automation. “I was only there for three months at this time, but I decided to set up a meeting with her to discuss my experience and how RPA might be useful to gain efficiencies at the firm.”

Nichols launches the Center for Intelligent Process Automation

Nichols College has taken a major step toward preparing students to capitalize on the emerging technologies that are transforming business with the launch of the Center for Intelligent Process Automation (CIPA).

CIPA is the result of a ground-breaking partnership between the business education specialists at Nichols and the internationally recognized tech leaders at NICE Ltd. to bring Robotic Process Automation (RPA) training and implementation to businesses at every scale.

“CIPA provides students with an unrivaled immersive opportunity in the data science field and showcases Nichols as a leader in digital transformation and a hub for training, data analytics, automation development, and research,” said Nichols President Glenn M. Sulmasy, JD, LL.M. “In addition to advancing data and tech-related buisness skills, experience, and career prospects of students, CIPA will be an invaluable resource for the

greater educational and business communities.”

While driven by industry needs, CIPA is fueled by the passion, creativity, and leadership of students who have learned to build bots that perform audits, reconcile accounts, collect stock data to automate portfolios, and support the admissions call center, among others.

“Through our training, consulting, and methodology development, CIPA has prepared me to lead in an ever-evolving business landscape,” said Jacob Ortega ’21, a current MBA student. “I feel that through this work I have accomplished the goal I set out on when I first arrived on the Hill in 2017, to be the most effective resource possible in helping businesses operate and make better decisions towards achieving their goals.” Ortega serves as the lead intelligent process automation analyst for CIPA, joined by analysts Nick Kolodziejczak ’22, Chris Haverty ’21, Cody Roberts ’22 and Kendra Annis ’22.

For Haverty, who came to Nichols in his senior year from a 3+1 Program with Mount Wachusett Community College, RPA training will be the key to unlocking opportunities in accounting and finance. “Every job over the next 10 to 15 years, every company is going to have some amount of RPA in their business. This puts me ahead of other applicants,” he says. “I am glad to have found it when I did and look forward to a bright future for this field,” adding, “My curiosity got me into it and my passion will make me stay.”

Bryant Richards, associate professor of accounting and finance at Nichols and CIPA director, notes that a student-run center of excellence is highly unusual in higher education, making CIPA an unparalleled opportunity. “The depths and layers of experience our students are getting will uniquely prepare them for a digitally transformed workplace,” he said.

The NICE alliance also opens the door to student-involved research in business applications of emerging technology. Nichols has relationships with research fellows from other institutions who are working with students on two projects: identifying complex factors in automations that cause increased development time and deployment challenges; and exploring best practices around Citizen Development, a process that encourages non-IT professionals to become software developers. “Both of these will put us on the cutting edge of solving problems for industry,” says Richards.

For more information on how Nichols is elevating its profile in the field of data science, visit

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Jacob Ortega ’21 Nick Kolodziejczak ’22, Chris Haverty ’21 Cody Roberts ’22 Kendra Annis ’22

The Hill was alive with the sound of…

Singing. For several decades, dating back to the founding of Nichols Junior College, vocal groups were a big part of the campus culture. Ensembles, such as the Glee Club, performed on campus, entertained the region and even took their talents to the airwaves. They were seen as ambassadors of good will for the college, united by a pure love of singing.

The first Glee Club was formed in 1931, drawing 37 members, but hit an immediate snag when fire struck Budleigh Hall, destroying their music and other materials. (“An impromptu rehearsal was held,” reported the Budget newspaper, “but it was necessarily hindered by a lack of music.”) Over the next decade, the Glee Club was recognized as an asset to Nichols. They performed at convocations, dances, and the annual Winter Carnival and at off-campus concerts, rotary events, church suppers, garden clubs, places such as the Worcester Art Museum and on WTAG radio.

The Glee Club rehearsed often in pursuit of perfection, which they often achieved, according to student reviews. Other times, practice didn’t always make perfect, as in

the Nicholodians wowed audiences with barbershop melodies and modern swing, producing a tight harmonic sound. They became a favorite on and off campus, “spreading the name of Nichols across New England,” at other colleges, nightclubs, private parties and social functions.

Then there was their appearance on the “Tonight Show Starring Jack Paar,” a story retold by the late Reverend Paul Price ’58 in a 2016 visit to campus with his wife: While taking a break from performing with the Glee Club at a school in New York City, a few of the Nicholodians toured NBC studios. Clad in their nifty vests, they caught the attention of Paar, who asked them to sing a few notes during the show.

“It was very brief,” recalled Price, “but we were hometown heroes when we returned

Undoubtedly, music — and even singing — commanded its place and presence in campus life in the ensuing decades, but by the early ’70s, formal vocal groups had all but reached a coda, save for yearbook evidence of a Glee Club in 1977 and Nicholodians in 1996, and talk of launching the Bison Singers in recent years.

It’s also difficult to pinpoint why. Perhaps waning interest coincided with the emergence of other clubs at Nichols, especially those catering to professional activities, such as the American Marketing Association or Finance Club. Perhaps college glee clubs had passed their prime and only the most stalwart, robust, and historic choral groups, at places like Harvard and Yale, survived. Or maybe the enjoyment of music itself had become too personal an experience, appealing to a range of diverse tastes and delivered through earbuds.

and formed a campus quartet toward the

Whatever the reason, the Hill still echoes with the memory of those intrepid voices, raised in song to the sounds of music.

From then, unlike Don McLean’s “American

From the Archives a l Nichols College Magazine 9
The Nicholodians, who made their debut in fall 1956, were often called back for many encores.

Nichols rides the airwaves with community DJs

Bob Guyette may be 100 percent French Canadian, but he has polka music in his blood. In the early ’60s, when other teenagers were bopping to the Beatles, he was begging his older brother to tag along at polka dances. It’s a passion he has fully and proudly stoked for 57 years.

Barry Wilson, on the other hand, is a little bit country and a little bit rock and roll. He has deep roots in the music industry, with a career as a prolific promoter, a drummer in multiple bands, and a disk jockey for clubs and commercial radio that dates to the ’60s.

They are the living legends of WNRC Radio — community DJs who have delighted local audiences for years — 30 for Guyette and 14 for Wilson – with their passion, playlists, and perspectives. Now, in the age of streaming, they claim devotees across the country, bringing the Nichols name on the airwaves with them.

Guyette, also known as Polka Bob, hosts two live shows a week, “Polka Festival” on Monday evenings and “Polka A-Go-Go” on Wednesday evenings, and can be heard daily from 6 to 7 a.m. on a pre-recorded show. His WNRC odyssey began in 1990 as a co-host of a polka program launched by his son Jeffrey when he was a freshman at Nichols.

“There was peer pressure and he received prank calls,” says Guyette of his son, a fan of the genre since the age of 5. “But he said, ‘I love my music. I don’t care what they say.’” He and Jeffrey, who graduated in 1993 and received an MBA in 2001, continued to cohost until 2006 when the younger Guyette married and moved away. By then, Polka Bob had long established another polka program on his own.

Wilson’s first contact with the college may have been in 1979 when, as a music promoter, he brought Dr. Hook & the Medicine Show to campus for two sold-out performances. His daughter Cynthia graduated from Nichols in 1983 — and is believed to be the first female president of the Radio Club — but Wilson’s WNRC debut was still yet to come. The radio veteran worked at several stations in Worcester and Boston until an attack of sudden retinal degeneration rendered him legally and instantly blind at the age of 59.

10 Nichols College Magazine l Fall/Winter 2021

“I dropped out of everything completely and was at the height of depression,” says Wilson. He reconnected with the college, staging concerts through the Fischer Institute and serving as a guest speaker for arts and entertainment classes before finding a home on WNRC.

“Nichols was a savior to me, giving me back what was left of my sanity,” he says. With just a little bit of sight in his left eye, he learned to operate the board, with labeling assistance from Justin Dolan ’09 MBA ’14, a student at the time who is now assistant director of campus services at Nichols and co-advisor to the Radio Club.

Wilson relies on a contingent of drivers to get him to and from the studio.

“Running the station isn’t the hardest part, it’s getting there,” he jokes. On Tuesday afternoons he hosts “Groovers’ Paradise,” a show dedicated to all types of Americana music, and on Saturday mornings it’s the “Country Hall of Fame Show.” He also hosts the “The Time Capsule!” which airs on WXRB 95.1, the former home of Nichols radio still located at the top of Academy Hall.

Both Wilson and Guyette provide a unique service...for their listeners and for the college.

“We are like the liaison between Nichols and the senior people in the community,” says Wilson, who, now at 79, calls himself “the oldest kid on campus.”

“A lot of people wouldn’t know about Nichols then, all of a sudden, there’s the connection to polka music and old-time music. It’s funny that a college is presenting music that some of these older people couldn’t find anywhere on the dial.”

That’s a definite part of their appeal, notes Dolan. “Their shows are popular because you can’t find it anywhere else on FM radio,” he says. “Barry is cognizant of

that, having worked in commercial radio. If you go up and down the dial and listen to country music, you hear the same 40 songs over and over. He is playing stuff that you don’t find on the dial.”

In addition to playing “deep cuts,” Wilson gives extensive background on the songs he plays from a lifetime of experience in the business.

“Barry is a walking encyclopedia on music,” adds Andrea Becker ’96 MSOL ’10, assistant dean for academic affairs and co-advisor to the Radio Club.

Guyette’s shows are driven by listener requests, for which he taps into his vast collection of 2,500 albums, 2,000 CDs, and 1,500 cassettes. If he doesn’t have the requested song in the studio? “I’ll find it,” he says. “It might take a week, but I write it down, and play it. That’s the extra mile I do.” Guyette has been nominated in the top 55 radio and internet disk jockeys of the year by the United States Polka Association for three years. Though he’s never won, he’s come close to the top 10.

“People who like polka music are really dedicated,” he says. “They will go above and beyond to listen to the music.” Dolan can attest — during a recent power outage on the campus, he received a number of calls from fans who were missing their morning jolt of polka.

And sometimes, it’s more than just the music that keeps them coming back. Becker received a letter from a daughter whose mother listened to polka and has since passed. “For her, it keeps her mother’s spirit alive,” she says. “It was a beautiful and touching letter that shows there is history here and a tendency for some of the next generation to be interested. I don’t think polka is going away.”

In fact, when the 100-watt station began streaming in 2004, the fan base

exploded for both Guyette and Wilson, whose shows can generate upwards of 100 clicks. “I have regular listeners from Maine, Amarillo, Texas, and Chicago. It’s amazing and helps put the college on the map so to speak,” Wilson contends. Guyette boasts followers from California, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Texas, Florida, New York, and even Canada.

Their impact is also economic. When WNRC holds its annual radiothon in March, the bulk of donations are made in honor of Guyette and Wilson. Together, they have raised thousands of dollars among listeners to support station operations, such as licensing and streaming fees.

And they are here to stay. Though Guyette laments that interest in polka may be waning, he is committed to promoting the music he loves for as long as possible. “To put it bluntly, they are going to have to carry me out of here,” he quips. Wilson approaches his work with the same zeal: “It’s been 14 years and I haven’t missed a day.” l Nichols College Magazine 11
Polka Bob Guyette (page 10) and Barry Wilson (above) give WNRC listeners a unique blend of beats and background.


Mauri Pelto, PhD, professor of environmental science, has studied the impact of climate change on glaciers, including heat waves, for four decades. His research has caught the attention of organizations such as NASA and news media outlets such as the Washington Post, BBC, and most recently, National Geographic. Here, he looks at how an increase in heat waves has led to even greater interest among the press.

Heat waves and glaciers don’t usually go together; however, in the last two years an increasing number of heat waves have affected glacier regions around the world. The impacts of heat waves have been a focus of my research over the last four decades on glaciers. The duration of these studies has not escaped the attention of the media in recent years. In 2021, for the third consecutive year, I have responded to well over 100 media requests.

The beginning of this “heat wave” of observations of a heat wave on glaciers in the Yukon that generated snow swamp. The observations were published in a joint project with NASA’s

Earth Observatory (EO). This same heat event led to the observation that the snow lines on Taku Glacier in Alaska were the highest they had been since tracking began in 1946. This decade of high snow lines indicating increased melting, causing the retreat of this glacier for the first time since the glacier was first observed in the 1880s. The work was published in the journal Water and shared with NASA’s EO, which generated interview requests from media in five continents. Of the 250 glaciers I have worked on, this was the last one to begin retreating. I was quoted as saying, “That makes the score global warming: 250 and glaciers: 0.”

An all-time temperature record for Antarctica in February 2020 prompted a search for the immediate impacts on glaciers. My observation of the rapid formation of melt ponds on Eagle Island Ice Cap was reported to NASA EO, which published the results within two weeks of the event, leading to further global media coverage.

12 Nichols College Magazine l Fall/Winter 2021
At top, Mauri Pelto, with Ann Hill, Clara Deck, and Abby Hudak approaching icefall on Easton Glacier, where the team annually measures the snow and ice layer thickness. Above, Pelto with his daughter Jill who, between them, have spent 50 field seasons in the range, are below Columbia Glacier, one of three World Reference glaciers they monitor.

When record warmth spread over the Mount Everest region in January 2021, I noted that the snow lines near Mount Everest had remained at nearly 6,000 meters, including the key glacier passes from Nepal into China being snow free into late January. I reached out to a National Geographic team who had put up weather stations at high elevations on Mount Everest in 2019. This led to a joint project with Prajjwal Panday, assistant professor of environmental science at Nichols, and researchers from Loughborough University in the United Kingdom and Appalachian State University. Temperature observations and reconstructions of daily weather conditions, dating back to 1950, indicated that the region had experienced the five warmest winter days since 1950. Even in the highest mountain range in the world, we are seeing melt conditions during the winter. This study was first published by NASA EO within a month of the event, and then in the journal Remote Sensing.

The next warm weather event was the Pacific Northwest record heat in late June 2021 that set all-time records at almost every location. For glaciers, this rapid snowmelt event attracted the attention of scientists and the media.

As a result, as we headed into the field in the North Cascades in August to monitor 10 glaciers, I knew that our results would be noteworthy. A National Geographic reporter joined us for the first four days as we observed the impact of this heat wave. (The article was released on October 13.) It had stripped the snowpack from the glacier earlier in the season than usual, exposing the dirtier ice that lies underneath the snow and melts more rapidly than snow under the same weather conditions. The resulting volume loss during this summer season has been the highest we have observed in our 38 years of monitoring North Cascade glaciers. We observed stunted alpine plant growth, experienced days of smoky air limiting visibility and had to navigate and measure more open crevasses than usual. On Mount Baker, a 10,700-foot stratovolcano, we observed four glaciers. By the end of August, they were 90 percent stripped of their snow cover, instead of being 60 percent snow covered in a balanced-weather year. The mountain itself is noticeably less white, which prompted more media

outreach, including the Seattle Times. Mount Shasta in California fared even worse, losing all of its snow cover on glaciers by September 6. The largest glacier on the mountain and in California, Whitney Glacier, began to separate. In all, the glaciers here had lost 50 percent of their area and volume this century, including 10-15 percent this summer, and had fragmented from six into 17 glacier pieces. This was reported in the San Francisco Chronicle and Washington Post.

The bottom line is I have been asked to provide all too many hot takes on the impact of heat events on glaciers, each illustrating that glaciers are simply not compatible with recurring heat waves. This is true from Arctic Canada to the Himalayas from the Andes to Antarctica. This year, for the 34th consecutive year, Alpine glacier volume in the world will decline; their business model is not sustainable with our climate. I’ll continue to document this around the world and report relevant results, which will be featured by science and media organizations. l Nichols College Magazine 13
Mauri Pelto traversing through seracs at the front of the Lower Curtis Glacier. The team camps below Easton Glacier on Mount Baker, where they spent over 750 nights in a tent during the project.

Season openers: New coaches make Bison debut

The 2021-22 academic year at Nichols College will mark the coaching debut of nine new head coaches in the athletic department, all of whom were hired over the last 18 months. Some joined the Nichols community last year, when all Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) competition was cancelled due to COVID-19, while others arrived on campus just a short time ago. Let’s meet the newest leaders of our student-athletes:

Men’s Basketball

Brock Erickson

A native of Worcester and graduate of Assumption College, Erickson most recently worked at the University of Illinois at Chicago, where he spent the 2020-21 campaign as an assistant coach responsible for recruiting. He was the associate head coach at nearby Division I Bryant University for two seasons, during which he helped three student-athletes earn Northeast Conference All-Conference honors as the Bulldogs finished 11th in the nation in rebounds/game. He has been at Kent State and Iona, where he helped the Gales capture the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference championship in each of his final two seasons to advance to the NCAA Tournament after earning National Invitational Tournament bids in his first two years.

Women’s Basketball

Dan Nagle

Nagle comes to Nichols following a two-year stint as the head girls’ varsity coach at King Philip Regional High School. He helped the Warriors qualify for the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association Tournament following a 12-8 season in 2019-20, setting program records for steals, turnovers forced, three-pointers made, and single-game points (84). Previously, he spent three years as the head women’s basketball coach at Fitchburg State, where he inherited a winless team and brought them to consecutive nine-win seasons in 2016-17 and 2017-18. He recruited and coached a pair of Massachusetts Small College Athletic Conference Rookie of the Year award winners and spearheaded the program’s involvement in the Special Olympics.

Women’s Soccer

Caitlin Pickul

Pickul came to Dudley after spending the previous four seasons at The College of Holy Cross, first as an assistant coach before rising to

associate head coach and, since March 2020, interim head coach. The Crusaders’ coaching staff was named Patriot League Staff of the Year in 2019 after posting the best record in program history while also recording the highest cumulative GPA in the athletic department. Pickul was an assistant women’s soccer coach for five seasons at Wellesley College where, after posting a combined record of 11-22-6 during her first two seasons with the program, the Blue went 25-21-12 over the next three, finishing above the .500 mark in each campaign.

Men’s Hockey

Michael Parnell ’17

A member of the 2015-16 Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) Northeast Championship squad, Parnell returned to Dudley as an assistant coach in 2019 before being named head coach in July 2020. As an undergraduate at Nichols, Parnell amassed 19 points in 69 games during

ATHLETICS 14 Nichols College Magazine l Fall/Winter 2021

his time in black and white and served as team captain as a senior, when he received the Hal Chalmers Memorial Award for Dedication and Sportsmanship. Parnell, who was a member of the ECAC Northeast Academic All-Conference Team in 2015-16, also served as the recruiting coordinator upon his return to the Hill, effectively recruiting junior hockey leagues throughout the United States, Canada and Europe to the tune of 13 freshmen this fall.


Mariah Vasquez

Vasquez comes to Nichols from Medford High School, where she served as the cheerleading coach during the 2018-19 season. She guided the Mustangs to a Grand Championship in a competition in West Springfield and a second-place finish at the Greater Boston League in 2019. The Mustangs later advanced to the second round of the Massachusetts School Administrators Association Regionals and just missed qualifying for the state championship. The Grand Championship was the first co-ed title for Medford in school history.

Women’s Hockey

Michael Barrett

Barrett was hired to lead the women’s ice hockey program in September after spending the better part of the last 30 years as a member of the Quinnipiac University athletic department, most recently as the director of athletic and School of Communications development.

He began his tenure in Hamden as an assistant coach with the men’s ice

hockey program and later took over the head coaching reins of the women’s ice hockey program, where he spent six seasons. Barrett took over a women’s program in its second year of varsity competition and guided it to a pair of 10+ win seasons. Barrett, who worked as a color analyst on QU women’s and men’s broadcasts from 2008-19, began his collegiate coaching career at Sacred Heart in 2000 when he took over a women’s team that was transitioning from Division III to Division I.

Field Hockey

Laura-Ann (“LA”) Lane

A three-time Colonial States Athletic Conference Coach of the Year and the 2018 Atlantic East Conference Coach of the Year, Lane came to Nichols in the summer of 2020 from Gwynedd Mercy University, where she spent the last 13 years as the head field hockey coach, senior woman administrator, athletics work-study coordinator, and mentor for the Student Athlete Advisory Committee. Lane guided the Griffins to nine consecutive championship games — including four-straight CSAC Championships (2011-14) — and six NCAA Tournament appearances. She mentored 89 all-conference studentathletes (45 first-team selections) during her time in Gwynedd Valley with seven earning Player of the Year nods and two receiving Rookie of the Year accolades.

Men’s and Women’s Tennis

Cris Popa

Popa came to Nichols from nearby Eastern Nazarene College, where he

was named Commonwealth Coast Conference Men’s Tennis Coach of the Year on four occasions during 17 seasons at the helm of the men’s program. After guiding ENC to a back-to-back appearance in the CCC Championship match, the Lions captured the 2019 Greater Northeast Athletic Conference Championship in 2019 and won their NCAA First Round match. Popa also guided the women’s tennis program for 13 seasons and, after advancing to the GNAC Semifinals in 2018 (13-5 record), the Lions captured the 2019 GNAC Championship.

Men’s and Women’s Volleyball

Casey Fitzpatrick

Fitzpatrick, who spent the 2018-19 campaign as an assistant with the men’s program at Nichols, returned to Dudley in August following a two-year stint as the men’s volleyball head coach at Division III Adrian College. While in Michigan, he was named the Midwest Collegiate Volleyball League Coach of the Year in his first season in 2020 after guiding the Bulldogs to a 10-9 mark and a firstplace finish. The Bulldogs led the conference in both kills/set and digs/ set. At Adrian, Fitzpatrick coached five MCVL All-Conference student-athletes, including the 2020 Offensive Player of the Year. This past season, the Bulldogs received the Team Academic Award from the U.S. Marine Corps/American Volleyball Coaches Association. l Nichols College Magazine 15


Class Champion: Mark Alexander


Class Champion: Jay Reese (508) 359-7862

A note was received from Richard Barber, who reports that he has been spending time in Aruba: I have been retired for 24 years and am enjoying every minute of my retirement. With seven grandchildren and one headed to UConn to be a pharmacist this year, I can’t be any prouder of what my children and grandchildren have accomplished.

Fred Fogel says that he retired and is living in Reynolds Lake Oconee in Greensboro, GA: For all you golfers, I am sure you are familiar with the community. If you are ever in the area feel free to look me up! I am getting married on 2/22/2022 and going to the Maldives for a honeymoon. If anyone has been to the Maldives, please give me a heads up.

Gregory Pogue shares that he retired from The College of New Jersey in July and now holds the title of vice president of human resources, emeritus.

Andy Rich shares that he too was retired for one year, but then they called him back. Now he is working part time, spending time with his three grandchildren and traveling as COVID permits. He reports that he thinks of Nicky U often and would like to attend Homecoming soon.


These Bison never leave home without a Nichols banner, from left, Dan ’83 and Pam Murphy ’84, Mark Fagan ’84 “Bubba“ Battaini ’84, Bob Barry ’83


Class Champion: John Donahue 609-257-8717

Sue (McElroy) Bacarella reports: Ross ’84 and I are doing well, splitting our time between Connecticut and Palm Beach Gardens, FL. We have six kids and four grandchildren. We own a logistics company called BTX Global Logistics based in Shelton, CT.

Nancy L. (Russo) Davis shares an update: I received my MBA from Nichols in 2014 and a doctorate from Nova Southeastern in 2019, and I’m currently enrolled in law school. Yes, I am a professional student; it certainly feels like that. If I continue, I will complete my JD in 2024. It’s a long time away, and I’m reinventing the wheel!

A couple memories from my time at Nichols: The first person I met was Debbie Cassella, who was my roommate at the time. She made an impression on me because she convinced me to stay at Nichols and not transfer

to a college in Florida that I was accepted to. Lou Testa ’84 helped shape my attitude about working. When he hired me in the Boston office for U.S. Lines, I attribute my excellent work ethic to him. He taught me well and started me on a lifelong journey of success in all positions I have held.

John Donahue shares: I became a grandfather to this bundle of happiness in October 2020. That’s a rice cake in his mouth. He was just starting to break teeth and has a good start with the team of choice on his bib.

Mary Carlson Mangano says hello! She was on her way to Ohio State University to drop off her son Chris who will enter his freshman year and serve under the Naval ROTC Program.

Joan (Koonce) Stearns says: We have moved to Vero Beach, FL, and I am still in the golfing world. I am the controller for Riomar Country Club. If ever in the area, please let me know.


Class Champion: Donna Small 336-692-5157


Class Champion: Keith Hofbeck


Class Champion: Danielle Troiano Sprague

Please send your Class Notes news directly to your class champion. If you do not have a class champion, news may be forwarded to classnotes@nichols. edu. 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.


Class Champion: Andrea Sacco


Class Champion: David Twiss 978-979-7658


Class Champion: John Larochelle

Robert Cleary, president and CEO of ClearComIT Solutions, announces that, after facing one of the most challenging economic setbacks in their 20-year history, the company has been recognized with two business awards. It was named No. 3662 on the Inc. 5000 list of the most successful, independently owned businesses in the U.S., out of over 7 million businesses. With 92 percent three-year growth, ClearComIT has expanded to manage the IT of over 100 organizations along the East Coast. It was also chosen for the fifth consecutive year by the editors at Channel Futures as one of the technology industry’s top-performing providers of manager services, based on annual sales, recurring revenue, profit margins, revenue mix, growth opportunities, innovation, technology solutions supported, and company and consumer demographics.

He says: To be included on these two prestigious lists is a testament to the amazing team we have and the wonderful clients we partner with. The landscape regarding cybersecurity has shifted immensely in the past year. In response, we have expanded our cybersecurity services to keep our partners safe and secure. We are now protecting against treats that didn’t exist 10, five, or even two years ago. Educating our clients

16 Nichols College Magazine l Fall/Winter 2021 CLASS NOTES

on safe email practices and data protection with ongoing training has been key in keeping everyone protected.

ClearComIT is focused on delivering ongoing, exceptional service and support, responding to our clients’ evolving IT needs and demands quickly and effectively.

The children of Heather (Bassett) Pike and Erin (Hickie) Gaffny show their Bison Pride.


Class Champion: Nicole Curley


Class Champion: Katelyn Vella


Elizabeth Sullivan welcomed Rowan Charlotte O’Donnell on July 27, 2021, saying, “We are overjoyed and couldn’t be more in love with our future baby Bison!”


Class Champion: Jillian (Hayes) Smerage


Class Champion: Melissa Jackson

Kerry (Barnes) Cole and husband Steven welcomed Elizabeth Grace on August 16.

Jeremy Lemoine was promoted to AVP, Northeast region distribution leader, at Chubb.


Class Champion: Erica Boulay

Sheen Farner MBA ’14 was promoted to director of budget & financial reporting at Day Kimball Healthcare.


Class Champion: Meaghan Larkin


Class Champion: Stacie Converse

Caitlin Peloquin welcomed a baby girl, Dakota Gloria, on March 29.

Mackenzie Scheer was promoted to senior manager, human resources business partner, at Karyopharm Therapeutics Inc.

Kim Whalen was promoted to risk management examiner III at the Massachusetts Division of Banks.

Nikki LaBrack was promoted to account coordinator for Enterprise Fleet Management, working on the corporate side of the business. She spent the last two years working for Enterprise Rent-A-Car.

Christopher Pagliccia welcomed a new baby to the family, Leonardo Hugo. A potential fourth-generation Bison!

Courtney and Michael Simoni are now a herd of four! Tyler Michael was born on June 28, joining big sister Carey Marie.


Class Champion: Ryan Flavin


Ryan Foley MBA ’16 was named to the Worcester Business Journal’s 40 Under 40.


Class Champion: Andrew Haas & Mike Ricci

Matt Taylor and Jenn Townsend ’17 have adopted a puppy, Roo.

Colin Whitney, a former Nichols College golfer, played in the Golf Fights Cancer Golf Marathon on June 3 to help raise awareness and funds for DetecTogether (formerly 15-40 Connection). The organization was founded by Nichols Trustee James W. Coghlin Sr. ’67 and his wife Nancy to teach people how to recognize the earliest warning signs of cancer. Colin played 100 holes at Juniper Hill Golf Course in Northborough, MA, to honor his sister Caitlin, who was helped by the organization to detect breast cancer in the early stages; today she is seven years cancer free. A highlight of the day was Colin’s hole-in-one on a par 4 hole, a first for that hole in Juniper Hill’s history. Pictured is Colin with his father, Mark, and Jim Coghlin.


Class Champions: Nicole LaBrack & Gina Petruzzi


Ryan Meagher was promoted to senior manager of premium seating at the Worcester Red Sox.


Class Champion: Brian O’Riodan boriordan78@gmailcom

Nicole “Kiki” Guerin was promoted to branch manager at Enterprise.

Taylor Kerr and Miles Meacham ’20 are engaged!


Michael Battaini was promoted to college unit director at Northwestern Mutual, where in 2020 he was named as one of the Top 100 Financial Representative Interns in the country. l Nichols College Magazine 17
Alycia Allard adopted a puppy, Mocha. Andrew Pelc is engaged to Cynthia Zayas Torres. Nikki LaBrack, Gina Petruzzi, Lindsay Baker, Cally Audet, Ali Hanlon, Julia Zawacki

Eric Aukstikalnis ’17 holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with a finance major from Nichols College and is now following his dreams by pursuing a career in the music industry. Today the Worcester native splits his time between Los Angeles, Atlanta and Massachusetts. He has achieved over a million monthly listeners on Spotify and has worked with notable artists such as Dolly Parton, and this is just the beginning!

Aukstikalnis’ interest in music started at the age of 10. “I asked Santa for a PlayStation, instead I got a piano,” he recalls. “The piano sat in my room for months until I was bored enough to give it a try. Once I started, I was hooked. I spent hours listening to music on YouTube and teaching myself how to play.”

The interest intensified in high school when, in addition to the piano, he learned to play the trumpet, and even led the school orchestra. He was also a competitive golfer, winning several New England PGA junior tournaments and starting to gain attention from D1 schools. But in his junior year, he suffered a back injury, which turned out to be a pivotal moment for his future. “While recovering from my back injury, I turned to my music. It was during this period that I started to create my own songs,” Aukstikalnis reflects. “I was very inspired by pop icons like Justin Bieber and One Direction. I can remember clearly hearing the One Direction song ‘What

Makes You Beautiful’ and thinking, ‘Wow, that is so catchy. I want to create music like that.’”

With a proficiency in math and an interest in the investment world, Aukstikalnis enrolled at Nichols to pursue a concentration in finance. Music continued to be a big part of his life, starting in his freshman year as a resident of the beloved Budleigh Hall. “Our floor was a tight knit group, a strong community,” he shares with a smile. “I used to do open mic nights at Nichols and even won the talent show with a song that I wrote. All of my Budleigh friends knew I created music. They were supportive and always wanted to know what I was working on.”

After his first year, Aukstikalnis commuted to Nichols, attending full

time, working full time, and spending as much time as possible creating music. He’d go to class, get to the library to do his schoolwork and then work on his music, often staying until the library closed at 2 a.m. Sometimes he’d crash with a friend or even take a nap in his car and do it all over again. For him, as long as he could work on his music, he was happy.

Upon graduating in 2017, Aukstilkalnis was at a crossroads as he contemplated his options: “I could take the safe route and live a great life as a finance executive and maybe play in a cover band with my buddies on Thursday night or I could give music a real shot.” He thought about his father, who always advised “follow your dreams.” He also recalled a speaker at Nichols, a fisher who tried for six years to turn his passion into a career. The moral of the story was that he went for it, lived his dream and, even when it didn’t work out, he was only 28 and could quickly pivot his future. Aukstikalnis decided to go all in with music, to live a life with no regrets that his father would be proud of.

In 2018 he moved to Los Angeles to be closer to the music community. His friend, manager, and fellow Worcester native, Ernest Osei, invited him to stay with him while he got his career started. The move proved to be critical to building the right network of people needed to create the music, like pulling together the puzzle pieces of a song. He worked hard and started to

CLASS NOTES 18 Nichols College Magazine l Fall/Winter 2021
Sometimes you just have to press play Eric Aukstikalnis ’17
Eric Aukstikalnis is following his dream and making it in the music business.

see success. Notable records include “Faith,” featuring Dolly Parton and DJ Galantis, “Losing My Religion,” featuring MKLA, “Get Like Me,” with Bhad Bhabie and featuring NLE Choppa, “Stars In My Eyes,” “Wasted On You,” “Missing You,” featuring DJ Tez Cady, and “Monsters” featuring 24KGoldn.

Aukstikalnis considers himself a music producer. “I like to work directly with an artist from the ground up and collaborate on every element of the song,” he says. His creative process starts with an idea, which he develops to its fullest potential so that it sounds as good as it can based on his vision. Then he works to present this as a product that others would want to buy.

Skills he learned and honed at Nichols. “College taught me how to think, how to think outside the box, how to carry myself, interact with different types of people from all walks of life,” he remarks. “When you submerge yourself in the college experience you naturally gain valuable experiences,

Two alumni named to Board of Trustees

Jaime Paris Boisvert ’98 and Amahl H. Williams ’02 have been elected to the Nichols Board of Trustees, beginning their terms in May and October, respectively.

experiences that I know help me in my career today.”

As for his goals, Aukstikalnis confidently states, “I want to be the biggest DJ and music producer in the world.” This self-proclaimed underdog says he may not be the most gifted person in the room, but he will certainly be the hardest working with a can-do attitude and charisma to back it up. True to his decision, he harbors no regrets. And, echoing his father’s wisdom, he advises, “No matter what, it is never too late to follow your dreams. If you have a dream don’t be afraid of failure. If you live your life fearing failure you will never truly achieve success.”

Eric Aukstikalnis shares his music under the name Aukoustics. Search “Aukoustics” on Spotify or any music streaming service. Follow his journey on social media @aukoustics.

Paris Boisvert is the director of the Higher Education Vertical Market for Johnson Controls, which is well known for delivering solutions that optimize buildings and infrastructure by improving energy efficiency, data analysis, comfort, safety and security. Previously she was the general manager of the Boston Branch at Siemens Smart Infrastructure, where she served in a number of capacities over 12 years. She began her career through the Nichols Career and Professional Development Center as an account executive at AT&T, moving onto MAC Systems, followed by a stint as director of sales & marketing for Chace Building Supply of Conn.

Williams, a three-sport varsity captain at Nichols, has spent his career in sales and marketing leadership roles focusing on the monetization of new and adjacent technologies for the Fortune500 and Global2000. He is currently a partner at Reveal Group, as well as a contributor at Forbes as a member of the Forbes Communications Council. He serves as a volunteer mentor at BUILD, which provides hands-on entrepreneurship training and college prep to help stem the high school drop-out rate. He was also a member of the Nichols Board of Advisors, a member of the Colonel Conrad Society, and is a founding advisor for the Nichols College Center for Intelligent Process Automation. l Nichols College Magazine 19
Paris Boisvert Williams

Keep calm and adapt

Alf Anderson III ’98

If recessions were rodeos, this isn’t Alf Anderson’s first. As the executive director of the Bar Harbor Chamber of Commerce, Anderson has been guiding the New England magnet businesses and members through the challenges brought to the iconic coastal New England tourist destination by the pandemic.

By digging deep into past career and life experience from a decade ago in the Great Recession, Anderson has ensured Bar Harbor business members recovery and success.

Anderson grew up in Connecticut, living with two older sisters, his mother and stepfather. Those who know him best describe him from a young age as calm, focused, devoted, caring and very funny. A happy teenager and hard-worker, Anderson doesn’t recall much more of an influence to attend Nichols College aside from two of his close high school friends were going there. He thoroughly enjoyed his time on campus and classes and made connections he holds dear to this day.

With a longtime interest in marketing and advertising, his professional pursuits following graduation landed him on Boston’s North Shore for the next 15 years. Anderson started out in event planning for a publishing company which grew into a role in advertising sales. He thrived, overachieving against targets while managing a team and an $8 million annual budget. By 2012, the recession had impacted his company and industry

irreparably. When his position was eliminated, his next job was one he calls “one of the most rewarding experiences he’s ever had” as a crew member at Trader Joe’s. Empowered by positivity, Anderson overcame what should have been a challenging time in his career journey.

With these professional changes came flexibility, so when his wife, Heather, had a job opportunity that meant relocating to Mount Desert Island, Maine, Anderson was in. Heather had grown up in southern Maine and they celebrated their wedding in the state six years prior. However, the one and only time Alf had been to Bar Harbor before moving there had been seven years earlier. The Andersons had escaped Boston to enjoy a quintessential getaway down east where they indulged in lobster on the water, hiked in Acadia National Park, drove to the summit of Cadillac Mountain. They’ve since settled near Bar Harbor, along with their Great Dane, Pippy. Home, he says, is “one of the most beautiful places in the world. It’s an amazing place to live, and I’m very fortunate.”

When the Bar Harbor Chamber was seeking someone to run their events program, Anderson applied. His potential to lead was clear and his role developed into marketing and membership responsibilities with a promotion to executive director in 2019. Outside of promoting the town as a global destination for tourists in summer and fall, the Bar Harbor

Chamber supports businesses yearround. The pandemic put Anderson and his team to the test but the success of members adapting and overcoming challenges feels like the chamber’s own success. Their marketing and social media has greatly contributed to engaging visitors in all seasons. The chamber’s site,, is not just a resource for tourists; local visitors and residents can find all there is to experience year-round.

Anderson’s advice to Nichols graduates starting out in their careers is a powerful reminder for all: “It’s so important to listen to people.” He also says to stay positive and open-minded. And, when faced with a recession or other career changes and challenges, be adaptable. “If you’re not adaptable, you’re probably going to get left behind,” he adds. “You’ve got to be able to roll with the punches.” Or find a way to stay on that bull the whole ride.

CLASS NOTES 20 Nichols College Magazine l Fall/Winter 2021 s
These Bison friends from the Class of 1998 adapted to a virtual reunion during the pandemic. On the call were Kosta Haveles, Stan Crosby, Jeff Haffty, Mike LaVigne, Ken Stockhaus, Dave Sokolnicki ’97, Kevin Fournier ’96, and Alf Anderson, feeling it was as if not a day, let alone more 20 years, had passed since they were all together. l Nichols College Magazine 21 MBA Master of Business Administration MSA Master of Science in Accounting MSC Master of Science in Counterterrorism MSOL Master of Science in Organizational Leadership GRADUATE & PROFESSIONAL STUDIES MBA l MSA l MSC l MSOL IT’S NOT JUST A MASTER’S. IT’S YOUR FUTURE. Earning a master’s degree is like giving yourself a raise. Discover just how affordable your master’s degree can be, and just how big an impact it can make on your earnings and your life. Beth Piuze, M.Ed. Director of Graduate Enrollment and Student Success Rachel Ferreira, M.A. Director, Institute for Women’s Leadership Director of Graduate Enrollment and Student Success 10% ALUMNI DISCOUNT REFER A FRIEND AND YOU CAN EARN A $100 AMAZON GIFT CARD* * Once they start their first class

Lester R. “Rally” Thomas ’48, of Montpelier, VT, March 28, 2021: He served in the U.S. Army in the Pacific Theatre during World War II. He worked in the banking industry for 40 years, spending much of it as a vice president at Worcester County National Bank. Among his many volunteer commitments, he was a past trustee at Nichols College.

Edward C. Wheaton ’48, of Millville, NJ, August 3, 2021: He was a member of the U.S. Army Air Forces from 1945 to 1948. He retired in 1992 as the president of Wheaton Scientific, where he worked for 42 years.

Roy Zabriskie ’49, of Vero Beach, FL, July 21, 2021: He was a veteran of the U.S. Air Force, stationed at Sheppard Air Force base in Texas. He was the owner and president of Zabriskie Chevrolet in Paterson, NJ, before retiring in 1978.

Carl J. Kurtgis ’51, of Fort Lauderdale, FL, March 9, 2021: A veteran of the Korean War, he worked in the family businesses, including wholesale floral supply, and retired from Berkeley Floral Supply in Miami.

John H. Perry ’51, of Hutchinson Island, FL, April 10, 2021: He served in the U.S. Army and worked 50 years for Araban Coffee Co., starting as a salesperson and retiring as its sole owner.

Peter M. Polstein ’51, of Oxford, CT, January 5, 2021: He served in the U.S Army, where he posted in the Far East during the Korean War. He was an insurance broker in New York City and worked for Alexander and Alexander for 20 years, retiring in 1997.

John A. Chesebro Jr. ’53, of North Providence, RI, March 9, 2021: He was a veteran of the U.S. Army, serving overseas during the Korean War. He worked as a civil engineer for the City of Providence for many years before retiring.

David R. Eisner ’53, of Niskayuna, NY, September 25, 2019: He served in Japan during the Korean War. He worked for General Electric doing early research work on television, and later at the GE corporate R&D Lab, where he was part of a team that developed Doppler ultrasound, CAT scanner, and MRI system.

Gerald T. LaMarque ’54, of Edgartown, MA, on January 12, 2021: He was president of LaMarque Marine Services Inc., a marine survey business he started in 1976. His business was active in both the New York/Connecticut areas, Solomons, Md., and Martha’s Vineyard, where he spent summers from 1973.

Jack C. Hult ’54, of Branford, CT, June 28, 2021: He served in the tank division of the U.S. Army and spent many years as a driver for Shell Oil.

Bruce Bartlett ’55, of Winchendon, MA, July 2, 2021: He was a U.S. Air Force reservist and his family reports that Nichols laid the groundwork for a successful career in business and a love of sports.

James P. Russell ’55, Verona, NJ, April 6, 2021: He started as an insurance executive at MetLife and continued his career at New Jersey Life and Casualty Insurance Co. He then founded Spectrum Lighting. An inventor and manufacturer, he held several patents on corner lighting concept.

Harold P. “Pick” Jurgens ’58, of Hudson, NY, March 29, 2021: He worked at J. Kenneth Frasier & Associates as a consulting engineer and was the owner and operator of the Cairo Water Co. and owner of the Torchlite Campsites.

Harry Clemence ’60, of Albuquerque, NM, August 4, 2021: A member of the U.S. Marine Corps, he served three combat tours in Vietnam, flying the UH-34D helicopter and KC-130F, earning 43 air medals (860 combat missions) and the Navy Commendation Medal. Retiring as a major in 1982, he flew for Muse Air, Transtar Airlines, and then Continental Airlines until he retired in 2000.

Alvah O. Rock ’63

David P. Benson ’67, of Villalba, Spain, formerly of Riverside, RI, August 22, 2020: A veteran of the U.S. Air Force, where he was stationed in California and then Madrid, he worked at the Veterans Administration in Providence.

Kenneth D. Walters ’67, of New Haven, CT, July 18, 2020: He served two years in the U.S. Army with the 82nd Airborne Division and worked in Greenwich and Stamford in sales, tree service, and construction until retiring in 1996.

John M. Harrison ’68

John M. Harrison ’68, of Woodmere, NY died on April 24, 2021. He was a longtime volunteer leader at Nichols College, first on the Board of Trustees and most recently on the Board of Advisors. He endowed a scholarship in 2016, and was a member of the Colonel Conrad Legacy Society. Harrison enjoyed a successful career in marketing as a partner or principal at several firms, including Harrison Leifer DiMarco where he was president for 20 years. Survivors include his wife, Carol, two daughters, two grandchildren, and two siblings.

Michael J. Carney ’68, of Naples, FL, May 24, 2020: He served in the U.S. Air Force as a T-38 Jet instructor pilot during the Vietnam War. He was a professor at Bentley University, later serving as vice president of human resources and retired as HR VP at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. He was inducted into the Nichols Athletic Hall of Fame for baseball and football in 1976.

Alvah O. Rock ’63 of Bay Shore, NY, died on August 31, 2021. He worked in banking before transitioning to real estate in 1981 and then facilities management and services at The McGraw-Hill Companies, retiring in 2003. An ardent supporter of Nichols, he and his wife Susan endowed a scholarship in 2016 and helped complete the extension to the college’s Bicentennial Campaign. Rock was a charter member of the Board of Advisors and has served on the Board of Trustees since 2018. In addition to his wife, he leaves four children and nine grandchildren.

NICHOLS REMEMBERS 22 Nichols College Magazine l Fall/Winter 2021

Robert J. Cassella ’69, of Albany, NY, April 3, 2021: In addition to his Nichols degree, he earned an associate degree in civil engineering and spent his professional life as a manufacturing plant manager.

Donald S Labonte ’72, of Rochester, NY, August 18, 2021: He was a management specialist for the New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance in a career that 48 years at various agencies in New York State.

George F. Cressey II ’74, of Kennebunk, ME, May 20, 2021: He was the co-founder of W.C. Cressey & Son, Inc., where he and his father served as distributors for Thomas Built Buses in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont. In 2019, he was presented with a Meritorious Service Award in honor of 53 years serving Kennebunk Fire Rescue.

Garrish J. Sloat ’74, of Norwalk, CT, April 5, 2021: He was a member of the Greenwich Police Department, and following retirement, was the owner and operator of Sloat Security

Eugene J. Kerrigan ’80

Eugene J. Kerrigan ’80, of Hyde Park, MA, died on July 31, 2021. He had a career in finance, most recently as a financial advisor for Bay State Financial. As a dedicated volunteer at Nichols, Kerrigan served as the president of the Alumni Board and a member of the Board of Trustees. He was a frequent participant in the annual alumni golf tournament. His survivors include his wife Joyce and four children, among them is Christopher, a 2012 graduate of Nichols.

James K. Urban MBA ’90, of Southborough, MA, March 21, 2021: He served in the U.S. Army in Vietnam and worked for several companies

Margaret I. Duquette ’93, of Worcester, MA, March 10, 2021: She was employed by Melville Shoe and Assumption College before beginning a long career in banking as a human resource manager, working 19 years at Bay State Savings Bank and 10 years as an officer and trustee of Westborough Bank, before retiring in 2007 from Avidia Bank.

Millicent P. Maziarski MBA ’96 of Melrose, MA, March 2, 2021: For the past 24 years, she was the manager of finance and administration at MilliporeSigma in Burlington.

Kristopher M. Johnson MSOL ’16, of Charleston, SC, March 20, 2021: He was the assistant basketball coach at Eastern Connecticut University, followed by four years as head basketball coach at Lawrence Academy. Most recently, he was an athletic director and basketball coach at West Nottingham Academy, where he led them to the 2018 championship season.


George C. Proulx, of Southbridge, MA, June 29, 2021: Former assistant director of admissions, he previously had a 36-year career as a high school counselor and guidance administration at Acton Boxborough, Minnechaug, and Shepherd Hill. l Nichols College Magazine 23
The next Golden Bison Bulletin is coming this winter! 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.

Alumnus bequest supports students with learning differences

At 6 feet 8 inches, William S. Edmunds ’62 was well known as “Big Bill” in his community. His family describes him as a sociable person with lots of friends, a “gentle giant” almost, and a successful salesman who was admired and appreciated by clients for his professionalism and integrity.

Edmunds, who lived in his native Vermont his entire life, was a car enthusiast and collector who loved travel, sports, and eating at diners.

At Nichols College, however, Edmunds flourished. Like many students of his generation, he was taken under the wing of Nichols president, Colonel James Conrad, Sr., and given the support and confidence he needed to confront his struggles. Embracing his stature, the management major even played varsity and intramural basketball.

So, shortly after his passing in January 2019, when the college received word of a generous bequest from the Edmunds estate, his sister reached out with the idea of using the six-figure gift to expand services for Nichols students with learning differences.

method of ensuring they get the support they need to reach their academic goals. But with Kolek conducting all the meetings — approximately 40 a week, with most students on a weekly basis — help was needed with other services, such as proctoring exams for students who require additional time or resources.

But his family also remembers more challenging times. In the 1950s, when Edmunds towered over the other children at school, he was teased and bullied for his unusual height, and dealing with a learning disorder that would have likely remained undiagnosed and unaccommodated back then.

The college currently offers outreach, academic counseling, and course accommodations to students who document learning needs. That number has grown 55 percent in the past five years, according to Edward Kolek, PhD, assistant dean for learning services, with more than 60 students receiving learning accommodations this fall.

Kolek has found individual meetings with students to be the most effective

Using the Edmunds bequest, Nichols is in the process of hiring a learning services coordinator who will oversee the Testing Center, assist Kolek with student meetings to advise, coach, and mentor students, and explore resources to benefit the greatest number of students with learning differences.

“The college and Learning Services Office is very thankful and appreciative for this financial support to be able to better serve our students during these very difficult times,” says Kolek.

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

24 Nichols College Magazine l Fall/Winter 2021
“The college and Learning Services Office is very thankful and appreciative for this financial support to be able to better serve our students during these very difficult times.”
Edward Kolek, PhD Assistant Dean for Learning Services
Bill Edmunds at Nichols College in 1962

Together Again: Homecoming 2021

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 25
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Thanks to the support of donors, I have had incredible experiential learning opportunities at Nichols College, such as volunteering at Super Bowl LIV in Miami. Now, I am pursuing my Master of Science in Organizational Leadership while working as a graduate assistant. Nichols has given so much to me, and it’s my goal to pay it forward now and beyond my time on the Hill.

Your contributions make a difference for future leaders like Cari. Please consider making a gift to Nichols College before Dec. 31, 2021.

Box 5000
Dudley, MA 01571-5000
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