Dr. Russell L. Nichols, who retired June 30 from the presidency of Hanover College in Hanover, Ind., has accepted the position of Interim President of Tusculum College beginning Aug. 1. This was announced by Tusculum College Board of Trustees Chairman Dr. Kenneth Bowman today.
Dr. Nichols went through the formal interview process at Tusculum College on Thursday, July 12, and traveled back to Indiana that day.
Bowman said, “Dr. Nichols has already proven he is a very successful college president with his long list of significant accomplishments at Hanover College. His success comes from his remarkable blend of qualities. He is a motivator and is very effective at building and supporting teamwork. He is aggressive at making change and moving programs forward. And he is personable, engaging, firm and fair when working with people. It is with great pleasure I welcome Rusty Nichols to Tusculum College.”
Nichols said, “I’m delighted to join the talented staff at Tusculum. Tusculum has a rich history and a promising future, and I’m pleased to have this opportunity to become part of it as we move toward finding a permanent president.”
Nichols had completed his 20th year as president of Indiana’s oldest four-year College at the time of his retirement. He was the 14th president in Hanover’s 179-year history and only the fifth since 1879.
Phillip Scott, chairman of the Hanover board, noted: “President Nichols literally helped transform every aspect of Hanover College. There is greater faculty participation in shared governance, more financial resources available to support academic programs, major academic and residential facilities have been constructed or renovated, and the investments of the College have increased from some $40 million to approximately $200 million.”
During Nichols’ tenure at Hanover, the 179-year-old institution experienced unparalleled growth in both quantity and quality as recognized by peer institutions and leading publications. Its number of full-time faculty grew from 74 in 1987 to 110 today, and administrative staff positions nearly doubled due in large part to new intellectual ventures such as the Center for Free Inquiry, the Rivers Institute at Hanover, the Center for Business Preparation, and the Career Connections Program.
The academic ability of incoming Hanover classes, as evidenced by SAT scores, increased more than 15 percent, or nearly 180 points, during Nichols’ tenure.
In 1987, fund-raising totaled $3.26 million. Last year, the college received close to $20 million in gifts from alumni, parents, and friends. Nichols oversaw a $45 million investment in campus construction and facilities renovation, including a $22.7 million Science Center and the $11.3 million Horner Health and Recreation Center. Other construction includes the Ogle Center and Greenwood Suites, both providing apartment-style living for students.
For the past two years, Hanover has been listed as one of the top 100 liberal arts colleges in the country by U.S News and World Report, and consistently ranked as one of the best educational values in the U.S.
Nichols holds a Ph.D. from Purdue University and the A.B. from Wabash College, as well as an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Hillsdale College. He came to Hanover from Hillsdale, where he served 12 years in a number of capacities, including director of admission, vice president for student affairs, and later vice president for academic and student affairs. He also has held administrative positions at Eastern Illinois University and Wabash College.
Active in civic affairs, Dr. Nichols is an ordained elder of Hanover Presbyterian Church. Last year, he was one of 28 Indiana residents appointed by the Indiana governor and the state’s superintendent of public instruction to the Indiana Education Roundtable, a forum to consider policy decisions affecting students in pre-school through college.
He has been a member of the advisory committee of Indiana Vocational Technical College, a board member of Historic Madison, Inc., and a member of the Madison Bank and Trust Company board of directors. He co-chairs the Committee on Volunteerism for the Indiana Donors Alliance, and is an honorary member of the Rotary Club of Madison.
From 2001 to 2003, Dr. Nichols served as president of the American Association of Presidents of Independent Colleges and Universities. In 1997-98, he served as president of the Indiana College Athletic Conference President’s Council. For more than a decade, he was a member of the executive committee of the Independent Colleges of Indiana and the executive committee of its foundation.
Dr. Nichols has been honored by Wabash College with the prestigious Clarence Jackson Career Service Award for his contributions to higher education. In 1991 he was named a Kentucky Colonel, an award presented by the Governor of Kentucky in recognition of civic service. The following year he was named a Sagamore of the Wabash, presented by Indiana’s governor in recognition of civic service. In 1993, he was inducted into the Wabash College Athletic Hall of Fame, and that same year he received the Distinguished Education Career Achievement Award from Purdue University.
Hanover is a private liberal arts college founded in 1827. Like Tusculum College, it is associated with the Presbyterian Church (USA), and is the oldest college established in its state. It is located on a 600-acre campus along the Ohio River, in the town of Hanover, Ind.
Nichols will be the second interim president to serve at Tusculum in the past decade. Dr. Thomas Garland H’86 served an interim presidency at the College for about a year between the presidencies of Dr. Robert Knott and Dr. Dolphus Henry.
During the current spring/summer period, Tusculum College has been led on an alternating and cooperative basis by two members of its Board of Trustees who have extensive administrative experience in higher education. They are Tennessee Technological University President Emeritus Dr. Angelo Volpe, and University of Hawaii at Hilo Chancellor Emeritus Dr. Edward Kormondy, a 1950 Tusculum College graduate who also served as Interim President of the University of West Los Angeles School of Law.
Both Volpe and Kormondy were involved in the selection of Dr. Nichols for the interim presidency, along with other trustees and a committee of Tusculum College staff, faculty, students, and alumni.