After almost 19 years at Texas Woman’s University, Richard Nicholas — vice president of student life — will retire at the end of the spring semester to pursue his hobbies and travel with his wife, Anne.
His retirement will be effective April 30, and the university will conduct a national search for his replacement.
“I have a wonderful home life, and for my wife and I, the list of things we still want to do while we have good health — the bucket list, if you will — is just very long,” he said. “I love TWU, I love my students and what I do for a living, but it is time to do what some of the writers call chapter three ... the retirement.”
Nicholas, now 69, joined TWU in 1996 and has been vice president of student life since 1998. During his tenure, the Office of Commuter and Non-Traditional Services was created and new facilities for students were constructed. Renovations and expansions of other on-campus housing and the Student Health Center were carried out, and scholarship support increased.
“When I first came to TWU in 1996, I really felt like I would probably stay three to five years and move on, but I just fell in love with the mission of the institution, the type of student we have and the potential here,” he said. “I’ve had a chance to see all that happen and contribute my little piece to it.”
His focus was always on the students and he has helped mentor several into their careers.
For Diana Parada Gomez, a TWU alumna who now works in the Office of Student Life, Nicholas provided help and guidance as she figured out her career path. After she started working in admissions and considered getting a master’s degree, Nicholas took her to the University of North Texas to learn about its higher education program, and she graduated in December.
“Through the time I worked on campus full time and in school part time, I always had the support from those around me and Dr. Nicholas,” she said. “Now he jokes that I want his job someday, and now I’ve built so much confidence in myself that I know I can pursue a Ph.D. program.”
Current student Joleesia Berry said she has worked with Nicholas throughout her time at TWU and said he has helped mentor her as she prepares to start a career in higher education.
“He’s amazing, and he’s always there for the students,” she said. “Any time you need to talk, he’s willing to stop what he’s doing to talk to you or schedule a meeting.”
It was because of these student interactions that he stayed for years after his wife retired, he said.
“I guess part of the greatest joy of it is I came here largely because it’s the kind of university where I could be a vice president and not lose contact with the students,” Nicholas said. “Even though we have grown, I still get to have contact with students — student government officers, campus leaders, new students coming in and new families as they join TWU. If you work in student life, that’s what it’s all about.”
Nicholas is the second administrator scheduled to retire this year. Chancellor Ann Stuart is expected to retire at the end of the semester, and a search for her replacement is underway.
JENNA DUNCAN can be reached at 940-566-6889 and via Twitter at @JennaFDuncan.