Remembering Dr. Nicholson
Robert A. “Nick” Nicholson was a gentleman and a scholar who served his alma mater Anderson University for decades, finishing his tenure in 1990 as our third president. He was respected not only on campus by faculty, staff and students alike, but in the Anderson and greater Indianapolis community. He is credited with expanding AU’s influence beyond Anderson and Madison County, engaging business and community leaders in Indianapolis, as well as the Indiana Legislature and Statehouse.
He was one of those quiet, behind the scenes influencers who was asked to take over a job he did not seek. And yet, as his autobiography indicates, he said yes. He was obedient to God’s call to leadership. And as people came to know him as the public face of Anderson, they saw him as the leader he had always been. He is perhaps best known for helping transform Anderson College into Anderson University. “AC” as so many of us had known it now became “AU.” To many hundreds or even thousands of AC/AU choir members, he’ll always be known as the professor who started the AC Choir, known not only nationally but around the world, now as the AU Chorale.
I was fortunate to know Nick and his lovely wife, Dorothy, as close friends of my parents. They were two of the six couples which formed their “Quest” group which met regularly for decades, for food, fun and fellowship. And I was honored when, as Chief Academic Officer, he read my name at the 1978 Commencement. Five years later he became president. Little did I realize at the time that 37 years later I would become the fifth president of AU. Most recently, I was also blessed to participate with Nick in a monthly breakfast group hosted by Rev. Don Collins, until earlier this year when Nick’s mobility became limited.
His legacy will live well beyond his earthly years because he first and foremost sought God’s will and favor, always seeking what was best for his beloved AC/AU. Let us honor this great man by celebrating his humble life of servant leadership.
John Pistole, ‘78