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Georgia educator named MSU-Meridian dean

By Staff
NEW DEAN Dr. Scott Elliott, left, president of Meridian Community College, greets Dr. Harold J. "Nick" Nichols, newly appointed dean of Mississippi State University-Meridian Campus, and his wife, Anna Marie. Photo by Carisa McCain/The Meridian Star
By Steve Gillespie / staff writer
June 11, 2002
Dr. Harold J. "Nick" Nichols, an experienced educator with a flair for English and theater history, was named today as dean of Mississippi State University-Meridian Campus.
The appointment of Nichols, who currently serves as dean of Georgia Southwestern State University's School of Arts and Sciences, was announced by MSU interim president Dr. Charles Lee at an morning news conference.
Nichols is expected to be approved by the state College Board soon and could start work in Meridian in July.
Lee called Nichols a widely experienced and highly regarded administrator whose background and qualifications fit well with the needs and opportunities facing the Meridian campus.
Bill Crawford of Meridian, a member and former president of the state College Board, also praised Nichols' appointment.
MSU is a partner with the Riley Foundation and others in a near $32 million project to renovate the Grand Opera House and Marks-Rothenberg Building into a new education and performing arts center.
Nichols earned his master's degree and doctorate in theater history from Indiana University.
Crawford added that the dean at MSU-Meridian Campus must be able to interact with Meridian Community College, the community as a whole and MSU's main campus in Starkville.
Crawford, who met Nichols during the candidate's visit to Meridian on March 24-26, remembered him as "a very outgoing person and very excited about the opportunity."
Nichols was one of five candidates for the MSU-Meridian Campus job who visited in March and April. They talked with students, teachers, administrators and community representatives.
During nearly five years at Georgia Southwestern State in Americus, Ga., Nichols managed nine departments with a budget exceeding $4.2 million.
He initiated and chaired committees that created an honors program and developed a collaborative program with Habitat for Humanity. He also initiated teaching of the Japanese language on the campus.
From 1993-97, Nichols was dean of the College of Fine Arts and Humanities at the University of Nebraska at Kearney. He administered 81 full-time and 50 part-time faculty and graduate assistants with a budget of about $3.6 million.
In 1986-88, Nichols helped found the Association for Theatre in Higher Education, serving as president-elect and president.
The search for a new president at Mississippi State University may be over next month. About a dozen applications are being culled to four or five candidates who will be interviewed July 12-18 on the Starkville campus. The state College Board expects to act soon after the final interview, selecting a president to replace Dr. Malcolm Portera who resigned to head the University of Alabama System.