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More than 200 alumni and their families gathered on campus September 21 and 22 for a weekend of festivities that included a Friday night awards ceremony, Saturday brunch with President Susan West Engelkemeyer, and a full menu of athletic contests.
“It’s an honor to be with you tonight to share in your deserving award recognition.” Engelkemeyer told a filled Daniels Auditorium at the start of the Alumni Awards Ceremony and Athletic Hall of Fame Induction Friday night.
Among the alumni recipients, selected by the Nichols Alumni Board of Directors last April, were John “Jack” MacPhail ’65 (pictured), who won the Ken Thompson Service Award; William “Bill” Fowler ’49 (pictured), who was recognized with the Alumni Achievement Award; and just-retired marketing professor, Lawrence Downs, who took home the Honorary Alumnus Award.
Mark Grigsby ’68, who was killed the year following graduation in Vietnam while trying to recover the bodies of five slain comrades, was posthumously recognized with the Young Alumnus Achievement Award. Grigsby’s brother Alan accepted the award. State Representative F. Jay Barrows also presented an award on behalf of the Town of Foxboro for Mark’s service and dedication to his country.
Over more than 40 years, MacPhail—a Nichols business administration major who went on to Cornell’s Johnson School of Business for a masters degree in public administration—has distinguished himself at JP Morgan Chase and then in his own consulting firm in New York City.
MacPhail also served on the Nichols Board of Trustees, but focused in his acceptance speech on what his years as an undergraduate gave him. “Very simply, Nichols took me in, nourished me, grew me, sometimes coddled me, sometimes was much more aggressive with me and in the end, brought out my potential and made me feel very good about myself,” he recalled.
Fowler’s career ranged from banking, during which time he founded and became the CEO of Rocky Hill Bank and Trust in Connecticut, to running his own credit reporting and real estate appraisal firm for 18 years before retiring in 1992. Downs became beloved at Nichols for his long-term influence on his students during a 26-year teaching career, after spending almost as long working at several Fortune 100 companies.
The ceremonies also featured the debut of the Nichols Hall of Honor, as the 2002 Nichols women’s soccer team —which won The Commonwealth Coast Conference championship and the school’s first ever NCAA tournament berth—became the first inductee. “This year we are thrilled to induct an entire team into the new Hall of Honor,” noted Engelkemeyer.
Three individual athletes—Charles “Wes” Gregory ’77, Ed Perrotti ’95, and Brian Cardoza ’03—were inducted into the Nichols Hall of Fame, which was founded 40 years ago and has since grown to almost 200 members.
Gregory made his mark as a linebacker in the glory days of the Bison football team during the mid-1970’s. Perrotti captained the men’s hockey team for three years in the early ’90’s. Cardoza played Nichols basketball for four years, winning the school’s Male Athlete of the Year award in his senior year.
“He’s the reason why coaches decide to coach,” former basketball head coach Dave Sokolnicki observed. “As the sole captain in his senior year, he hit every big shot, made every tough decision, and made sure that everyone followed his lead.”
On the playing fields during the rest of this year’s Homecoming, Nichols teams produced mixed results. Women’s field hockey came away with a 1-0 victory over Western New England University in a Friday contest, while women’s soccer lost to Roger Williams University, 4-1, on the same day. The men’s and women’s tennis teams overwhelmed Springfield College and Western New England respectively by scores of 9-0.
On Saturday, men’s soccer dropped a contest with Roger Williams, and the football team succumbed 44-20 to Western New England on Vendetti Field.