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In a ceremony in Conant Library on October 21, 2011, President Susan West Engelkemeyer, Ph.D., presented Gerald Fels ’66 DBA (Hon.) ’07 with the President’s Medal for Distinguished Business Leadership in recognition of lifetime achievement as a leader in the insurance industry and his four decades of selfless service to the College.
Engelkemeyer stated that Fels embodies “the spirit of the past, present and future of Nichols College,” thus ensuring that the institution “continues to serve the needs of students who aspire to lead in business and society.” She noted that the Fels family has generously provided “101 and counting” local residents from the towns of Webster and Dudley scholarships to pursue a degree at Nichols.
And as chair of the Nichols College Board of Trustees from 1998-2004, Fels orchestrated a dramatic financial turnaround, transforming the College with a renewed sense of purpose. Then, from 2010-2011, he served as interim president, making the Nichols community feel secure and appreciated during a leadership transition.
After being presented the President’s Medal and viewing a special tribute video with reflections from Fels’ friends, colleagues and others who have been impacted by his generosity, Fels thanked President Engelkemeyer for the honor and shared his philosophy of giving. With only a few dollars in his pocket and a scholarship to Nichols College, he noted how he was able to make a success through hard work and dedication and how important it is to give back. “If you’re successful, you have an obligation to put your services to work in the community where it can do good,” he said.