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“It seems like whatever we ask of Kuppy, it’s a ‘Yes,’ exulted Nichols College President Susan West Engelkemeyer, speaking from the podium at the annual Faculty Dinner on Wednesday evening, March 13th.
The dinner, a tradition since 1999, took place this year at the Inn at Woodstock Hill in Woodstock, Connecticut and as usual was sponsored by Nichols trustee, alumnus and generous benefactor Robert Kuppenheimer ’69, affectionately known around Nichols as “Kuppy.”
The dinner also recognized the two recipients of the Robert B. Kuppenheimer Scholarship for promising students from the Midwest. This year the winners included senior Zach Kohn from Hartland, Wisconsin and a double major in Economics and Finance, and freshman Tyler Beasley from Indianapolis, Indiana.
“I’m thrilled to be part of the school, and I applaud you in everything you do,” Kuppenheimer, a Worcester native, told the faculty clustered around the dining tables filling the banquet room. “Students will remember a lot of the classes they took with you, the knowledge they received, and how that knowledge benefited them throughout life.”
The Faculty Dinner usually features an extra course in professional development, and this year the evening’s speaker, Nichols alumnus and former trustee Peter L. Lynch ’74, served up a presentation entitled “How Prepared are Graduates for the Workplace?” Lynch has led major supermarket chains for more than 35 years, most recently as the chairman of the board, president, and CEO of Winn-Dixie Stores, Inc.
Before filling those positions, he served as president and chief operating officer of the Albertson’s supermarket chain and president of New England-based chain Star Markets Company, Inc.
In his talk to the faculty, Lynch emphasized that advancing in business careers calls for many of the skills his alma mater teaches. Reminding his audience that “Nichols produces by ratio more CEOs, presidents, and business owners than almost any college in the country,” Lynch underscored the importance of financial and communication skills, as well as the ability to work in teams.
“Business-oriented schools obviously prepare students better than other schools. You can’t have enough financial skills,” Lynch observed. “This is a financially-driven world, and you need to know your numbers, whether in finance, accounting, or macroeconomics.”
At the same time, Lynch stressed the importance of the so-called “softer” skills, which also square with students’ experience at Nichols. “Create self-confidence,” Lynch counseled. “Give your students the opportunity to win with their projects and papers. And put them in front of the class to show them that they can win in front of others.”