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Lawrence Downs, who has steered Nichols undergraduates and MBA students through the changing field of marketing since 1979, has retired from the College at the age of 73.
Over his 33-year professorial career, Downs has drawn an enthusiastic following from current students and alumni alike. He spent the past semester teaching courses in Sales Management to undergraduate marketing majors and Strategic Management to seniors.
Last month, before his final classes, fellow faculty members celebrated Downs’ career at a retirement party.
Downs started teaching part-time in the Nichols MBA program in 1979, following an active career in marketing that included stops at three Fortune 500 companies. “I came here on the recommendation of a friend who had told me, ‘You’re so good at seminars and trainings. Have you ever been a teacher?’” Downs recalls.
For his first decade at Nichols, Downs also consulted in the private sector before joining the faculty full-time in 1986. Since then, he’s seen considerable change on campus, not the least of which, he observes, is the rise of school spirit. “Back when I first came here, you didn’t see a lot of Nichols sweatshirts. The whole idea of Bison Pride has really grown, especially over the past 10 years.”
Downs has also seen a change in how the students he’s educating will have to operate. “For one thing, the unbelievable geometric growth of data and data management, storing, and retrieving has completely revolutionized the business world,” he observes.
But it’s Downs’ relationship to Nichols alumni as much as to current students that has distinguished his career. “I’m fortunate enough to have served as a mentor to many of my alumni,” he says. “I get phone calls all the time.”
Downs adds that he does not take his new title “Professor Emeritus” lightly, noting that not all former academicians attain that level. “It means ‘with distinction,’” he explains. “When the president sent me an email that the Board vote was unanimous, that was pleasing.”
As for what he’ll be doing after Nichols, Downs points out that his wife runs a successful real estate appraisal business in southern New Hampshire, where they have lived the past several years. “I’ll be the ‘gofer,’” he quips.