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For one evening on March 27th, Daniels Auditorium was transformed into a banquet hall, as longtime Trustee Robert Kuppenheimer ’69 recognized the work of Nichols faculty, as well as the current recipients of the scholarships that bear his name.
In what’s become an annual rite of spring, Kuppenheimer—known affectionately as “Kuppy”—highlighted the special connection between Nichols professors and students that dates back more than five decades to his own relationship with teachers at the College.
“I’d like to think that I became a part of their lives and that they reveled in my success as an individual and a business person,” he remarked. “I believe that there’s a special bond between the faculty and students that defines those students’ careers as professionals. And they remember it.”
Nichols President Susan West Engelkemeyer, who hosted the event, returned the compliment. “He’s one of the trustees who cares passionately about academics and the faculty here,” she said of Kuppenheimer, who also received as gifts the recently published books by Nichols History Professor Thomas Smith (Showdown: JFK and the Integration of the Washington Redskins) and English Professor Emeritus Karen Sasha Tipper (Lady Jane Wilde’s Letters to Oscar Wilde).
The three Nichols undergraduates who are the beneficiaries of the four-year Robert B. Kuppenheimer Endowed Scholarship—reserved for students from the midwestern United States—were also saluted. They include Michael Davis ’12, from Newport, Michigan; Zachary Kohn ’13, from Delafield, Wisconsin; and Joseph Sposit ’15, from North Royalton, Ohio.
After dinner, special guest Allan Cohen, the Edward A. Madden Distinguished Professor of Global Leadership at Babson College and the co-author of Managing for Excellence: The Guide to Developing High Performance in Contemporary Organizations, addressed the gathering, noting that a strong focus on quality and high standards are keys to successful colleges.
“How do your programs collectively connect to what you’re trying to accomplish,” Cohen challenged the audience. “I think it’s great to get your best students together and ask them to think about their experience here. Ask them, ‘What’s helped you best to get to where you want go with your life? What’s gotten in the way?’”
Cohen also emphasized that improving performance—as with any business or enterprise—begins at the earliest stages, including the freshman year when it comes to colleges. “We’ve got to ratchet up what we ask freshmen to do. Let’s push them harder,” he urged. “Immerse them in experiences that shake them to the core.”