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Nichols College Names Former California Closets President Marty Allen 2017 Commencement Speaker

DUDLEY, Mass.—Nichols College has announced that former California Closets Co. President Marty Allen ‘75 will deliver the address at the College’s Commencement exercises on Saturday, May 6, 2017, at the DCU Center in Worcester. During the ceremony, Allen will also receive an honorary doctoral degree in business administration from the College. The event starts at 5 p.m.

“The professional skills I gained through my Nichols College experience shaped the first chapter of my business career,” said Allen. “And, now, many chapters later, I proudly return to where I started, to share with this year’s graduates—as they will soon embark on their own professional careers—the importance and value of their Nichols College education in business, entrepreneurship, and leadership.”

Allen has been a highly successful leader in business over the course of his career. In 1991, Marty was hired as president of California Closets Co., a division of Williams-Sonoma. Over the next two years, he rebuilt the company from a $3 million loss, to profitability and record sales. In 1996, he became CEO of Party America, which he led out of Chapter 11 bankruptcy in a record six months. Party America grew from just over 50 stores to 300 stores nationwide in 18 months—to become the second largest party chain in the country. In 2006, Allen was the first person to be inducted into the Party Retailing Hall of Fame.  He was also director of marketing and product development for Jostens, the nation’s largest producer of yearbooks and class rings; and CEO of Scholastic Video.

Allen graduated in 1975 from Nichols College with a bachelor’s degree in business administration, concentrating in management and marketing. At Nichols, he developed his love for business and leadership. He served as senior class president, editor of the yearbook, and president of the Photography Club and the local chapter of the Society for the Advancement of Management; and was on the Who’s Who in Colleges and Universities list.

“Marty epitomizes Nichols College alumni, as someone who found his passion for business and developed his strong leadership skills on ‘The Hill,’” said Nichols College President Susan West Engelkemeyer, Ph.D. “His incredible success in business—from his early career sales records to the turnaround of major companies—is remarkable. I’m certain that members of the Class of 2017 will see glimpses of themselves in Marty.”  

Raised in the Philadelphia area, Allen now lives in Sausalito, Calif.


Nichols College is a college of choice for business and leadership education as a result of its distinctive career-focused and leadership-based approaches to learning, both in and out of the classroom. Founded in 1815, Nichols transforms today’s students into tomorrow’s leaders through a dynamic, career-focused business and professional education. Nichols serves students interested primarily in a comprehensive business education that is supported by a strong liberal arts curriculum.


Lorraine U. Martinelle
Director of Public Relations and Social Media
Nichols College
Dudley, Mass.
Twitter: @NicholsNewsroom