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Nichols College

Learn. Lead. Succeed

Bob MacPherson '71: A Degree of Success

Bob MacPherson, right, with Nichols Assistant Football Coach Henry Large

Bob MacPherson ’71 found his way to Nichols College through both an interest in business and by his connection with Coach Mike Vendetti, who was from his hometown of Leominster, Mass. MacPherson ended up playing football and lacrosse at Nichols. “I knew that I didn’t want a big college experience and that I did want to study business,” he says. “My family wasn’t wealthy growing up, and I figured that getting a business degree made sense because it would provide me with a good living and a better chance at employment.” He helped cover tuition costs by working campus jobs, such as dorm proctor.

MacPherson thrived at Nichols and enjoyed playing football under Coach Vendetti, who he describes as “a big guy with a soft side.” He remembers with a laugh a particularly chilly late-fall practice in a hard rainstorm that left players wet, cold, and miserable: “As we were heading off the field and on the way to the locker room and a hot shower, Coach Vendetti said, ‘So, you think you guys are wet?’ And with a running start he slid belly first through a giant mud puddle on the field to lighten our mood.”

In the classroom, MacPherson, an economics major, recalls being pushed by professors who really cared about their students’ success. He graduated from Nichols magna cum laude and earned a scholarship to UMass Amherst where he received a master’s degree in labor relations. He went back to school in his 30s for an MBA at Boston University.

MacPherson began his career at Foster Grant Corporation as a labor relations representative, eventually rising to director of human resources for the company’s sunglasses division. In 1987, he took a job at Lockheed Martin where he spent the remainder of his working life, including 16 years in California. He retired as vice president of human resources for the Lockheed Martin Advanced Development Company. “The highlight of my career was being on the management team which won the F-35 contract for military aircraft. This was the largest military aircraft contract ever signed, and it was very important to the company,” he notes.

After a hectic career, MacPherson now has time to “perform my civic duty and volunteer,” which he does in his current hometown of Bedford, N.H. He serves on the Bedford Conservation Commission, the board of the Bedford Public Library Foundation, and the town’s Rotary Club. As an avocation, MacPherson was a football referee at the high school and college level for 38 years. Recently, he returned to his football roots as a clock operator at Division III Colleges throughout New England.

MacPherson gives back in other ways, too, driven by a desire to help students achieve their dreams and goals. “When I look at the cost of education today, students must be able to make a good investment, and I feel confident that Nichols College gives its grads the ability to get a good job and find success in their careers after graduating,” he says. He believes the path to that success, like his own, starts with the study of business. He established the Kathleen M. MacPherson Endowed Scholarship in Business Administration at Nichols. “I named the scholarship for my wife, who is a former teacher, to honor her education background. What better person to name this scholarship for than someone who spent her life helping students succeed?”

MacPherson enjoys spending time with Kathleen, their two daughters, and especially watching the baseball, basketball and volleyball games of his six grandchildren. He is also eying the next travel destination on his bucket list. “I have visited every major league ballpark except for four – Atlanta, Houston, St. Louis and Kansas City. I am hoping to knock those off the list eventually so I can say I have visited them all.” He maintains a map with a pin in each city he’s seen an MLB game. Among his favorites are Wrigley Field. “It has a nice old time feel, friendly fans and a great atmosphere. However, the best hot dog I’ve had would be The Chicago Dog at Guaranteed Rate Field, home of the Chicago White Sox. It’s right up there with The Fenway Frank.”

A business education, a rewarding career in human resources, and a full retirement have given MacPherson a unique perspective to share with Nichols students and alumni alike: “Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Just don’t make them over and over. Everything won’t be perfect all the time. Never give up and never quit on yourself. Perseverance leads to success.”