Nichols names presidents emeriti at 2024 commencement ceremony

May 8, 2024

DUDLEY, Mass. – Nichols College has awarded two former presidents “emeritus” status in honor of their enduring contributions to the institution. The College acknowledged the special recognition during the Nichols College commencement ceremony held on May 4, 2024, at the DCU Center in Worcester, Mass.

Carolyn Burke, MBA ’92, vice chair of the Nichols College Board of Trustees, read aloud the following at the commencement ceremony:

“On behalf of the Board of Trustees, I am delighted to recognize two former Presidents of Nichols College with the distinction of President Emeriti. Emeritus status is an honorary designation given to any Nichols College president who has provided outstanding, distinguished, and extended service to the Nichols community.

“Colonel James L. Conrad Sr. and Dr.  Susan West Engelkemeyer are the first recipients of this title, and I encourage you all to read more about their historic contributions in the commencement programs.

“Jeffrey Conrad and Michael Conrad will be accepting on behalf of their grandfather, the founder of Nichols College, who passed away in 1974.

“In 1931, Colonel James L. Conrad Sr. founded Nichols Junior College with a unique plan to train aspiring business executives in a collegiate and residential setting. Over a span of 35 years, he led Nichols through a world war, a transition to a four-year college, and a campus, academic and athletic transformation. He is widely regarded as the father of Nichols and fondly remembered and revered for his dedication to students and their character development. We honor him with the distinction of President Emeritus, posthumous, for his pioneering spirit and visionary leadership; without which, simply put, there would be no Nichols College.

“Dr. Susan West Engelkemeyer was president of Nichols College from 2011 to 2021, a tumultuous decade in higher education, culminating in a global pandemic that challenged the resilience and grit of the heartiest institutions. Under her leadership, Nichols thrived, realizing significant strategic gains, unprecedented support, and the momentum to soar even higher. She rallied the Nichols community around a vision of impactful leadership education and forged an innovative path toward actualization through efforts such as the Institute for Women’s Leadership, which now bears her name. We honor her with the distinction of President Emerita for advancing Nichols during a critical juncture with capable, careful, and collaborative stewardship.”

Randall V. Becker ’83, MBA ’96, chair of the Nichols College Board of Trustees, presented each recipient with an honorary medallion.

For more information on the event or to watch a recording of the ceremony, check out our YouTube video: (Emeriti Awards begin at 1:03:00)

To view a Flickr album of photos from commencement, visit:

Pictured: Jeffrey Conrad and Michael Conrad (middle) in story header photo and Dr. Susan West Engelkemeyer (middle) in in-line photo, accepting their medallions. Also pictured: Randall V. Becker ’83, MBA ’96 (left) and Vice Chair Burke (right) in both photos.

About Nichols College  

Nichols College has earned business accreditation from the prestigious Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB International), the longest serving global accrediting body for business schools and the largest business education network connecting learners, educators, and businesses worldwide. Founded in 1815, Nichols College transforms today’s students into tomorrow’s leaders through a dynamic, career-focused business and professional education. Nichols offers real-world learning focused on professional depth – combined with vibrant living, competitive athletics, and an unmatched alumni advantage – equipping students to exceed their own expectations. To learn more about Nichols College, visit  

Media Contact:  

Denise Kelley  

Marketing and Communications Writer/Editor