Dr. Robert A. Nicholson, president emeritus of Anderson University, has passed away. He was 94.
Nicholson served as president of the university from 1983-1990. Prior to his role as president, Nicholson attended Anderson College in the early 1940s and returned to the institution in 1945 to serve as a music instructor.
While teaching at the college, Nicholson formed the Anderson College Choir, which was later renamed the AU Chorale. In 1958, he transitioned into a long-term role as the dean of the college, where he served until becoming president in 1983.
Dr. Barry Callen, who served as dean of Anderson College after Nicholson transitioned into the presidency, worked alongside his friend for many years.
“I was privileged to serve for years under his superb leadership,” Callen said.
When Nicholson authored his autobiography “So I Said Yes!” in 2005, Callen edited and published the book as part of his role with the Anderson University Press.
“It was my privilege to edit and publish this fine record of a remarkable life so well lived,” he said of the book. “Its title captures the heart of who he was, a servant willing to do whatever the campus needed to move forward with integrity and academic quality.”
Callen and Nicholson remained friends long after their days as colleagues came to a close.
“Until just prior to his death, and with his eyes greatly weakened, I would visit weekly to read to him from the New York Times, his favorite paper,” Callen said. “[We would] recall together our precious memories of campus leadership over the decades.”
Current AU President John Pistole said that Nicholson’s passing is “a significant loss to AU and the city of Anderson communities.”
Pistole pointed to the lasting legacy that Nicholson leaves behind.
“He made such an indelible impression on so many students, faculty and staff during his over 40 years of service, culminating in his last seven years as president, that his legacy will live on for generations to come,” he said. “Dr. Nicholson is known for demonstrating excellence in all his endeavors, and AU is a much better place because of his life and service. It is with respect and admiration that we recognize the tremendous contributions of Dr. Nicholson in our centennial year. We remember his family and friends as they mourn his passing.”