Hodges names School of Professional Studies after local family

In recognition of a generous and significant gift to the institution, Hodges University announced that it has named one of its schools of study as the Nichols School of Professional Studies after Arlene and Jerry F. Nichols. The announcement was made at a gathering of students, faculty and staff today.

“We are honored to be part of the growing legacy of Hodges University,” said Jerry Nichols. “Arlene and I have always been passionate about supporting children and education and we have admired what Hodges has done for the people of our community. From its leadership, staff and faculty, their singular focus is the student, and that is most important. 

“Hodges doesn’t just give degrees; they give self esteem and confidence. Hodges allows people to pursue their dreams and their goals because they know that a diploma can change their personality and their lives. It gives them freedom, independence and the confidence to feel good about themselves to ask for an opportunity they might otherwise not have asked for,” he said.

According to Dr. Lou Traina, Vice President of Advancement at Hodges, the Nichols have been longtime supporters of the institution. “It is an esteemed privilege to name our School of Professional Studies after these two humanitarians,” he said. “Jerry and Arlene have been long time supporters of Hodges. Early in our history Jerry saw the future of Hodges and could envision not only what it could become but also what a thriving university like Hodges would mean to our area. Today, his vision has become a reality and this gift will ensure that we will continue to offer the degree programs that the local business community is looking for in an educated and highly skilled work force.”

For his part, Nichols credits the Hodges student as proof of the quality of education that the institution provides. “You can’t talk to a student that goes to Hodges University without them telling you how much respect and appreciation they have for Hodges and how they were treated there,” said Nichols. “The professional manner in which Hodges deals with its students and the way they work with the students to accommodate them and their needs in their programs shows the uniqueness of the educational experience at the school.” 

Originally from Ohio, the Nichols have been residents of Naples for more than 30 years. Jerry Nichols serves as Senior Vice President for Brown & Brown Benefits and is a financial representative for Northwestern Mutual Financial Network, where he has been recognized for his community service four times. Arlene Nichols, formerly president of her own retail management company, is actively involved in charity work.

The Nichols have generously given financial contributions and volunteer time to their church as well as a countless number of causes focused primarily on local children and education. These not-for-profit organizations include the Boys & Girls Club of Collier County, Junior Achievement, Community Foundation of Collier County, Quest for Kids, American Red Cross, and the Ronald McDonald House and Care Mobile.

Jerry Nichols has been actively involved with Hodges University for years, including his service as Chairman of the Hodges University Foundation Board in 2008; his support of the American Military Veterans Education Fund, which provides scholarship assistance to returning veterans seeking higher education at Hodges University; and establishing an endowment fund at Hodges University to ensure the institution’s future.

In 2008, Hodges University selected Jerry and Arlene Nichols as its Humanitarians of the Year. As role models, Jerry and Arlene have encouraged others to feel good about giving to or helping charities. As personal values drive commitment, their commitment to others and their fundamental beliefs continue to guide them along the paths of both success and significance.

According to Dr. Karen Locklear, Dean of the Nichols School of Professional Studies, the Nichols’ gift helps chart the course for the future of the School. "This generous gift to the School of Professional Studies will provide us with the opportunity to expand existing programs and develop competitive, high quality new programs that meet the existing needs of the community,” she said.  “In addition, it will allow us to offer affordable continuing educational opportunities for professionals in the area."

The Nichols School of Professional Studies at Hodges University offers several programs of study, including Criminal Justice, Legal Studies, Psychology and Interdisciplinary Studies. The program will add two new Master’s programs, including a Master’s in Mental Health Counseling and a Master’s in Legal Studies. Both programs will launch in January for the winter 2011 term. 

For more information on the Nichols School of Professional Studies, or any of the programs of study offered at Hodges, please call (239) 513-1122.

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