The crowning achievement during his term was the conversion of Robert Morris from college to university in 2002.
In many ways, the institution is markedly different than it was when Nicholson took the reins in 1989. At the time, 97 percent of Robert Morris' students came from Western Pennsylvania. Today, that number stands at about 75 percent, thanks in part to aggressive efforts to recruit students from outside the region.
Under Nicholson's leadership, Robert Morris was transformed from a specialty business college into a broad-based university offering professional degrees at the bachelor's, master's and doctoral levels. Adding programs with niche appeal -- actuarial science is one example - and developing existing curriculums helped attract students who might have selected other institutions.
Robert Morris also extended its athletics programs, an initiative that Nicholson credits with attracting a significant number of students who would not have otherwise considered the school. And a successful annual subscription speakers series brought notables to town, including former Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, journalist Walter Cronkite and former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.
While Nicholson is leaving the president's office, he has no intention of retiring completely. He says he intends to remain active with Robert Morris, including teaching as a professor of management.
How to reach: Robert Morris University, www.rmu.edu