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Laurier community mourns former dean of students Fred Nichols

Wilfrid Laurier University has lost a legend with the passing of former dean of students Fred Nichols. Nichols passed away peacefully on Oct. 14, 2022, surrounded by family.

Nichols was hired as the director of student activities and placement services in 1963 by then university president William Villaume, the first of eight Laurier presidents Nichols would work with over the course of his career at the university.

Nichols became Laurier’s dean of students in 1968 and continued as dean until he retired from the role in 1997, after which he devoted his time to fostering connections with alumni and fundraising for the university. He continued in that capacity until 2016, when he was 84 year old.

Fred Nichols

Former Laurier dean of students Fred Nichols passed away on Oct. 14, 2022. Nichols began his career at the university in 1963.

Nichols’ role as a tireless champion of student causes as dean of students was recognized – in what he held as the highlight of his career – when students advocated to name a new Waterloo campus centre in his honour in 1997. Today, the Fred Nichols Campus Centre remains a hub of student activity on Laurier’s Waterloo campus.

Fred Nichols

Nichols is credited with establishing career services at Laurier, playing an instrumental role in developing Laurier’s athletics program, and being tireless in his support and advocacy for students. He also created the Dean’s Advisory Council, allowing students the opportunity to oversee student discipline.

Nichols served on 30 university committees and oversaw the financing and architectural plans for the campus centre building that now bears his name. He did it all while involving students in every possible aspect. In 1995, Maclean’s magazine dubbed Nichols the “surrogate grandfather to thousands” in its annual university rankings.

Nichols encouraged students to start a World University Service of Canada (WUSC) local committee and the WUSC student refugee sponsorship initiative at Laurier. During the early 1990s, he motivated students to establish a student levy to sponsor refugee students to study at the university and become permanent residents in Canada.

Laurier’s first sponsored student, Peter Madaka, came to Laurier in 1991 and lived with Nichols and his wife, Ada Marlene. Since then, Laurier students have sponsored a total of 32 refugee students.

In support of student wellness, Nichols also brought the now-national organization BACCHUS (Boost Alcohol Consciousness Concerning the Health of University Students) to Canada during the 1980s. In addition, he established a student bursary, the Fred Nichols BACCHUS Bursary for Student Leaders.

For his efforts and impact, Nichols was named an honorary Laurier alumnus, inducted into the Laurier Athletics Hall of Fame, and received an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree from the university in 2008. His three sons and two of his five grandchildren attended Laurier.

For those wishing to honour Nichols’ legacy, please consider a gift to Laurier’s Fred L. Nichols Award.

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