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UNH Honors Longtime Donor and Dedicated Alumnus

Release Date:
9/23/2013 12:00 AM
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In recognition of his support, the University dedicated the Alexander W. Nicholson Jr. Health Center

Al Nicholson, 500px  Alexander W. Nicholson Jr. ’63 A.S., 65, ’78 EMBA

Sept. 23, 2013

WEST HAVEN, CONN. -- During his more than 52 years – and counting – as a member of the University of New Haven community, Al W. Nicholson Jr. ’63 A.S., 65, ’78 EMBA has collaborated with all but one of the University’s presidents during his time as a student, staff member, Alumni Association president and Board of Governors member.

He reflected on many of his experiences on Friday, Sept. 20 as the University’s health center was dedicated in his name in recognition of his longstanding support of UNH.

“This is a fantastic honor,” said Nicholson. “The sun is shining today, and it normally shines on my life. I can easily trace back all the wonderful things in my life to UNH.”

Nicholson and his wife, Karen, are among the University’s most committed donors and have contributed to more than 20 University programs, from athletics and the Alumni Scholarship Program to the Peterson Library. Their gift to the Health Center enabled the University to equip the facility with state-of-the-art exam rooms and the latest medical equipment that provide the highest level of health care to students.

Nicholson grew up in the Westville section of New Haven and graduated from West Haven High School.

During the afternoon ceremony on the Bixler/Botwinik Quad, Nicholson remembered New Haven College president Marvin Peterson visiting a student government meeting when he was a student. At that time, a farmer owned the land that is now the Bixler/Botwinik Quad, and Peterson encouraged the students to treat the property owner with respect and dignity. “He had a vision for this land,” said Nicholson.

The farmland was eventually bought by a developer and three apartment buildings were built. As a member of the University’s Board in the late 1970s, Nicholson helped acquire a contract on the three buildings that were turned into residence halls. The purchase helped the University grow into a residential campus from a commuter school.

“Al not only had business acumen, he had, and still has, a great deal of vision about the institution and the role it plays in the community and the kind of school it strives to be,” said President Steve Kaplan.

Paula Cappuccia, director of health services, praised Nicholson, who was chosen in the 1970s to design the University’s first student health insurance program, for his longstanding commitment.

“You have always helped our office carry on our number goal, which is to provide excellent, high-quality health care to our students,” said Cappuccia.

Student leaders also thanked Nicholson for his support.

“For decades, your support has helped UNH in more ways than you can imagine, and your efforts continue to serve the needs of UNH students,” said Donovan Linder ’14 M.A., president of the Graduate Student Council. “We greatly appreciate your contributions and the powerful impact they have had on the UNH community.”

“An even greater gift that Mr. Nicholson has provided to us as students is yet another example of an alumni role model,” added Zani Imetovski ’14, president of the Undergraduate Student Government Association. “His generosity has set a standard for all future alumni, including myself, for what one can accomplish through hard work and dedication.”

The University of New Haven is a private, top-tier comprehensive institution recognized as a national leader in experiential education. Founded in 1920 on the campus of Yale University in cooperation with Northeastern University, UNH moved to its current West Haven campus in 1960. The University operates a satellite campus in Tuscany, Italy, and offers programs at several locations throughout Connecticut and in New Mexico. UNH provides its students with a unique combination of a solid liberal arts education and real-world, hands-on career and research opportunities. The University enrolls approximately 6,400 students, including nearly 1,800 graduate students and more than 4,600 undergraduates – the majority of whom reside in University housing. Through its College of Arts and Sciences, College of Business, Henry C. Lee College of Criminal Justice and Forensic Sciences, Tagliatela College of Engineering, and College of Lifelong & eLearning, UNH offers 75 undergraduate and graduate degree programs. UNH students have access to more than 50 study abroad programs worldwide, and its student-athletes compete in 16 varsity sports in the NCAA Division II’s highly competitive Northeast-10 Conference.