Longtime Lamar University leader Brenda Nichols to retire in Spring 2023

After 21 years of guiding, educating, mentoring, and providing support for students, faculty and staff at Lamar University, Brenda Nichols, Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs, has announced that she will retire in January 2023.

“Brenda has been a valued member of the Lamar University team for over two decades and helped lead the University through both rewarding and challenging circumstances,” President Jaime Taylor said. “Throughout her career at LU she has shown great care for students, faculty, staff and has taken pride in their successes while encouraging them to overcome any obstacles they might encounter. LU and our community have benefitted significantly from her service and no doubt will continue to collect the rewards of her efforts into the future.” brenda-nichols
Nichols has held several leadership positions since joining Lamar University as dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and professor of nursing in 2001 –– a role she filled until October of 2015 when she was named associate provost.

While serving as dean, she guided the work of more than 200 full-time faculty in 12 academic departments, study abroad and partnership programs at the undergraduate and master’s level. Nichols was named interim Vice President of Academic Affairs in 2019 and was later appointed the role in addition to her role as provost in spring of 2021.

“Over the past two years, Brenda has worked closely with LU vice president for finance and operations Jeremy Alltop to dramatically improve Lamar University’s financial position,” Taylor said. “Together, the two have placed the university in an outstanding position for future success and I could not be more pleased with the work they have done.”

During her tenure, Nichols also led Lamar University to its successful reaffirmation of accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges –– an accomplishment Dann Brown, Associate Provost for Academic Affairs, said did not come without challenges.

“This achievement was complicated by delays related to Hurricane Harvey and the Covid-19 pandemic. She provided the leadership needed to maintain institutional focus on SACSCOC reaffirmation, responded to numerous SACSCOC evaluation team inquiries, coordinated a virtual site visit, and managed a team of faculty and staff responsible for the compliance reporting process,” he said. “This institutionally-significant achievement occurred even as Dr. Nichols led many, many other important initiatives during a time of academic affairs transition.”

Reflecting back on her time at LU, Nichols said “It’s an honor to have worked at Lamar University with amazing students, faculty and staff –– it has truly been an incredibly rewarding journey. While I’ll miss my extended family here at LU, my husband and I are looking forward to traveling and seeing friends and colleagues in other states and countries.”

Nichols will continue to fulfill her role during the summer of 2022; her official retirement date as provost and professor of nursing will be January 15, 2023. During the time of transition, she will take the lead on community college efforts focusing primarily on the 2+2 initiative and the university’s response to SACSCOC.

A university search committee will be assembled in the coming weeks. President Jaime Taylor seeks to appoint the new Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs by June 1, 2022.