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March 14, 2005

Provost Nicholls Arrives At UConn

Peter J. Nicholls arrived in Connecticut during a snow storm. But the cold weather didn’t change the warm welcome he received on his first day at the University.

UConn’s new provost began his new job on March 1.

”People here have been kind and helpful and supportive,” he said. “My first impressions are the same as the impressions I had when I was interviewing – there are a lot of great people here.”

Nicholls, also a tenured professor of mathematics, said he will spend the first month getting to know the University, the vice provosts, the deans, and the staff of Gulley Hall. He hopes to meet legislators and members of the community, too. He has already attended an executive committee meeting at the School of Fine Arts, and looks forward to meeting with faculty of the various schools and colleges.

“I would like to get a feel for what faculty are doing, what they are excited about, what academic programs they are working with, and what research they are doing,” he said. “I know I will spend a lot of time in my first few months here visiting the academic units.”

Nicholls, who previously served as provost and academic vice president of Colorado State University, said his style is to “hire people who excel at what they do and to be clear about expectations and responsibilities. For example, I expect the deans to meet expectations, live within their budgets, and move the unit they are in charge of in a direction consistent with the University’s mission and goals.”

Nicholls and his wife, Trudy, soon will close on the purchase of a home in Tolland that they will move into at the end of March.

Were they any surprises during his first week in Storrs? A few, he said, such as the governor’s hiring freeze and the proposal to freeze tuition, “but nothing is going to change my mind about this place.”