Williams Baptist University is mourning the loss of one of its historical icons, Dr. D. Jack Nicholas. Dr. Nicholas, who was 86, passed away early Thursday morning in Little Rock following an illness.
Dr. Nicholas was the second president of WBU, serving in that role from 1973 to 1991. Himself a Williams alumnus, he led the college to become a four-year institution in 1984, and he brought about the construction of several prominent campus facilities during his presidency.
Dr. Nicholas also served as a professor of psychology at WBU both before and after his 18 years as president.
“Dr. Nicholas is a towering figure in the history of WBU. He guided the institution safely through some very challenging times, and he led the way to some of its greatest achievements. He was a tremendous man of God who held Williams firmly to its Christian foundations. He will be sorely missed, and our prayers are with Mrs. Nicholas and their family,” said Dr. Stan Norman, president of Williams.
Dr. Kenneth Startup, former academic dean and professor emeritus of history at WBU, said Dr. Nicholas presided over WBU at a critical time in the institution’s existence.
“Jack Nicholas came to the Williams presidency at a time of great challenge and change for the institution. The early 1970s required careful mobilization of institutional resources and careful planning for the future. Dr. Nicholas made hard and difficult decisions necessary for Williams’s future. He was determined and dedicated and sacrificial in his service. A successful boxer in his youth, Dr. Nicholas needed a full measure of toughness and resilience to guide Williams through some turbulent times,” Startup said.
“Of all his many worthwhile achievements, it has to be said that his initiation of Williams’s move toward comprehensive senior status was certainly his greatest legacy,” Startup added. “A man of deep faith, great integrity, and high intelligence, Jack Nicholas was the right leader at the right time in the history of Williams.”
Dr. Nicholas is survived by his wife, Martha (Williams) Nicholas, who was the longtime librarian at the university.
The memorial service will be Monday, Dec. 3, at 2:00 p.m. at Immanuel Baptist Church in Little Rock. Visitation will be from 1:00 p.m. until the service begins.
The family requests that memorials be made to WBU. Memorial gifts can be made online at williamsbu.edu/give/.
Funeral arrangements are through Roller-Chenal Funeral Home in Little Rock.