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New BIC prof excited about program

Nov. 18, 2004


Baylor Interdisciplinary Core students will be seeing a new face next semester. Dr. David Nichols has joined the Baylor faculty as an associate professor, and will be teaching BIC classes starting in the spring.

Previously, Nichols had been the director of the University Honors Program at Montclair State University in New Jersey and worked for the National Endowment for Humanities for more than 20 years.

This semester, Nichols has been teaching in the political science department, which compliments his degree in American politics. According to Nichols, coming to Baylor seemed to be "a good opportunity."

Heather Stark | Lariat staff
Newly hired associate professor Dr. David Nichols comes from Montclair University to Baylor to teach classes in the Baylor Interdisciplinary Core.
"Baylor is making advances and becoming a nationally known school," Nichols said. "Baylor students and faculty are an intellectual community, something many schools are lacking."

According to Nichols, the BIC program is "one of the best of its kind." Nichols said he is impressed with the seriousness of the faculty involved in BIC to be truly interdisciplinary. BIC faculty are pleased with the addition of Nichols to the program. According to Dr. David Hendon, director of BIC and professor of history, the addition of Nichols is part of a new trend in the Honors College to hire and tenure professors specifically for them. Previously, the BIC program would borrow faculty from various departments.

"Hiring professors gives stability to the program and the ability to have a core faculty committed to the BIC," Hendon said.

According to Hendon, the problem encountered by having faculty on loan is that they could easily leave the program and go back to their departments. Nichols is the first BIC professor to be hired by Baylor to have tenure and be committed to the program. Nichols had received tenure at Montclair University and Baylor transferred his tenure.

"Having a committed core of faculty gives the stability and coherence to the program necessary to succeed," Hendon said.

Nichols has met with the faculty groups for his BIC large-group courses he will teach next semester.

"The faculty seems interested in learning the substance of the ideas and how to get them across to the students," Nichols said. "It's a serious team-teaching effort."

Nichols and his family are adjusting to Waco, which is a change from New Jersey.

"I like Texas," Nichols said. "It's greener than I expected. I thought there would be more desert."

Nichols said his family enjoys the warm weather and he said it was easier getting around and doing things here than in New Jersey.

According to Nichols, he enjoys being able to do things on campus, such as evening lectures and activities in which students and faculty are involved. While at Baylor, Nichols said he plans to continue his scholarly work.

He focuses on the American presidency and has written a book on the subject titled, The Myth of the Modern Presidency, which was translated into Arabic. Nichols said he was impressed with the students he has encountered during his time teaching the American political thought course this semester. Nichols said his students were engaging, bright and a pleasure to teach.

"Baylor is a school with a lot of energy trying to do a lot of things right in providing students with a top notch education that takes ideas and teaching seriously," Nichols said.