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The goal of the new Florida Tech President John Nicklow: Increase the visibility of the university

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John Nicklow, an engineer by training, helped grow enrollment as president of the University of New Orleans. And he led the institution’s first-ever full-scale fundraiser, which is nearing the $50 million mark.

On July 1, Nicklow will take up his post as president of the Florida Institute of Technology — which he says has reached a “tipping point” as a STEM institution in relation to the surrounding community.

“The institution has a wonderful reputation. But I think there is also an opportunity today to significantly increase Florida Tech’s visibility,” Nicklow said during a phone interview.

“There is an opportunity to reconnect with alumni and engage them in expanding partnerships. I think those things existed to some extent. But I see this opportunity to significantly improve what the institution does and its visibility. And none of those things are isolated,” Nicklow said.

More: Florida Tech elects U. of New Orleans leader John Nicklow as the new university president

More: Florida Tech is restoring men’s rowing amid Title IX litigation and trying to hire a head coach

The new president of the Florida Institute of Technology, John Nicklow.

“I think there are synergies between the growth in enrollment and the growth in academic and research experience,” he said.

Nicklow—who is involved in a variety of community organizations in the New Orleans area—succeeds T. Dwayne McCay, the university’s last incumbent president. McCay served from July 2016 until his resignation in March 2022.

Robert King has served as interim president since July while a selection committee conducted a nationwide search for McCay’s successor, evaluating 112 job applicants.

“Obviously I still have to learn something. And I’ll be spending a lot of time with people and entities and partners, making sure I fully understand the different perspectives, needs and goals,” Nicklow said of his first few days at work in Melbourne. “And then I think that from there we will develop a vision together,” he said.

The story goes on

In another matter, Florida Tech remains embroiled in a federal lawsuit sparked by the abrupt termination of the varsity men’s rowing team — and the litigation could expand in scope. In a Thursday court filing, five male cross-country runners petitioned to join the lawsuit, arguing that the university also unfairly discriminated against them by eliminating their varsity team in violation of Title IX of the 1972 Education Amendments.

The university suspended both varsity sports in June, along with women’s rowing, women’s cross country/distance track and men’s golf. In February, a federal judge in Orlando ordered Florida Tech to reinstate the men’s rowing team, citing a failure to comply with Title IX.

The litigation is ongoing. In fact, a headline Monday in the Florida Tech Crimson, the student-run newspaper, read, “Florida Tech Men’s Rowing Reintroduced – What About the Women?”

Nicklow has been President of the University of New Orleans since March 2016. A finalist for the Florida Tech job, he spent a few days on campus in February and met with the search committee, students, college deans, faculty, executives and the Board of Trustees. The five job finalists also participated in open forums for the campus community in Denius Student Center’s Hartley Room.

“It’s really the people that make this place special. And with that I left: simply struck by the pride. I was impressed by the interest and commitment,” said Nicklow.

“You know, I always say that a leader without a team gets you nowhere. The fact is that there is a great team. And we’re going to build on that team,” he said.

Nicklow was active in the New Orleans community. In addition to chairing the Greater New Orleans Higher Education Consortium, he has served on Greater New Orleans Inc. and the Jefferson Chamber of Commerce, New Orleans Chamber of Commerce, Business Council of New Orleans, New Orleans Business Alliance, Louisiana Committee of 100, Board of Directors Rotary Club of New Orleans and Benjamin Franklin High School.

“I’m often described as a collaborative leader, team builder. And if we develop solutions together, that’s important to me. Because the only way we can all collectively be really proud – invested in solutions and goals – is when we work together and we work together,” said Nicklow.

“I have an open-door communication policy where I work to hear the voices of different constituents. This is to ensure that these people are heard and therefore invested as we move forward. We don’t always agree on the decision, but it’s important that people sit around the table and are heard as we move forward,” he said.

“I work hard to be student-centric. My team here knows that I don’t care if it’s a facility issue, a business issue, or whatever – the first question I ask is how will it affect the students? And how will it affect their success?” he asked.

“That helps me prioritize the solution and then build the solution, right? We want the solution to be best for the students,” he said.

Nicklow hopes Next is Now, the UN’s first-ever full-scale fundraiser, will reach its $50 million goal in the next few months. The far-reaching campaign will provide scholarships and incentives to recruit and retain students; Launched Bachelor of Science pilot program for airlines; upgrading classrooms, technology and sports facilities; and invest in research alongside a variety of other projects.

In an example of community partnership, Nicklow last week attended a groundbreaking ceremony for a future $28 million three-story K-8 charter school on the UN campus that will house more than 900 students.

“Those kinds of legacies will live long after I leave here. What I’m most excited about is coming into the Melbourne community and building those relationships that will be lifelong. You will be life changing. And changing institutions. I’m just excited to get started,” Nicklow said.

Rick Neale is the South Brevard Watchdog Reporter for FLORIDA TODAY (click here for more of his stories.) Contact Neale at 321-242-3638 or [email protected] Twitter: @RickNeale1

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This article originally appeared on Florida Today: New Florida Tech President John Nicklow aims to increase visibility