ATHENS, Ga. – Sharon Y. Nickols, dean of the University of Georgia College of Family and Consumer Sciences, announced that she will step down as dean July 1, 2006, ending nearly 15 years in the post.
Nickols also will relinquish positions as an associate director of the Georgia Agricultural Experiment Station and as an associate director of the Georgia Cooperative Extension Service. She plans to remain on the faculty of the College of Family and Consumer Sciences where she will teach and conduct research.
Nickols is the longest-serving of the deans of UGA’s 15 schools and colleges. She became dean in August, 1991, the fifth person to hold the title since the college was created in 1933 under the name School of Home Economics.
She says she decided to step down because the time is right for new leadership in the college, and she wants to have more time for academic pursuits.
“I became dean with a solid foundation that was laid in the 1970s and 1980s by former Dean Emily Pou and former Vice President Virginia Trotter, who invested in developing research competencies and created outstanding opportunities to grow,” she says. “We’ve accomplished many things as a faculty and administration, and the college is in excellent position for new leadership.”
Among highlights of her tenure, she says, are doubling of undergraduate enrollment in the college, recruitment of outstanding faculty and stronger relations with industry, especially in the areas of housing and textiles and apparel. Public service programs have been strengthened and the college now offers study abroad opportunities in five countries, up from one when she became dean.
“There’s no national ranking system for family and consumer sciences, but I’m familiar with the national landscape and all indicators are that we are one of the top three colleges in the country in terms of quality of academic programs, faculty productivity, research and public service,” Nickols says.
Her biggest disappointment, she says, is that a master plan to expand the college’s physical space hasn’t been implemented.
Nickols says she’s looking forward to “retooling” and resuming teaching and historical research. “The reason I got into higher education is that I have a passion for students and a passion for family and consumer sciences. I want to have time before I retire to do historical research on the contributions of this field to improving women’s access to higher education and improving living conditions in the mid-to-late 19th and early 20th centuries.”
UGA President Michael F. Adams said, “Dean Nickols has provided excellent leadership in a period of remarkable growth and improvement in the College of Family and Consumer Sciences. She has been a key member of our administrative team, as well as a personal friend and trusted colleague. Her departure will be a loss not only to her own faculty, staff and students, but to the entire university community. I thank her for her outstanding service and look forward to continuing to work with her in her role as a faculty member.”
Arnett C. Mace Jr., senior vice president for academic affairs and provost, said Nickols has served “with distinction” and added, “Her leadership in advancing the college, and development of cooperative programs within the university, are especially noteworthy achievements. While I shall miss working with Sharon in her role as dean, I look forward to her contributions in her research and instructional programs.”
Nickols came to UGA from the University of Illinois where she was director of the School of Human Resources and Family Studies. She also was assistant director of the Agricultural Experiment Station and professor of family economics.
Nickols’s previous research has included family time allocation and women’s economic roles in international development. The author of several book chapters and numerous articles in professional publications, she is co-editor of three books and has made more than 100 presentations at professional meetings.
A nationally recognized leader in her profession, she is past president of the American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences and past chair of the Board on Human Sciences for the National Association of State Universities and Land Grant Colleges. She was chair of the Family and Consumer Sciences Administrative Leadership Council, and mentored many emerging professionals in their academic administration careers.
She also has extensive international experience, including being a Fulbright Scholar and senior lecturer in home economics at the University of Malawi, and chairing a review team for a United Nations Development Programme in India. She has made presentations and consulted at institutions in Japan, Korea, Kenya, Swaziland, the West Indies and Pakistan.
Nickols has twice received the Commemorative Lecture Award from the American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences. She also has received the Outstanding Professional Award from the Georgia Association of Family and Consumer Sciences, and the Honorary Membership Award from the Georgia Association of Family, Career and Community Leaders of America.