Siloam Springs, Ark (February 6, 2001) - The English Department of John Brown University recently recognized a well-loved professor for half a century of teaching. Dr. Edward Nichols has invested 41 out of his 50-year career at JBU, and his colleagues took time to honor him with a plaque on January 16 at a faculty poetry reading, Celebration of Creativity.
“Ed is an interesting mixture of scholar, poet and cowboy,” said Shirley Thomas, distinguished professor of English, while presenting him with the award. Nichols, former chair of the English department, retired from the University in 1996 but continues to teach one or two classes per semester.
Nichols arrived at JBU in 1960 and became Chair of the English Department in 1971 after earning his doctorate from the University of Tulsa. English faculty members describe Nichols as a friendly, optimistic, down-to-earth person who has been a source of encouragement for both students and professors.
In addition to his teaching, Nichols raises cattle on a farm outside Siloam Springs. He attributes his love for farming, English and scholarship to his mother. Growing up in Pindall, AR, Nichols was sick a lot and his mother read to him on the back porch of the family farmhouse. That is where his love for books began, and he has kept that passion throughout his life.
When Nichols writes, he opts for poetry. “I can wait for inspiration,” he says. The distinguished professor doesn’t consider himself a disciplined writer. Poetry is the sort of writing that requires short bursts of inspiration rather than long hours of methodical work. Dr. Shirley Thomas said she has heard students talk about his kind guidance in classes, where he is less of a teacher and more an “encouraging coach.”
Nichols says he’s enjoyed a fulfilling profession and he’s been able to watch people grow. "Teaching Christian young people all these years has been wonderful. I’d do it all again. I can’t think of a better way to spend life."
John Brown University is a private university with an enrollment of more than 1,500 students from 46 states and 30 countries. JBU is a member of the Arkansas Independent Colleges and Universities and the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities.