Ann Nicks’ road to Tennessee led through several twists and turns. She was born and raised in Ennis, Texas, the middle of three children to parents, S. T. and Oleta Simpson, who loved each other, loved others, loved their country, and loved their God.
After graduating from Ennis High School in Ennis, Texas, in 1961, Nicks enrolled at Navarro Junior College in Corsicana, Texas. Where her heart really wanted to be was at Texas A&M, but the university did not accept females. Instead, Nicks quit school and went to work as a secretary in downtown Dallas.
While raising two daughters, Kim and Kelly, she went back to school at the age of 34 and earned a bachelor’s degree in business from North
Texas State University. Because she was scared of competing with younger people, she took only one course at first. She eventually became a mentor to fellow students; moved into the business education field; was initiated into Pi Omega Pi, the National Business Education Honor Society; and received an award for outstanding business education student on Honors Day at the time of her graduation.
One month after graduating, Nicks was in the classroom at R.L. Turner High School in Farmers Branch, Texas, working with “at risk” students. Through this experience, she fell in love with young women who had life skills challenges. After two years of teaching at the high school level, Nicks moved into the private career school field where she felt she would have more opportunities to work with women in transition. The school she cho
se was Executive Secretarial School in Dallas, Texas, the premier career school in career education for women.
Because she had a respect and desire for use of appropriate textbooks within the classroom setting, Nicks soon became the Director of Curriculum. At the same time, she assumed the Role of Director of Night School Programs, a role that involved interacting with students on a different level where retention and academic progress took on a new meaning. When the position of Dean of the school became available, Nicks was approached to apply. Upon accepting this position, she began acting as liaison between students and faculty and worked with the Placement Department and Dallas business community. Nicks later began participating in accreditation visits at various institutions across the country for Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. It was in this role that she met her husband, Roy Nicks, a Nashville resident whom she married in September 1990.
In 1991, Nicks began a position as Director of Academic Affairs at the corporate office of Education Corporation of America in Nashville, Tennessee. During her time at Education Corporation of America, she oversaw the academic success of ten career schools and the SACS reaccreditation of seven of the ten schools.
That spring her husband moved to Johnson City to become president of East Tennessee State University while Nicks remained in Nashville to work. When it became clear to both of them that she needed to be a part of the ETSU community, Nicks moved to be with her husband, becoming the First Lady of ETSU.
In the summer of 1992, Nicks enrolled in the Master’s program in the College of Applied Science and Technology with a minor in Human Relations in the College of Education. Seeking this degree provided her an opportunity to interact with students and faculty giving her an overall feel for the university community. Nicks received her Master of Science degree in the fall of 1993. Some of the things she took from this experience were a love for the beauty of the campus; a respect for the faculty and the work they put into their positions; and an appreciation of the students and the educational accomplishments they make at ETSU.
As the First Lady of ETSU, Nicks was dedicated to opening Shelbridge, the President’s home, to university organizations and community activities. Before Dr. Nicks’ tenure ended in January 1997, she planned and was hostess for well over 100 events at Shelbridge. A room at Shelbridge was dedicated by Nicks to showcase Appalachian art created by area artisans. She commented that it was an honor and a very gratifying experience to serve as First Lady of ETSU.
Since leaving ETSU, Nicks has continued in service to her community and church, Hermitage United Methodist. She has acted as a counselor at Hope Clinic for Women, served as chair of the Education Department in Brandywine Woman’s Club, commissioned as a Stephen Minister, and participated in many Bible studies and prayer ministries. She and her husband continue to serve ETSU when and wherever they can.
With eleven grandchildren between the ages of six and twenty-five, life is never boring. Her hobbies these days include reading, playing bridge, and traveling with Dr. Nicks.