Transformative Baylor Vice President leaves role

By Phoebe Suy | Staff Writer

Baylor vice president for facilities and operations Brian Nicholson will be leaving Baylor at the end of 2017.

Nicholson was instrumental in transforming Baylor campus during his 14 year tenure at the university. His most recent projects include the construction of McLane Stadium and Rosenbalm Fountain.

Nicholson came to Baylor in 2003 at a time when not much development was going on.

“Over the last 14 years we have done a little over $1 billion of construction projects, which is unprecedented,” Nicholson said.

According to Nicholson, one of the most fun projects, and also the most stressful, was the construction of McLane Stadium.

“If you’re anybody that wants to be involved with construction, so you’re talking about childhood dreams…I’ve always wanted to do construction and manage projects,” Nicholson said. “You get to build a football stadium, how cool is that?”

Approximately one year ago Nicholson started a consulting company where he consults with private individuals and universities on how to do development projects. Going forward, he hopes to take some of the things he’s learned from his experience at Baylor and share it with private industries. He has some private contracts now and said from a transition standpoint, the timing was right to leave Baylor.

Nicholson began speaking with President Livingstone in July about his transition away from Baylor. He said he is stepping out on his own and was not aware of other senior administrators leaving. Nicholson is the fourth senior Baylor administrator to transition roles this year.

Executive Vice President and Provost L. Gregory Jones resigned in June, Vice President for Constituent Engagement Tommye Lou Davis and Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Dr. Reagan Ramsower also recently announced their transitions.

Nicholson is not in the spotlight often, but his influence is tangibly seen on campus. Some of Nicholson’s projects include the construction or renovation of:

McLane Stadium, Paul L. Foster Campus for Business and Innovation, Dutton Avenue Office and Parking Facility, Penland Residence Hall, East Village Residential Community, East Campus Parking Garage, Brooks Residential College, Brooks Residential Flats, Pullin Family Marina, Rosenbalm Fountain, Fountain Mall, Ferrell Center, Marrs McLean Science Building, Sid Richardson Building (Paul L. Foster Success Center), North and South Russell Residence Halls, Rena Marrs McLean Gymnasium, Clyde Hart Track and Field Stadium and the Beauchamp Athletics Nutrition Center.

“I’m so grateful for everything I’ve been able to do here, Baylor has been so good to me and my family,” Nicholson said. “It’s been a good run.”

Don Bagby, assistant vice president of facilities, planning and construction, works directly with Nicholson to design, maintain and renovate buildings on campus.

“A big part of my job is looking into the future and a lot of my job is taking care of the present,” Bagby said. “It takes a lot of people to do that. I have a lot of talented folks that I work with that make it look easy, but it’s not. It’s a pretty complicated thing.”

Bagby said he first got to know Nicholson when Nicholson started at Baylor. One of Nicholson’s first projects was Brooks Hall. Bagby said the individual originally responsible for the project left, so Nicholson picked it up. At the time, the project was over budget and behind schedule. However, under Nicholson’s leadership, Brooks Hall was completed on time and within budget.

“I still don’t know how he did this,” Bagby said. “At that point in time, I really realized [Brian] was a little different.”

Bagby described Nicholson as a high energy leader with a participative management style. He is an organizer who can make friends with anyone, Bagby said.

“Brian is always looking ahead and making sure we’re pointed in the right direction,” Bagby said.

According to Bagby, Nicholson conscientiously put together a cohesive team in the Operations and Facilities Management department. They work well together and under Nicholson’s leadership have been given the freedom and liberty to do what they believe to be the right thing in their individual fields of expertise.

“Who’s going to replace him? I really don’t know,” Bagby said. “Brian is the kind of guy who needs a challenge and so, you know, I think that’s probably what he’s looking for and I hope that he finds that.”