Friday, Mar 31, 2023
Former Trustee Christopher Nikolich ’92 makes unrestricted gift to ‘Transforming Students – Transforming Lives’
Former Trustee Christopher Nikolich ’92 has given a $50,000 unrestricted gift in honor of his wife, Bethann Fleming Nikolich ’93, to support the University’s fundraising campaign, Transforming Students – Transforming Lives: The Campaign for Rider University. In gratitude, Rider celebrated by naming a lounge in Bierenbaum Fisher Hall, home to the College of Education and Human Services after Bethann, a Berkeley Heights, New Jersey teacher.
“This gift is a wonderful show of support for Rider’s comprehensive campaign, one that will assist Rider in continuing to provide a transformative education to its students,” President Gregory G. Dell’Omo, Ph.D., says. “I am grateful to Christopher and Bethann for their longtime interest in Rider and its students and for keeping the University at the forefront of their philanthropy.”
The dedication of the Bethann Fleming Nikolich ’93 Lounge on the main floor of Bierenbaum Fisher Hall came as a complete surprise to Bethann, who attended the gathering unaware that it would be in her honor. Her husband had worked with the University so that the purpose of the event was kept secret until the ceremony began.
The occasion marked yet another in what has become a series of similar events during the Transforming Students – Transforming Lives campaign where alumni have surprised loved ones and friends by making a public announcement of a gift in order to honor them. The dedication of Lynch Adler Hall and the announcement of $1 million in new scholarships for business students also featured surprises.
This time the occasion was a dual surprise, as the couple’s son, a student at Penn State, was able to return home to attend the ceremony, surprising his mother with his presence at the event.
Bethann, a second grade special education teacher at William Woodruff Elementary School, earned a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education and sociology from Rider and a master’s degree in early childhood education and special education from Kean University. Earlier in her career, she worked as a teacher and an administrator at a charter school in East Orange, New Jersey.
“Teaching is something she loves and is very important to her,” says Christopher. “I thought this occasion was a great way to recognize that dedication to her profession. I have seen firsthand how compassionate, supportive and resourceful Bethann has always been with our own children, Ryan and Kaitlyn, and how those same qualities carry over to the students she teaches.”
“Gifts like this bring recognition to the important and vital work teachers do,” says Dr. Jason Barr, dean of the College of Education and Human Services. “It is a profession that needs a spotlight, especially now, when there is a statewide teacher shortage. We need more creative and engaging individuals, like Bethann, to enter this rewarding profession.”
The Nikolichs met during their first year at Rider and started dating as juniors. They have been married 25 years.
Christopher, who served as a University Trustee from 2011-2020, including two years as board secretary, graduated from Rider with a bachelor’s in finance. He began his career at Alliance Bernstein as an associate portfolio manager, rising to now head the firm’s U.S. glide path strategies for its multi-asset solutions business. He received his MBA in finance from New York University and is a member of Rider University's Investment Subcommittee.
“I owe a great deal to Rider,” he says. “It provided me with an educational foundation for my MBA and my career in finance. And, I can say that, 30 years after graduation, my best and closest friends are still from my fraternity, Phi Sigma Kappa, and so many others I met while a student here.”