Marian McGowan Nisbet ’62: the Alumna Behind the Nisbet Honors Program
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Marian McGowan Nisbet ’62: the Alumna Behind the Nisbet Honors Program

Marian Nisbet Honors Program Academically Gifted

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Twenty years ago, on an Easter Sunday, alumna Marian McGowan Nisbet ’62 and her husband, Olin, made a decision that would chart a new course for Converse’s highest academically achieving students: they gave Converse a generous endowment to establish an honors program.

In 2019, they deepened their commitment to the Nisbet Honors Program with an additional gift to grow the endowment that supports it.

Providing students with a community where they can explore their full potential through independent research and intellectually-challenging conversations, the invitation-only Nisbet Honors Program supports Converse’s continued dedication to academic excellence. Marian Nisbet is impressed with the program’s continued success and the professional achievements of its students. “The first year they started with three students,” she said. “Now they have 113; that’s amazing.”

The program began in the year 2000 under the direction of Dr. Laura Brown, Associate Professor of English, and Dr. John M. Theilmann, Andrew Helmus Distinguished Professor of History and Politics. In 2018, Dr. Will Case, Associate Professor of Chemistry, joined Dr. Brown to continue its successful legacy.

“Dr. Brown and Dr. Theilmann have done an incredible job over these many years. Now with Dr. Case coming in, the program will have a new dimension to it,” Nisbet said.

“This program has helped attract many of Converse’s brightest students, and it has unlimited potential to grow and expand.”

Brown looks to the future with appreciation for how far the program has come over the last two decades. “I have always loved working with our academically gifted and most motivated students, and it has been a delight to work with a donor as supportive, genuine and kind as Mrs. Nisbet,” Dr. Brown said.

Dr. Case shares this passion for working with students who want to challenge themselves. “This program has helped attract many of Converse’s brightest students, and it has unlimited potential to grow and expand. Converse has been a good steward of Mr. and Mrs. Nisbet’s initial investment, and as Mrs. Nisbet sees the far-reaching impact of their gift it inspires her to continue to support the program.”

Marian Nisbet agrees. “The faculty have put so much of themselves into this program. They started with nothing and they’ve grown the program exponentially. The relationship between the faculty and the students in the program is what I think has sustained it.”

Originally published in The Converse Magazine.

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