Bob Nissen '71 will return to campus for his 45-year reunion this October.
Northwestern has changed a lot since Bob Nissen graduated in 1971—and, he says, he couldn’t be happier about it.
“The University has continued to get better and better [since I attended],” he says. “[It’s] led by a great president, the alumni are more engaged, the athletes much improved, and recent graduates are making a mark.”
That improvement has been obvious for a while to Nissen, the owner of Nissen Consulting Group, a consulting firm primarily supporting over the counter (OTC) drug companies. He points to Northwestern student groups: When he was Chair of the A&O board from 1970-71, Northwestern had fewer than 50 of them. That number has rocketed up to around 450 today.
“I also truly believe that the professors and administrators we’ve attracted throughout the years are first class, just like the student body,” he says. “And that makes a great University.”
Nissen grew up in Chicago, began high school in Atlanta, Georgia, and graduated from Lake Forest High School in Illinois. When applying for college, Northwestern was a no-brainer. His father was an alum, and his brother was already attending. But it wasn’t just family ties that made him apply, though his sister, two cousins, a nephew and niece, and two other family members would eventually attend as well. “Northwestern had the academic reputation, and the [Northwestern] people I’d met along the way have always impressed me,” he says.
As an undergraduate, he joined the Greek system, pledging Psi Upsilon. “The Greek system was relatively strong when I was there,” he says. “I was president of the fraternity, but I also was heavily involved with other student organizations, including Dolphin Show and Student Government. I had many great friends that I made throughout the university. The beauty was that the more you participated, the broader group of friends you made. And they have lasted for many years.”
After graduating from Northwestern, he received a master’s degree from Kellogg School of Management. He worked in the food and pharmaceutical industry in Chicago for 12 years before moving to New Jersey, where he’s been ever since.
Still, he loves coming back to campus for his class reunion—he hasn’t missed one since he graduated, and he never intends to. “It gives me that opportunity to connect with classmates that in some cases I haven’t seen for many years,” he says. “I’ve either been on the committee or chair for every reunion since I graduated. They’ve all been great events. The 40th was spectacular; we had a huge turnout. Everyone really enjoyed it.”
He tries to return to campus at least once a year—“usually for Homecoming”—and gives to Northwestern annually at a leadership level. “The reputation that the University has affects us as alumni as much as it affects us as undergraduate and grad students,” he says. “Clearly financial contributions help attract the best students, build the best facilities, help set up alternate campuses throughout the world, help the sports program, help many things. I’m a true believer that annual donations are important to the continued success of Northwestern.”
Beyond giving, he spends his spare time serving on the New Jersey admissions council and interviewing prospective students. As part of that interview process, he always shares one decision he made that he has never regretted.
“When I’m interviewing students today, I tell them, there are a lot of decisions you make in your life and you might say ‘I should have done this or that,’” he says. “If I did it 100 times again, I would always want to go to Northwestern.”
Reunion Weekend 2016 takes place October 20-23, 2016. Register now for Reunion Weekend 2016 events at alumni.northwestern.edu/reunions