For the past three years Nichols led the University of Wyoming as its 26th president, the first woman to hold this post. From 2009 to 2016 she served as provost and vice president for academic affairs at South Dakota State University. From 1994 to 2009 she was dean of family and consumer sciences at South Dakota State University. In 2008 she was tapped to be the interim president at Northern State University. President Nichols was an American Council on Education (ACE) fellow, class of 2006-2007. Prior to that, she taught at secondary and post-secondary levels in South Dakota, Colorado, Nebraska, Ohio, Idaho, and Iowa.
A native of Colman, S.D., Nichols received her undergraduate degree in home economics education from South Dakota State University. She holds a master’s of education degree in vocational and adult education from Colorado State University and a Ph.D. in family and consumer sciences education/family studies from The Ohio State University.