People of the Year: Nicki Moore

Nicki+Moore

Nicki Moore

Isabel van Wie, Maroon-News Staff

Each year, The Colgate Maroon-News chooses a topic to highlight for a Special Edition. This December, our theme is “People of the Year,” modeled after Time Magazine’s annual “Person of the Year” issue. In this special section, we have profiled sixteen individuals who have had made significant—and perhaps lesser-known—impacts on Colgate’s campus this year, be they in the classroom, at the football field or even on the Cruiser. Inside, read about what defines them as worthy of recognition.

It was 1994 when the University of Missouri-Columbia released its plan to tear up the outdoor track due to renovations of the football field. Left without an outdoor training surface, it seemed as though the track and field team was hopeless. How would they prepare for their meets without a proper outdoor track?

It was a question that plagued the mind of sophomore captain Nicki Moore. The prospect of losing her team, something she held so close to her heart, was unbearable and she was motivated to take action. She went to the Board of Curators and the Athletic Director, who put her in touch with numerous contacts who held a special interest in women’s athletics and would likely contribute to her fundraising campaign. At the time, Moore was knee-deep in undergraduate psychology classes and internships, with dreams centered around the pursuit of a career in that particular line of work.

What she did not realize, however, was that the time she spent on the track with her teammates would wind up playing an integral role in shaping her future.

Now, Dr. Moore is finishing unpacking the few boxes that remain from her northern migration. As she balances the ins-and-outs of serving as the new Athletic Director and Vice President of Colgate University, she is comforted by the familiar feelings of small town life. Having grown up in northeast Missouri, in a town with a population of only 2,000 people, returning to her small town roots has been a refuge in a time otherwise dominated by change.

Although Moore, her husband Bill, and their 10-year-old son, Ian, have spent the last three years in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, she said that trading in the year-round sunshine for a residency in the heart of the snow belt was welcomed. While acknowledging that some of the snow-filled days may be more difficult than others, the Moore household is prepared to continue to pave the way to their future endeavors, of course, with their snowblower in hand.

The future that lies ahead for Moore is one that she believes will bring a particularly unique experience. Having spent the entirety of her administrative career at larger state schools, the University of Oklahoma and the University of North Carolina, she is becoming cognizant of the intricacies that make up, and set apart, small liberal arts institutions. Moore regards the close, personal relationships between students and faculty at Colgate as something new to her, and as something she has come to recognize as characteristic of the university long before the beginning of her time as Athletic Director and Vice President. Her discussions with various alumni have repeatedly highlighted the integral role of faculty in the experience of Colgate students.

“[They] care very deeply about students, which engages students and student athletes in different ways,” Moore said.

These relationships, and their aid in the development of student athletes, parallel the motivation that has driven Dr. Moore in her career. In her time as a student athlete, she was provided with the opportunity to grow by both her coaches and the administrators at the University of Missouri-Columbia.

The experience of spearheading the track and field team in a fundraising campaign for a new outdoor training surface is one that she remarked to be quite influential.

“[It] set an expectation for how life [works] as a professional… You look around, scan the landscape, see where there are things that could be better and you try to make them better,” Moore said.

This philosophy has served as the road map for quite the ad- venturous career path thus far for Moore. It is what she accredits her successes as a psychologist, a developing administrator and as an athletic director.

The way in which she manages her new position is also greatly influenced, she believes, by her education and training as a psychologist. In her time at the University of Missouri-Columbia, Moore obtained her Bachelor’s in Secondary Social Studies Education and her Master’s in Counseling Psychology with an emphasis in College Student Counseling, before returning in pursuit of her doctorate in Counseling Psychology with an emphasis in Sport Psychology— crucial to her role as athletic director.

She believes that this education track has fundamentally shifted the way she thinks, altering the way she communicates and ultimately influencing how she conducts herself as a leader.

And how does Moore conduct herself as a leader?

She laid out clear expectations, what she believes to be the keys to success, at her first division-wide meeting in July: “to love, to listen and to lead.”

Although Moore’s time at Colgate has been short, these tenets have already provided structure to both her and to the staff as they have faced difficult situations together. During Moore’s first week as the newly appointed Athletic Director, the university decided to part ways with the former head men’s lacrosse coach, Mike Murphy. Moore was aware of the difficulty the situation, as Coach Murphy had been a staff member at the university for seven years and made his impression upon both the university and the community. She believes that her training as a psychologist allowed her to not only recognize and navigate the complex dynamics involved in this separation, but also to appropriately address the situation in a sensitive and respectful way. It is in situations such as these that both her back- ground as a psychologist and as a student athlete melds together for a fluid application to her administrative technique and decision making. 

Moving forward in her career, Dr. Moore hopes to continue to utilize her unique understanding of the collegiate athlete experience to help Colgate student athletes maximize their potential.

As a member of the NCAA’s mental health task force since 2005, she has contributed to the development and publishing of their mental health guidelines.

With this background, she hopes to enhance the mental health opportunities available at Colgate currently, and to eventually add more.

Working with Christian Beck, the counselor assigned to the athletic department, the two hope to implement group counseling sessions for retiring and injured student-athletes, to help provide stability in rather tumultuous points in their lives.

Much like in her campaign for a new track, Moore is now evaluating her newest landscape for things that could be made better. Chances are, with Moore at the helm, we’ll see those improvements sooner rather than later.

Contact Isabel Van Wie at [email protected]