Vanderbilt Magazine

Andrew Howard Nichols, BA’03: Education Researcher

Andrew Howard Nichols

Andrew Howard Nichols, senior director of higher education research and data analytics at education nonprofit The Education Trust, died Jan. 26 of brain cancer. His studies of educational gaps and financial aid regularly revealed inequities affecting low-income and minority students.

Nichols previously held research positions at the Maryland Higher Education Commission and the Pell Institute for the Study of Opportunity in Higher Education. He co-authored several book chapters and peer-reviewed journal articles published in The Review of Higher Education, Journal of College Student Development and Teachers College Record.

Joining Ed Trust in 2014, Nichols was known for his social justice and equity work, particularly for underserved students.

Some of his research focused on debunking affirmative action myths and analyzing Pell Grant graduation rates and the national completion gap.

In 2020, while suffering from cancer, he published his final research project, “Segregation Forever? The Continued Underrepresentation of Black and Latino Undergraduates at the Nation’s 101 Most Selective Public Colleges and Universities.”

“Drew never ceased advocating for equity in college access, affordability and completion for Black and Latino students, and students from low-income backgrounds,” said Wil Del Pilar, vice president of higher education policy and practice at Ed Trust in a post on the Diverse Education website.

Nichols earned a doctorate in higher education from Pennsylvania State University, a master’s degree from the University of Southern California and a bachelor’s from Vanderbilt in psychology.

A native of Huntsville, Alabama, he is survived by his parents, Robert and Myrtle Nichols.

—Staff Reports