Ralph & Marta Nicholas

A Lifelong Bond with the University of Chicago

Ralph (AM’58, PhD’62) and Marta Weinstock Nicholas (X’60) have strong bonds with the University of Chicago and International House. The couple both attended the University; it was here where they first met. Ralph, the William Rainey Harper Professor Emeritus of Anthropology and Social Sciences in the College, held a number of administrative positions in the University including Director of the Center for International Studies (1984–1995), Deputy Provost (1982–1987), Dean of the College (1986–1991), and Executive Director of International House (1993– 2000). However, the couple’s involvement and devotion to the University reaches far beyond academia.

Getting to Know Distant Cousins

During Ralph’s service as Director of International House, the couple lived in an apartment that is now the National Room and Midway Room and Terrace guest suites. Amidst all the fond memories of their time at I-House, both Ralph and Marta say being able to interact with the residents was one of the most rewarding aspects of staying at I-House—especially sharing casual conversations and Marta’s homemade meals. Marta said she felt that “living at I-House was like getting to know distant cousins whom we just had not met before.”

The couple went out of their way to make I-House a welcome and friendly environment for both international and American students and also entertained residents at their farm and lake house in Indiana. They still keep contact with many of the past residents and continue to contribute regularly to the University and its international community.

Connection to International House

Ralph, currently the President of the American Institute of Indian Studies which is based in Chicago and Delhi, is working on a book The Night of the Gods which is the third in a series about Bengali Hindu rituals, subject of field- work the couple did together in India. Marta still maintains an integral connection with I-House—among other activities, organizing cultural, educational, and social get-togethers for the International Spouse/Partners Program to help those individuals and their families have an enjoyable time in Chicago. “In planning events, I try to think about what would make me comfortable in their cultures.” Additionally, Marta shares her interests in other cultures through her radio program “Music Around the World” on the University of Chicago radio station WHPK (88.5FM). The couple regularly visits India and enjoys traveling to other countries.

The Nicholases maintain a lifelong commitment to the traditions of the University of Chicago and International House. To advance their passion for reaching out to students and scholars from other nations and their dedication to international understanding, they have gen- erously bequeathed funds to International House. They hope their bequest will continue to support and enrich the global community of International House and the University in the future.