Donald A. Nichols, who passed away in February 2013, was an economist with national and international visibility, an award-winning teacher, published scholar, university leader, and public servant. For more than thirty years, Nichols focused his research, teaching, and publications on those factors affecting unemployment, inflation, and regional economic growth.
Dr. Nichols was a professor of economics and public affairs at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he also served as director of the La Follette School of Public Affairs from 2002 to 2006. He built the program into a nationally recognized school of public policy and enhanced its practice of the Wisconsin Idea, a more than century-long commitment by the UW to extend its expertise beyond campus borders to solve the problems of the world at large. Nichols also played a key role in the creation of UW-Madison's Center for World Affairs and the Global Economy (WAGE), a campus-wide, interdisciplinary research center.
At the state level, Nichols served as economic advisor to Gov. Tony Earl, was executive secretary of Gov. Earl's Council on Economic Affairs, and served on Gov. Jim Doyle's Economic Advisory Council. At the national level, Nichols served on the Senate Budget Committee and was U.S. Department of Labor Deputy Assistant Secretary for Economic Policy and Research.
Nichols made regular contributions to policy debate on a state and national level. In Wisconsin, he was well known for his frequent policy papers and economic forecasts. His frequent "white papers" on the Wisconsin economy had a profound influence on many policy initiatives.