Nicholson '88 Makes $115,000 Gift, Credits CSS

July 20, 2016

James Nicholson ’88, the founder of Brightline Media, a network of women’s interest websites, describes himself as a “serial entrepreneur,” launching and selling Internet businesses since 1997. And he credits his immense success in the world of start-up businesses to his Wesleyan experience.

Gratitude for that experience, and a desire to “pay it back,” led him to make a $115,000 gift to Wesleyan this year.

“When I think about the skills I’ve used in my career, they were all nurtured and developed at Wesleyan,” Nicholson said. “Creative thinking, analysis, asking questions - all of these things came out of my Wesleyan education.”

Nicholson, who was a College of Social Studies major, designated $100,000 of his gift for an endowed scholarship and $15,000 as a gift through the Wesleyan Fund, with preference for the scholarship to go to a CSS student.

He describes the famously tough sophomore comprehensive exams in CSS as one of the signal event of his college years.

“They’re incredibly rigorous, and the experience of going through that, the pressure, and the exhilaration of realizing how much you’ve learned, and all your hard work alongside your classmates, really was the most amazing thing,” he said.

The interdisciplinary nature of CSS work and direct access to professors and their own work was what initially attracted Nicholson to Wesleyan in the first place, he said. “THAT is why Wesleyan. I knew it was going to be an amazing institution and experience.”