Richard Nault, former honors program director and vice president of student affairs, died last Wednesday, Oct. 21.
Nault, who arrived at Miami in 1983, started out as the associate director of the honors program and went on to be appointed director. He later served as the dean of students and ended his career at Miami as the vice president for student affairs.
Nault was described as being completely student-centered, dedicating his more than 25 years of work to helping students find their way at Miami — and in life.
“That was his life … to improve the future lives of every student that he touched by what he taught them,” said Mike Curme, associate professor of economics and former dean of students.
Any time he was invited to a student’s wedding, Nault gave the same gift. To him, nothing represented home and a family more than Thanksgiving, so he always gave the couple what he thought was a perfect expression of this sentiment — a turkey platter.
“He exhibited a phenomenal breadth of love,” said Charles Moul, associate professor of economics, “and I think what made it incredible was that every student I’ve spoken to … felt not just the breadth but also the depth of Dick’s connection to them.”
Moul was a student at Miami when he first met Nault, who was the director of the honors program at the time. When Moul needed to take summer courses in order to pursue his Ph.D, he casually mentioned to Nault that he wasn’t sure where he would live.
Nault replied, “Well, you’ll live with me.” And so Moul did for the next two summers, along with a few other students.
It wasn’t unlike Nault to offer to do anything he could to help a student. A tragedy, the death of a loved one, a heartbreak – Moul said Nault was there for it all.
“Dick would help the student through it, put the whole thing in context, and then he’d bring them back, and, unbeknownst to the student, the entire Bishop Hall was there to offer support,” Moul said.
After his death, Nault’s Facebook page was flooded with hundreds of posts from former students, all sharing stories of their experiences with Nault and expressing how extraordinary he was.
“He was a very, very special person,” said Kip Alishio, former director of student counseling services. “One of those very rare people you meet in your life, and you realize he really is special.”
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Nault didn’t think he was anything special – but that the world was. Moul said he and his friends often referred to Nault as “Captain Superlative.” To Nault, everyone he met was the “most” – “the most wonderful,” “the most amazing,” “a unique gift.”
“To him, everybody was special,” Alishio said. “He approached every relationship that he had, whether working relationship, friendship … from a basis of love, and that came through. People felt it.”
Moul was able to sum up Nault’s impact on the Miami community as the perfect representation of what has become a staple saying.
“Nobody knows what love and honor means, but everyone knows that Dick Nault was what people wanted it to mean.”