New president of Nicolet at Investiture ceremony

Ferrel Installed As Next Nicolet College President at Investiture Ceremony


Kate Ferrel became the seventh president of Nicolet College during a recent investiture ceremony on the Rhinelander campus attended by students, staff, community, education, and tribal leaders. 

“I am incredibly honored and humbled to stand before my family, my mentors, my friends, our tribal partners, my advisors, my colleagues, and students to formally accept the responsibility of leading this great institution,” Ferrel said during the event. 

“As we journey together we must keep our mission and vision at the forefront of our minds as it is that that will provide the focus, direction and energy necessary to accomplish shared goals.” 

The Nicolet College Board of Trustees began the process of selecting a new president last year when then-president Richard Nelson announced he would retire this summer. 

“Today marks a new chapter in the history and future of Nicolet College,” said Ryan Zietlow, chair of the Nicolet College Board of Trustees who also served a chair of the presidential selection committee. 

“President Ferrel comes to us with broad experience in the technical college system and we are eager to support her leadership of Nicolet College.” 

Area tribal communities also participated in the investiture ceremony. 

Bobby Waazhuask Williams, a tribal elder with the Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians, delivered the invocation, which included the Native American Four Winds Prayer. He delivered the prayer in his native language and afterwards told the audience in English what he had said. 

“I thanked our great many educators throughout this great land that give us all these things because without education we can’t go anywhere,” said Williams, who is a Nicolet graduate. 

The Yellow Cloud Singers from the Forest County Potawatomi Community also performed ceremonial drum songs at the event. 

Ferrel joined Nicolet in 2014 to become the Dean of Students. She subsequently served as vice president of Student Affairs at Nicolet before being promoted to previous position as executive vice president of Academic and Student Affairs. 

Prior to Nicolet, Ferrel worked at Mid-State Technical College in Wisconsin Rapids from 1999 to 2014, serving as Career Services and Campus Support manager before becoming the associate dean of the Business Division.  

She also taught classes at Mid-State. These included Leadership Development, Marketing, Communications, and Speech.  

Ferrel’s economic development experience includes her service as a director on the Centergy-Central Wisconsin Economic Development Board, participation in educational study tours to Germany, China, Ireland, and Finland, and service as Mid-State Technical College’s Workforce and Economic Development liaison.  

Prior to entering higher education, she worked for 10 years in private industry and for non-profits in marketing and public relations positions.  

Ferrel has a master’s of science degree in Leadership from Nova Southeastern University and a bachelor’s of arts degree in Communication and Public Relations from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. She also completed advanced coursework at UW-Madison in Educational Administration and studied abroad at Harlaxton College in Grantham, England, while a student at UW-Eau Claire. 

Others who have served as Nicolet president over the past 53 years include Richard Brown from 1968 to 1985, Jack Lindy 1985-1987, Patricia Travis 1987 to 1991, Adrian Lorbetske 1991 to 2009, Elizabeth Burmaster 2009 to 2014, and Richard Nelson, 2015 to 2021.