Wagner establishes Nicolais School of Business

Mike and Margaret Nicolais
Michael A. Nicolais

Wagner College has established the Nicolais School of Business, honoring two of the college's stalwart supporters of business education, the late Michael A. Nicolais ’49 H’14 and his wife, Margaret Christie Nicolais ’49 H’14.

Mike Nicolais died earlier this month after a short battle with cancer at the age of 91. As recently as six months ago, he was still indulging in his daily activities, walking a mile and a half to his health club, doing a modest work-out, having breakfast with friends and then hopping on the subway to go the office where he remained an active financial manager. He loved the financial markets and he loved New York City, where he was born and spent a large part of his life.

Mike was born on Staten Island on May 30, 1925, and spent his entire youth there. He served for 33 months in the U.S Army infantry during World War II and returned home before he turned 21 years old. He fought on the German front line, including in the Battle of the Bulge, and was awarded both a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart. Upon returning from serving his country, he attended Wagner College, earning a B.S. degree in accounting, magna cum laude, in 3 years.

Shortly after graduating, he joined the Clark Estates, a renowned family office where he worked for the next 42 years, serving for the last 23 years as its president. He was an excellent value investor who also, from time to time, would dip his toe into the world of venture capital. He was well known on Wall Street and served on many public and private company boards of directors.

During this time, and as part of his relationship with the Clark family, he served for many years as a director of the Baseball Hall of Fame and of the Fenimore House, a museum dedicated to James Fenimore Cooper, the great American writer. Upon “retiring” from the Clark Estates at the age of 65, he immediately launched his second career as a money manager, including working with and for Phil Carret, one of Wall Street's legendary investors, and at Wall Street Access until his death.

One of the great loves of Mike’s life was his alma mater, Wagner College. In recognition of the time and financial resources he and his wife Margaret devoted to Wagner, they were each awarded honorary doctorate degrees. The president’s home at Wagner is named Nicolais House, and the college’s business program is now called the Nicolais School of Business.


For those who would like to make a contribution in Mike’s name to support business education at Wagner College, please visit our giving page; for "Designation," click "Other," then specify "Nicolais School of Business Scholarship Fund." Or you can mail your gift, with a check made out to Wagner College, to the Office of Institutional Advancement, One Campus Road, Staten Island, NY 10301.

To learn more about the Nicolais School of Business at Wagner College, visit its website.

To learn more about Mike and Margaret Nicolais, read their story on the Wagner Magazine website, or watch this video: