David Nicandri, Honorary Degree Recipient
Life at U-Idaho Leads to Career in NW,
Public Service for ’72 Grad Nicandri
By Andrew Gauss
As a 20th century transplant to the Pacific Northwest, University of Idaho alumnus David Nicandri knows first-hand the personal transformation that takes place when you pick up and move across the country.
In fact, his move West decades ago inspired him to devote his life to researching and writing about generations of immigrants who settled in the region before him.
“It was the pivotal event in my life and I’ve been in the Northwest since,” said the historian and author, who earned a graduate degree here in 1972. “My move enabled me to enjoy my choice of careers.”
A native of upstate New York, Nicandri recently returned to the U-Idaho Moscow campus for the 2012 commencement ceremonies - where he received an honorary doctorate of letters degree.
“I’m greatly honored and the symbolism of this recognition is powerful and meaningful for me,” he said.
Nicandri pursued a master’s in history at U-Idaho on the recommendation of former professor and U-Idaho alumnus, David P. Glaser, who was his faculty advisor at State University of New York, or SUNY at Plattsburgh, where he’d earned his bachelor’s degree.
“He spoke very fondly of the University of Idaho,” Nicandri said.
With his freshly minted master’s degree, Nicandri was accepted as an intern with the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education and studied the history of Priest Point Park near Olympia, Wash.
He eventually landed a position with the Washington State Capital Museum in Olympia. He later served as director of the Washington State Historical Society, headquartered in Tacoma.
“I loved the idea of working in the public history setting and spent 40 years as a local and state historian,” he said of his tenure with the state.
He has served as a consulting historian in a number of capacities, including three terms as a speaker in the “Inquiring Mind” program at Humanities Washington.
Nicandri is the author of numerous books and articles and is currently co-editing an anthology on Captain James Cook's quest for the Northwest Passage and has plans for a stand-alone volume that studies Cook along the ice edges of the Indian, Pacific, Atlantic and Arctic Oceans in contrast to what he terms the Polynesian Palm Tree paradigm that dominates Cook studies.
As a believer in giving back to his community, Nicandri served three terms on Tumwater, Wash. city council. He also has been an adjunct faculty member at The Evergreen State College, where he continues to serve on the board of directors.