Harold Nestor, Ph.D., joined Columbus State in 1964, only a year after the college's inception. Serving as president from 1978 to 1995, he was responsible for leading the school's transition from a technical institute to a community college.
Prior to taking a job as an instructor at the Columbus Area Technician School in 1964, Nestor had worked in the corporate world. There was so little space in the basement classrooms of Central High School that the young teacher, fresh out of The Ohio State University with a bachelor's degree in education, kept this student files in his car. Two years later he would add a master's degree to his resume, and five years after that, a Ph.D. , both from Ohio State.
When second president Clarence Schauer resigned in June 1978, the CTI Board of Trustees concluded that rather than conducting another nationwide search for the next president, they would stay closer to home. They chose an individual who had been associated with CTI since its second year at Central High School and had acquired some experience as an interim president from 1973-1974—Executive Vice President Harold Nestor. As one of their own, he was a popular choice among the school's employees.
On his first day in office, President Nestor conducted a marathon cabinet session in which he completely revamped those procedures he believed were inhibiting CTI's ability to respond to change in a timely fashion.
From early in his presidency, Dr. Nestor concentrated on increasing CTI's service to the community within the context of its technical education mission. One of his early moves was to create a Business and Industry Services group to market CTI's expertise to local businesses, industries and governmental agencies.
Although enrollment had declined shortly after he took office, under his guidance it bounced back sharply to 7,302 in the autumn of 1980—an increase of 33 percent.
A study of two-year colleges in 1985 had confirmed that community colleges attracted a higher number of local residents than CTI did. A possible solution to the problem would be for Columbus Technical Institute to become a community college. The Board of Trustees gave the go-ahead for Dr. Nestor to expand the college's mission.
A feasibility study revealed that Franklin County was being underserved by higher education and that transforming CTI into a community college would not endanger the viability of local private colleges. The Ohio Board of Regents approved the creation of the Columbus State Community College District, effective July 1, 1987.
President Nestor proclaimed 1990 as, "the greatest fall quarter in the history of the college." In just four years, the school had experienced a near 100 percent increase in enrollment, to more than 13,000. When Nestor Hall, built at a cost of $16 million, was formally dedicated July 1, 1993, President Nestor was understandably overwhelmed. "It's an awesome feeling to walk outside and see your name on a building," he said. "It's humbling. It's an amazing honor."
Dr. Nestor died on October 20, 1995, while attending a meeting of the Ohio Association of Community Colleges. At the time of his death, Columbus State had 18,000 students, an operating budget of $50 million, and a very bright future.