After distinguished service with the U.S. Army during World War II, Nicholas Sileo entered Bucknell and studied sociology. As an undergraduate, he was involved in the orchestra, glee club, and the executive cabinet. He was a member of the Christian Association and helped organize an independent student movement on campus. He helped found Phi Lambda Theta - a non-sectarian, inter-racial fraternity of which he was president.
He married his college sweetheart, Nida Poteat '48, the daughter of Dr. Gordon Poteat, who was professor of religion at Bucknell. Fast approaching their 50th wedding anniversary, the Sileos have five children, 11 grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.
His career path is a reflection of his willingness and desire to help and empower others. He has been at the forefront of social change in America - from civil rights to the peace movement, from labor union activities to political involvement. He has done extensive work with social agencies on juvenile and adult rehabilitation. He has long been a champion for children's rights and has been active in helping the poor and homeless. He has worked within the church and even lived in shack town settlements.
He continued his education after Bucknell, receiving a BD at Colgate-Rochester Divinity School and a Ph.D. from Florida State University in Sociology.
He was one of four founders of Florida International University. He would serve the university as chair of the sociology department, dean of student services, and director of community affairs. In all, he has taught at five universities, including Florida State and the University of Miami. Before retiring in 1993, he spent five years as a middle school teacher in the public school system.
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