Dr. Chris Maggio officially joined the ranks of 18 other Northwestern State presidents on May 12 after a four-month tenure as Acting President.
His first goal: “continue the momentum that we have built up; even take it to another level.”
“I love when I see what our students are doing — how engaged they are on campus, and how motivated our faculty are right now,” Maggio said. “We want to continue to create that environment, and we’re going to do that by continuing to expand our student programming and continue to enhance our academic areas of campus. I think when we do that, we’re going to keep this momentum.”
Maggio’s ascent to the presidency has been anything but sudden. In 1985, he graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Science from NSU. After a brief time coaching at St. Mary’s Catholic School in Natchitoches, he started his time on staff at NSU in 1988 and has held approximately a dozen positions in a variety of departments since then, including the following: assistant athletic director, director of admissions and recruiting, director of alumni and development, dean of students and assistant vice president for external affairs.
In 1991, Maggio completed his master’s degree in physical education at NSU and earned his Doctor of Education in developmental education from Grambling State University 11 years later.
Now that Maggio is president, there is a vacancy in the office of the Vice President for The Student Experience, his most recent post. Campus programming, social responsibility and community leadership are all part of this department’s daily operations.
“We haven’t started the search [for a new VP-Student Experience]; we were just doing this one step at a time,” Maggio said, referring to the presidential selection process. “That’s going to be a very important position for us to fill over this next year.”
Maggio credits Dean Frances Conine, Alan and Yonna Pasch, Jana Lucky, Reatha Cox, Lauren Jackson, Shayne Creppel and others for stepping up to fill the void since he was unable to work full time in the department this semester.
“We want to make sure we have a vibrant student environment on campus,” Maggio said. “We just don’t want… directors of different departments sitting in a room making the decisions. It’s important that we have student input involved as well.”
Many universities only provide one week of “welcome week” events, but NSU offered over a month of varied activities last fall called “Demon Days,” not only for incoming freshmen but for returning students as well.
The student experience is something Maggio often cites as a key component of what “sets [NSU] apart” from other schools. He looks forward to working with student leaders to enhance this experience for many reasons — one being the potential for long-term support often provided by an institution’s graduates.
“We have done a great job of recruiting the last few years,” Maggio said. “My immediate goal is seeing if we can improve retention rates. I think that’s so important to the health of our university.”
NSU has seen its highest enrollment numbers since 2006 with a total of 9,819 students as of Oct. 15, 2016. According to the Office of Institutional Research, NSU experienced a retention rate of almost 71 percent in 2015 for second-year students while ACT reported a national average of 64 percent for public four-year institutions.