Contributions from KNWD Reporter Ashley French
Dr. Jim Henderson migrated south to Baton Rouge for the winter to begin his new position as University of Louisiana System President last semester, leaving a vacant seat in the Office of the NSU President.
The UL System will conduct a national search to fill the vacant seat, but in the meantime Vice President of the Student Experience Dr. Chris Maggio assumes the temporary role of Acting President while maintaining his current position.
Although Maggio’s current business cards say “Acting President,” he has held many other positions over his 29 years at NSU, and no doubt, gone through a substantial amount of business cards. Maggio’s next role could be the new NSU president, as he plans to apply for the position. However, Maggio stressed that “in no way, shape or form” has he been promised the position.
“I’m going to be a good listener and try to learn some new things, and, at the end of the day, I hope to become permanent president for many years to come,” Maggio said. “Now, if I’m not chosen…I will support the new president, whoever he or she is. I’m going to be their right hand and help them succeed.”
Maggio first worked at NSU in 1988 as the first full-time women’s track and cross country coach, which he did for six years. After a brief time as Assistant Athletic Director, Maggio moved out of coaching into administration. Since then, Maggio has earned his doctorate degree and filled several positions at NSU over the years including Director of Admissions, Director of Enrollment, Director of Alumni, Director of Alumni and Development, Dean of Students and Assistant Vice President of the Alumni Foundation.
Both Dean Frances Conine and SGA President John Pearce said they think Maggio would be a great fit for the permanent NSU President position.
“He knows how the school and town function together, he has great ideas for the future, and he is able to relate to any student he meets,” Pearce said. “He’s one of the main reasons why I came to NSU, and I think he would do nothing but great things for the school.”
Conine said she doesn’t “know anyone who loves Northwestern more” than Maggio and that he’s proven his leadership qualities with his vice president position.
Maggio emphasizes that his passion is working with students; it’s what keeps him “alive and motivated.” While Acting President, Maggio plans to keep moving forward with the “strategic vision” that began a couple years ago with Henderson, which includes improving NSU’s academics, student experience, market responsiveness, athletic prominence and community enrichment.
Market responsiveness has become a priority issue for Louisiana universities as they cope with the budget cuts to TOPS and higher education. Maggio said NSU needs to be market responsive to offer programs that accommodate students and the job market.
“We want to run [NSU] business-like, and that doesn’t mean running it like a business,” Maggio said. “Business- like means being market responsive. For instance, do we need to add or tweak programs? Where are the jobs?”
On the subject of higher education’s increasing budget cuts, Maggio said that “[NSU] wants to get our students through this” and students and faculty need to make “[NSU’s] voice heard” by telling legislators the importance of funding both TOPS and higher education.
Maggio is “not a big fan of unilateral decisions.” He said his main goal is to be easily accessible to faculty and students and to create an environment where the faculty can receive support and listen to each other.
“As far as the day-to-day, you have a president,” Maggio said. “…I’m here for you. My door is always open.”