Current Sauce reporter Christian Bell sat down with Northwestern State University President Dr. Chris Maggio to discuss how Maggio kept the university afloat during the shutdown last spring.
In his interview, Christian asked about the past fall and how Maggio himself has endured the ongoing pandemic.
“First and foremost, the health and safety of the NSU community, our students, our staff, and supporting areas of the university those were the things that my team and I thought about first,” Maggio said.
As we transitioned from face-to-face courses to online courses last March, we learned more about ourselves during the pandemic.
Now as science has progressed, vaccines are being rolled out and we continue to advance.
We know more now than we did in March, but we still have a long way to go.
We must remain vigilant. That’s why we continue to wear our masks, and social distance. We have to remain firm in safety during this pandemic.
“But I do see brighter days ahead,” Maggio said.
After asking him to go back in time to when the outbreak first started, he went on to say having a great staff played a major role in the success of the transition.
“Phenomenal staff, a world class faculty, a staff that is adaptable, their able to pivot.
They were able to make decisions quickly, and continue the operation of this great university,” Maggio said.
“When this first happened, we knew it would be long term we just didn’t know how long term and still don’t know,” Maggio said.
Although we are starting to see some progress, early in the summer the focus was what was the Fall going to look like and many changes were made.
Hyflex classes were never heard of.
Everything went quickly over the summer.
Questions such as how possible it was that classes could be socially distant were being asked.
“The cleaning, working with our grounds crew, our Red River sanitors that clean the campus, just a lot of people pulling together to make sure that we could have a school year and continue the academic mission of our university,” Maggio said.
Remember the mass emails that would get sent out as the year went on updating the NSU community about what was going on about informing us on what was next from Dr. Maggio?
Hearing him speak on these things confirms how genuine he is to keeping everything afloat as well as his team around him.
Next, I went on to ask if Fall 2020 go as planned.
“Yeah I was very proud of everybody this fall, as you look back we had to be flexible,” Maggio said.
It all goes back to keeping our community safe and we were able to do that and will continue to do that.
We expedited testing and now have free student testing through Health Services.
Faculty and staff testing, and of course the vaccines will be rolling out as the semester go along as well,” Maggio said.
There were a lot of internal battles we all faced, whether it was mental, physical, or spiritual. Everyone has what is unique to them that helped them cope this past year with the early stages of the pandemic.
Maggio had much to say about what he personally struggled with.
“That is something that is very vital during the pandemic, we know the physical toll that it has taken,” Maggio said.
We witnessed loved one and strangers alike catch the virus, and had to be quarantined.
We had to be isolated.
It is important to focus on mental health. I believe in trying to take care of my physical health as much as I can. We must work through our mental and spiritual health.
It’s always been about trying to keep an even mind during some very tough times.
Faith plays a very big part as well when staying engaged with students.
“As well as trying to find safe ways to do some face-to-face things,” Maggio said.
Dr. Maggio and I spoke on what was the formula to a successful Spring semester.
“We really carried on the spring what we did in the fall, so we continued some face- to-face classes with safety measures in place,” Maggio said.
The hybrid thought process was that it worked in the Fall. Continuing along this process and even improving technology helped out as well.
NSU will continue to adapt, be flexible and be positive.
Speaking into the future, Dr. Maggio spoke on what is next for the NSU community.
“Enhanced academic programs, continuing to strengthen our existing programs, making sure that when students graduate from NSU they are marketable,” Maggio said.
Students are going to have the knowledge and skills to develop outside the classroom.
“Critical thinking, being able to solve problems, in your job or outside of your job, continue to enhance the experience that our students have,” Maggio said.
In the final moments of the interview, Maggio offered some advice for current and future students and his staff.
“ I always tell students to set goals, ask yourself why are you here, work hard, believe in yourself.
Be committed. There is a difference from being a part of something and being committed to something.
Be all in. Give your all in to your grades and your involvement outside the classroom as well.
Never quit, and continue to learn and learn from others.
“You can’t do it alone,” Maggio said.