Forks up for Literacy


Dr. Chris Maggio’s investiture as president of Northwestern State University last month was designed to create an ongoing positive impact on the university and community, and that strategy was successful on several fronts.

Investiture activities focused on growth at NSU, alumni support, community involvement, patriotism, service projects and other programs and initiatives that underscore the university’s influence and relationships in this region. The highest enrollment in its history this fall and record levels of private financial support are a strong indication that Maggio’s emphasis on recruitment, retention, outreach and strong connections between NSU and entities and individuals it touches is paying off. One example was the turnout at the President’s Home on campus after the investiture ceremony.

It was open to the public, and long-time Natchitoches residents and NSU personnel agreed that it was the largest gathering ever for an event at the president’s residence. Maggio’s wife and NSU First Lady Jennifer coordinated the huge reception, and she also directed an investiture-related public service project called Forks Up for Literacy that has generated hundreds of books for area children. Mrs. Maggio, engaged in the education profession for years, set a goal of collecting 1884 new and gently-used books for children ages 5 to 15 to be distributed to schools and youth centers in this area.

The 1884 goal corresponded with the year NSU was founded. On the first day of the drive, more than 2,000 books were collected during tailgating activities at Northwestern’s opening home football game. Hundreds more have been donated at follow-up events like the Breakfast for Books campaign at the NSU Library. Because of the initial success of the project, the Forks Up for Literacy campaign will continue during tailgating events before every home football game this season. Drop boxes have also been set up near the circulation desk of Watson Library for those who want to donate books. Mrs. Maggio’s Forks Up for Literacy initiative is important not only because it addresses the educational benefits of children reading and having access to more books but also because it underscores and encourages the growing culture of community service among student groups and others at Northwestern.

Dr. and Mrs. Maggio must be applauded for assuring that his investiture as NSU’s 19th president was a combined university and community celebration that will continue to benefit Northwestern and the region for years to come.