NATCHITOCHES – The Northwestern State University Foundation Board planned a special surprise for Dr. Chris Maggio, who is retiring from NSU after more than 33 years of service, the last four as president. At a June 18 board meeting, which was also Maggio’s birthday, the group announced the creation of the Dr. Chris and Jennifer Maggio Endowed Scholarship to honor the legacy of the Maggio family and their support for NSU. The scholarship is fully endowed at the $100,000 level.
“I’m blown away. I had no idea the scholarship was being talked about,” Maggio said in thanking the presidential leadership team, vice presidents and volunteers who serve on the Alumni Association and NSU Foundation Boards. “I love Northwestern and I’ve been able to spend 33 years of my professional life and four years as an undergraduate at Northwestern doing something that I love. I’m going to continue to support and be there for this university.”
NSU Director of Development Jill Bankston said the Board’s fundraising committee chaired by Jo Pease of New Orleans and Mike Knotts of Haughton thought the most appropriate way of thanking the Maggios and acknowledging their years of dedication to Northwestern State was through a scholarship that will assist students.
“Dr. and Mrs. Maggio have been servant leaders, role models and friends to so many over the years. The fundraising committee believed it would be most appropriate to create a scholarship to give support to students, which has always been a priority for the Maggios,” Bankston said. “Our original goal was $100,000, but support for the Maggio scholarship far exceeded our expectations. We were able to raise more than $123,000 in pledges and gifts before the announcement and that figure has continued to rise.”
Dr. and Mrs. Maggio thanked the NSU supporters who contributed to the scholarship, family, friends and colleagues, acknowledging mutually beneficial partnerships in the community and with other institutions. They also stressed the sense of family and teamwork that is part of the NSU culture.
“We are so fortunate to have world class faculty, the most supportive staff that you can find and the most amazing student that you could ever imagine,” Maggio said. “Northwestern is a special place with an extremely bright future, and we are so very lucky to have Dr. Marcus Jones who will be leading us as our interim president. I appreciate each and every one of you for the job that you do.”
Jennifer Maggio also expressed appreciation to the NSU community.
“Thirty years ago, I came to Northwestern as a Louisiana Tech graduate and was only prepared to be here for two years,” she said. “I met Chris, ironically, at the track. He was having track practice and I was taking a running class with Coach Leon Johnson. Little did I know that here I would be 30 years later in this role that was certainly not on my radar at the time. I would say that coming from another university, Northwestern always welcomed me with open arms and you all truly have become a family.”
Maggio’s retirement is effective June 30. He is a 1985 summa cum laude graduate of Northwestern State where he was elected Mr. NSU. He joined the staff as a track and field and cross country coach in 1988.
Over the years, Maggio worked in Admissions and Recruiting, Enrollment Services, Alumni and Development, Student Affairs, and as the university’s first Vice President for Student Experience. He continued to teach on campus, serve on numerous committees at the university, and engage in community activities that support widespread initiatives to improve health, education and quality of life. He was named president in 2017.
Maggio led Northwestern through one of the most difficult times in the university’s 137-year history that included a global pandemic, two devastating hurricanes, a catastrophic ice storm and other unexpected challenges. In spite of those difficulties, the four highest enrollments in NSU’s history were recorded during Maggio’s tenure and the university’s economic impact on the region climbed to an all-time high of $428 million.
Jennifer Maggio earned a graduate degree in Student Personnel Services at NSU in 1992 and has worked in education as a teacher, counselor and administrator at the elementary, secondary and university levels. As first lady, she was actively engaged with campus activities, organizations and service to the university and Natchitoches community.
“Chris and Jennifer have been so personally engaged with students, it’s only fitting that this gift of thanks will significantly impact students,” said Drake Owens, executive director of the NSU Foundation. “The Maggios immersed themselves in university life and their roles as president and first lady. Dr. Maggio’s ability to know students by name, hometown, high school GPA and other details made each one feel important and at home at NSU.”
“This a wonderful university and at the heart and soul of the university are our students and what we can do for them and our world class faculty,” Maggio said. “I’m glad to be just a small part of that.”
Friends can make contributions to the Dr. Chris and Jennifer Maggio scholarship by visiting northwesternstatealumni.com/maggio/.