Nick Christian, the director of academic services in the College of Science and Mathematics, took the reins on three of the college’s highly impactful events within the past two years, making an incredible impact on students, faculty and staff alike.
Christian was instrumental in the college’s first retention forum, which generated ideas to increase retention and help faculty members understand issues that could affect retention. He organized faculty working groups and solicited input from participants to finalize several ideas such as mentorship, gateway courses, First-Year Seminars and seeking ways to encourage the success of students from underrepresented groups.
“Christian’s style is to listen, providing input only when others do not have the answer,” said Kathy Engisch, Ph.D., interim dean of the College of Science and Mathematics. “His facilitating is so successful that, as is said in the Tao Te Ching, ‘The Master doesn’t talk, he acts.’ When his work is done the people say, ‘Amazing! We did it all by ourselves.”
Christian also took the lead on Innovation Weekend, the college’s biggest event of the year. Innovation Weekend — a two-and-a-half-day brainstorming, problem-solving and student-bonding event — attracts students from across the university who put their minds together to solve a problem.
Christian works with outside partners to develop each year’s topic, recruits subject-matter experts to provide content and mentoring, plans food and ice breakers, and manages the format of the program. In November 2020, Innovation Weekend was held virtual and in April 2021 it was hybrid.
“This event attracts students across colleges and remains the signature student event of COSM,” Engisch said.
Christian is highly trustworthy within the College of Science and Mathematics. Engisch said that she feels confident in his leadership abilities and he is incredibly effective in his collaborative efforts with his coworkers and colleagues.
“I feel I could walk away tomorrow and he would be able to continue this great work since he is the creator and executor,” Engisch said.