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President Niemi reflects on tenure

By Naidelly Coelho

News Editor


Courtesy of Nancy Niemi

In a recent interview with President Nancy Niemi, she reflected on what she accomplished during her first three semesters as president and shared her goals for the future.


Niemi said she is particularly proud of the increase in first-year enrollment.


“We have, for the first time in many years, a greater first-year class than we did the year before and that is through so much work of so many people,” she said.


It took some rearranging and restructuring to find the right team to do the work for enrollment, Niemi said.


“Certainly, it's going to take a lot more but I'm very proud that we are beginning to make progress in that arena,” she said.


The University will continue to work on strategic planning with the help of students as well, according to Niemi.


Niemi said it’s very important the strategic planning team hears students' voices to “convey how wonderful Framingham State is and what it can offer to the community.”


Niemi said she is very proud she has been able to meet as many people as possible.


She has also met with the 26 academic departments and most of the student organizations.


She said it’s very important to know the community to understand the needs of the campus.


English Department Chair Lisa Eck said what she most appreciates Niemi for is how present she is at so many events.


“There was this one event - the teaching event [the Distinguished Faculty Award presentation] where she got teary. It was so moving. People were telling stories from teaching. It feels like she [Niemi] is a teacher's teacher. I value that in her background,” she said.


Eck said the most “salient” characteristic of Niemi’s is she remembers what it is like to be a faculty member.


She said she appreciates how Niemi also engages with everyone.


“I think most everyone who engages with her feels seen and heard,” she added.


“I admire that President Niemi attends as many events as she can, is really present with us and has maintained a really clear sense of where the mission rests, which is in the teaching,” she said.


Niemi said what she most likes about FSU is the sense of community and bringing back the “rituals” that are very important to her, including the State Street Sand Box, an end-of-the-year student fair, and an opening day picnic.


She emphasized the importance of the University’s culture. She said she is doing a lot of planning and working closely with the community to come up with what “our campus culture should be like for academics and co-curriculars.


“This is what I want to focus on. I'm proud of the way that we have all been working together,” she said.


Niemi said the campus shares a sense of community like no other place and she plans to cultivate that as much as she can.


She said she did not anticipate “how socially mindful the students, faculty, and staff are here” before she started working at Framingham State.


“We care about the world. We care about social change. We care about diversity and equity. But this community means it, and it attracts students, faculty, and staff who care deeply about making the world better and having an impact on it. And that's not like that in every place,” she said.


Niemi said one of the most challenging parts of her job is she will always represent the University no matter what.


“I can never just be Nancy. When I walk into a space where we are aware of the University, whether it's with students or with the faculty or staff or any of the above, I am never just myself,” she said.


Niemi said University policy restricts what she can and cannot say as the spokesperson of Framingham State.


She said when she first started at FSU, many people asked her what her vision was for the University. But she thinks someone “who doesn’t know the place can’t have a vision because you need to get to know the place first.


“Since I've started, I have done a lot of listening and a lot of learning. My goals have evolved because I've learned what the community wants,” she said.


Niemi believes every undergraduate and graduate student should have a work-paid experience or internship.


Not everyone can afford to take a semester off from work to be in a non-paid internship, she said.


“So I'm hoping within five years to build the infrastructure so that every student has an opportunity for at least one paid work experience, either as part of their core course work or as part of a summer job,” Niemi said.


She said FSU does not have many “big corporate” partnerships, and she thinks having those partnerships will benefit the school when finding internships and jobs.


Communication, Media & Performance Department Chair Niall Stephens said he hopes Niemi continues to support the College of Arts and Humanities.


Sophia Harrigle, a freshman, said Niemi is present at many events in which she has participated.


“I do think she makes a difference on campus. I always see her walking up State Street, even though she has the option of parking close.


“This shows for us students that staff members are accessible and not as scary as we think,” she said.


Joseph Martin, a junior, said Niemi is a great communicator and is always willing to hear students' concerns.


“She always has a smile on her face - she makes the campus much more welcoming,” he said.


Priscilla Dupond, a freshman, said Niemi makes her feel part of the FSU community.


“Coming to a university, you expect administrations to not be as accessible, but here they are, always willing to talk,” she added.


Maddie Robles, a senior, said she has had many interactions with Niemi.


“I am glad I got to meet her and talk to her.”


Niemi said, “The second year brings a lot of a continued amount of learning. The first year, you're just trying to figure it out. … It's still a great deal.”


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