By Madison Martinez
New Campus Executive Steve Nelson has had his first full week here at FDU and has high hopes for the university. Sitting down and speaking to him, one would expect an intimidating figure in a suit, but instead they will find an affable man wearing an FDU polo shirt. He is passionate and motivated to make a difference here on the Metropolitan Campus.
“My favorite work experience has been in education,” Nelson says. “Honestly because there’s nothing better to me than watching someone go from the beginning of a program to finishing that program knowing that any kind of struggle they had in the way… we helped them… knowing that what we’ve done has made an impact not only on their lives, but their family’s lives.”
One aspect that Nelson highlighted during the interview was accepting the good with the bad. When speaking about his own career so he said, “You live with the good, you live with the bad. And, and the fact of the matter is if the good outweighs the bad then you’re in the right place.”
Nelson has worked hard for the success he has reached. Nelson returned to higher education to get his law degree. He did it alongside a 60-hour work week and going to school part time for four years.
On this achievement, Nelson said, “You just do it. You don’t make excuses. You don’t find excuses. You don’t find reasons to not do it; you find reasons to do it. You make the time. Truly the understanding of ‘if there’s a will there’s a way.’”Knowing what it’s like to be a student, Nelson always puts the students first with his job in education.
“We are truly working for the students, students first. . .When I hold a staff meeting, which. . .I literally put a seat with FDU student right here and that seat sat right next to me for that meeting to remind people this is who we work for. They don’t work for me. . . we work for them.”
Nelson said he was interested in FDU because of President Capuano’s strategic plan, especially the aspects of preparing the FDU students for the future job market.
“Three quarters of the people that are in this school right now we are trying to train for jobs that don’t even exist yet,” Nelson explains. “And so, we have to be on the forefront of looking at that. . .There’s no change for change sake. You change to adapt to what’s coming down the line. And you grow according to that model. He [President Capuano] is someone who truly does understand that, and that’s what attracted me to it. He wants to not stay static, but to grow.”
Nelson puts the students first and wants to help with the problems they have, but to know what these problems are is an obstacle within itself. Of course, he gets information from the department staff, but he also makes the effort to talk to the students directly.
“I walk this campus every day. And every time I do, I end up talking to a student or two along the way. How do I know [the issues] if I don’t ask right? So, I ask.”
Of course, all problems can’t be solved at once, and when asked what he wants to do with FDU, Nelson gives a realistic answer.
“Right now, I’m still learning my team. . .I haven’t made full decisions but know that whatever it is I end up doing, first and foremost, will be in furtherance of the president’s plan. My whole goal is to support that plan and be part of the agent for that plan and we do that through a lot of different things.”
He encourages the students to think and speak on what they believe in a professional manner.
“I encourage students to speak up. I do,” Nelson says. “I encourage students to raise issues, but I encourage students to look at all sides of issues. That’s part of education. We can never look at one side and think that we know the whole picture. We really honestly need to look at all sides of an issue.”
But most importantly, he hopes to create a sense of community by encouraging activities and an environment where students and staff can truly connect.
“My hope for this campus is that we truly embrace the family. . because then you will have connections that you will never lose. . .those connections last a lifetime and can do wonders for you and you can do wonders for them. . .I would love to see that here.”
By Justin Solleder