Mike Nutt has been hired as the new Project Manager for Outreach and Engagement, effective August 21, 2023. In this position, Nutt will work with Vice Provost for Outreach and Engagement Rich Bonanno, the Engagement Operations Council, and other key community partners, faculty, and staff. Nutt will coordinate a number of programs, including awards, the Collaboratory database of engagement activities, and day-to-day O&E activities. Prior to joining Outreach and Engagement, Nutt was the Data Experience Manager at NC State University Libraries, where he worked in a number of positions over twelve years. In addition to information science, Nutt has worked in communications, nonprofit management, and the music business.
Here is a brief Q&A with Mike.
Q: Tell us a little about your background and what led you to outreach and engagement work at the university.
For the last twelve years, I was a librarian here at NC State—working on the other side of the Hunt Library as well as at the Hill Library! I helped open the award-winning Hunt Library in 2013 and led the creation of the Libraries’ Data & Visualization Services Department in 2018. That department now helps well over a thousand people a year with free workshops and consultations on GIS, data analysis technologies, and statistical programming.
The values that attracted me to libraries are also prevalent in NC State’s community engagement and outreach work: Experiential learning. Democratic access to technology. Engaged scholarship. Collaboration. Creativity. Community building. I loved being a librarian, but I wanted to be more directly involved with the scholars and students who are engaged beyond our campus buildings and growing relationships in our communities.
Q: What is your vision for Outreach & Engagement at NC State?
Luckily, there are a lot of brilliant people who have already thought about this! My vision for Outreach & Engagement is one where I’ve helped successfully meet the needs of our faculty and students in our pursuit of shared strategic goals. The Wolfpack 2030 strategic plan devotes a top-level goal to engagement. It says “We must deliver broader, tangible and purposeful impacts… so we can be — and become renowned as — a solutions center for North Carolina and the world.” When I think of the “solutions center” I’d like to see, it is inclusive, accessible, data-driven, sustainable, effective, and fun.
Q: Why do you think university engagement work is important?
When I met Extension Assistant Professor Dr. Susan Jakes, she said that engagement and extension touch the “hearts and minds of the public with our hands.” I think that’s a good way to think about the importance of community engagement: it helps make the Pack’s work meaningful and impactful.
Maybe most importantly, we are at a critical moment in higher education in North Carolina. The UNC System needs to demonstrate its value to the people of the state, and that value needs to be substantial. It’s ultimately the people who will decide if they want a strong, affordable, system of higher education under shared governance. We have to welcome North Carolinians as partners in the long-term health of our university if we want them to support us when it really matters. Engagement is one of the most important ways we share the benefits of the UNC System with the people of the state, a requirement of the state constitution!
Q: What is a fun or interesting fact about yourself?
I love funk. Especially 70s-era Parliament-Funkadelic. I’ve seen George Clinton live three times. The jewel of my record collection is a copy of Parliament’s first album Osmium. I have a Dr. Funkenstein pin on my laptop bag. I even once ordered a costume that was going to be certified to have been worn on stage by Clintion, but his merch people canceled the order without explanation. That is not entirely unusual behavior for them. Make my funk the P Funk and listen to The Funk Show with Howard Burchette on WNCU Saturdays 4-7 p.m.!
Q: What is your favorite town in NC to visit?
My wife’s grandparents used to run an inn at Carolina Beach in the building across from The Sea Merchants grocery store. The family still owns the house they lived in, so I am fortunate enough to be able to take frequent trips there with my wife and two young kids. My favorite time to go is when the weather cools down and the tourist season is over. There are 50 and 60 degree days throughout the winter. It’s nice to have long quiet walks on the beach, but the locals have their most wacky events that time of year, as well, like the costumed Polar Plunge and the golf cart winter holiday parade. #SaltLife