MBU Taps Career Services Expert to Lead New Center for Life Success

Mary Baldwin University has brought on a 22-year veteran of student career services to lead the university’s emerging center of life design and professional development. 

Thy Nguyen has joined MBU as executive director of the university’s new McCree Center for Life Success, which will offer comprehensive wraparound student services in a dynamic hub of centralized and holistic resources for life design and ongoing professional development. It will be staffed by a team of professional advisors and success coaches that will support students throughout their academic journey. Alumni will benefit from networking and professional development opportunities as well.

The new center was established through the generosity of longtime university benefactors Donald and Gabby McCree ’83. Administrators expect to have the hub in full operation this fall.  

“At Mary Baldwin, we are adapting our institution to better prepare our students to thrive in the workforce after graduation,” said MBU President Pamela Fox. “The McCree Center is central to our approach, and Thy is the right person to help us deliver on our mission of empowering students with the critical thinking and collaborative skills they need to create lives of purpose and professional success.”

Nguyen said the university’s mission of student empowerment, entrepreneurial spirit, and commitment to career readiness attracted him to the position.

“I really like Mary Baldwin’s focus on serving students from a diverse range of backgrounds — particularly the number of first-generation students that attend,” said Nguyen. “The chance to start something new with the McCree Center and use my 22 years of experience in higher education and career services to bring that vision to life is very exciting.”

Nguyen arrives at MBU highly credentialed.

He earned a bachelor’s degree in communications and master’s degree in postsecondary education and student affairs from the University of Northern Iowa, as well as a certificate in learning and organizational change from Northwestern University. Nguyen’s 20-plus year career in higher education has centered around helping prepare students for workforce success. He has held administrative roles at Northwestern University’s Office of Career Services and McCormick Office of Career Development, served as executive director for the University of Illinois at Chicago’s Career Center, and spent the past four or so years as an associate vice provost for career services at the Illinois Institute of Technology.

“The chance to start something new with the McCree Center and use my 22 years of experience in higher education and career services to bring that vision to life is very exciting.”

Thy Nguyen, Executive Director, McCree Center for Life Success

Nguyen has also sat on various advisory committees for the National Association of Colleges and Employers, and presented at numerous national and regional conferences in the career services field.

“I enjoy working to create partnerships, employment pipelines, and career readiness opportunities with governmental agencies, all types of organizations — including nonprofits and not-for-profits — and companies of all sizes across the U.S.,” Nguyen said. All of it with a goal of equipping students with the skills they need to transition into successful, high-impact jobs after graduation.

Among Nguyen’s first tasks is working closely with enterprise partners to determine what the presence of the McCree Center will look like, both online and on campus. He’ll start by meeting with university leadership, faculty members, and students to get a feel for needs and expectations, and build awareness around direction.

“I want to move quickly into the vision and mission for the center … [and] that’s certainly going to take a lot of community engagement and collaboration,” Nguyen said. That will be imperative as we work “to operationalize, get the team in place, and start to execute on some of those programmatic elements and build workforce partnerships.”