Dr. Nick Tatum, director of student productions, accepted a new teaching position at George Mason, and will leave the university at the end of the fall semester.
Tatum serves as a professor in the communications department and the director for Sing Song and Freshman Follies. He was also heavily involved with a cappella groups and large-group chapel.
He will have the opportunity to work with students seeking their doctorate in communication at George Mason. He will also oversee special projects as the director of the communications center in the greater D.C. area.
Tatum said he’s been asked by members of the community if he’ll miss the music at ACU, but he wants his professional work to be focussed more on graduate students.
“That’s always been a hobby of mine and something that always gives me great joy, but my degree was never in music,” Tatum said. “I started off college as a music major and quickly realized that I don’t want to pursue that as a profession. Instead, I went an academic route to do research and get to mentor graduate students, and ultimately those are the things that are leading me to take this new opportunity.”
Tatum received his undergraduate at ACU in 2013 with a bachelor’s in family studies and received his master’s in communication in 2015. Finally, he graduated with a doctorate in communication in fall of 2019 at the University of Kentucky while teaching at ACU.
While challenging, Tatum believed it was worth it to teach classes at ACU while simultaneously being a student.
“I love to be busy,” Tatum said. “It was very difficult, but it was totally doable at the time. I’m very glad though that I don’t have to be a Ph.D student now.”
Tatum started teaching at ACU in the fall semester of 2017.
Courtney McGaha, Sing Song upstage coordinator and former ACU student, has worked alongside Tatum for several years in student productions but first met him when he served as the sophomore class Sing Song act director.
“I remember thinking during my first rehearsal that he had this infectious enthusiasm and humorous approach to leadership that made all of us in his group want to work as hard as we could to produce a great act, and we had a blast doing it,” McGaha said. “I have always loved working with Nick. That infectious enthusiasm I mentioned earlier that makes working with him so enjoyable has permeated all aspects of student productions. He’s got such a vision for everything he’s involved in and he works so hard to make what he does the highest possible quality.”
While Tatum has committed time at ACU, his search for future employment continued.
“I don’t think I ever stopped,” Tatum said. “I was super grateful for the opportunity to come back to ACU, but I wouldn’t say my long-term plan was to stay at ACU. I’m someone who’s always looking for new and challenging opportunities.”
As a student and professor, Tatum found a major difference between the two that he believes goes unnoticed as a student.
“They are very different from each other,” Tatum said. “I think being a faculty or staff member is like looking under the hood. It’s complex and always changing, and that’s something I don’t think students see. ACU is a complicated organization that has a lot of working parts, and that’s the thing I’ve been excited about.”
As Tatum’s journey comes to a close, he’s thankful for the opportunity to teach in Abilene but is eager for future endeavors.
“I dearly enjoy doing what I do here and I love Abilene, but D.C. is a great place to live,” Tatum said. “I’m excited to live in an urban city and the change of living in a metro area.”