George Mason University
George Mason University Mason
George Mason University

Michael “Doc Nix” Nickens, Faculty Member of the Year

August 11, 2016

Traveling the globe as a working musician and gifting his melodies to the masses are rewarding undertakings for Michael Nickens, a man who bleeds charisma and finds his sustenance in human interaction.

But nothing quite has his heart like teaching.

Nickens, a tenured professor at George Mason University, director of the Green Machine pep band, an avid tuba player, and now the Faculty Member of the Year, says teaching at the university level is a way to accomplish many things.

“Higher education allows for a wide range of experiences and interactions, from the absolute beginner all the way through the world-class performer,” he says. “I like that kind of variety, and access to that whole spectrum improves how I interact with every part of it.”

Northern Virginia, his home, is a place of cultural convergence, Nickens says, and there’s a way to express that cultural influence through music.

“I wanted to make the [Green Machine] band less segregated than a radio station,” he says. “I want as many people as possible to see themselves in our repertoire. I want them to see the richness of the community.”

Faculty members at other universities are looking for Mason alumni to come to their schools and do what we do here at Mason, Nickens says. He wants to help develop a curriculum at Mason that prepares students to do that.

“I am from a family of teachers and it is in my blood,” he says. “The type of professional I have always [been] and still want to be is one that creates, performs, teaches, and advocates.”

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