People of SFU

Student Services’ Kris Nordgren leads the way with his 2022 SFU Staff Achievement Award

May 30, 2023

Kris Nordgren is SFU’s Assistant Registrar, Student Services – Senate & Academic. He is recognized for being a supportive leader who mentors his team to achieve excellence in their work. He is also known for being humble about sharing the secrets to his success as a leader. However, receiving SFU’s Staff Achievement Award for Leadership persuaded him to share some thoughts. “You need to understand what motivates your team to do their best work,” he says, “and you need to understand what prevents them from doing their best work.”

Kris is responsible for administering the Senate and its committees, and oversees SFU’s curriculum management processes and systems, such as the academic calendar. He also looks after various appeals bodies, including the academic integrity policy, and is a member of the Student Enrollment Leadership Team. He is currently busy leading the Student Services team responsible for the coordination and delivery of the student experience at the upcoming June Convocation.

Even though everyone on his team is equally as busy, Kris prioritizes scheduling time each week to have one-on-one meetings with each of them. To inspire his team, he recommends always giving credit when it’s due. “Recognize good work and success at every opportunity,” he says. “Not once a year or sometime in the future.”

Kris acknowledges that change management is a crucial part of leadership. He advises, “If there’s a need for change, whether for new systems, processes, or new strategies to implement, it’s important to talk about what the change is going to mean and hopefully early in the change process.”

This approach comes naturally to Kris. He enjoys solving problems and helping others work through theirs, especially if it involves taking a course or doing research. He is a lifelong learner at SFU, starting his undergrad in the late 1980s and then returning to complete it in 2007. During the time in between, he took on leadership and training manager roles at TELUS. After finishing his degree, he had the opportunity to start a new career path at SFU.

“To say ‘I found my people’ might be a bit passé, though it is accurate,” he explains. “It gave me the opportunity to explore a new career opportunity that I hadn’t previously considered, and I met and worked with many incredibly talented people.”

Kris continues to explore new interests and leadership opportunities through volunteering. “I’ve volunteered with APSA at SFU, spending a few years as a member of the APSA Board, and I’ve chaired the APSA University Affairs Committee,” he recounts. “Currently, I am the Chair of the APSA Salary & Benefits Committee and was the spokesperson/negotiator during the last round of contract negotiations with the University and will be doing so for the next round of negotiations, which will be happening soon.”

SFU is a family affair for Kris. He is married to Melanie Monk, who works under the SFU's Vice-President, Research & International, as an Associate Director in the Institutional Strategic Awards office, and his daughter Lily is finishing her first year as a student here.

Receiving the Staff Achievement Award made Kris reflect on how much he values his team. “When I was informed of the honour, I will admit to welling up,” he recalls. “I am so grateful to get to come into work every day with these awesome individuals.”