Northern Arizona University President John Haeger’s presentation during this week’s Arizona Board of Regents meeting in Flagstaff was punctuated by a standing ovation and overwhelming praise for his accomplishments during his 13 years as the university’s leader.
Regent Jay Heiler said it is through Haeger’s efforts that NAU has moved ahead in the “most trying of times to a much, much better position,” having weathered $60 million in state budget cuts amid year over year enrollment increases, much of which is credited to the Pledge program.
“You look at Dr. Haeger and you see this extraordinary combination of humility and audacity, and it seems that that is exactly the combination that’s needed to be a successful leader in higher education right now,” Heiler said. “John, you’ve been such a standard bearer for that, and I think it has been the foundation and the key to all of the success that you’ve realized, which you once again covered with great humility with a minimum of aggrandizement. It is really impressive what you’ve done here and the state is a better place for your service.”
Board chair Rick Myers echoed Heiler’s sentiments. “Words don’t describe how much we appreciate everything you and your team have done,” he said.
In what will likely be Haeger’s final meeting with the board, he touched on the transformation in higher education and the evolution of NAU—from innovations in education delivery to private-public partnerships to significant growth in Flagstaff and statewide—and the challenges the next president should anticipate.
Myers and Regent LuAnn Leonard, co-chairs of the NAU presidential search committee, announced Rita Cheng is the finalist for the role. Cheng, who currently serves as chancellor at Southern Illinois University, will meet with the campus and community at 3:30 p.m. Thursday, June 12, in Ashurst Auditorium.
The board also approved NAU’s proposal for the Student and Academic Services Classroom Building, to be constructed through a public-private partnership with American Campus Communities. Once completed in fall 2015, it will house enrollment student support services, classrooms and offices. The building will flank the west side of the San Francisco Street Parking Garage.
Myers moved from board chair to treasurer for the coming fiscal year, passing the gavel to new board chair Mark Killian. Heiler will serve as vice chair, Jay Patterson as secretary and student regent Valerie Hanna as assistant treasurer. Kaitlin Thompson completes her two-year term as a student regent July 1, a position to be filled by Arizona State University graduate student Mark Naufel.
ABOR will hold its next meeting Sept. 25-26 at the High Country Conference Center in Flagstaff.