At its meeting in Flagstaff Thursday, the Arizona Board of Regents authorized Northern Arizona University to establish a new College of Engineering, Informatics, and Applied Sciences (CEIAS).

Growing interest in the STEM fields has led to increased student interest in these programs, and the size and complexity of the current College of Engineering, Forestry, and Natural Sciences (CEFNS) provided opportunities to create a new college. A smaller, more focused college will allow for targeted efforts in recruitment, research and scholarship, mentoring and career preparation for students in Engineering, Computer Science, Informatics, and related programs. This will enable NAU to better contribute to the ABOR 2025 Performance Metrics of increasing enrollment, retention, graduation and degrees in high-demand fields. Meeting these goals also will serve NAU’s Strategic Plan by strengthening the university’s contributions to the state’s economic growth.

CEIAS will be operational in the fall and will consist of the Department of Civil Engineering, Construction Management and Environmental Engineering, the Department of Mechanical Engineering, and the School of Informatics, Computing, and Cyber Systems. CEIAS also will include two research centers: the existing Center for Bioengineering Innovation and the future Center for Materials Interfaces in Research and Applications.

The remaining units will be housed in the College of the Environment, Forestry, and Natural Sciences (CEFNS), which will consist of the School of Earth and Sustainability, the School of Forestry and the departments of Biological Sciences, Chemistry & Biochemistry, Mathematics & Statistics, Physics & Astronomy, as well as several centers and institutes.

The reorganization of the College of Engineering, Forestry, and Natural Sciences into two separate colleges is the culmination of months of work and input by NAU faculty and staff at all levels and programs. In January, President Rita Cheng convened a task force to study the organizational structure of the College of Engineering, Forestry, and Natural Sciences to gather campus insight. The task force held four campus open forums to explain the process, answer questions and record comments, advice and concerns from faculty and staff, and the Faculty Senate was engaged throughout the process. Following the task force recommendation and Faculty Senate approval, an implementation task force developed final recommendations for a plan and timeline, which Cheng, Provost Dan Kain and the Faculty Senate approved.

“I’m pleased that NAU continues to adapt in the areas that hold the most potential for our students’ success and career preparation. This reorganization will ensure NAU remains at the forefront of engineering, forestry and natural science research expertise and undergraduate and graduate education,” Cheng said. “I’m grateful to the task force members, Faculty Senate and every faculty and staff member at the university engaged in this important process and who will help to lead the transition.”

The new college will come under the leadership of Associate Vice President for Research Diane Stearns, who has agreed to serve as the interim dean while the university conducts a national search for the permanent position.