Highlighting a number of strategies and initiatives being used at Northern Arizona University, president John Haeger participated in a panel discussion Monday at the annual meeting of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities.

Haeger joined the presidents of two other universities and an education foundation in the “Forum on Presidential Leadership in Boosting College Completion.” The forum focused on student retention and completion in an atmosphere of declining state funding and uneven student preparedness.

Noting NAU’s goal to improve its one-year retention rate from 72.4 percent to 85 percent by 2020, Haeger outlined a wide range of actions being taken—some of which are being piloted this semester—that are “expected to play a pivotal role in student success.”

Some of the items mentioned by Haeger included the First-Year Learning Initiative, mathematics course redesign and numerous coaching programs and policy strategies.

Many of the topics, linked to an overall conference theme of “Leading Transformational Change,” were the focus of Haeger’s own forum at NAU in September. His frequently used phrase “the new normal” was echoed in the formal invitation to the three-day AASCU conference, which is being held in Boston.

Other scheduled panelists appearing with Haeger were Susan A. Cole, president of Montclair State University (N.J.); Jamie P. Merisotis, president and CEO of the Lumina Foundation for Education; and Mary Evans Sias, president of Kentucky State University. The forum was moderated by Richard L. Pattenaude, chancellor of the University of Maine System.