Northern Arizona University President John Haeger will discuss what sets NAU apart from Arizona’s other public universities when he testifies today before the Arizona Senate Committee on Higher Education.

Inside NAU caught up with the president prior to his committee appearance for a preview of his testimony.

“Northern Arizona University is not, nor does it aspire to be, the University of Arizona or Arizona State University,” Haeger said. “The driving core of our mission is undergraduate residential education.” That foundation, he noted, is strengthened by research, graduate and professional programs and sophisticated methods of distance learning.

Haeger said he will emphasize that “Northern Arizona University is ‘the difference that matters’ in Arizona,” quoting from NAU’s marketing campaign. The NAU difference includes:

  • smaller class sizes with access to professors
  • nationally ranked undergraduate programs in such fields as hotel and restaurant management, engineering, biology, forestry, teacher preparation, business and nursing
  • a caring environment
  • a curriculum that is structured to serve students seeking a degree that will translate into a job

The university will focus increased attention on its core mission of undergraduate education by increasing retention rates and the number of bachelor’s degrees awarded and by pursuing a four-year graduation guarantee with students and their families, according to Haeger.

The president will note that NAU’s successful graduate programming and research endeavors emerge from the university’s undergraduate strengths and focus on serving the needs of Arizona.

“In fact, I will have a chance to brag about the fact that a new national ranking of faculty productivity in doctoral programs lists NAU as 17th in the nation among small research universities,” he said

“We are not just the largest employer in Flagstaff,” Haeger continued. “We have an obligation to work as a partner to solve immediate and longer-term problems of the region.”

Haeger said he will describe how NAU also serves the entire state through its Distance Learning program, which offers accessibility to an affordable higher education. Already present on virtually every community college campus in the state, NAU’s Distance Learning program will continue to expand programming in business, education and the health professions.

In serving the state, NAU has adopted an Arizona public agenda, Haeger will tell the committee. Specifically, NAU is committed to providing more math and science teachers and to dealing with a dearth of health-care providers by expanding its health professions programming in Phoenix, Tucson, Prescott and Yuma.