By Laura Huenneke, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs

Just under two months ago, on July 1, I began my role as Provost, but I had already been at NAU long enough to develop a personal passion for our institutional values and identity. So I feel the excitement of new challenges as we open a new academic year.

It’s an outlook that I’m sure is shared by many of you.

As chief academic officer, I work closely with the deans to support all our faculty members and academic staff, and to build and nurture our academic programs. This summer, I briefly explained to the Faculty Senate how I expect to fulfill that mission by focusing on three major areas over the year.

First comes my commitment to student learning. Our first strategic goal as an institution is to live up to our identity as a learning-centered university. Continued progress in our curricular design, learning technologies and assessment efforts is vital to our success.

Second is a focus on support for faculty. We’re investing heavily in professional development, faculty learning communities and the new Faculty Activity and Achievement Reporting (FAAR) system for documenting contributions. I’ll be working closely with the Senate and the Academic Chairs Council to ensure we are providing the appropriate environment, infrastructure and incentives to allow faculty to succeed in the their important work.

Finally, I plan to work across colleges and departments to continue building our institutional visibility and reputation. NAU has so many leaders and so many areas of accomplishment, but gaining wide recognition can be challenging. Highlighting our success helps us with prospective students, with the state’s taxpayers and with others who are potential partners and supporters. Look to see more efforts at communication and marketing to demonstrate the university’s pride in your achievements and contributions.

In my hope to stay in touch with the university community, consider this to be the first of an ongoing series of posts that will appear inInside NAU and other platforms. I’m also eager to visit individual academic departments or units, so contact my office to invite me to an upcoming unit meeting sometime soon. I’m eager to hear your ideas and feedback. And feel free also to send comments and responses to Provost@nau.edu—I look forward to our conversations.

Best of luck to all as we launch the start of classes next week!