A record-breaking number of 88 new faculty members joined the NAU family this semester.

“Our incoming faculty are fitting in perfectly because they are dedicated to student learning and are truly student centered,” said Liz Grobsmith, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs. “They have diverse interests, but are united in their scholarly excellence, broad vision and commitment to higher education.”

For many, it was NAU’s dedication to academics and students that attracted them here. “We are excited to have them on board,” Grobsmith said.

Leonardo Alvarado, a new assistant professor in the Applied Indigenous Studies department, was drawn to NAU’s mountain atmosphere and its proximity to Native American communities.

“I am impressed with NAU’s commitment to its students and faculty,” Alvarado said. “So far my experience here has been very positive.”

Alvarado, originally from Honduras, moved here from his recent home in Tucson where he was working as an attorney and research fellow at the Indigenous Peoples Law and Policy program at the University of Arizona College of Law.

“My research and applied work focus is in international law on Ingenious People’s Rights and International Human Rights.” said Alvarado, who is teaching Roots of American Indian Policy and Indigenous State Relations.

The strength of the philosophy department enticed Julie Piering into her new position as the Richard Wood Professor for the Teaching of Philosophy, an endowed professorship honoring the achievements of the late Richard A. Wood who taught at NAU.

“Teaching and research are to my mind inextricable; NAU strikes me as a university which recognizes this by providing faculty with the opportunity to excel in both,” Piering said.

Piering, who recently was an assistant professor of philosophy at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock is “deeply impressed” with the faculty at NAU.

“The administration has gone out of their way to make new faculty feel welcome,” she said. “The students are ideal. I am thrilled with their wit and perspicacity.”

She is teaching Introduction to Philosophy and the Philosophy of Religion.

For Luis Fernandez, it was the democratic nature of the criminal justice department that brought him to NAU. “The criminal justice model is empowering and satisfying,” he said. “I love the balance of research and teaching at NAU. I could not see myself doing one without the other.”

Fernandez, an assistant professor, who is teaching Law Enforcement Systems and Human and Cultural Relations in Criminal Justice, said he could easily see himself living here the rest of his life. “I love Arizona, the mountains and the deserts.”

Gerald Wood, a new assistant professor in the College of Education, is here because of NAU’s enthusiasm in meeting the needs of Latino, Navajo and Hopi students.

“NAU has an amazing track record in providing quality education and service throughout the state,” Wood said. “When I came out to interview, I met an incredible group of faculty who were committed to education. As importantly, I visited the campus on a Friday and found a group of students from the Mountain English Spanish Academy charter school and decided this was the place for me.”

Wood once taught in Paraguay, where most of his family still resides. He is teaching three sections of School and Society and hopes to add teaching Cultural Foundations of Education next semester.