by Rita Cheng, President

It’s been a whirlwind summer, and university business never seems to slow down. We’ve all had different schedules, and it’s nice to be back together to begin the new academic year.

Over the next few days, we will welcome 20,500 new and returning students to the Flagstaff campus and 8,000 across the state including in downtown Phoenix, Prescott Valley and Yuma. I’m excited to start the new academic year, and I know our students are too.

It’s hard to believe that it’s been a year since Tom and I joined Northern Arizona University and the Lumberjack family. I want to thank you for making us feel very welcome and at home.

This is an exciting time for NAU. We have increased our number of doctoral students and launched a new fellowship program. We’ve had increases in our research funding over the last year and many of our students have been selected for prestigious fellowship and scholarship awards. We also are playing a key role in economic development and are actively engaged in our community.

This month, we welcome Provost James Coleman and Carla Andrews-O’Hara, chief marketing and communications officer, who join our talented team of administrators, faculty and staff. I am certain you will find they are committed to student success and excited to join us in advancing NAU’s mission.


Flagstaff campus
Join us for the Welcome Back barbecue from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 2, in the Central Quad. For more details about Welcome Week activities, click here.

Our student population continues to grow, and we will break ground on a new residence hall in the coming months through our partnership with American Campus Communities. Our new Science and Health Building has risen to completion, as has the International Pavilion. And in the next six months, the new aquatic and tennis complex and Student and Academic Support Services building will open. These new facilities are part of our investment in our future and offer our students modern settings in which to learn and grow.

As we enter this new academic year together, I would like to thank you for your commitment to the mission of Northern Arizona University. Each one of you is instrumental in the educational journey of our students. Much of my first year was spent listening and learning through conversations with many of you, and those conversations will continue.

I am incredibly proud to be a part of the Lumberjack family because I know we will embrace our challenges together. We will fulfill the promise to our students that they will receive an exceptional education. And we will celebrate our achievements together.

Here’s to a great year, Lumberjacks.