Pride, renewal and looking ahead

Laura Huenneke

          by Laura Huenneke, Provost

This week’s commencement ceremonies mark the end of my first academic year in the Provost’s Office. Overall it’s been both fascinating and rewarding; I’m pleased to be working with so many talented, dedicated people on meaningful projects.

The entire NAU community has much to be proud of in the past year:

  • the Senator Paul Simon Award for Campus Internationalization, for our progressive work in global education
  • an innovative interdisciplinary Ph.D. program launched in earth science and environmental sustainability
  • the first year of the Center for American Indian Resilience, funded by the National Institutes of Health, to complement our many other services to Native American students and communities
  • ground-breaking approaches in Personalized Learning, which plans to enroll students in the next month or so
  • our first two degree programs in the spectacular Health Sciences Education Building at the Phoenix Biomedical Campus
  • our first Artist in Residence, Bruce Aiken, and collaborations with the Flagstaff community in arts-based economic development
  • a continued focus on undergraduate engagement, from the First Year Seminar Action Research Teams to the spectacular Undergraduate Research Symposium held recently in the Skydome.

I salute the work you have all been doing to accommodate our booming enrollment while sustaining a high-quality, personalized educational experience for students.

One of my priorities for next year is the creation of a framework for planning academic priorities, with transparent attention to quality, student demand and resources. The Provost’s Office will also launch a survey on faculty working conditions as part of the Collaborative on Academic Careers in Higher Education. We expect to use the results, and other COACHE resources, to help make NAU the best possible workplace.

But for now, we welcome the summer! This is the opportunity, whether you are on contract or not, to do what’s needed to renew personal and intellectual reserves–some mix of scholarship, creative work, extra attention to students or programs and personal renewal like hiking or family or community. I wish you a safe, happy and satisfying summer, and look forward to working with you again next year.