NAU celebrates record-breaking fundraising for second year in a row

Lumberjack holding thank-you sign

The Northern Arizona University Foundation set a new fundraising record, receiving more than $53 million in financial support during fiscal year 2023. This is the second year in a row that the NAU Foundation has surpassed fundraising goals, achieving record-setting results propelling the university’s strategic priorities.

This success of this fiscal year, which ended on June 30, is a result of the collective impact of nearly 11,000 donors. Their generosity drives social impact and economic mobility benefiting NAU students, faculty and programs.

“As a new member of the Lumberjack family, I am incredibly proud to witness the transformative effect this year’s fundraising success has on the NAU community,” said Nick Lobejko, CEO of the NAU Foundation. “Each gift of time, talent, and testimony demonstrates NAU’s distinctive excellence and enhances the vision of delivering postsecondary value in Arizona and beyond.”

Many of the gifts received had an immediate and direct impact. Whether bolstering emergency funds to meet students’ essential needs, broadening access to educational attainment, propelling Native American initiatives or contributing to impactful research, donors are driving inspirational change for Lumberjacks.

“Lumberjacks are collaborative, caring, hardworking, and forward-thinking. This is demonstrated by the record accomplishments as a direct result of an extraordinary fundraising year,” said NAU President José Luis Cruz Rivera. “Collectively, we have done so much to advance the priorities in NAU 2025 – Elevating Excellence. Through the intentionality of your efforts, we are broadening participation, supporting student success, and improving post-college outcomes.”

The year’s fundraising success is in large part to the photographic legacy of David Muench, gifted to NAU’s Special Collective and Archives at Cline Library. As a preeminent 20th– and 21st-century landscape and nature photographer, Muench gifted his collection spanning more than 70 years of photography from around the world.

Contributing to this success are the supporters who established scholarships and endowments, NAU Athletics ambassadors, sustaining KNAU members, community partners and those who demonstrated their Lumberjack pride during NAU’s annual Giving Day on March 29.

Organizations like the Diane and Bruce Halle Foundation are helping to grow NAU’s nursing program, while the Helios Education Foundation is increasing educational attainment for several Arizona community colleges. The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation helped fund the development of the implementation of the Seven Generations Signature Initiative, elevating NAU’s impact as one of the nation’s leading universities serving Indigenous Peoples.

Thanks to individual donors like Don, ’76, and Sally Brooks, NAU’s Kitt School of Music received the prestigious designation of an All-Steinway School. With more than 90 percent of the school’s pianos designed by Steinway & Sons, NAU joins more than 200 elite schools throughout the world to receive this recognition.

Other donors, like Mickey Urdea, ’74, contributed to interdisciplinary knowledge at NAU, encouraging research-based collaborations among undergraduate students. With funding from the Dr. Mickey Urdea Collaborative Award, students are prepared for industry jobs and serve as ambassadors for collaborative research opportunities in their fields.

“Building on the momentum from last year, this extraordinary fundraising success is a direct reflection of the supportive community of donors, supporters, and friends who believe in the vision of elevating excellence at NAU,” said David Franke, FY22-23 NAU Foundation Board chair. “Each donation, no matter the size, creates opportunities empowering the next generation of students to learn, grow and thrive, becoming influential leaders of tomorrow.”

The fundraising success achieved this year, positions NAU for another fruitful year, inspiring students and transforming lives. Learn more about the generosity of NAU Foundation donors and discover how your gifts impact NAU by visiting

NAU Communications