NAU celebrates installation of Rita Cheng as 16th president

Rita Cheng Installation

Nearly 600 guests including elected officials, faculty, staff, students and friends of the university gathered in Ardrey Memorial Auditorium on Thursday to celebrate as the Arizona Board of Regents officially installed Rita Hartung Cheng as the 16th president of Northern Arizona University.

“NAU serves and belongs to all of Arizona,” Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey said during the ceremony. “I am confident it will continue to thrive for years to come under its 16th president. She is collaborative and energetic; she’s a problem solver and she’s fully devoted to the mission and goals of NAU and its impact on our state as a whole.”

The installation ceremony was a celebration of academic excellence at Northern Arizona University and featured speeches by Ducey, ABOR chair Mark Killian, Flagstaff Mayor Jerry Nabours, NAU Faculty Senate President Astrid Klocke and student leaders. It also featured several musical performances by students and faculty and a formal investiture of President Cheng

Three former NAU presidents, Eugene Hughes, Clara Lovett and John Haeger, also attended and joined in the celebration.

Since arriving at NAU in August, Cheng has spent time listening and learning, meeting with faculty, staff and student leaders, and traveling across the state to meet various partners and stakeholders.

“Our momentum has carried us to this place and time—to a period in which stewardship has passed to me. I am well aware of the responsibility of this role, and I accept as my personal mission the commitment to extend NAU’s success,” Cheng said.

“Make no mistake: NAU is an outstanding university with an enviable future,” the president continued. “We enjoy this position because staying true to ourselves has always been a priority. Our values are reflected in our approach to producing skilled graduates who will join the workforce as assets to the state and national economy.”

Killian performed the formal investiture and expressed gratitude on behalf of the Arizona Board of Regents for Cheng’s willingness to take on this role.

Killian recalled during Cheng’s interview last summer when he asked how she would teach ethics to the students of Northern Arizona University. “She said ‘I will be ethical, I will walk the walk’ and to me, that was what it was all about,” Killian said. “I wanted a president who would set a great example, who would walk the walk and be everything we want a president to be.”

Watch the recorded ceremony online and view a photo album from the event here.

Contribute your congratulations and well wishes for the president in the comment section below.