Notes from the President: April 13, 2023

Dear Lumberjacks,

Over the past few days, I’ve had the privilege of joining our students, faculty, and staff to celebrate truly exceptional accomplishments by members of our NAU community. The dedication of our scholars, learners, and advocates to shape a brighter future is inspiring. As we head into the final weeks of the spring semester, these celebratory events energize me for the important work we undertake every day here at NAU to elevate excellence and drive economic mobility and social impact for the diverse communities we serve.

  • Last Thursday, I spent my day meeting with community leaders, joining a podcast to share 10 leadership lessons and how they apply to my work at NAU, and joined our talented graduate students, their mentors, and members of the NAU community at the 3 Minute Research Presentations (3MRP) event on campus for an engaging demonstration of our students’ abilities to rapidly and effectively communicate complex science to a broad audience.
  • Friday and through the weekend offered some quieter days to strategize and plan around several major initiatives on the horizon. And enjoyed a semblance of the beautiful Flagstaff spring that is finally upon us.
  • The week began with conversations with Provost Karen Pugliesi, the launch of a national taskforce on climate action for institutions of higher education, where I am pleased to be representing NAU and our climate action goals, and a meeting with some of our philanthropic partners whose investments are supporting innovative efforts by NAU to boost access and attainment.
  • In addition to these meetings, I had two major events in the afternoon. First, the Faculty Senate’s all-faculty meeting, where I joined to speak with our senators and faculty representatives; and second, one of my favorite traditions each semester, the Gold Axe, Distinguished Senior, and President’s Prize awards ceremony. The academic accomplishments of these talented students are matched by a sincere dedication to lead the way to a more inclusive and prosperous society. It was my honor to recognize them and celebrate alongside friends, family, and the dedicated faculty and staff mentors who have supported these students on their journeys.
  • The focal point of Tuesday was a meeting of the President’s Cabinet, where I shared some key updates on strategic work streams and our university leaders engaged in a robust discussion on the continued work of the Campus Master Plan. We have received much thoughtful feedback from our university’s diverse stakeholders, whose input is continuing to shape this vital plan that will inform our physical planning and investments over the next decade.
  • Yesterday, I met with members of the Arizona Board of Regents, as well as the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education, to prepare for upcoming meetings of both groups.
  • The evening held another celebratory event at the Diversity and Equity Awards, where our Diversity Commissions honored individuals who have dedicated time, talent, and energy to building a more inclusive community. I am proud of all the award winners and many others at NAU who ensure each day that all Lumberjacks have the opportunity to affirm their identity, build community, engage in civil discourse and the free exchange of ideas, and contribute their diverse perspectives and lived experiences towards the advancement of NAU’s mission.

I’ll be on the road next week to Phoenix and Tucson on university business but will leave Flagstaff energized by a great week and the momentum of much good work taking place throughout our university community.

In partnership,

José Luis Cruz Rivera

NAU Communications