Notes from the President: April 14, 2022

Dear Lumberjacks,

Picking up from last week, I am again on the road on a Thursday. This time, I’m in Phoenix, joining the presidents of the University of Arizona and Arizona State University for a panel on the state of higher education hosted by the Greater Phoenix Chamber. I look forward to this exciting discussion about the challenges we have all faced in the last few years and the opportunities before us to benefit our communities and the people of Arizona.

Below is a summary of last week, which has been made truly memorable by events and activities leading up to a record NAU Giving Day!

  • Last Thursday, I was in Tucson for the Arizona Board of Regents meeting. A number of items were on the agenda, including the final approval of NAU’s tuition and fee proposal and a much deserved contract extension for our women’s basketball head coach, Loree Payne. It was a great pleasure to be joined by some of our student leaders from ASNAU, who were on their own visit to the Board and the State Legislature. It is always great to see our students’ enthusiasm and engagement in action.
  • Before returning to Flagstaff, my team and I met with Chancellor Lee Lambert and members of his team from Pima Community College, touring their downtown campus and discussing opportunities for partnership focused on access and attainment for students in southern Arizona.
  • This week, the focus has been NAU Giving Day. In the lead-up to this momentous occasion, I had the pleasure of visiting with a number of Flagstaff businesses that are led by NAU alumni. The Lumberjack spirit is strong in the high country, and the people and businesses that enrich our community are proud of their Lumberjack heritage. I’m thrilled to have them as strong partners into the future.
  • Following meetings with colleagues both internal and external, I joined the Faculty Senate for an all-faculty meeting on the proposed constitution. This was a key milestone in our collaborative work. My sincere thanks to the Faculty Senate and Senate President Kate Ellis, as well as University Provost Karen Pugliesi and the team in Academic Affairs for working together in bringing this document forward and embodying our vision for shared and university governance. I look forward to the vote on this important work and to hopefully adopting the new constitution before the end of the semester—replacing the previous version that dated back to 2002!
  • Tuesday, I convened the President’s Cabinet for continued discussions around strategic prioritization, timely initiatives and our collective visioning around how to operationalize the bold goals of the Strategic Roadmap and translate them into action. I know this work will fill much of the summer, but I am energized to tackle it with our dedicated team.
  • The evening brought with it one of the great celebrations for our NAU community—the Gold Axe, Distinguished Senior and President’s Prize ceremony. I am beyond impressed by our students, I was thrilled to celebrate alongside them, and I was honored to have our faculty and staff mentors and proud friends and families in attendance. This is the culmination of our students’ achievements and why we are an engaged, student-centered community. Already, I cannot wait for the energy of our spring commencement ceremonies.
  • Yesterday was NAU Giving Day. My thanks to our generous community of Lumberjacks near and far for making it a tremendous success! This was our fourth Giving Day, and it set a record for funds raised and individuals participating. This generosity powers our mission and enables our students to achieve their ambitions. The day was full of highlights, including visits to our great friends and partners that included the City of Flagstaff, Coconino County, the team at TGen North, who were celebrating their 15th anniversary yesterday too, and our students who volunteered and thanked supporters throughout campus.
  • I’d like to give special thanks to all who gave back this year and my deep appreciation for our NAU Alumni and Development teams for leading this record-breaking edition of Giving Day! Truly proud to be a Lumberjack and see generosity that supports our students on such display.

Later today, I’ll be heading back to Flagstaff after a few more meetings in the valley. I’m looking forward to sharing news around a number of important workstreams and initiatives as we wrap up the semester in the next few weeks, so stay tuned.

In closing, one final THANK YOU for an incredible Giving Day.


José Luis Cruz Rivera

NAU Communications