Notes from the President: April 21, 2022

Dear Lumberjacks,

We are in the home stretch of the semester! Nearly every day I join a new celebration, experiencing NAU traditions for the first time and being inspired by our students. And almost every day I am on campus I see students in their regalia taking commemorative photos at a favorite spot, remembering and memorializing their time at NAU as they look ahead to the next chapter in their lives. These moments bring me great joy and they also reinforce the need to redouble our work—so that the next generation of Lumberjacks has the same opportunities for success and fulfillment that we are seeing our soon-to-be-graduates experiencing today. This inspires my daily work.

Below is my summary of the week past:

  • Last Thursday, I joined President Crow (ASU) and President Robbins (UA) in Phoenix for a panel discussion on the state of higher education in Arizona. It was an engaging dialogue, and I enjoyed the opportunity to share the good work of our NAU community with a broader audience in Phoenix. I also want to give a special thanks to Todd Sanders, CEO of the Greater Phoenix Chamber and a proud NAU alum, for the excellent questions as host and moderator. Together, our public universities are doing the important work needed to broaden access, support student attainment, and address the challenges and opportunities of the future.
  • Following some meetings in the valley with philanthropic supporters of our university, I returned to Flagstaff in preparation for Friday’s meetings, which began early with a convening of our local public agencies—NAU, CCC, FUSD, Coconino County, the City of Flagstaff, and NAIPTA—for a meeting of the Alliance for the Second Century. I find these collaborative discussions to be informative and helpful, as they help strengthen the partnership among the public agencies that touch on so many aspects of our community in the greater Flagstaff region.
  • Later in the day, it was a pleasure to visit with our students, faculty, and staff for the annual Sustainability Leadership Awards. Sustainability is a core piece of our identity and mission at NAU. It is an essential part of our distinctive excellence in education and research, and we aim to be at the forefront in practicing sustainable methods throughout our operations. Being able to recognize the excellent work of so many in our community was humbling and inspiring, and I’m looking forward to more engagement in the weeks ahead with our sustainability leadership groups as we advance bold climate goals that are integrated into our overall mission in the Strategic Roadmap.
  • This week, I have worked to carve out time both for reflection and planning on the one hand, and for engaging in the fast-paced but rewarding activity that punctuates the end of the semester on the other hand. It is a difficult balancing act, but even though I am physically exhausted at the end of most days, I am mentally and emotionally re-energized as I reflect on all that is transpiring around us—the accomplishments celebrated, the futures anticipated.
  • With the final draft of our Strategic Roadmap nearing completion for presentation to the University Advisory Board, I hosted our dedicated team of facilitators from all the working groups to thank them for their work. I also previewed some of our next steps for implementation, as we translate the aspirations of the Roadmap into meaningful action for our students, our faculty and staff, and our community.
  • I also joined colleagues of the President’s Council about mapping out the next phase of our work, aligning institutional action agendas with the Strategic Roadmap, identifying funding opportunities to propel and accelerate the attainment of our goals, and more.
  • In a timely meeting following our sustainability awards and in advance of Earth Day tomorrow, I met with some of our campus sustainability leaders to consider how we can best organize and advance our work on this front, particularly in impactful and accelerated initiatives that recognize the imperative to act now to address the global climate crisis. I look forward to sharing some of this work on Friday and setting the stage for what is to come.
  • In what might be my final guest classroom appearance of the semester, I visited with Professor Camacho’s honors leadership seminar to share my perspectives, experiences, and approach to leadership and answer the thoughtful questions of our students who are an impressive group of aspiring leaders.
  • Yesterday I had the privilege of visiting with the team at NAU’s Center for Science Teaching and Learning, an interdisciplinary group focused on the intersections of STEM research and education. I’m thrilled to have such a dedicated team in this and our other centers of excellence throughout campus.
  • I also met with one of our strong community partners, Mary Kershaw who leads the renowned Museum of Northern Arizona. NAU has a long partnership with MNA and I know that together we will continue to elevate this work through mutually beneficial partnerships that support our students, faculty, staff, and community.
  • On the national front, I participated in a steering committee meeting of the Presidents’ Alliance for Higher Education and Immigration where we had the opportunity to discuss the federal legislative landscape on issues at the intersection of immigration and education policy.
  • And the day closed with a truly wonderful visit to the Hooper Undergraduate Research Awards. I am so impressed by our students’ work and thankful for the support they have from our university to empower their success and achievements.
  • Finally, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention two outstanding moments for our Athletics teams that occurred this week. First, NAU Women’s Tennis ended the regular season as Big Sky co-champions, and yesterday, our Women’s Golf team won the Big Sky for the first time since 2015! It is a joy to be a Lumberjack fan, and it truly feels like hardly a week goes by without a major win or milestone for our student athletes. I’m proud of all they’ve accomplished this year and for the championship finish that they are putting on the semester.

Before signing off today, I want to take a moment to recognize the developing situation with the Tunnel Fire in east Flagstaff. We stand by all within our broader community who are affected by this fire and of the first responders on the front lines working to contain it. At NAU, we are ready to act in partnership with the county and the citizens of our region and will do all that we can to support as this situation develops and evolves. My sincere best wishes to all involved for their safety and for a quick recovery.


José Luis Cruz Rivera

NAU Communications