Notes from the President: April 27, 2023

Dear Lumberjacks,

Final exams are just around the corner, students in regalia are taking pictures at iconic spots throughout campus in preparation for their upcoming graduation, and beautiful spring weather is giving a little extra energy to these final days of spring semester 2023 at NAU. I’m excited to share some more news about our honorary doctorate recipients who will speak at each commencement ceremony later today as we put the finishing touches on the biggest event of the year. Below are my notes from a busy week.

  • At the Arizona Board of Regents meeting last Thursday in Tucson, I had important and productive meetings, discussing NAU’s strategic direction, providing updates on critical workstreams, and thinking collaboratively with regents and our sister universities’ presidents about how NAU can fully deliver on its charge to be Arizona’s engine of opportunity.
  • During the public meeting, I was pleased to present our tuition and fee proposal for approval, as well as recommend our talented Vice President for Intercollegiate Athletics, Mike Marlow, for a five-year contract extension. Both items passed, and I look forward to the good work ahead.
  • Friday afternoon I returned to Flagstaff from Tucson and caught up on some work before turning back around for a trip to Phoenix on Saturday for an event hosted by the Pharos Foundation, a leading funder for the new Arizona Institute for Education and the Economy. Many important conversations were had with funders and partners committed to attainment, and I’m excited for the Institute to get up and running this summer and complement our other statewide attainment efforts.
  • I am always impressed by the great work our NAU faculty and staff do in their communities, and it was with great pride that I read in the Daily Sun about two great NAU faculty members who were highlighted in the annual 20 under 40 list: Emily Cope, associate professor of biological sciences, who is a talented researcher and engaged member of our Flagstaff community, and Lawrence Lenhart, associate professor of English, who was recognized for his great work as executive director of the Northern Arizona Book Festival. Congratulations to both for their engagement at NAU and their contributions to the vitality of our community.
  • As the new week began, I was pleased to share news on the A++ front, as NAU was accepted into the national Data Labs program representing Arizona. This collaborative program between Georgetown University and the National Governors Association empowers states to use data more effectively, efficiently, and equitably by convening cross-functional state teams, offering in-depth technical assistance, and leveraging insights from subject matter experts. NAU’s work will support a student success-focused data infrastructure across A++ institutions and the state government and has the support of Gov. Hobbs and the Arizona Commerce Authority. This will be an important effort to help accelerate the positive impact of A++ for students and communities throughout our state.
  • During the day on Monday, I met with Spanish-language television producers to discuss NAU’s access initiatives, positive impact as a Hispanic-Serving Institution, and potential partnerships moving forward; visited our Staff Advisory Council’s spring appreciation mixer to share my appreciation for all that our staff do day in and day out to advance our mission; and met virtually with a team from the U.S. Department of Education in preparation for a presentation I will be sharing with national leaders convening in Washington, D.C., this coming Monday.
  • Tuesday was highlighted by our faculty and staff Professional Achievement Awards ceremony, where we recognized faculty promotions, college teachers of the year, distinguished teaching fellows, exceptional contributors to research and creative activity at the university, and staff who earned the President’s Achievement Award. I often say that we must take the steps necessary to invest in our people to fulfil our full potential, and these awards show just how valuable, accomplished, and dedicated our team at NAU really is. Congratulations to all who were recognized!
  • I also joined Professor David Camacho’s honors course, “on leadership,” to share my leadership perspective and engage with students; spoke with partners at Phoenix-area business organizations; and met with Coconino Community College President Eric Heiser, whose partnership is invaluable in supporting the educational needs of Flagstaff and the northern Arizona region.
  • Yesterday, I spent the morning on a virtual meeting of the Data Quality Campaign (DQC) Board of Directors and preparing for the busy days ahead with time set aside to write and prepare several presentations. In the afternoon, I visited the Hooper Undergraduate Research Award reception to recognize some incredible student scholarship taking place at NAU, before heading to the Dub for the Axed Student Chef Competition, where I had the privilege of serving as a judge for some incredible cooking by our students. I am well fueled for today!

This morning I have a series of virtual meetings and will have a full day tomorrow as the Undergraduate Symposium takes place and our Foundation and Alumni Boards convene in Flagstaff for their spring meeting.

It’s been an incredible semester so far, and I cannot wait to close it out in style these next two weeks!

Take care,

José Luis Cruz Rivera




NAU Communications