Notes from the President: April 7, 2022

Dear Lumberjacks,

Today, I am in Tucson for a meeting of the Arizona Board of Regents—already missing the brilliant spring weather we have enjoyed in Flagstaff these past few days. It has been another eventful week and as always at universities, the last month of the semester is a sprint to the finish filled with many memorable events. Below is my summary from the past week:

  • Last Thursday began with a blast from the past for me, as I studied up and joined my CEIAS colleague Dr. Paul Flikemma’s EE414/514 Computer Architecture class as a guest lecturer. I enjoyed spending the time back in a familiar position at the lectern, teaching eager and talented students—most of whom will graduate this spring with their bachelor’s or master’s degree. I look forward to my next opportunity to join a classroom at NAU and spend time with our excellent students.
  • The balance of the day on Thursday was spent meeting with one of our Regents, as well as finalizing responses to questions that emerged following my Congressional testimony on Hispanic Serving Institutions back in early March.
  • I unfortunately had to miss an event that I was greatly looking forward to—NAU’s 3-Minute Research Presentation poster event. I’d hoped to see our students’ research first-hand in a fast-paced pitch environment. I had to settle for photos of the event and was thrilled to hear stories from colleagues. Next year, I won’t miss serving as a judge at this great event!
  • Friday was filled with events that took me from one end of our Flagstaff Mountain campus to the other. In the morning, following a detour to Cline Library, a cherished place of peace, study, and contemplation on our campus, I went to the Science and Health building, meeting with our tremendous faculty and students in the Materials Interfaces in Research Application (¡MIRA!) research center and touring their labs. This program is particularly impactful, with cutting edge research in materials science coupled with a deep commitment to teaching, learning, and service to diverse students and communities. The ¡MIRA! team truly embodies our ideals at NAU!
  • Later in the day, I toured the new Student-Athlete High Performance Center. This truly spectacular facility reflects our elevated commitment to academics, research, and athletic performance—all integrated together. I’m so proud of our student athletes for all they have achieved so far in what has been a memorable first season for me with Lumberjack Athletics. I cannot wait to celebrate with those who are graduating in a few short weeks.
  • Finally, my day concluded with a visit to the newly named John Haeger Health and Learning Center for a celebration with NAU’s 15th President, Dr. John Haeger. The inspiration and legacy of President Haeger reverberates to this day, with 25 buildings constructed during his tenure and a sense of innovation, aspiration, and purpose behind all of his work that has set the foundation for the NAU of today.
  • Saturday, Rima and I made a day trip to Phoenix, first meeting with honors alumni for a mixer that celebrated the accomplishments of some impressive recent grads who are now excelling in their careers. I can’t wait to follow their stories in the years ahead and look forward to all that they achieve in helping build a strong, vibrant NAU Alumni network that benefits our entire university community.
  • In the evening, we joined the Arizona K-12 Center for their annual Celebration of Accomplished Teaching, recognizing the tremendous educators who are the foundation of success for students in our state. One of the great honors of working at NAU is our rich history as a teacher-educating institution, our partnership with the K-12 Center, and the many NAU alumni who clearly demonstrate our impact on the State of Arizona.
  • This week got off to an exciting start with an enjoyable session with students and faculty from the Universidad de Sonora visiting NAU as part of our strong partnership through the Center for International Education and Boundaryless. I enjoyed meeting the teams and learning about how they are putting their problem-solving skills to work addressing important social issues in the Arizona/Sonora region.
  • Monday was capped off by a great meeting with the New NAU Workplace committee and dedicated staff in NAU Human Resources who helped to make our New NAU Workplace policy transformations a success. I am proud of the dedication and contributions of so many talented individuals to supporting wellbeing, innovation, and opportunity for NAU employees—and who dedicate their time and energy to ensuring that NAU really is a tremendous place to work.
  • The last two days have been focused on a few upcoming milestones: 1) the ABOR meeting which I am about to enter into this morning and 2) the continued deep-dive review into our finances and ensuring that we are doing all we can to recognize and support our employees through our compensation program. I was delighted to announce our efforts to address compensation immediately, including the increase in our lowest paid student wage, the launch of our Teaching Track for faculty, and a 3 percent one-time payment to our dedicated faculty and staff whose work empowers our leadership in advancing equitable postsecondary value for our students and their communities.

To celebrate the recent National Walk to Work Day, I would like to share why I am passionate about my daily walks. I walk to and from work because it would be criminal not to. The 45-minute walk in the morning allows me to take in the majestic beauty of the San Francisco Peaks from various vantage points as I approach our Mountain Campus from Downtown Flagstaff and think about the issues I will face during the day—both in the realm of work and family. The walk back home at the end of the day gives me something to look forward to as I navigate the many challenges and opportunities that arise during the day— I get to see our campus community in motion—heading to the Union or the HLC, walking to one of our many recreational facilities, or on their way to a parking garage—a first stop before being back home with loved ones and the promise of the evening ahead. Furthermore, the walk back provides me some quiet time to reflect on the day and think about how best to invest my time and energy with family once I am back home. I highly recommend that if you don’t already, give walking to work a try.

I am proud of the work that we’ve accomplished this week and look forward to continuing our progress for the remainder of the semester, including sharing details about our Strategic Roadmap as it is revised and refined into its final draft form, our DEIJ efforts, our physical master planning process, and much more.

In partnership,

José Luis Cruz Rivera

NAU Communications