Notes from the President: Feb. 10, 2022

Dear Lumberjacks,

Today I write from Tempe at a meeting of the Arizona Board of Regents. NAU has a few important items on the agenda, and I’m excited to share news soon on important initiatives and investments that will allow us to take decisive action to break down barriers to access and support impactful outcomes for all students.

With this important work on the horizon, today’s notes look back over the last week of meetings, engagements, and developments that drive forward our mission.

  • Last Thursday, I participated in a meeting of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities’ (AASCU) Postsecondary Value Taskforce. During the meeting, AASCU announced that NAU will be leading the Taskforce’s Data Collaborative charged with developing a blueprint for other institutions interested in advancing equitable postsecondary value efforts through an actionable data framework. Later in the day, I was privileged to make a presentation entitled “The Provost’s Role: Driving Excellent, Equitable Student Outcomes” to the participants of the 2022 AASCU Academy for New Provosts.
  • I ended the day on Thursday with a walk to the Franke College of Business to visit our student leaders from the ProSell club and the Boys and Girls Club of Flagstaff. This was a great community engagement opportunity and shows the sincere dedication of our students to helping support our local community. I was particularly impressed with the ability of our students to assemble a bike while blindfolded!
  • Among my agenda of engagements on Friday was a visit to NAU’s Mental Health Taskforce meeting. The Taskforce works to address the mental health needs within our NAU student community. I was impressed by the work done thus far by our colleagues and look forward to additional progress on this important front. We must keep our students’ mental health centered in our work in order to truly deliver on our mission of student success.
  • Rima and I had the great pleasure of ending the day on Friday with a lovely dinner with dear friends and supporters of our university. It was wonderful to get to know them better and gain a more nuanced understanding of why NAU holds such an important place in their lives.
  • On Monday, I kicked off the day by welcoming a special guest to NAU’s Flagstaff Campus: Dr. Aarón Aurelio Grageda Bustamante, Minister of Education and Culture for the State of Sonora. I am thankful for our strong partnership with Mexican universities and the State of Sonora, and I appreciate all the work of NAU’s Center for International Education to ensure great bi-directional partnerships with our colleagues in Sonora and beyond.
  • Other meetings included reviewing our internal audit results and strategies moving forward; an overview of ongoing work by our team related to making NAU’s tuition and fee structure more sustainable, mission-driven, and transparent for students and their families; and additional internal meetings with members of our university leadership team.
  • I’ve spent time throughout this week joining external colleagues and partners, from community colleges in Arizona, educational non-profits working in the access space, the American Association of Colleges and Universities Board, and more.
  • Yesterday, in advance of the ABOR meetings, I travelled to Phoenix to meet with legislators, including a meeting with Representative Kelli Butler (and an unexpected but welcome visit with some passionate students working for a more inclusive and educated Arizona) and Senator Christine Marsh. I also visited with NAU alumni who are established leaders and emerging entrepreneurs in the greater Phoenix community, whose work is impressive and whose partnership with NAU is deeply valued.

Yesterday an important notice went out to our NAU community, with the formal announcement of our new university leadership and advisory structures. I know these—and other established governance and advisory groups—will be key contributors to our work ahead and I am grateful to be able to rely on strong leaders within my cabinet and in our various university representative groups to consult with and support our collective work.

I am excited for our ABOR meeting to get underway and look forward to sharing the results of this important work with all of you soon.


José Luis Cruz Rivera

NAU Communications