Notes from the President: Feb. 16, 2023

Dear Lumberjacks,

Early this morning, I left Flagstaff for Phoenix to join members of our NAU team from many divisions, as well as partners from our state’s 10 community college districts and the Arizona Commerce Authority, for the first in-person convening of the Arizona Attainment Alliance (A++). Over the next two days, we will dive into the attainment challenge facing Arizona and work collaboratively to harness the collective impact of A++ members to make dramatic strides in broadening access and improving college outcomes in every corner of the state across a 320,000+ student postsecondary ecosystem. I am excited about this important phase of our work and the tangible outcomes that will benefit so many in Arizona. Next week, I will share more on these endeavors.

In the meantime, below are my notes from the last week:

  • Last Thursday and Friday, I was in Phoenix for a meeting of the Arizona Board of Regents. This included strategic discussions about NAU’s direction and initiatives, approval of our institutional metrics and other business of the Board.
  • Following the close of ABOR meetings, I joined the Arizona Commerce Authority for a workforce and higher education panel discussion attended by more than 70 CEOs centered on how Arizona’s colleges and universities are working to create the conditions for new economy that embraces new businesses and new opportunities.
  • Back in Flagstaff, several days of interviews with vice president for inclusion, diversity, and engagement finalists kicked off, as I met with the first of our four finalists. I know that many throughout the university engaged in this important process, and I look forward to seeing your comments reflected in feedback that will help inform our decision on these talented individuals.
  • Saturday at the Skydome I enjoyed a thrilling basketball game that ended in heartbreak. Our Lumberjacks were just edged out in a one-point, last-second game against Portland State.
  • As snow returned to the region this week and we made final preparations for the A++ work taking place today and tomorrow, my meeting schedule was necessarily slightly lighter. The agenda included meetings with Sens. Livingston and Terán, for important and productive conversations around NAU’s work and the priorities of constituents around Arizona.
  • The President’s Cabinet also convened for a deep dive into our upcoming budgeting process for Fiscal Year 2024. I am pleased to report that NAU’s financial position is strong and will help support our bold endeavors. We continue to prioritize investments in our people who advance the university’s mission, pricing that will drive equitable access and cost containment measures that will allow us to best carry out our work in a sustainable manner. In the weeks ahead, I look forward to sharing more information with our university community around our tuition proposal, as well as working with our Cabinet members to develop strategic budgets to carry out our many important efforts.

Last night, I was thrilled to join my wife, Rima Brusi, as she delivered a lecture as part of the Honors Distinguished Speaker Series—”The Life of the Mind and a Mind on the Move: Action and Advocacy in Academia.” Knowing this mind and being along for much of its move, I appreciated Rima sharing with our students as they work to chart the path and blaze the trail for their own life story. Her talk provided a vivid image of how important it is for those of us who have had the privilege of access to higher learning—regardless of how difficult or improbable it may have been gained—to ensure that not only our mind is engaged in the important issues of the day, but that our bodies move to where our minds are … even if it means one day being charged with providing security to Bad Bunny, Ricky Martin and Residente at a mass protest. Intellectual engagement is a necessary condition to advancing a more equitable and just world, but seldom is it sufficient.

Until next week, thank you for your partnership and collaboration in advancing the mission of NAU.


José Luis Cruz Rivera

NAU Communications