Notes from the President: Feb. 23, 2023

Dear Lumberjacks,

I am in Phoenix again today for business, while Flagstaff continues to get hit hard with winter weather. I am so grateful for the continued efforts of our facilities and custodial teams who have worked long, hard days so often in 2023 to keep campus services running and serve our students. I hope we will have a reprieve soon, although the forecast shows that next week could bring even more snow!

Today, I will be meeting with several legislators throughout the day and wrapping up with a celebration of 10 years of excellence for NAU’s health care education programs at the Phoenix Bioscience Core (PBC). Below are my highlights from the last week:

  • Last Thursday and Friday were dedicated to the Arizona Attainment Alliance (A++). At this first in-person convening of A++ members—held just three months after the initiative was launched—we planned, shared best practices and pursued bold goals that will help meet Arizonans with greater opportunity and empower economic mobility and social impact. The planning meetings brought together a team from NAU, representatives from all 10 of our state’s community college districts, representatives from the Arizona Commerce Authority and external partners from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Helios Education Foundation.
  • I encourage you to read the full news release linked in a campus message that will be sent out later today about our convening, which describes our first A++ initiative: the Universal Admissions Program, which will pave the way for more opportunities for students to pursue their postsecondary goals. My sincere thanks to our colleagues and partners who are so committed to this important work.
  • With the start of a new week, much of Monday was spent on internal meetings and planning in preparation for a busier second half of the week. I spent time with our ASNAU President to discuss NAU’s tuition and fee planning and philosophy, an ABOR meeting, debriefing and preparing for next steps in A++ work and more.
  • Tuesday, I joined the President’s Native American Advisory Board to share updates on our work before the board transitioned into their business for the day. With our Foundation team, I started preparing for Giving Day, which will take place on March 29 and will be a wonderful opportunity to engage and energize our broader Lumberjack community in support of our initiatives. I also met with our Hispanic-Serving Institution advisors and Provost Karen Pugliesi, as well as our institutional finance team, before heading down to Phoenix to avoid the dangerous travel conditions that were forecast to roll in overnight.
  • Yesterday was highlighted by two major events. First, I joined the Phoenix Chamber and Presidents Crow and Robbins for a panel discussion on the state of higher education, where we reflected on our work, partnerships with business and industry, impactful initiatives to drive access and discovery, and much more (including, our picks for hypothetical walk-on music if we were to pitch for our universities!).
  • Second, in the evening I joined the mayor of Phoenix and a number of executive leaders in nursing for the Nurses Executive Leadership Forum at the PBC. It was an honor to share NAU’s transformative work as a leading health care education provider across nursing, allied health and behavioral health disciplines, and the tremendous strides we have made to help educate the workforce necessary for Arizona’s continued health and success.

Ahead of many meetings today, I am optimistic about our outlook for the future and energized by the potential so many of our partners see in NAU’s mission. It is a privilege to advocate for this great university and to champion the good work of our Lumberjack community.

Stay safe in the snow over the next few days.

In partnership,

José Luis Cruz Rivera

NAU Communications