Notes from the President: April 25, 2024

Dear Lumberjacks,

The spring semester and academic year are nearly at a close. I almost can’t believe that my next edition of notes will be shared on Commencement-eve, where 5,700 students prepare to celebrate the culmination of years of work and embark on the next chapter of their lives. As we head into the final two weeks of the semester, there is certainly hard work still to be done—including cramming for finals!—but I hope that we can all join in reflecting on the many achievements registered this year: achievements by Lumberjacks near and far that elevate our impact; achievements by us all to advance our most noble vision to serve the people and communities of Arizona and beyond. Here’s to another great year!

Below are my notes from the past two weeks:

  • Following a week away on family business, I jumped back in with a full schedule on Monday, April 15. Zoom meetings, reviewing options for hosting events to cultivate partnership and philanthropic support, and joining our Staff Advisory Council and staff from throughout the university to celebrate a great year at the SAC Annual Mixer filled the morning before my class session.
  • After class, I traveled to the Native American Cultural Center, where I joined colleagues from NAU and San Carlos Apache College for a ceremonial signing of a first-of-its-kind intergovernmental agreement between NAU and SCAC. I am so deeply appreciative of the partnership of Dr. Martin Ahumada, president of SCAC, and our teams from both institutions who will elevate partnership and broaden opportunities for students to earn valuable degrees and advance our shared missions.
  • In the evening, I was privileged to join students, faculty, and staff for the kickoff of Franke Leadership Week at NAU. I participated in an engaging fireside chat on leadership, organized by the Institute for Public and Professional Ethics in Leadership. During a wide-ranging conversation, I shared my perspectives on inclusive, mission-driven leadership, drawing from examples at NAU and elsewhere in my career.
  • Tuesday was similarly busy: 1-1 meetings with members of my team; a convening of the President’s Cabinet to review our NAU Advancement | Foundation strategies for a comprehensive fundraising campaign, HR processes, and our financial position heading into the fiscal year-end and budget setting for next year, among other topics; an engagement with media for an upcoming highlight on our Universal Admissions work; and then a visit to the Northern Arizona Chapter of the Military Officers Association of America—organized by NAU Ph.D. alumna Col. Rebecca Seeger—to share NAU’s accomplishments, priorities, and outlook.
  • In the evening, I participated in two events: the Golden Eagle Awards Reception, presented by longtime NAU supporter Ginny Clements, which celebrates our most accomplished scholar-athletes at NAU, and our Diversity Awards, which honor the wide-ranging contributions of faculty, staff, and students at NAU who work to advance our commitment to inclusive excellence.
  • After packing, I was on the road early Wednesday morning, with a stop in Phoenix for a lunch with NAU supporters, before finishing the drive to Tucson and convening with members of my team in advance of the ABOR meeting the following day.
  • Thursday was spent with the Regents and our sister institutions’ leaders engaged in strategic discussions around the public university enterprise’s direction to close out the week’s major commitments.
  • The first half of this week has taken on a slightly slower pace. Of course, class work and office hours have been critical in the home stretch of the semester, as well as working closely with members of my team on timely matters that we seek to finalize as the academic year winds down.
  • Tuesday featured a wonderful annual celebration of the achievements of our faculty and staff at the Professional Achievement Awards. Our engaged community of teacher-scholars was highlighted through the recognition of faculty promotions, as well as college teacher of the year and research and creative activity awards. I also presented the President’s Achievement Award to a group of individuals who embody the Lumberjack spirt and give so much to advancing our mission and serving our students. My congratulations to all of the honorees.

Finally, I am pleased to share that earlier this week I was elected into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (AAAS). The profound impact that both past and present AAAS members have made towards the creation of societies that are more just, peaceful, and prosperous cannot be overstated. I am eager to contribute to the Academy’s mission and to collaborate with such a distinguished group of thinkers and doers—and in so doing continue to elevate and amplify the crucial work we all do at NAU to deliver equitable postsecondary value.

Wishing you all a strong and successful finish to the spring semester.

In partnership,

José Luis Cruz Rivera

NAU Communications