After last week’s meetings in Phoenix with Arizona state senators and representatives, ABOR, and other partners, I have enjoyed being back in the crisp cold of Flagstaff this week. As the month of February begins with a prognostication on Groundhog Day of six more week of winter, I share below my updates from the last week:
- Returning from my trip to Phoenix, I enjoyed visiting with our prospective Honors College students at the Explore Honors event last Friday. I hope many of these students will choose NAU, and I and look forward to welcoming them to our university community in the fall.
- This week has been busy with leadership team meetings on topics ranging from expansion of our research endeavors, leading indicators of success for our targeted student success programs, support for Native American students and communities, forging stronger partnerships with tribal leaders throughout our state and nation, and much more.
- A highlight from Monday was an in-depth conversation about our diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice efforts and the path forward to ensure that we “walk the talk” and truly lead the way in our actions. I am excited about the framework in place from several months of consultation and hard work, and I look forward to sharing our ambitious plans in a few weeks.
- This conversation was particularly meaningful on the eve of Black History Month. As I shared in my message to our NAU community, this is a moment to reflect and honor the significant contribution of Black and African American people and also to spur the pursuit of more knowledge, more impactful action toward equity, and a recommitment to justice. I look forward to the many events taking place at NAU in the month ahead and hope that our NAU community will join in the celebration of Black History Month.
- I’ve also had the opportunity to spend time engaged with a number of partners, including our colleagues at community colleges throughout the state, who are working side-by-side with NAU to promote student access and success. Broadening access and participation in education is at the core of our work in equitable postsecondary value and the Strategic Roadmap. I am glad to have the energetic support and partnership of other educational leaders throughout Arizona who are working to help generate momentum for our students and their communities to realize a bright future through postsecondary attainment.
- This work is complemented and expanded by our national engagement. I’ve met with our partners at EAB to share key plans and initiatives in development at NAU and garner support from colleagues throughout the country. And today, I’ve had the privilege of joining other university presidents in kicking off an American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) taskforce on postsecondary value. The direct alignment of these national initiatives with our own Strategic Roadmap is crucial in doing the important work of expanding access and fostering student success. This ensures that we are well positioned to draw on resources, knowledge, and partnerships from institutions and foundations throughout the country to make transformative change for Arizona and serve as a national model for equitable postsecondary value.
At the Arizona Board of Regents meeting next week, we will outline some key initiatives for this important work. I am optimistic that I will be able to share ABOR’s support of our powerful plans with our NAU community in the coming days and celebrate together the great work that has brought us to this leadership opportunity.