Notes from the President: Feb. 9, 2023

Dear Lumberjacks,

Today I write from Tempe where proceedings are underway for a meeting of the Arizona Board of Regents. On deck for NAU is approval by the full board of our institutional metrics, as well as important conversations around strategic directions from the university. Below are my notes from the past week:

  • On Thursday, I joined U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona on a press call speaking to the crucial impact Higher Education Emergency Relief Funds (HEERF) in supporting student progression and success, technology needs and mental health support during the pandemic and beyond. I’m thankful for the support of our federal partners and the lasting positive impact on our students.
  • I also joined Ann Marie Chischilly (VP for Native American Initiatives) to speak with Arizona media about the transformative gift from the Mellon Foundation and NAU Foundation that will power our commitment to Indigenous Peoples through the Seven Generations Signature Initiative.
  • Friday began at the Native American Cultural Center, where I welcomed Hopi Nation Chairman Timothy Nuvangyaoma to NAU. Before the chairman met with many constituents and leaders at NAU who shared more about their exceptional work, we had a productive conversation about how we can partner with Hopi and support students pursuing their education at NAU.
  • Then I engaged in a series of internal meetings focused on budget, the vision for the New NAU System and ABOR-related goals.
  • Arizona Sen. T.J. Shope was another distinguished visitor to campus on Friday. I was pleased to share more about our health care education programs that are a prominent feature of our New Economy Initiative efforts and that do so much to drive health and vitality in statewide communities. I look forward to the senator’s partnership in these efforts that stand to benefit so many throughout our state.
  • On Saturday, I joined members of the NAU community for our rescheduled Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and Black History Month community breakfast and day of service. I shared words of reflection on this occasion of how we must resolve ourselves to engage in the hard, important work—together—to ensure the long arc of the moral universe does, in fact, bend toward justice.
  • Monday I met with members of our Black faculty and staff community to share more about our work and how we can best support all within our community—faculty, staff and students—through policies, practices and a strong institutional culture to deliver equitable postsecondary value.
  • I look forward eagerly to the opening of the Early Learning and Development Center at NAU later this spring and enjoyed spending some time meeting with the team who will lead the center and learning more about their vision for the future.
  • I also stopped by Monday afternoon’s Faculty Senate Executive meeting to our academic leaders for their efforts to develop a faculty workload policy that will further our university’s commitment to equitable policies and practices as we seek to properly balance service, research and creative activity with the imperative to meet the demand for coursework and support services for our students to maintain momentum toward their degrees.
  • Tuesday, I met with the Staff Advisory Council’s leaders to review data on their fall survey and consider how representative leaders of our staff can partner with university leadership and help us realize our shared priorities set forth in NAU 2025 – Elevating Excellence.
  • Yesterday, I spent much of the day preparing for ABOR and other engagements in Phoenix that will take place today and tomorrow, before heading down to the valley in the afternoon.

I look forward to sharing the balance of today’s ABOR meeting in next week’s edition of notes. Over the next few business days, I hope that members of our university community will join in welcoming finalists for the position of Vice President for Inclusion, Diversity, and Engagement to campus, participating in the open forums and sharing feedback as we seek a talented and visionary leader to fill this important role that will contribute much to our future endeavors.

Until next week, take care and Go Jacks!


José Luis Cruz Rivera


NAU Communications