Notes from the President: Jan. 19, 2023

Dear Lumberjacks,

Happy first (official!) day of classes for Spring 2023. Following a truly epic winter storm this weekend—the 12th largest in Flagstaff records—it’s time to get things started.

I want to share a special note of appreciation to all of our NAU employees who worked so hard throughout the winter storm to maintain campus and be prepared for opening. In addition, my sincere thanks to our community partners in the region, including the City of Flagstaff and Coconino County, for their impressive work throughout the storm.

Below are my notes from the past week of activities that did not involve shoveling or monitoring and evaluating conditions:

  • I joined many colleagues from throughout the university on Thursday morning to kick off NAU Teaching Day 2023—a wonderful opportunity to celebrate our commitment to teacher-scholars, to learn and grow and to hear from a true thought leader in Gina Ann Garcia, who provided the keynote address.
  • Secretary of State Adrian Fontes visited Flagstaff and the Cline Library, and I enjoyed spending some time together connecting and discussing the work of our library and NAU in advancing knowledge and civic engagement throughout the state.
  • NAU and Coconino Community College have long been close partners and champions of educational opportunity throughout northern Arizona, and I was pleased to meet with their recently appointed President, Eric Heiser, to discuss our collaborative efforts. I look forward to our ongoing partnership!
  • It was a pleasure to have David Trilling and Christina Thomas from NAU’s world-renowned Department of Astronomy and Planetary Sciences stop by and discuss some of their work, including leadership on NASA’s successful DART mission. Their work elevates our excellence in advancing new knowledge and empowering future generations of scientists. Thanks for all you do!
  • On Saturday, just before the snow rolled in, I cheered on NAU’s women’s basketball team as they won at home against Sacramento State in the Skydome.
  • Due to the snow, we postponed our in-person Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebrations, but we reflected instead on the work ahead to advance social justice for all.
  • With classes cancelled and campus closed on Tuesday, I had to venture out early to make my way to Phoenix for Arizona House and Senate hearings on university budgets. Meetings with Sen. Kavanagh, chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, NAU student interns working at the Arizona Supreme Court, House Republican staff and Senate Democrat staff, as well as meetings with legislators and other partners in Phoenix that occupied the last two days. I am always energized telling NAU’s story and advocating for the importance of our mission as a public good and engine of opportunity for Arizona.
  • Yesterday, I also had the opportunity to meet with Gov. Hobbs to share more about our work at NAU. I look forward to her leadership and partnership in helping to raise the fortunes of Arizonans and advance educational attainment throughout the state.

This morning, I joined the Staff Advisory Council’s first meeting of the spring term. Stay safe in the snow and best wishes to all of our Lumberjack family!


José Luis Cruz Rivera

NAU Communications