Notes from the President: Jan. 20, 2022

Dear Lumberjacks,

In this second week of the semester, I’m thankful for all of the great work of our faculty and staff in working to secure the conditions for a successful semester, and I’m appreciative of our students who inspire our work every day and to whom we dedicate ourselves and our mission.

In this spirit of gratitude, I want to begin this week’s notes with a special recognition and thank-you to all in our NAU community who played a role in our United Way of Northern Arizona campaign this fall.

I knew our Lumberjack community would rise to the challenge in giving to this great organization, which gives so much to our community. You all stepped up and for that, I am grateful. And I know that your generosity and contributions extend beyond this campaign. They are evident in all that you do. For our staff, I look forward to hearing many stories of how you use your Community Engagement time in the year ahead to build stronger, healthier, and more vibrant communities in Flagstaff and beyond.

Below are my notes from the past week:

  • On Friday, I enjoyed meeting with our ASNAU president to discuss the work of our student government and their goals and aspirations. And later in the day, I joined the ASNAU Executive Committee as they kicked off the semester. I’m pleased to see the enthusiasm and aspirations of our student leaders on full display, and I’m looking forward to a great semester working in partnership with our student leadership to advance NAU’s mission and contribute to our students’ success and well-being.
  • I also had a productive meeting with Flagstaff City Councilmember Jim McCarthy, who shared his experiences as a longtime member of our Flagstaff community and his history of service on the council. I look forward to continuing to work closely alongside our great partners in our home city in the years to come.
  • The week has been filled with a number of activities related to our university’s budget and the legislative session. As the week came to a close, I was appreciative of Gov. Ducey’s 2022-23 Executive Budget and the important investments in public higher education. There is much work to be done over the course of the spring on this front, but we are on the right path. On behalf of our university, I want to share my appreciation for this important first step in funding our public universities, which all contribute so much to the vitality and prosperity of our state.
  • Monday marked our observation of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. I was honored to join our students, faculty and staff at the MLK Day of Remembrance Monday morning. As we celebrated the life and legacy of Dr. King, I reflected on our university’s place and mission and how together we can ensure that the long arc of the moral universe does indeed bend toward justice. My thanks to all who joined in-person and virtually, and I encourage you to view the moving program that embodies our university’s commitment to equity and justice.
  • Following the holiday, I enjoyed visiting with neighbors from Flagstaff’s historic Southside community at the Murdoch Center Tuesday morning, discussing our town-gown relations and our university’s efforts in advancing diversity, equity, inclusion and justice.
  • Shortly thereafter, I was on the road to Phoenix, where I will be often this spring, to join the Arizona Senate budget appropriations committee. My first session with the legislature in Arizona was an important occasion, as I shared our plans for supporting Arizona’s New Economy Initiative through impactful allied health program expansions to meet statewide health care needs and timely forest health and land management education and research to support our natural environment. I was pleased with the support of our elected officials and look forward to meeting next week with members of the Arizona House on the same topic.
  • Yesterday was spent in preparation for a number of important upcoming milestones, including our NAU Foundation and Alumni Association Board meetings, upcoming committee meetings of the Arizona Board of Regents and additional legislative preparations as we advocate for the funding of our educational programs that serve our students and our communities.
  • Today I will be engaged in a meeting with the president of the American Association of State Colleges and another meeting with the president of the Institute for Higher Education to discuss possible areas of collaboration to advance our work on equitable postsecondary value. Later this afternoon, I will join regional leaders in education, business, nonprofits and more for a convening of the Northern Arizona Leadership Alliance board.

I look forward to reviewing information from our Public Health Advisory Committee and AY21-22 Steering Committee meetings this week as we closely monitor COVID-19 developments. I will share the balance of these conversations along with other health-related updates on Friday in our COVID-19 Community Briefing.

I wish you all well for the remainder of the week.


José Luis Cruz Rivera

NAU Communications