Notes from the President: July 12, 2023

Dear Lumberjacks,

Since my last update a month ago, summer has officially begun, a new fiscal year is underway, and much good work has taken place throughout our university community. Below are my notes for June and July:

  • Last time I wrote, the meeting of the Arizona Board of Regents at NAU was about to get underway. It was a productive few days and NAU had a few key items on the business agenda.
    • An amendment to our Admissions Pilot program was approved by the Board, which will allow us to message with full transparency our criteria for assured admissions at 2.75 high school GPA beginning in Fall 2024.
    • NAU’s metric targets also were approved by the Board. These represent key indicators of progress toward meeting our strategic goals around broadening participation, improving student success, and ensuring exceptional post-college outcomes for all NAU students.
    • And finally, two tremendously accomplished faculty members at NAU were officially named Regents’ professors. Catherine Gehring and Heidi Wayment are exceptional scholars, teachers, and engaged members of our university community, and I am proud to welcome them to this most distinguished rank in recognition of their many years of service to NAU, our students, and their disciplines.
  • Following the ABOR meeting, we celebrated Juneteenth as an official NAU holiday for the first time—reflecting on a crucial moment in our nation’s history that reverberates to this day. We partnered with Flagstaff’s Southside Community Association to host their Juneteenth celebrations on our campus and welcomed many from Flagstaff and beyond to this important occasion.
  • The remainder of the week held various meetings, including discussions with Regents, internal meetings with Athletics, Government Affairs, and other units, and a visit to a joint NAU/Pima Community College attainment collaborative event on campus, where our teams are working closely to advance student success.
  • On True Blue Friday, I joined several colleagues for a meeting with Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs, who visited Flagstaff and held a roundtable meeting on our campus focused on teacher retention initiatives. I was pleased to share the excellent work NAU is doing through the College of Education and its programs and initiatives to help inform a holistic approach to addressing the imperative to educate and retain more excellent teachers for our state. Joining me were leaders from Flagstaff Unified School District and Coconino Community College, who are steadfast partners in this work. I look forward to continuing to collaborate with the governor’s team on this and other initiatives in the months ahead.
  • As we entered the final week of June—and the final week of our 2023 fiscal year—the University Advisory Board convened. On the agenda was an update from the University Strategic Planning Advisory Board, which has produced a comprehensive annual report that will be released soon that demonstrates the depth and breadth of work we have engaged in to meet the priorities of NAU 2025 – Elevating Excellence. In addition, the newest member of our leadership team, Justin Mallett (Vice President of Inclusive Excellence), shared what he has learned over the first month of his tenure and a preliminary set of priorities for the year ahead. And, finally, we heard from all representatives about the exceptional work being conducted in their areas that together is helping advance the fortunes of our great university.
  • Other engagements during the week included an Education Trust board meeting and a convening of national leaders for a listening and learning session on climate action initiatives in higher education.
  • Last week over the July 4 holiday, Rima and I took a few days of vacation, visiting Puerto Peñasco, Mexico—exchanging the mountains for ocean and beach views for a few days of rest and relaxation.
  • Lumberjacks were well-represented on the home front, as our championship athletes joined many in the Flagstaff community for the Greater Flagstaff Chamber of Commerce’s Fourth of July downtown parade.
  • Fair warning to everyone in Flagstaff and on our mountain campus—I now have a commuter bike. I’m still learning to ride, so be careful if you see me coming.
  • For those of you who follow me on various social platforms—I have opened an account on Threads, and I hope you will join me.
  • And finally, I was pleased to join many institutions from throughout the country in signing on to the Welcome Corps on Campus initiative, which will allow refugee students the opportunity to pursue their education at institutions in the U.S.

This week, I’m back on campus and energized for the final month of preparation for the new academic year. Among the many items to look forward to soon, I want to ensure our NAU community stays aware and informed of the ongoing master planning activities, which will include a community open house on July 26. We’ll have some important news to share soon on an early effort aligned with the master plan—and a long time coming for the greater Flagstaff community—where we will be taking action to beautify our western campus border. Any guesses?

Tomorrow, I’ll be on my way to Washington, D.C., to meet with colleagues from across the nation at AASCU, before a busy few weeks back in Flagstaff that will include Foundation and Alumni Board retreats, an Arizona Attainment Alliance (A++) planning and implementation retreat, and much more.

I look forward to sharing more in my next update. Stay cool in the heat, Lumberjacks!

In partnership,

José Luis Cruz Rivera

NAU Communications