We are just more than a month away from move-in and the start of the Fall 2022 semester. I hope that our Lumberjack faculty and staff have had an opportunity to rest and recharge over the summer, that our students are energized and preparing to return and that together we are prepared for a vibrant and enriching academic year ahead.
It has been a bit since my last update, and the intervening weeks have been filled with preparations for the year ahead, engagements near and far representing NAU and some reenergizing time with family. Below are the highlights:
- In the last few days of June, as I prepared for vacation to Puerto Rico to visit family and rest, think, write and recharge in the sun, I had an active meeting agenda that included joining a virtual alumni happy hour for a toast to their leadership over the past year; discussions with partners from equity-focused national organizations where significant opportunities for collaboration and partnership exist with NAU; welcoming the Consul General of Mexico in Phoenix, Jorge Mendoza Yescas, to Flagstaff and discussing how NAU can partner with Arizona and Mexico to advance education, knowledge, discovery and economic mobility; and meeting with our longtime partners at Flagstaff Symphony Orchestra and looking ahead to a great season with director Stephanie Stallings and board president Tim Dodt, among other commitments.
- After returning from Puerto Rico and a brief stop back in Flagstaff, I traveled to Portland, Oregon, for the American Association of State Colleges and University’s (AASCU) annual meeting. Over several days, it was a pleasure to meet with colleagues from throughout the country working in higher education leadership and policy. There were opportunities to share our story and successes at NAU, where we have done so much this last year in advancing equitable postsecondary value, and learn from others about promising practices, opportunities, challenges and contexts that will shape our approach moving forward.
- Travel back to Flagstaff wasn’t quite as smooth as I’d hoped, but eventually when I was safe and sound at home it was time to delve into preparations for the remainder of the month. This included meetings with our VP for Native American Initiatives, Ann Marie Chischilly, who presented on behalf of NAU to the Navajo Nation Council; strategic discussions with our newest VP, Jonathan Gagliardi, who is officially a Lumberjack spearheading our economic mobility and social impact agenda; and national policy work on higher education access with the President’s Alliance.
- Last week, we welcomed the NAU Foundation and Alumni Association Boards to Flagstaff for their summer meetings. I was privileged to have time with these dedicated supporters of all things NAU, reflecting on a successful year and looking ahead to the key initiatives and opportunities that are before us. And I got a chance to give them an advance thank-you for helping to lead a record year of fundraising for NAU that reflects a vote of confidence in our mission and serves as a platform that will power our success. Thank you to all who have contributed to our university!
- This week’s focus has been looking ahead and strategic planning for how best to leverage our resources and talent to build on the foundation in place from last year. I am excited for all that we will accomplish in the year ahead. The prospect of welcoming our faculty and students back soon is energizing. I cannot wait to revisit favorite traditions from last year and begin new ones as part of what’s sure to be an incredible sophomore year at NAU.
- I also want to celebrate the success of our Lumberjack student-athletes, whose achievements have been a nearly constant highlight of the summer. The punctuation on an incredible year: our second consecutive Big Sky President’s Cup. Over the last year, our student-athletes have won Division I national championships and conference championships, set national collegiate records and competed in the Olympics. And now, one of our very own Lumberjack alums is a world champion. With all these achievements, I can honestly say this trophy is the most meaningful to me and our university community as it represents the talent, hard work, and achievement of our athletes in the classroom and competition. Go Jacks!
As we look ahead to August and the energy and activity that signals the ramp up to the fall, I wish all in our Lumberjack community well and I hope to see you soon on campus and during my visits to our sites throughout the state.