Notes from the President: March 24, 2022

Dear Lumberjacks,

It’s been two weeks since my last update. I hope you all enjoyed a restful and rejuvenating spring break. Today, we’re just six weeks out from the end of the semester and our Spring 2022 Commencement ceremonies. I am already looking forward to this momentous occasion and celebrating with our community.

In the meantime, it has been an eventful few weeks—even with a little rest and recovery sprinkled in last week—so let me dive right into my updates:

  • Closing the loop from my last Notes, I did stay in Boise and enjoyed a thrilling final to the Big Sky Basketball tournament. While victory ultimately eluded our Lumberjack women’s basketball team, it was an impressive display of teamwork and athleticism. My congratulations to our talented, resilient and determined players; to coach Loree Payne, her staff and leadership within our Athletics department; and to all of our supporters who turned out in Big Sky country and here at home. I’m already looking forward to next year and another shot at the title.
  • I did miss being in Flagstaff for the First Robotics Regional competition, which took over the Skydome for a day of engineering and problem-solving. I was pleased to see some pictures from the event and to take some time to visit with some of our supporters and sponsors via Zoom.
  • We ended the weekend celebrating national titles as Abdihamid Nur won individual NCAA indoor titles in both the 3,000- and 5,000-meter events in Birmingham, Alabama. Combined with exceptional performances from Nico Young and Drew Bosley, the other two members of our team, we celebrated our program’s first podium finish at nationals and a sign of the continued excellence of Lumberjack athletics.
  • Campus was a bit quiet over spring break week, which allowed for some planning meetings with members of our university’s leadership team as well as significant reflection. I also joined colleagues from the American Association of Colleges and Universities for a national meeting focused on equitable value in higher education—work that is closely aligned with our NAU Strategic Roadmap.
  • As the week came to a close, Rima and I visited Sedona to support our women’s golf team at the Red Rocks Invitational, which featured a strong finish by our team and an individual win in the tournament by Lumberjack Elle Kocourkova.
  • In well-deserved recognition of these many athletics-related highlights, Mike Marlow, our vice president for intercollegiate athletics, was named the FCS Athletic Director of the Year. Mike, his staff, coaches and student-athletes embody our values of excellence in the classroom, in competition and in the community, and I’m pleased to have him on my team.
  • This week we are back to a lively NAU campus and a host of engagements with our community. Monday, began by recording an interview with KAFF Radio before visiting with the editorial board of The Lumberjack. I appreciated the time spent in a wide-ranging conversation with our student journalists that touched on many of our university’s priorities, initiatives, challenges and opportunities. It is a pleasure and an early tradition to have a visit each semester with our student journalists for a substantive and engaging dialogue, and I look forward to returning in the fall.
  • On Monday afternoon, I met with the Faculty Senate to provide a president’s report and speak with our faculty. The highlight for me was the passing of our Senate’s revised constitution, which will now be considered by the general faculty. I believe this is an important moment that reflects our commitment to trust, transparency and collaboration. My thanks to Senate leadership and our team in Academic Affairs for this most excellent work.
  • Tuesday, I began my day visiting with NAU HRM students from HA 325 (Design and Layout) for an engaging presentation that demonstrated their passion and knowledge and showcased the experiential opportunities they are afforded in this renowned program. It was a pleasure to listen to their thought-provoking ideas and I know that our talented students are gaining and refining skills that will serve them well in their future endeavors.
  • I also met with some of our partners locally and throughout the state. At the Greater Flagstaff Chamber of Commerce meeting, I spoke to the board about our Strategic Roadmap, key initiatives and our commitment to partnership and stewardship in the Flagstaff community. I find that our business community is vibrant and engaged, filled with NAU alumni and supporters who will be at our sides as we advance our mission and broaden success in our region and beyond. I also spent time with the Flinn Foundation Board speaking about how NAU is working at a statewide level to advance equitable access to excellence and how our work can be enhanced through their committed partnership in impactful initiatives, including the Flinn Brown Scholars program and impactful research grants focused on public health and pathogen research and discovery.
  • In a fitting capstone to the day, I had the privilege of joining the Cline Lecture on the Humanities, featuring our nation’s 21st Poet Laureate, Juan Filipe Herrera. His words were a moving testament to the place of poetry and the humanities in our society. My thanks to the Department of Comparative Cultural Studies for inviting Mr. Herrera to campus and for the wonderful and inspiring event.
  • Yesterday, I met with members of my team on a range of topics, including preparation for today’s meeting of the Arizona Board of Regents. I look forward to the conversations with ABOR and our colleagues at Arizona State University and University of Arizona.

In closing today, I want to reiterate and encourage our NAU community to read, reflect and provide any feedback on Draft #3 of our Strategic Roadmap. I trust your participation will help us bring together our collective vision, our aspirations and our mission. I’m excited to see our community’s input reflected in final refinements to the Roadmap when engagement phase #3 ends on April 1.

Until next week, my best to all in our Lumberjack community.


José Luis Cruz Rivera

NAU Communications