Notes from the President: March 30, 2023

Dear Lumberjacks,

I am back in Flagstaff after a short but valuable and productive visit to our nation’s capital this week. In addition to a busy and important set of commitments this past week, outlined below in my notes, the clear highlight was yesterday’s edition of NAU Giving Day. As of this morning, we raised $545,374 from 1,856 gifts to advance the work of our institution and support our students. The energy and enthusiasm of our donors speaks to the clear value our vision has inspired near and far and the powerful work NAU’s team is engaged in to drive equitable postsecondary value. I am deeply appreciative of the contributions of all who participated—students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends—because it is through our combined efforts at all levels of giving that we help elevate the work of this most noble institution. Thank you, Jacks!

Besides the tremendous success of Giving Day, below are my notes from the week:

  • Last Thursday at the Arizona Board of Regents’ committee meeting, our teams discussed access-focused admissions policy options and we presented our tuition and fee proposals for 2023-24 and our multi-year growth rates.
  • In the evening, I met with the leaders from the Arizona Community Foundation who are valued philanthropic partners whose work seeks to better the future of our state. I look forward to building a stronger relationship with ACF in pursuit of our shared goals.
  • Friday morning, I began the day with our Cabinet and members of our Faculty Senate and other invited faculty for a wide-ranging conversation about our university’s equitable educational efforts. I am thankful for the strong relationship we have and the deep commitment of our institution to shared governance and transparent and open communication that helps us best serve our students and meet our collective vision.
  • Saturday morning I joined our Upward Bound students, families and staff to celebrate the accomplishments of talented students making progress toward going to college. The in-depth focus of Upward Bound on access, attainment and success, along with foundational skills to help students be successful, is a critical part of our mission, and I was so pleased to join and address this group.
  • Monday was filled with meetings on a range of topics with various members of my team, including admissions practices for equitable access, online program offerings and discussions centered on our external affairs agenda, among others.
  • In addition, I also joined the Lumberjack editorial board for a discussion on topics that ranged from athletics and snow to our Hispanic-Serving Institution status to recent student advocacy actions and our efforts to create and sustain an inclusive learning environment.
  • The day concluded with the grand opening and ribbon-cutting of NAU’s Early Learning and Development Center. I am so pleased to celebrate this milestone and to have our first cohort of young Lumberjacks begin their educational journeys in this center, which has a special emphasis on supporting the childcare needs of student parents attending NAU.
  • Tuesday morning I was on my way to Washington, D.C. While in transit, I missed our University Advisory Board quarterly meeting, but appreciated the summary update of the topics discussed, which included updates on our fundraising efforts, discussion of our 100 percent career ready initiative and a review of our current and planned actions in pursuit of carbon neutrality.
  • While in D.C., I monitored closely the progress of Giving Day from afar and had very productive and meaningful conversations with the Board of Directors of the Lumina Foundation on our strategic directions, best practices and priorities that align with their work and opportunities for the future.

Today, back on the frosty ground in Flagstaff, there is more to celebrate. We are proudly announcing the launch of the Arizona Institute for Education and the Economy this morning, which will help convene partners to drive actionable solutions that strengthen the K-12 pipeline and improve prosperity and educational outcomes for Arizona’s students. I look forward to the exceptional work this institute will lead and to welcoming Lumberjack alum and Phoenix Union High School District Superintendent, Dr. Chad Gestson, back to NAU as the institute’s founding executive director.

And finally, following a weather-related reschedule, I’m looking forward to joining with many in our NAU community next Wednesday, April 5, for Encuentro at NAU: a celebration of Latinidad. I hope to see you there and elsewhere on campus over the weeks ahead.

As always, there is much good work underway and I am energized by the progress our university community has made and achievements registered in pursuit of our vision.


José Luis Cruz Rivera


NAU Communications