Notes from the President: March 9, 2023

Dear Lumberjacks,

It has been a whirlwind of a week. This morning I’m on my way back to Flagstaff, by way of Phoenix, from the Big Sky Basketball Tournament in Boise, Idaho. It’s been a most memorable trip—with our regular season champion women’s team making the finals for the second year running and our men’s team pulling off the ultimate underdog journey to the finals themselves. Though we didn’t bring home championships for either team, it was a thrill to witness the rise of our Lumberjacks on a grand scale.

And between the games and boundless excitement of our Lumberjack family, it has also been a busy week on other fronts. My notes are below.

  • Following some travel delays on Thursday on my way home from Washington, D.C., I eventually returned to Flagstaff on mid-day Friday, handling business in transit and joining an ABOR meeting before heading into the weekend. The impacts of the winter storm were truly stunning, and I continue to be incredibly grateful for all that our facilities and custodial teams have done to keep campus running in one of the snowiest winters on record for Flagstaff.
  • Over the weekend, excitement began to build with wins by our men’s and women’s teams in Boise to kickoff the Big Sky Tournament—including one of the most thrilling finales I’ve ever seen during our men’s victory over Eastern Washington. Unfortunately, Monday’s business would keep me from traveling immediately, so I cheered our Jacks on from afar.
  • As the week began, I met with the Big Sky Presidents’ Council on conference governance matters, engaged in an in-depth budget review with our business services team and dedicated time to strategic planning around continued efforts to advance our mission with an emphasis on equitably improving post-college outcomes for all NAU students.
  • I also was informed our long-time efforts (15 years!) have paid off. NAU’s Kitt School of Music has been designated an All-Steinway School. Thanks to the collective generosity of our donors and friends for your support and valiant efforts in ensuring we reach this prestigious designation.
  • In the afternoon, I headed to Boise to join an energized crowd of Lumberjack supporters riding a wave of thrilling wins for our teams.
  • Tuesday morning was spent in virtual meetings and was pleased to share with our Lumberjack community the appointment of Dr. Justin Mallett as Vice President for Inclusion, Diversity, and Engagement, beginning June 1. I’m excited to have Justin on board to advance this crucial work with partners throughout the university.
  • The second half of the day was spent at exceptional games by both our men’s and women’s teams that punched blue and gold tickets to both finals.
  • Yesterday, before our finals matchups, I completed final reviews of our tuition proposal in advance of its release on Friday, as well as other key university initiatives that will be finalized soon. While the result for our Women and Men weren’t quite what we’d all hoped for, our Lumberjacks go home with their heads held high after an exceptional showing in the tournament. Congratulations to our student athletes on your success, and to the coaching staff, cheerleading team, Louie the Lumberjack, our sports broadcasters, TV crew, alumni and others who contribute to our student athletes’ success day in and day out on the court and in the classroom.

Today, I’ll be breaking up my travel back home with a stop at the Phoenix Bioscience Core for work, as well as meetings with Governor Hobbs and partners at Arizona State University. Looking ahead, I will take a brief hiatus from Notes over spring break, as I travel to Puerto Rico for time with family and friends, exchanging the snow of Flagstaff for some sea level warmth for a few days. I hope that our students, faculty and staff can also take some well-earned downtime over the break and return recharged and ready for what will surely be an exceptional final few weeks of the spring semester.

In partnership,

José Luis Cruz Rivera

NAU Communications