On the eve of the Installation ceremony that will celebrate a year of our work together on behalf of this most noble institution, I am filled with gratitude to be a part of this university community. Following my abbreviated notes from last week, I share a list of the many activities and engagements that have led up over the preceding weeks to this momentous occasion:
- Following ABOR meetings in Phoenix, I spent the remainder of my day connecting with community college partners, colleagues from the Greater Phoenix Leadership education committee, and meeting with members of our NAU team.
- Friday began with some meetings with NAU Foundation partners before transitioning to welcome our 2022-23 University Leadership Program cohort for their kickoff retreat. We have a great group of aspiring leaders who already contribute so much to the university. I look forward to all that they will learn over the year ahead and to their ongoing dedication and contributions to NAU.
- After returning to Flagstaff on Friday afternoon, Saturday was a beautiful day to begin the home football season. Our Jacks were out in force, with friends and alumni tailgating and freshmen running—FAST—to start the season.
- In the evening, I joined recent honorary doctorate recipient, Grammy winner and NAU alum Dom Flemons for the Ted Johnson lecture. Thank you to Dom and to the Ethnic Studies department for the exceptional and enriching event.
- Last week was the official beginning of our Installation events, which kicked off Friday morning with a Community Breakfast that showcased the strong partnership NAU has with the Flagstaff community and reinforced our crucial role as a university committed to meeting talent with opportunity that can transform lives.
- I then attended our Diversity and Equity Awards, recognizing the dedication of members of our NAU community to building an inclusive environment that uplifts, supports, recognizes, and empowers individuals throughout our diverse university. It was particularly meaningful for Rima and me to be presented with bracelets by Ann Marie Chischilly (Vice President for Native American Initiatives) as part of the event, which we will proudly wear at tomorrow’s Installation ceremony.
- On Wednesday, we enjoyed a slightly rainy but still incredibly vibrant Installation week BBQ! It was great to see our Lumberjacks out enjoying good food and good company.
- I took advantage of a conference room in the Honors College to join an Arizona Commerce Authority meeting via Zoom immediately after the BBQ. Our strong relationship with the ACA and other public/private partners are crucial to ensuring strong pathways to post-college careers for NAU students now and into the future as Arizona’s economy grows. I will have more to say about this soon!
- The rest of the week was spent in meetings with our team here at NAU; continued partnership discussions with our community college leaders throughout the state; interviews for the Vice President for Capital Planning and Campus Operations role; listening meetings for the Vice President for Inclusion, Diversity, and Engagement search kickoff; and time set aside to prepare for the ABOR meeting happening today and, of course, tomorrow’s Installation!
- The week concluded with another home football game. While the result isn’t quite what we hoped for, it was great to see our Athletics Hall of Famers recognized, host a wonderful tailgate, and visit our Latiné student tailgates as they celebrated Latiné Hispanic Heritage month for a lively Saturday afternoon.
- This week has been focused on preparing for the ABOR meeting here in Flagstaff—from which I write today—where we will share updates on numerous important workstreams with the Regents, as well as unveil next steps in elevating the excellence at NAU.
- On Tuesday, I was thrilled to launch the President’s Speaker Series with our inaugural lecture, which was particularly meaningful for Rima and me. Arturo Massol-Deyá, who is from Puerto Rico, shared lessons learned from his engaged scholarship on the island that have helped create more sustainable communities through the intersections of science, community, and culture in pursuit of environmental sustainability and energy independence.
- And, in the midst of all of this, I was reminded of how truly awesome NAU is, as we watched in awe as NAU professor Cristina Thomas’s work was showcased on NASA’s DART mission where a spacecraft successfully crashed into an asteroid so we can study how to redirect these space objects as part of a planetary defense strategy. Our NAU research is really out of this world!
As I close my notes for today, I want to thank all in our NAU community for the unwavering support of our mission, which is timely and crucial for the futures of our students and their communities. I look forward to seeing you tomorrow, in person and on our live stream, to celebrate together the official Installation ceremony of our 17th Presidency.