Notes from the President: Jan. 13, 2021

Dear Lumberjacks,

Welcome back to the spring 2022 semester at NAU. It’s been nearly a month since my last set of notes, and I hope that you all enjoyed a much-needed opportunity to rest and refresh with family and friends over the holidays. After two weeks back in Flagstaff, I am just about reacclimated to 7,000 feet and colder temperatures following some time in Puerto Rico over Christmas.

As we get started with the spring semester, we have so much to look forward to. Below are just a few things that have been happening in my world over the holidays through today:

  • In close consultation with public health and scientific experts, our NAU leadership team has been planning over the last several weeks on how to manage the spring semester in light of the Omicron variant. As shared earlier this week, we have a robust decision-making framework that will allow us to react to the latest developments quickly, in a manner informed by the best available information. I look forward to sharing a comprehensive COVID-19 update on Friday with our NAU community, informed by the deliberations of our Public Health Advisory Committee and AY21-22 Steering Committee.
  • I am so pleased to share the results of much work throughout the fall in the launch of the New NAU Workplace initiative. The significant changes outlined in my Jan. 6 message will help our university realize its goals of becoming a leader in flexible and remote practices and a truly exceptional place to work. I’m excited for the local implementation plans of these important initiatives to roll out in the weeks to come.
  • I am thankful for the Jan. 6 Town Hall presenters and those of you who watched in real time or after the live event. It is important to me that we are transparent in sharing information but also in using the feedback we receive to continue to enhance and improve our communication to you as we work together through Omicron.
  • Much time over the break and into the first few weeks of the year has been focused on preparing for the year ahead, including exciting developments in partnership with the Arizona Board of Regents to enhance our impact in serving Arizonans through workforce development programs and statewide access initiatives. More to come soon.
  • Alongside our exceptional external and government affairs team, I have been preparing for the upcoming legislative session as we advocate for the crucial work NAU does throughout the state. This has included attending the Arizona Chamber’s legislative forecast event in Phoenix with Gov. Ducey last Friday and a number of meetings with representatives, outlining our New Economy Initiative request to the legislature and planning on areas where we can expand and enhance our academic programs to serve students throughout our state. One major theme of the next few months will, I am certain, be the work we do to pursue this goal.
  • And, in these first two weeks of 2022, I have had an opportunity to have introductory meetings with partners throughout the state, joined our colleagues at Coconino Community College for their semester kickoff meeting to share the vision for partnership and collaboration between our two institutions, met with our NAU Retirees’ Association and participated in national higher education board meetings.
  • Earlier today I had the pleasure to meet virtually with the leadership of the Staff Advisory Council, sharing my vision for our employees and listening to their insightful perspectives and questions.

I look forward to sharing very soon a few of my top highlights from Fall 2021 that provide momentum and inspiration for the important work ahead!

Best wishes for a great semester and I look forward to all that we will accomplish together.


José Luis Cruz Rivera

NAU Communications