Notes from the President: Jan. 26, 2023

Dear Lumberjacks,

The spring semester is underway. We started the week with a dusting of snow in Flagstaff, but campus has been vibrant and we’re working hard for what will surely be a great semester and year ahead.

As I shared earlier this week in my traditional start-of-semester top-10(ish) highlights, we have so much to celebrate as we embark on the work ahead. And the news of this week fills me with optimism that 2023 will be another incredible year for our Lumberjacks. Below are my notes from this past week:

  • Last Thursday, I began the day with a visit to the HRM building and helped kick off the first Staff Advisory Council meeting of 2023. I shared reflections on the year that was and the year that will be and enjoyed the thoughtful questions of our SAC leaders who come from departments throughout the university.
  • Later in the day, I engaged in virtual interviews with higher education leaders and Spanish language media to discuss our work at NAU, which continues to garner significant national attention.
  • That attention also is reflected in the state, where our efforts at NAU are critical for economic mobility and social impact in communities throughout Arizona. I was honored to be highlighted by AZ Business as one of the AZ Big 100 for 2023—because our work at NAU is truly one to watch in 2023. There is great work ahead that will be accomplished thanks to our collective efforts and strong collaboration with public and private partners, with the shared and essential goal to elevate excellence and deliver equitable postsecondary value to the people of Arizona and beyond!
  • Friday morning, as I prepared to travel to Phoenix (again!), I joined the Alliance for the Second Century meeting for updates from our partner agencies in the region, and I shared my thanks for all of the collaboration and partnership between our teams over the last few weeks as we navigated record snow and worked to get roads navigable throughout the city and county.
  • In Phoenix later that day, I joined the NAU Foundation and NAU Alumni Association boards for their joint meetings at Chase Field. My update covered a lot of ground, looking backward, looking ahead, celebrating accomplishments—a record fundraising year in the books, among others—and laying out the strategic direction we will pursue in the months ahead. I am thankful for the partnership and support of both boards, whose work helps elevate our excellence and broaden the impact of our mission. And my thanks as well to the great teams in Advancement and Alumni at NAU who have done so much great work this last year.
  • On Saturday, the Skydome was rocking for a great men’s basketball game, where our Jacks nearly pulled out the W against undefeated Eastern Washington.
  • The first half of this week was spent catching up with my team on various projects and initiatives that are underway, including meetings with our provost, VP for athletics, VP for economic mobility and social impact and others, to review the status of important university workstreams.
  • Without a doubt, the highlight of this week was the news released yesterday about the Seven Generations Signature Initiative at NAU, which is a portfolio of efforts funded by $5 million from the Mellon Foundation and $5 million from the NAU Foundation that will accelerate NAU’s work to meet our strategic commitment to Indigenous Peoples. I encourage you to read the press release, and I look forward to sharing more about this crucial work in the months ahead as it develops.
  • Yesterday afternoon, I was back on the road to Phoenix, where I was interviewed by Telemundo about my leadership journey before transitioning to the Capitol where I met with several legislators to share more about NAU’s work and impact to Arizona’s communities.
  • This morning, I’m keynoting the All in Education MAPA Summit on the state of Arizona Latino Education, Power, and Influence and will be heading to Tempe afterward to meet with the Board of Regents.

Thank you for your partnership in helping advance our shared goals for NAU.

In partnership,

José Luis Cruz Rivera

NAU Communications