Notes from the President: June 22, 2022

Dear Lumberjacks,

Much has happened since my last update. One of the highlights came immediately as NAU’s new strategic roadmap, NAU 2025 – Elevating Excellence, was presented to and adopted by the Arizona Board of Regents. This is a major step for our university. It is a vote of confidence in our collective vision, and it is a clear path for how we will organize, pace and measure our work through 2025 as we seek to be the nation’s preeminent university in delivering equitable postsecondary value.

June 9-10:

  • In addition to our presentation of Elevating Excellence to ABOR, the board meeting hosted by NAU was an important forum for discussion among the tri-university system in Arizona. The business of the day was punctuated by a reception at the Student Athlete High Performance Center, where we showcased the truly world-class facilities at NAU—and the exceptional athletic accomplishments of the last year that are a testament to the excellence of our student athletes, coaches and Athletics staff. I’m appreciative of the Regents’ time over several days of very productive meetings and pleased, as always, to host in Flagstaff.

Week of June 13:

  • Unfortunately, as the week began, we were all reminded of the fragility of our natural environment here in Flagstaff as the Pipeline and Haywire fires raged in our community. I am deeply appreciative of the work of our team at NAU to quickly respond, offering support to the first responders and county emergency management teams leading the firefighting efforts and helping to support Lumberjacks and community members in need who were displaced by the evacuations.
  • For me, this week was a very special occasion marking my 1-year anniversary as NAU president. I spent the occasion in Aspen, Colorado, meeting with national higher education leaders at the American Academy of Arts and Sciences Higher Education forum. This was an invaluable session, as I was able to share NAU’s successes, learn from peers and see some of the future shaping of the educational context in which we will operate into the future. I’m proud to represent NAU nationally and look forward to following up on some important items discussed, including how our vision can help shape the movement to center economic mobility and social impact as key measures of public good and impact for institutions of higher education.
  • While I was in Aspen, our University Advisory Board convened to address two key items for consideration—first, the report from the Travel Service Team Optimization Taskforce, the results of which will be shared soon; second, a proposal to bring more cohesion to our many valuable university wellness initiatives with the establishment of a University Wellness Advisory Board to coordinate and advance these important efforts. I appreciated the updates shared with me from the meeting and the thoughtful input of our UAB members on these important university topics.
  • My conversation with EAB was released on the EAB Office Hours podcast, which highlighted all things NAU and our efforts to drive access, affordability, attainment and excellence—for Arizona and beyond.
  • And, I was pleased to share with our university community a note as we approached Juneteenth, acknowledging the important history behind this holiday, sharing the excellent efforts in our community that enrich and enliven the celebration of Juneteenth and NAU’s plans to observe this as an official university holiday in 2023.

Week of June 20:

  • After returning to Flagstaff, this week has already been a busy one. Key highlights include meeting with members of my leadership team around fundraising efforts to secure the resources necessary to achieve our goals, discussions around economic impact of our work, national conversation on equitable postsecondary value and how NAU can lead and model in this area, legislative updates, and more.

As we approach the end of June and head toward the July 4 holiday, I will plan to take a brief hiatus from sharing notes until mid-July. I hope that all within our Lumberjack community are able to enjoy the summer months, and I hope that we have some much needed monsoonal weather in Flagstaff this week!


José Luis Cruz Rivera

NAU Communications