Notes from the President: June 9, 2022

Dear Lumberjacks,

Today is the start of the annual June meeting of the Arizona Board of Regents hosted by NAU in Flagstaff. I’m excited to have our Regents, colleagues from Arizona State University and the University of Arizona, our NAU team and members of the public convene. And it comes on a special occasion. Almost exactly a year ago, I started my tenure as president of this noble university. The last year has been filled with experiences and achievements that will resonate for a lifetime, and I can truly say that I am honored to be a Lumberjack and humbled to have the opportunity to serve alongside you as we seek to advance the mission of NAU.

Preparing for the Board meeting has been much on my mind over the last few weeks and I’m particularly excited to share NAU 2025 – Elevating Excellence with our Regents. In the meantime, the past few weeks have been filled with energy and activity—and even a little bit of holiday downtime!

May 26-27:

  • Last time I wrote, we were headed into the Memorial Day weekend. Before that, a number of our leaders traveled to Phoenix to meet with the Board of Regents for a committee day. While I did not attend in person, I was able to watch the proceeding via the livestream. I want to thank Executive Vice President and University Provost Karen Pugliesi for her exceptional overview of NAU’s quality Allied Health programs and the ambitious agenda we have for expansion and continued impact through these programs. In addition, Senior Vice President Bjorn Flugstad shared an overview of NAU’s FY23 budget, and then joined our audit and risk management team for a presentation of NAU’s risk management plan. Overall, an excellent day that highlighted the good work NAU has been undertaking and the strong planning in place for continued success
  • On Friday, our NAU community had its first TrueBlue Summer Friday of 2022. I enjoyed a significant lull in email traffic that allowed me to read, reflect and write in preparation for the work ahead. I did carve out a little time to join with partners at a national foundation to pitch some of the excellent work NAU is doing to lead the way in equitable postsecondary value and how their investments could help power our work. Time well spent, indeed.

Week of May 30:

  • Following the holiday and heading into the last few days of May, I met with a team from EAB to speak in-depth about NAU’s equitable value work, including Access2Excellence and how our leadership is emerging at the national level to drive the equitable value movement and help rethink access to excellence and higher education for all.
  • I convened the President’s Council to discuss some of our early work to accelerate Strategic Priorities from Elevating Excellence. I was pleased to hear of the number and diversity of proposals submitted through our universitywide RFP for impact funding. While it will surely be a difficult decision to choose among the many meritorious proposals, I am excited to see our NAU community engaged and mobilized to advance our mission so quickly.
  • Thursday, I shared with our NAU community news of the establishment of NAU’s Office of Economic Mobility and Social Impact and its inaugural vice president, Jonathan Gagliardi. I’m excited to have Jonathan here at NAU in July and to have his nationally recognized expertise help us propel our work in driving social impact for Arizonans.
  • I also spoke with several colleagues from other universities in open exchanges and idea sharing and began in-depth preparation for our ABOR meeting.

Week of June 6:

  • This week began with a convening of the President’s Cabinet. We reviewed the year that has been and looked ahead to the year that will be for NAU—the challenges and opportunities, the achievements we have all contributed to and the portfolios of work that are needed to deliver on our mission. We considered in further detail the Elevating Excellence proposals, which closed on Monday, and looked ahead to some key updates and activities on the horizon for the next few weeks.
  • With focus sharpening on ABOR, I met with other higher education leaders via Zoom, joined leaders from one of our state’s largest school districts to discuss possibilities for partnership, and this morning I met with the Arizona Tri-Universities for Indian Education to provide a welcome from NAU and kick off this important convening, appropriately held at our Native American Cultural Center.

Enjoy the rest of the week and a long weekend. And, please keep safety in mind as temperatures throughout Arizona are rising daily.


José Luis Cruz Rivera

NAU Communications