Notes from the President: March 10, 2022

Dear Lumberjacks,

Today, I write from Boise, Idaho, where I’ve been cheering on our Lumberjack men’s and women’s basketball teams and am currently joining the Big Sky Presidents’ Council for their spring meeting. It has been an eventful week, punctuated by the release of Draft #3 of our Strategic Roadmap to the NAU community yesterday. That document reflects the tremendous work we’ve accomplished and the optimistic future ahead for NAU, and it makes me thankful for the collective efforts of our university community to undertake this important mission-driven work together.

Below are the highlights of the past week:

  • Following my testimony last week before the House subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Investment on the crucial role of Hispanic Serving Institutions, it was a busy end to the week. I spent time with the new president of Northland Pioneer College, one of our many statewide community college partners who we work side-by-side with to advance access for Arizonans. I also visited with our women’s basketball team to talk about their experiences this season and life in general.
  • Friday, I enjoyed spending time with some of our regents, stopping by to speak with the dedicated team at our Student Service Center, continuing work reviewing the draft of the Strategic Roadmap, speaking with media about my testimony on HSIs and meeting with one of the Vice Provost for Global Affairs candidates, among other meetings.
  • The capstone of the week was a wonderful celebration of generosity with the official naming reception for the Kitt School of Music. As I shared in December, this is a truly transformative gift to NAU—the largest in the history of our College of Arts and Letters. My sincere thanks to Michael and Karen Kitt for their support and friendship, and to all of the members of our NAU and Flagstaff community who joined the celebration. I am excited about the rich future ahead for the Kitt School of Music, educating artists and offering cultural enrichment that benefits our broader region.
  • Another proud moment this week was the official announcement that NAU is the educational partner of Phoenix Rising FC! This is a great organization, literally on the rise, and our partnership gives us the opportunity to work on initiatives that will drive greater brand recognition among parents, families and students, as well as deeper engagement with communities that are so important to the future of the State of Arizona.
  • Before traveling to Boise, I spent Monday meeting with numerous groups, including accreditors during their visit to the Franke College of Business. I also participated in a meeting with the Arizona Board of Regents, an interview with our second Vice Provost for Global Affairs candidate and a forum with members of our dedicated service teams in travel, procurement and human resources and our Service Team Advisory Board.
  • Tuesday, I was pleased to have a final review of Draft #3 of the Strategic Roadmap as we prepared to release. Then, I turned to Big Sky country and was greeted with a phenomenal win by our women’s basketball team against Montana. Later in the evening, I enjoyed time with our local Lumberjacks in Boise, where we celebrated the win together and showcased the NAU pride that exists near and far.
  • Thanks to our Women’s and Gender Studies Department for memorializing outstanding historical and contemporary figures for International Women’s Day.
  • Yesterday, I met with other NAU alumni who live and work in Boise to learn about their work and share more details about the important work we are doing at NAU. Before tipoff of our men’s and women’s games in the evening, I joined Zoom meetings with local business leaders in Flagstaff and national higher education colleagues.

I am so proud of our NAU men’s and women’s basketball teams! Our men’s team gave everything they had on the court yesterday and came up just short. Look out—they have a strong future. Our women’s team won yesterday and will be in the Big Sky Championship game tomorrow at 1 p.m. in Boise. We also have three Lumberjacks—Abdihamid Nur, Drew Bosley and Nico Young—in Birmingham, Alabama, this weekend to compete in the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships. Let’s go Jacks!

For now, it’s back to my meeting with fellow Big Sky presidents and then the journey back to Flagstaff later today—unless I can figure out a way to stay for the women’s basketball Big Sky Championship game. I’m still working on it! 😀 Thank you, as always, for your great work and collaboration that support the vitality of our NAU community.


José Luis Cruz Rivera

NAU Communications