Notes from the President: March 31, 2022

Dear Lumberjacks,

This week has been a busy one, including travel to the East Coast to meet with peers from universities throughout the country and the inaugural convening of our new University Advisory Board, among other activities. Below are my highlights.

  • I spent last Thursday in Phoenix at committee meetings with the Arizona Board of Regents, where I shared NAU’s tuition proposal, among other business. I also spent time with colleagues from some of our Arizona community colleges to discuss opportunities for partnership and collaboration that can broaden participation and increase attainment.
  • On Friday and through the weekend, I joined Anika Olsen, VP of Enrollment Management, and Luis Fernandez, chair of criminology and criminal justice and Hispanic Serving Institution advisor to the provost, at Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania for a convening of the Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration. On Saturday, I was pleased to speak in a leadership session on my past and present experiences with these matters and how colleges and universities can support all students and broaden access and attainment throughout the country.
  • This week began with additional meetings around tuition setting, including the public ABOR tuition hearing Monday afternoon. I also met with members of my team as we finalize budget planning for the upcoming fiscal year and balance our revenue streams and priority investment areas to ensure our students are equipped to succeed, our faculty and staff are supported, and that we can carry out our institutional mission. This will be a key area of focus in the weeks ahead, and I look forward to updating you on how these conversations evolve.
  • In addition, it was a great honor to be formally named as a member of the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education by Gov. Ducey. I look forward to serving and representing Arizona and NAU in this important regional higher education collaborative body.
  • I then convened the President’s Cabinet for a meeting focused on our strategic vision, prioritization of workstreams and considerations around resources to help carry out our mission.
  • I also met with our Academic Affairs team to review recommendations around statewide programming to ensure NAU truly helps broaden access and participation in education to help meet our state’s attainment and workforce needs.
  • That evening, it was a pleasure to join longtime NAU supporter Marcey Olajos for an event recognizing her generosity and NAU’s excellence in research on environmental science and policy initiatives related to the Colorado Plateau and the broader region—work that resonates and is applicable globally. My thanks to Marcey for her tremendous support of NAU and our impactful and distinctive research efforts, and to our exceptional interdisciplinary faculty who contribute to this crucial branch of knowledge.
  • The theme of environmental science and policy continued yesterday. I joined our NAU community to kickoff activities for the Global Climate and Justice Teach-In Day. It was an honor to share my comments, introduce Ann Marie Chischilly, VP for Native American Initiatives, and to have so much passion, expertise, and initiative on full display by our NAU community. Together, we must educate and advocate for climate justice that helps secure a sustainable and just future for all.
  • I enjoyed spending the balance of the day working on a few upcoming projects, meeting with faculty and members of my team, and enjoying a memorable lunch with NAU President Emeritus John Haeger. I am thrilled to have President Haeger on campus in advance of our naming of the Health and Learning Center in his honor this Friday, and it was a pleasure to spend time discussing our experiences and learning from his great work in advancing our Lumberjack community as NAU’s 15th president.
  • Finally, yesterday was our inaugural convening of the new University Advisory Board (UAB). For this opening meeting, we covered a few important agenda items to orient the group and calibrate our work and expectations moving forward:
    • The charge, purpose, and scope of the UAB’s work
    • Update on the Strategic Roadmap process and upcoming timeline
    • Update on the university budgeting process, naming the University Budget Advisory Board and the first priorities of this body around employee salary, and student wage increases in support of our people and our mission
    • Questions/discussion and looking ahead to our next meeting in May

The convening of UAB was a particularly important highlight of this week, as it represents a culmination of some of our key efforts around participation, transparency, and representation in university deliberative and advisory work. With this strong foundation in place and with excellent partners and leadership from throughout our NAU community, I am optimistic that we can capture the boundless opportunities before us and forge a bright future for our university.

I look forward to sharing more about our work around budgeting, upcoming plans for our physical master planning process, the final inputs to our Strategic Roadmap, and much more as we continue our great work in the weeks ahead.

In partnership,

José Luis Cruz Rivera


NAU Communications