Notes from the President: Nov. 10, 2022

Dear Lumberjacks,

Following an exceptional Homecoming week and on the eve of Veterans Day, I am pleased to share an update on my activities over the last week.

  • Thursday, members of the President’s Cabinet presented several important items at an Arizona Board of Regents committee meeting, including revisions to the General Studies framework and a proposed framework for NAU’s metrics that will help measure progress toward our institutional goals of broadening access to quality postsecondary education and driving economic mobility and social impact in Arizona. I spent much of the day on Zoom joining national higher ed meetings (and avoiding the snow!).
  • As the sun set, I made my way across campus to celebrate Traditions Day and the bonfire with Rima and Louie. The snowy backdrop was truly incredible.
  • Friday, as our NAU Foundation and Alumni Association boards convened to meet in Flagstaff, we started the day in the Lumberjack CARE Center, celebrating the incredible work of our Student Affairs team in supporting the success and well-being of our students. This is essential work, and I was glad to share this official ribbon-cutting occasion with many dedicated supporters.
  • With Native American Heritage Month in full swing, I enjoyed spending time at the Native American Cultural Center for Stew Fest, a vibrant celebration of culture, connections and food in an environment founded on our commitment to Native Americans and Indigenous peoples.
  • At lunch, I joined the Foundation and Alumni boards to share an institutional strategic update—looking at where we have been and what we will be doing in the months and years ahead. I am thrilled to have such an engaged group as partners in the challenging and important work of elevating NAU’s excellence and advocating for the crucial support that will sustain our mission.
  • Before moving on to the evening’s events, I enjoyed reviewing the preparations for the ASNAU Carnival, where celebrations were in full swing as Homecoming weekend began.
  • The evening’s showcase was our Honored Alumni and Hall of Fame ceremony, where we celebrated the achievements of some of our most exceptional members of the NAU community. Their work is truly an inspiration, and as I shared in my remarks, the success of any Lumberjack is a success for all Lumberjacks—and the stories shared speak to the invaluable legacy and impact of an NAU education. Congratulations to all the award winners for their exceptional contributions to their fields, their communities and NAU.
  • Saturday was a whirlwind of activity—Flannels and Flapjacks with our students, Café au Louie with our alumni community, the Homecoming Parade and a very special ride around campus, tailgating with an energized crowd before the Homecoming football game, honoring our Homecoming dedicatee Alicia Stewart Voytek and an electric, edge-of-your-seat game that nearly saw our Lumberjacks pull off an upset for the ages.
  • Sunday allowed for some rest, but it was still a great and busy day for NAU, including a Big Sky Conference Tournament win for NAU Women’s Soccer and a visit with our dedicated Admissions team and high school counselors who were visiting NAU to learn about the incredible opportunity NAU offers for their students to pursue excellence in higher education.
  • Monday morning’s work began before 5 a.m., with a long drive to the valley to join the Arizona Association of Latino Administrators and Superintendents to celebrate their work, share my own leadership journey and connect with statewide educational partners who are working tirelessly to meet our talented students with boundless opportunities.
  • Mid-day, I joined a Zoom meeting with the Institute for Higher Education Policy and other colleges and universities across the country seeking to deliver equitable postsecondary value for their students. It was an engaging discussion, and I’m pleased to continue to learn and be inspired by partners with a shared vision for access and excellence for all.
  • Finally, I was thrilled to be able to announce our continued investments in the people of NAU, with a suite of compensation changes that begin taking effect in January 2023. My sincere thanks to the University Budget Advisory Board for their thoughtful deliberations and comprehensive recommendation, which I endorsed in full. There is still work to be done in support of our workforce, but I am pleased that these crucial steps have been taken so quickly and set us on a trajectory to continue our excellent work in the service of our vision and mission.
  • Tuesday offered an opportunity to catch my breath and catch up on work (and an inbox full of emails).
  • Wednesday, I was back to meetings, hosting funding partners at NAU to share our equitable postsecondary value journey and the strategic decisions, partnerships, and initiatives that have shaped the last year and a half. I am pleased to share that our bold vision statement and aspiration to be the nation’s preeminent engine of opportunity, vehicle of upward mobility and driver of social impact is being recognized by many throughout the country. We should be proud and energized to continue on this impactful path.
  • And I was pleased to get some time with the incoming President of Coconino Community College, Eric Heiser, who was visiting Flagstaff in advance of his tenure starting. I’m excited to have Dr. Heiser as a partner and colleague in the important work of educating students in our region.

Today begins with a kickoff partnership convening for the Arizona Attainment Alliance as we continue to redouble our efforts to meet the state’s attainment imperative and bring greater opportunity and prosperity to the people of Arizona.

Thanks to all in our Lumberjack community for your engagement and partnership. Let’s continue this great work together.


José Luis Cruz Rivera

NAU Communications