Notes from the President: Nov. 17, 2022

Dear Lumberjacks,

As we enter the final weeks of the fall semester and prepare for a short break over the Thanksgiving holiday, I have much to share from what has been a busy and productive week for me and our university. Below are the highlights:

  • Last Thursday began with the first official convening of the Arizona Attainment Alliance (A++), as Vice President for Economic Mobility and Social Impact Jonathan Gagliardi and a team from NAU joined partners from our state’s community college districts to consider how we can collaborate to meet the attainment needs of our state. I was pleased to join this important meeting and to set the stage for the work ahead.
  • Following the A++ kickoff, I had meetings with the president of our Graduate Student Government, the Flinn Foundation on collaboration and partnership opportunities, particularly around the biosciences industry and education, and Jonathan Stone of Creative Flagstaff—a strong local partner that helps enhance the vitality of our community.
  • At lunchtime, I traveled across campus to the always lively School of Hotel and Restaurant Management, where I joined faculty and students to meet with Larry Cuculic, CEO of Best Western. He shared his experiences and insights with our HRM students, and I’m excited to have such valued partners engaging directly with our students to support their development and success.
  • My afternoon engagements included visiting with the Northern Arizona Leadership Alliance to share more about NAU’s work convening A++ and the intersections with Coconino Community College and our other Flagstaff-area partners to meet attainment and workforce needs. Then I joined the NAU student chapter of the Society for Hispanic Engineers (SHPE) to share my professional journey. And the day concluded with a moving ceremony at the Veterans Flag Tribute in advance of Veterans Day. At NAU, we are recognized for and proud of our excellence in supporting veterans and their educational journeys. Thanks to our dedicated team, we help meet our military-connected students with the opportunities and resources they need to succeed and fuel the success of the next chapter in their lives.
  • On a quiet Veterans Day, I cheered on our Lumberjack soccer team as they played in the NCAA tournament in what has been a historic season. While we didn’t advance to the next round, I’m so proud of this impressive championship team for all they have accomplished this year.
  • In addition, our cross country teams had exceptional performances at the weekend’s Mountain Regionals, where they punched their tickets to compete for the national championship. I’m excited to cheer on our dominant runners for one of the premier sporting events of the fall.
  • On Monday, I began a beautiful week with several internal meetings before traveling to the Native American Cultural Center, where I met with the President’s Native American Advisory Board to share updates and consult with this group of trusted leaders and advisors.
  • Then, in conjunction with a universitywide announcement, I hosted members of our Native American community at the NACC for a reception that served as the celebratory launch for our expansion of the Access2Excellence initiative to include members of all 22 of Arizona’s federally recognized tribes. We continue to work every day to foster access, elevate excellence and be the nation’s leading institution serving Native American students.
  • Tuesday was another full day, beginning with a virtual meeting with our Yuma Advisory Board in in advance of visiting our Yuma community this Friday for conversations about our partnership and support for local attainment and workforce needs.
  • I then met with Regents’ professor Julie Baldwin, who is a renowned expert and the heart of our Center for Health Equity Research, which is helping to address health disparities throughout our region.
  • The President’s Cabinet convened mid-morning for a full agenda that brought us together to review and discuss our plans and priorities, with a focus on continuing to meet the goals of the Arizona Board of Regents, our NAU community and the imperative to boost attainment in Arizona.
  • The day concluded with the Gold Axe, Distinguished Senior and President’s Prize ceremony, which showcased the accomplishments of a diverse and talented group of students who embody the Lumberjack spirit of excellence and service. I look forward to congratulating these students again soon when they graduate in December. I am excited for all they will accomplish in the future.
  • Yesterday, I woke up early to fly to Tucson in advance of meetings with the Arizona Board of Regents. I was thrilled to unexpectedly join our cross country teams on the same flight, and we stopped long enough in Phoenix to take a picture. The teams were making their way to Oklahoma to compete in the NCAA National Championships. I will be watching the races on Saturday along with many in our Lumberjack and Flagstaff communities!
  • After landing and engaging in a few business meetings in Tucson and interviews with media about our work in expanding A2E, I was pleased to share with our NAU community the launch of yet another initiative that is closely aligned with our access mission: a partnership with TheDream.US to support undocumented immigrant students’ access and affordability in higher education. This is a particularly timely announcement in light of the passing of Proposition 308 by the people of Arizona. I look forward to working with communities throughout the state to ensure these students are supported and have access to reach their full potential and contribute to our society.

Today, I will be in ABOR meetings that include some key NAU updates and agenda items before traveling to Yuma tomorrow to visit with some of our NAU-Yuma partners and the Yuma community. With the Thanksgiving holiday next week, I will be taking a week off from Notes. In the meantime, my best wishes to all within our Lumberjack family for a restful and enjoyable week ahead with family and friends.


José Luis Cruz Rivera

NAU Communications