Notes from the President: Oct. 12, 2023

Dear Lumberjacks,

In the time since my last edition of Notes, much has transpired at NAU and there is great cause for celebration and pride. We hosted the Arizona Board of Regents in Flagstaff, and last Friday I shared a report with the Board and members of the public on the State of Northern Arizona University.

The highlights are numerous. Strong enrollment, finances, infrastructure, partnerships, and support that are helping us deliver on, expand, and sustain our mission for the people and communities of Arizona. The launch of NAU Health, with a distinctive College of Medicine coupled with elevations to our existing nursing and health professions programs, will reverberate for generations in bettering the lives and well-being of countless Arizonans.

Truly, this is a proud time to be a Lumberjack. The events accompanying the Board meeting represent years of hard work coming to fruition, and they are cause for all of us to celebrate together. Against this backdrop, my last two weeks have been busy, but they are energized by the pride and optimism I feel for the future as we undertake the hard and important work ahead for NAU.

  • Following my State of the University presentation, I was honored to have several students and supporters of NAU share with Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs and members of the Board of Regents their perspectives on the value of programs like the Arizona Promise scholarship, the Arizona Teachers Academy, and the need for NAU Health. I am proud that we continue to pursue and support these critical initiatives and look forward to the sustaining partnership from the state that will help us transform lives.
  • I visited with statewide media, including our student reporters from The Lumberjack and NAZ Today, immediately after the Board meeting to discuss in greater detail some of the components of NAU Health and the road ahead for launching our College of Medicine. Then, I joined Gov. Hobbs to discuss in greater depth some of NAU’s initiatives and how we can best meet the attainment and health needs of Arizonans.
  • I then changed into my regalia to head over to Coconino Community College, where I celebrated Eric Heiser’s investiture as CCC’s president. A year after my own investiture ceremony, I was honored to speak on behalf of NAU and officially welcome Dr. Heiser, who is a dedicated leader and passionate advocate for education, to our community. I look forward to continuing to deepen and strengthen our collaborative partnership with CCC in the future.
  • The new week brought with it a slew of meetings on Monday, including discussions around our online program strategy, benefits, open access learning materials, and additional interviews related to NAU Health.
  • I also joined the fall all-faculty meeting convened by the Faculty Senate. The passion for our vision and for student success was on full display during wide-ranging discussions that touched on first-year learning and success, the culture we must all uphold to propel our students on their academic journeys, and what lies ahead with artificial intelligence in the classroom, including a fascinating discussion on AI by the advocacy committee leading this work.
  • Tuesday, I set aside time for thinking, writing, and preparation, but did have the opportunity to meet with our talented graduate students who are recipients of ARCS Foundation funding on campus.
  • Wednesday, I joined the Academic Leadership Summit with a broad group of academic leaders convened by the provost, including deans and associate deans, vice provosts, chairs, faculty senators, and more. This was another invigorating and robust discussion around how we can best deliver academic excellence and propel academic momentum. Many excellent efforts are underway in Academic Affairs that are helping to lay the foundation for a bright future for our students. I will be sending a message to campus next week that will offer additional background and examples of our focus on this university wide effort.
  • The remainder of the week involved activities with University Marketing, meetings about K-12 initiatives and partnerships, attending the annual convening of Arizona GEAR UP here in Flagstaff for a keynote address, meeting with president emerita and longtime champion, supporter, and advocate for NAU Clara Lovett, a conversation with Boys and Girls Club of Flagstaff CEO Mark Cox, and several sessions recording video messages for upcoming events.
  • This week began with a briefing on sustainability initiatives, a meeting with state Rep. Nancy Gutierrez, and a lunch with colleagues and supporters at the NARBHA Institute to discuss future opportunities and directions related to NAU Health. I also met with our budget and finance team to review projections for the fiscal year ahead and met virtually with the Education Trust.
  • Early Tuesday I headed to the Flagstaff airport for a quick trip to Las Vegas, where I was presenting alongside CCC President Heiser at the Association of Community College Trustees’ annual conference. Our presentation highlighted the exceptional collaborative work between NAU and CCC to raise attainment through the Arizona Attainment Alliance’s Universal Admissions Program, which has helped create more pathways to an accessible college degree for Arizonans. It was great to share this work with colleagues from across the country and to discuss other innovative possibilities to elevate and optimize our work in the service of the people of Arizona.
  • Yesterday was spent in transit back to Flagstaff, with much writing and catching up on email while in the airport and on planes.
  • This morning, I’m catching my breath for a bit before diving into a series of Zoom meetings that will occupy the balance of the day.
  • And as a bonus, below are a few additional social media highlights of the last few weeks:

With all of these activities and engagements, I’m saving some energy to welcome family and friends to Flagstaff for the fall tradition of Family Weekend. I look forward to enjoying athletics events and connecting with students and their friends and families for a few days of celebration, reconnection, and re-charging that will fuel an excellent second half of the fall semester.

Finally, please use the resources linked in this issue of the Review if you or anyone you know is distressed by ongoing or current global events.

Thank you, as always, for all that you do for NAU.


José Luis Cruz Rivera




NAU Communications