After an action-packed few weeks, I have enjoyed an opportunity to slow down (slightly!) and reflect these past few days, turning attention to the work ahead rather than simply the events, activities and engagements of the moment. The beauty of fall is coming through—with yellow yellows, red reds and even some early signs of snow on San Francisco peaks adding color to crisper mornings. While the past week has been a bit quieter, it has been no less productive as we hit the mid-point of the semester, celebrate Family Weekend and set the stage for the important work to come.
- Last week, as we headed into Family Weekend, I had meetings with our partners at Coconino Community College as well as community leaders; joined in the kickoff of the search committee’s work for the Vice President for Inclusion, Diversity, and Engagement; and continued to talk with statewide colleagues, partners and media about our efforts in launching the Arizona Attainment Alliance (A++) which have been highlighted across the state by media outlets like KTAR Radio, AZBIGMEDIA, KYMA TV in Yuma, The Verde Independent, and Gila Valley Central.
- Even as we were poised to celebrate Family Weekend, it was my pleasure to look ahead to Homecoming Weekend and recognize our most deserving Homecoming Dedicatee for 2022: Alicia Stewart Voytek, who serves as associate vice president for campus operations and truly is a Lumberjack with unwavering commitment to student development and success.
- Over Family Weekend, we had a great deal to celebrate, including a packed Skydome where the Lumberjacks won in football, and the awarding of the Big Sky Presidents’ Cup (for the second year in a row!) in recognition of NAU’s academic excellence and athletic success. Victories in volleyball and soccer completed the Family Weekend sweep in sports. And one of the highlights was the opportunity to celebrate, engage and spend quality time with NAU friends, families and supporters.
- This week started by recognizing Indigenous Peoples Day and our institutional commitment to Indigenous peoples in Arizona and beyond. Thanks to our Office of Native American Initiatives and many other partners throughout our university for doing so much to elevate our service to Indigenous students and communities.
- Monday also included meetings with our faculty athletics representative, an engaging roundtable with the Editorial Board of The Lumberjack to discuss the latest news and direction of our university, additional work related to A++ and a convening of higher ed partners and collaborators for a discussion on challenges and opportunities facing institutions throughout the U.S. and promising practices for the future.
- The week has also held reason to celebrate, as NAU was recognized as a Fulbright Hispanic Serving Institution leader for 2022—one of only a handful of institutions in the U.S. that received this prestigious award that celebrates universities that create a campus culture that exemplifies the mission of Fulbright and international exchanges.
- On Tuesday, in addition to small group and one-on-one meetings, the President’s Cabinet convened for a mid-semester check-in, where we reviewed our progress to-date, revisited goals and priorities set forth over the summer to take stock of our progress and heard from our vice presidents on priorities for the remainder of the academic year. I can tell you that while the workload is significant, we are prepared and on the right track, and I am always energized by the excellent, mission-driven work of our leadership team.
In closing, I want to give a special thanks to the two search committees that worked so diligently over the summer months to bring exceptional candidates forward for consideration for the positions of Vice President for Advancement and Vice President for Capital Planning and Campus Operations. As announced this week, I believe we truly have exceptional individuals filling these roles in Nick Lobejko and John Holmes. I look forward to having them join our team, to introducing them to our campus community in the weeks ahead and to the great work that they will facilitate in these important university departments. This is the culmination of much hard work, and I am grateful to all who contributed to these efforts.
Until next week, my best to all within our Lumberjack community!