Notes from the President: Oct. 14, 2021

Dear Lumberjacks,

It’s Homecoming Week! I’ve been busy experiencing some of NAU’s most storied traditions, and I’m looking forward to so much more this weekend. Here’s what I have been up to since my last check-in.

  • I met with our teams who are preparing to recognize our graduates at Fall 2021 Commencement. Today, I’m pleased to share that we will be holding an in-person ceremony in December, and I’m excited to congratulate our Lumberjack graduates then. Visit edu/commencement for more details!
  • NAU has a strong sense of connection to our region, and our academic and research endeavors are often closely tied to where we are. That was on display in full force at a meeting of the School of Forestry’s advisory council on Friday, where I met with the group and discussed the future of this important school. Their impactful work helps inform our region’s forest and land management practices, and many of our graduates work in the field and conduct research that affects our wildfire preparedness and forest management practices.
  • I was called for COVID-19 voluntary mitigation testing and did my test at the Fieldhouse. It is such a simple process that can save lives—it’s important that all Lumberjacks get tested to help keep our community healthy through the semester and beyond. I encourage you to answer the call.
  • I also met with our College of Arts and Letters dean and supporters of our arts programs who advance our work in making NAU and Flagstaff a true cultural hub for the region and bolster our excellent work in arts education.
  • I stopped by the Cancer Support Community Arizona grand opening in Flagstaff. The rain could not dampen the spirit of the attendees from throughout the community, and I greatly enjoyed meeting the students and faculty from NAU’s Social Work program who were in attendance.
  • Sunday brought with it an excellent 2-0 win for NAU women’s soccer to start the week right on a beautiful day. I never tire of cheering, “Go Jacks!”
  • Monday was a day of both celebration and solemnity. As a community, we celebrated Indigenous Peoples’ Day. I shared in my message the importance of taking up the challenge to do the hard yet meaningful work to address the inequities and injustices our Native American and Indigenous communities have faced for centuries. We can—and must—be leaders in celebrating, honoring and supporting all.
  • I also wish to acknowledge the salutation from my message—Yá’át’ééh. I shared this greeting in respect to the people of the Navajo Nation. They are one of several neighboring tribes and one of more than 120 tribes whom we serve at NAU. A few of you shared the importance of recognizing the importance of the differences between our indigenous peoples, languages, traditions, histories, and communities. I take this to heart and pledge to acknowledge and respect this diversity of experience and history and to recommit myself to better understand the history of our indigenous peoples in Arizona, throughout the United States and around the world—all of whom we welcome and serve at NAU.
  • Indigenous Peoples’ Day also marked an important date at NAU—the 10-year anniversary of the Native American Cultural Center (NACC). It was a wonderful event, where I was pleased to share remarks and appreciation for the legacy of work of this important home-away-from-home facility in supporting indigenous student success. I look forward to the next 10 years and beyond for NACC as we advance our work in serving Indigenous students.
  • I attended the IMQ Center’s Narratives of Pride Open Mic Night, part of their National Coming Out Day programming. I appreciated the narratives shared, enjoyed the artistic talent on display and left invigorated for the important work of supporting our LGBTQIA+ students, family and friends. The evening gave me an opportunity to reflect on how important it is to have an inclusive and welcoming community. I am proud of who our Lumberjacks are.
  • Homecoming officially began for me with the Make it Monday. I enjoyed attempting to be crafty. I might just stick with an NAU pullover for Saturday’s festivities.
  • Tuesday was my first snow day in Flagstaff. That’s all. What’s there to say other than I’ve ordered my snow boots and hope they arrive quickly…
  • I had the honored and privilege of joining our NAU community for the celebration of our Homecoming dedicatee, Ralph Padilla, yesterday afternoon. This is a wonderful tradition that stretches back more than 80 years. What an honor it is to have our students choose to recognize those who make a tremendous difference in their lives. Congratulations, Ralph, and I look forward to seeing you at the Homecoming parade on Saturday!
  • I visited our friends from HRM and Mother Road Brewery to serve on a sensory panel to evaluate the fruit of our work on Mother Road’s 10th Anniversary Ale. I can confirm that it’s delicious, and I’m looking forward to future tastings at HRM and for the continuation of this partnership.
  • I was back at IMQ for a great event as we come to the conclusion of Hispanic Heritage Month. I got to share a little of my story and educational journey with our Latinx students and answered their enthusiastic questions. Thank you to Oscar Lujan and Vidal Mendoza for organizing the event.
  • And I had the opportunity to sit down for a great podcast interview with an international business student, Luis Estrada. Thank you for the conversation, Luis, and I encourage you to listen in to his excellent interviews.

Now, as we prepare for Homecoming, I encourage you to visit the Homecoming website and check out all of the fun activities planned for this weekend. I’m excited to see our students and to meet with the many engaged alumni who are returning to campus and who do so much to represent our Lumberjack community near and far.

Happy Homecoming!
José Luis Cruz Rivera


NAU Communications