The past week was truly special, celebrating my first Homecoming with the Lumberjack community. The experience was incredible: vibrant, enthusiastic, celebratory and full of the life, hope, opportunity and optimism that I know makes this university and this community such a great place to live, learn and work. Below are a few highlights that do not even begin to capture the richness of the experience and the joy of interacting with so many lifelong Lumberjacks in Flagstaff.
- It was an honor to join our students at the Homecoming Chili Cook-Off—where I was a judge!—and traditions day pep rally and bonfire. The heat of the chili and the bonfire cut through a cold evening!
- Swinging by Rolle for a dominant performance by our Lumberjack volleyball team was a great cap to the evening and set the tone for a winning weekend for NAU Athletics.
- I joined the NAU Foundation and NAU Alumni Association Board meetings, where many dedicated alumni and supporters came together to share in the important work for our university’s future. I’m inspired by their commitment and thankful for all our Alumni and Foundation Boards do to advance NAU’s mission.
- And speaking of supporters, the time spent with our La Cuesta Society and 1899 Society members was humbling and important. Hearing from these individuals who invest so much time, talent and treasure in our institution—and sharing the direction and aspirations for our future—confirmed that we are in good company, with valued supporters helping propel us forward.
- Friday evening brought with it a wonderful celebration of our alumni at the Honored Alumni Hall of Fame Truly, it was a pleasure to see so many Lumberjacks back on campus who represent all that we aspire to be—in service to communities, in professional and academic achievement, in artistry and accomplishment. What an evening! I am so thankful to have been able to host this event in-person this year to recognize these tremendous individuals. I will be looking forward to attending it in the years to come.
- The evening concluded with a visit to our impressive student-led Homecoming Carnival —an exciting and energizing celebration by our students.
- Saturday was a blur of excitement—Flannels and Flapjacks, breakfast with alumni and friends at Café au Louie, leading the Homecoming parade (thanks for the ride, Joey!), a great tailgate that truly demonstrated that at NAU, we are Lumberjacks for life, and an impressive win by NAU Football and celebrations with all members of our NAU community throughout.
- With the energy and excitement of Homecoming, it’s been difficult to come back to day-to-day life. But already, this week has been off to a busy start. I’ve met with many of our leadership team on important operational matters for the university, while continuing to push forward our goals around equity, access and attainment.
- I visited our student-journalists at The Lumberjack for a thoughtful and timely discussion and many great questions.
- Yesterday evening, after a day of work, I logged into Zoom, joining presidents from universities in China and the United States for an engaging forum on internationalization, educational and economic development, and sharing the great work of our colleagues around the globe in enhancing educational outcomes. Thanks to our team at the Center for International Education for their work in building these partnerships with institutions, students and faculty throughout the world to enrich the NAU experience.
It’s been a weekend to remember. And I cannot believe that we are more than halfway through my first fall semester at NAU. I’m looking forward to the important work ahead, to other NAU traditions I will experience for the first time and to finishing this semester strong.