Notes from the President: Oct. 27, 2022

Dear Lumberjacks,

As we close out October and get ready to celebrate Homecoming at NAU next week—our campus has been filled with activity. As always, I am so pleased by the great work of our dedicated NAU faculty and staff to advance the fortunes of this great university and all that they do to support the success of our students. Today, I am kicking off a few weeks that will be filled with travel, with a flight to Puerto Rico where I will be joining a contingent of students and faculty from NAU at the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS) annual conference, where I will be a keynote speaker. I’m looking forward to the events of the next few days and will share more next week. In the meantime, below are my notes from this past week:

  • Thursday, I had several internal meetings, including with faculty leaders and our finance and budget team, as well as interviews with statewide media on our health care programs, which are one of the pillars of our distinctive excellence and New Economy Initiative investments. Then, for the evening, Rima and I headed to Phoenix for a wonderful celebration with Education Forward Arizona at their inaugural InspirED convening. I joined a great group of colleagues and supporters and enjoyed the opportunity to celebrate and connect with statewide education partners.
  • After a very late return to Flagstaff on Thursday night, Friday was a bit quieter. While I couldn’t attend the Parade of Nations event myself, hosted by the Center for International Education, it was a wonderful show of our global diversity at NAU and the enriching and supportive environment we create for students from around the world. Thanks to CIE for their excellent work!
  • A recent interview with Higher Ed Dive showcased the collective efforts of our Lumberjack community over the last year that have led NAU to be a true model for equitable value and transformative efforts to accelerate economic mobility and social impact.
  • Friday evening, the weekend started strong for Lumberjack athletics with the first of two (Friday and Sunday) impressive NAU soccer victories that sealed the Big Sky regular season championship. I’m looking forward to cheering on our team in postseason play! And our volleyball on Thursday, and football win on Saturday helped round out an exceptional few days on the courts and fields as our student athletes demonstrated why Lumberjacks are the reigning, two-time Big Sky Presidents’ Cup holders.
  • With this being election season, it is important that our NAU community is thoughtful and engaged in their civic duties. I was pleased to turn in my first general election ballot as an Arizonan. I encourage our Lumberjacks near and far to get out and vote—and remember to flip over your ballots for the many important propositions on the ballot this year for our state. Your voice matters.
  • The week began on Zoom and meetings with national boards, before hosting several guests on campus, including engaged supporters of the arts and the Kitt School of Music, David Cook, for a discussion on our educational priorities and workforce needs, and colleagues from our campus dining partner, Sodexo. Monday finished on Zoom again with our Graduate Student Government, where I joined to engage with the GSG leadership team and discuss our priorities, challenges, opportunities, and direction.
  • Tuesday was spent with colleagues from across the country at a meeting of the Education Trust, whose work is closely aligned with NAU’s in supporting high academic achievement for all students in communities throughout the country.
  • Yesterday, I got to join our team from the Native American Cultural Center and Office of Indigenous Student Success at their retreat, feel like a student again at “This is SBS” and hearing from our incredible faculty about their research, service, engagement and teaching, and film messages for partners within and beyond our university.
  • And, as is the case every week, there was news to celebrate about the impact of members of our NAU community. Yesterday, it was celebrating Regents’ Professor Julie Baldwin, founding director of the Center for Health Equity Research at NAU, for her election to the National Academy of Medicine. Congratulations, Dr. Baldwin, and thanks for all you do to elevate excellence at NAU and beyond!

Even with so much focus on our work this fall, our team in Enrollment Management is hard at work preparing to welcome next year’s entering class, who will be the first Access2Excellence class at NAU! I was happy to add my voice to a special edition of Forecast from Flagstaff for our incoming students to help share a little about all of the great opportunities NAU offers to meet our students’ talent with boundless opportunities.

As we head into Halloween weekend, I encourage our Lumberjacks to be safe, be thoughtful with your costumes and have fun!


José Luis Cruz Rivera

NAU Communications