What a week it has been, celebrating our time together at the Presidential Installation! There are far too many highlights to count, but I can say that the past few days I will remember for a lifetime. Below, are my notes on some of the great moments shared with members of our greater NAU community.
- On Thursday, as the Arizona Board of Regents convened, I joined for meetings throughout the day. Great news was shared during the meeting, including the investment of $15 million by Gov. Ducey to sustain the crucial work of the Arizona Teachers Academy, as well as a national spotlight on NAU, as the Institute for Higher Education Policy showcased NAU’s strategic roadmap efforts as a leading example of institutional efforts to advance equitable postsecondary value in their case study.
- The highlight of the ABOR meeting was my State of the University update, during which I reflected on the exceptional work of the last year and unveiled our next bold step to broaden access and power attainment in the pursuit of our vision—the launch of the Arizona Attainment Alliance (A++). If you have not already, I encourage you to read the full A++ press release, which details the plan for NAU and 10 community college partners across the state to work together, in partnership with the Arizona Commerce Authority, to design and develop a systematic approach to dramatically boost postsecondary attainment in Arizona. I’m excited and energized by this important work and look forward to sharing more over the months ahead as the partnership launches.
- In the afternoon, I joined other speakers for a walkthrough of Prochnow Auditorium in preparation for the Installation ceremony. There were definitely a few nerves as I looked out from the podium with anticipation for the day ahead!
- Friday, I began the day with our Regents, Faculty Senate President Kate Ellis and members of the NAU faculty for the ABOR faculty breakfast. It was great to share the morning with colleagues and engage in important conversations about the work of our faculty and the intersections with our Regents’ work on behalf of the state’s public universities.
- With a little downtime in the middle of the day, I made a few final preparations, broke out the regalia, and prepared for Installation. The stage and processional parties convened, and the big event began.
- I will not revisit here my speech or the moving comments by Kate Ellis (Faculty Senate President), Michael Crow (Regents Distinguished President, ASU), Lyndel Manson (ABOR Chair) and my wife, Rima. I encourage you to watch online if you did not have the opportunity to view live. Thank you to all who made that moment so special.
- Following the ceremony, we gathered in celebration on the historic North Quad as a beautiful Flagstaff sunset capped a most memorable day.
- On Saturday, as many of our out-of-town guests prepared to depart, we hosted one final event—a brunch with supporters of our university to thank all for attending.
- After some much-needed downtime on Sunday, I’ve been back to work this week with a renewed motivation to elevate our excellence at NAU. Thus far, much of my work has included advancing the conversations and public outreach around the launch of A++, which will be one of our top priority initiatives over the year ahead.
- Finally, as we enter October, I encourage our university community to participate and engage in Disability Pride and Heritage Month, through events and activities and to take the opportunity to learn more. From tonight’s 8th Annual Sitting Volleyball tournament to Tuesday’s fair on the pedway, it’s time to celebrate disability and learn about the many programs, departments, clubs, and more that are part of and/or work with disability communities within or outside of the NAU campus. Thanks to the Commission on Disability Access and Design and the Center for University Access and Inclusion, among others, for their crucial work in educating and celebrating this important milestone.
In closing, I want to share my sincere thanks with the University Events team and the partners throughout our university community who helped make the Presidential Installation a success. I also want to share my thanks for all who attended, sent well-wishes, and who I have gotten to know over the last year through their dedication and hard work to this most noble institution. The future is bright, bold and boundless—and I look forward to all that we will accomplish together at NAU!