As we enter our first TrueBlue Summer Friday of 2022, the rhythms of our institutional work have changed to reflect the quieter campus of the summer and the deep engagement by our staff to prepare for a vibrant year ahead. Since my last edition of Notes two weeks ago, much has transpired, and I’m happy to share my updates today:
- May 12-14:
- Our Staff Advisory Council hosted their annual mixer, and I was pleased to visit with hundreds of dedicated classified staff and service professionals for a lively celebration that was a fitting capstone to the academic year. We have a great team in place, and I’m appreciative of the leadership of our SAC Board in organizing this important university event.
- I made the journey to Yuma on Friday to join the joint graduation for NAU-Yuma, AWC, UArizona and ASU. It was a wonderful event, with inspirational student speakers earning their degrees and proud families and friends cheering on the opening of a proud new chapter in the lives of our students. Our statewide community is strong, and I look forward to returning to Yuma again soon to build on our existing strengths and help support and partner with our communities in southwestern Arizona.
- After driving through the night, my Saturday started early at the Skydome. Thanks to our University Events team and the many dedicated volunteers from throughout our university community, we welcomed back nearly 1,000 graduates from Spring 2020, Fall 2020 and Spring 2021—our “virtual grads”—for a special ceremony re-conferring their degrees, congratulating them on their postgraduate accomplishments and serving as a proud celebration and reunion in beautiful Flagstaff and a fitting tribute to their time as students. My thanks to all who attended and all who helped make this a truly special day to celebrate our Lumberjacks.
- Week of May 15:
- This week has been the first week post commencement(s) with a little bit of free time on my calendar. I invested a significant amount of time writing, focusing on proposals that advocate for funding and support in advancement of Elevating Excellence. I know this will be an important part of my agenda for the summer—developing the action plans, working with colleagues to get projects underway and working with many partners outside of our university to help propel NAU’s mission into the bold and boundless future we all wish to capture.
- I also spent time meeting individually and in small groups with my leadership team on a variety of topics, including some debriefings from the semester and strategizing for summer priorities.
- Together with colleagues from NAU and Coconino Community College, I kicked off a task force that will focus its efforts in the next six months in reviewing and redefining the already strong partnership between our institutions and setting us both on a trajectory for continued success in service of our communities in Coconino County.
- I joined statewide leaders for a business meeting of the Arizona Commerce Authority that touched on many dimensions of business growth and development in our state.
- On Thursday, I accompanied NAU faculty and leaders in the Yuma health care community for a forum on the future of health, resilient communities and health equity in Yuma County. I’m proud of all of the hard work by our university to expand access and directly address health equity and the health care workforce, particularly among our statewide communities.
- The Northern Arizona Leadership Alliance (NALA) convened, and I had an opportunity to share a reflection on my first year of work at NAU and how our business community in Flagstaff can engage and support continued excellence in the years ahead.
- Finally, on Saturday, Rima and I visited Phoenix for the Xico Minería Dinner and Art Auction, with many wonderful partners from throughout the state. It was a beautiful event celebrating artists and mining towns in Arizona, and the conversations with colleagues from education, public service and business and industry were a pleasure throughout the evening.
I hope that our Lumberjack community has an opportunity to take a well-deserved rest over the Memorial Day holiday, and I look forward to continuing our great work in June.