Notes from the President: Nov. 10, 2021

Dear Lumberjacks,  

I write on the eve of Veterans Day, which is why I share this week’s notes on Wednesday. This evening, I will be joining NAU’s Veterans Day flag ceremony on the University Union west lawn. It is a solemn moment of remembrance and respect for our veterans near and far. 

As we prepare to celebrate the holiday, I have much to share from the last week: 

  • I spent much of last Friday in the valley. This included an excellent meeting with the Chandler Chamber’s Education forum, where I was joined by President Crow from Arizona State University. I shared an update on what NAU is doing to address economic and workforce needs throughout the state. As we bolster our statewide footprint and redouble efforts in educating the high-skill workforce our state needs, it is important to share with stakeholders and have strong partners, like the Chandler Chamber, who support and enhance these initiatives. 
  • I also enjoyed an opportunity to meet with some of our representatives and senators to discuss the same topics—specifically NAU’s New Economy Initiative proposal and upcoming request to the state legislature. It will be important to have the support of our state in addressing health and educational disparities and educating the workforce we need to excel. 
  • Saturday was an incredible day well spent with NAU Athletics: 
    • I enjoyed my first visit to the Wall Aquatic Center to watch NAU’s swim and dive teams enjoy a dominant victory against New Mexico. It was a pleasure to cheer on these incredible student-athletes for my first swim and dive meet at NAU—I will be back! 
    • NAU football got off to a fast start against UC Davis at the Skydome, though the result wasn’t what we hoped. Nevertheless, it was a great game, and I’m proud of our coaches and players as they head into the final game of the season. I enjoyed spending time with members of our Residence Life and Campus Health Services teams during the game. My appreciation to all our dedicated staff on the front lines. 
    • The day closed out in style with NAU Volleyball’s impressive sweep of Sacramento State. I was pleased to see NAU on a “Rolle” in the final home game of the volleyball season.
  • Monday, I spent time with my Executive Team charting out institutional priorities and workstreams that align with our ongoing Strategic Roadmap efforts and support our mission of student success. I am energized by the excellent work taking place throughout the institution on all fronts. We are not standing by—we are making positive change for our students, our faculty and staff, and our communities every day. 
  • I also virtually attended the American Association of State Colleges and Universities’ annual meeting. Hearing from colleagues about the challenges, opportunities, and innovations of the past year—including navigating the pandemic and emerging trends in higher education—helps us advance our mission. NAU is a member of this vital network, and I am so appreciative of AASCU’s work in advocating for and advancing public higher education throughout the U.S. 
  • The AASCU meeting also had two highlights for me: 
  • Yesterday, the highlight of the day was the release of Draft #2 of the NAU Strategic Roadmap at our university-wide Strategic Roadmap Convocation. My sincere appreciation to the roadmap team and facilitators for advancing this important work so quickly; likewise, my thanks to our entire NAU community for their active and thoughtful engagement in the process. A recording of the convocation is available online. I encourage you to review that information and visit the Strategic Roadmap website for the full Draft #2 document and information about how to engage with the next phase of this process. 
  • I also enjoyed meeting with NAU Online faculty. NAU is diverse in location and modality, and I am appreciative of the work of our faculty from Flagstaff and throughout the state who contribute to our robust and impactful online learning enterprise. 
  • Finally, I made my second visit to the Wall Aquatic Center Tuesday afternoon. After the meet on Saturday, it was great to walk through this world-class facility with Coach Andy Johns. I am pleased that NAU has such an impressive space for training and competition, supporting our student-athletes, providing a space for community activity and serving as a training ground for elite athletes from around the world.  

 I hope to see you at the Veteran Flag Tribute this afternoon, and I wish you all a relaxing and safe holiday tomorrow. 


José Luis Cruz Rivera

NAU Communications