Notes from the President: Nov. 18, 2021

Dear Lumberjacks,

I write today from Tucson as we prepare to get underway with the November meeting of the Arizona Board of Regents. I’m looking forward to the discussions with colleagues on our public universities’ work in driving access, attainment, economic impact, and knowledge creation in our state.

I am pleased to look back and share my reflections on the week past, which has been full of proud moments. Heading into the home stretch of the semester, I am so inspired with all we have accomplished as a university community and have great confidence in the work still ahead.

  • Last week’s notes came before the start of Veterans Day. That evening, I had the distinct honor of being able to join members of our military community at the Veterans Flag Tribute.
  • I want to share a special reflection from Rebecca Seeger, retired colonel in the U.S. Air Force, NAU alumna and a current NAU graduate student, and president of the Graduate Student Government. Col. Seeger’s remarks are inspiring.
  • I got the chance to tune into NAU men’s basketball on Thursday to watch an exhilaratingly close game. I can’t wait to cheer on our men’s and women’s basketball teams here in Flagstaff very soon.
  • Friday, I enjoyed speaking with our Presidential Leadership Fellows—sophomores and juniors with a deep commitment to developing their leadership skills to better serve their communities. It was a great conversation, and I am always impressed by our students—I encourage others to consider this impactful program.
  • Later, I spent time with our many student volunteers making PB&J sandwiches for distribution to Flagstaff communities in need as part of World Kindness Day. It was inspiring to see so many people come out to participate.
  • This spirit of giving back to community is so important to our university’s aspirations. It is reflected in the work of our students, faculty, and staff every day, and it is core to so many elements of our Strategic Roadmap and other work. I’m pleased that in this spirit, earlier this week we announced a new Staff Community Engagement Time policy that affirms and supports this commitment to community and encourages the engaged efforts of our employees in giving back.
  • I was part of a powerful conversation with our Diversity Fellows on Friday afternoon to discuss how we can implement equitable policies, build on the inclusive environment we seek to foster throughout NAU, and realize a more just and equitable future for all through our university’s work. My thanks to our Diversity Fellows for their contributions to our university and I look forward to engaging with them in the important work ahead.
  • This weekend, Rima and I enjoyed spending time in Flagstaff with ASU President Dr. Michael Crow and his wife, Dr. Sybil Francis, CEO and president of the Center for the Future of Arizona. I am thankful to have such close and welcoming partners in our state who have committed their careers to advocating for educational access and innovation in Arizona. Together, I know our public university system will accomplish much in propelling our state into the boundless future ahead.
  • Saturday afternoon I joined many in our NAU and Flagstaff communities to cheer on our Lumberjack football team for the final home game of the season. While it wasn’t the result we were hoping for, this has been a memorable first season watching Lumberjack football—thanks in large part to our historic victory over the University of Arizona earlier this year!
  • This Monday was highlighted by the NAU General Faculty meeting. I am thankful to Faculty Senate President Kate Ellis for hosting this important event and to the many faculty who joined in person and online. It was a great conversation on university governance, and I look forward to the strong partnership of our faculty in advancing learning, knowledge, and value for our students and all who we serve at NAU.
  • Tuesday included meetings with national peers as part of the APLU Council of Presidents, with a number of our divisional leaders, and a visit to the Rotary Club of Flagstaff, among others. It concluded with a truly special student event—the Gold Axe, Distinguished Senior, and President’s Prize awards event. It was a privilege to honor and celebrate our students who have done so much in and out of the classroom. As we approach the celebratory season, with commencement only a few weeks away, it is moments like this that remind us of the power of higher education to uplift and transform lives. I am inspired by our students to continue to do all we can to make NAU a great place to live and learn.
  • Yesterday, before I headed to Tucson, I spent the day in Phoenix meeting with many partners, supporters, and members of our Lumberjack community. The day included a tour and visits with our faculty and staff based at NAU North Valley, as well as visits with Stephanie Parra (executive director of All In Education) and others. NAU is truly a statewide engine of opportunity and access—a system that meets our students in 20+ statewide sites and through robust and innovative online and flexible programs. I look forward to growing our impact in serving the diverse students and communities throughout our state as we advance our mission.
  • The time in the Valley was well spent, but it does leave me with one regret—I wasn’t able to celebrate our women’s basketball team’s first win of the year! I can’t wait to get back for the next game.

Thank you for reading and for your continued engagement and contributions to this great university. I’m excited for the road ahead!

José Luis Cruz Rivera


NAU Communications