Notes from the President: Nov. 4, 2021

Dear Lumberjacks,  

Today, I write from Phoenix where I am attending Arizona Board of Regents committee meetings on audit, finance, and academic affairs. It has been a productive day with our colleagues from NAU, UArizona, ASU and ABOR. I look forward to sharing more information in my next update. Meanwhile, I’m pleased to reflect on the progress of a busy week.  

  • I joined national colleagues from The Education Trust and Data Quality Campaign on Thursday for engaging conversations around equitable value, access, attainment and outcomes. This work is closely linked to our roadmap and our mission at NAU, which helps provide context and peer information to support our efforts. I was honored to have been reelected to serve as Chair of the Board of Directors of The Education Trust.
  • In a letter on Friday to our NAU community, I reflected on the work of the Strategic Roadmap thus far, what we learned from our productive first phase of engagement and what you can expect as we prepare to launch Draft #2 next week. I encourage you to review this information and engage in the ongoing process. 
  • I had an engaging series of meetings on Friday, including with Coconino County Supervisor Patrice HorstmanFlagstaff City Councilmember Austin Aslan, the president of the American Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, and the president and vice president of NAU’s Staff Advisory Council. While each had very different topics, I am encouraged by the spirit of collaboration and the sense of shared purpose in our work ahead as a partner with our staff, community, region and national peers. 
  • I also had an important roundtable conversation with our Black/African American faculty and staff, which focused on our efforts to live our commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion and justice and the important steps we must take in our practices with students, faculty and staff to support diversity on campus and in our communities. We have accomplished much already, but these conversations inspire me as we continue the important work before us. 
  • In addition, I participated in an unveiling of the National Postsecondary Value Commission’s Equitable Value Explorer tool, highlighted recently by Inside Higher Ed.
  • I had planned to spend Monday with colleagues from the Big Sky Presidents’ Council, but delayed flights cancelled those plans. Fortunately, I was able to join via Zoom.  
  • In addition, I had an impromptu visit with Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez at the Native American Cultural Center. It was a special opportunity to visit, especially at the beginning of Native American Heritage Month. 
  • I am looking forward to kicking off our United Way of Northern Arizona campaign at NAU and will be sharing more information soon. I had an excellent meeting and am planning a special challenge to encourage support for this cause, which gives so much to our region and our communities. Stay tuned for more information. 
  • Yesterday, my day started early with a keynote address focused on equitable postsecondary value and access at the Illinois Equity in Attainment Initiative fall summit. It was a tremendous opportunity to speak to the challenges and opportunities ahead, share best practices from my work and experiences—which inform our work at NAU— and hear from colleagues, who posed important questions about how we can move the needle in advancing access, attainment, and transformative postgraduate outcomes for our students. 
  • A special highlight was raised to my attention with the great work of two NAU Ph.D. students being highlighted by the U.S. Department of Energy for receiving prestigious graduate research awards.  
  • I enjoyed meeting with our partners from the Air Force Research Laboratory, Lockheed Martin, and Crossbar, who were visiting campus for a review of our cutting-edge cybersecurity program computational diversity for cyber security. The close connections with government and industry with the School of Informatics, Computing, and Cyber Systems is important in our research and educational missions. Our students are exposed to the leading edge of discovery in a crucial field and are educated in a sector where demand for an innovative and experienced workforce continues to grow. 
  • Finally, yesterday concluded with a truly special celebratory event: the naming of the Clara M. Lovett Art Museum and an opportunity to honor Dr. Clara Lovett, the 13th president of NAU. She served as NAU’s—and the Arizona system’s—first woman president, leaving a legacy of institutional advancement and modernization and advocacy for the arts. It was a privilege to recognize Dr. Lovett by naming the museum in her honor and to join so many members of our NAU and Flagstaff community in recognizing an amazing Lumberjack.

Thank you for reading. I look forward to seeing many of you next week at our Strategic Roadmap Convocation and to all of our important efforts together that advance our institution. 


José Luis Cruz Rivera

NAU Communications