Notes from the President: Sept. 30, 2021

Today, NAU hosts the Arizona Board of Regents for their fall meeting in Flagstaff. I’m looking forward to sharing with our Board updates on NAU’s work, including highlights from our efforts to educate the workforce of the future as part of the state’s New Economy Initiative, opportunities for collaboration with our sister institutions to broaden reach and enhance impact and dialog and discussion with the Regents as we vision the future of our university. In addition, I’m also greatly looking forward to my first Family Weekend at NAU—a treasured mid-semester highlight when our students’ parents and loved ones are encouraged to visit campus to celebrate the great work that has been done and the bright future that lies ahead. With much to look forward to, I want to share through my weekly notes some of the recent activities:

  • I had an engaging meeting with the newly formed Staff Advisory Council. I’m excited to have strong representation of our diverse staff workforce to collaborate with and rely on as we advance our mission.
  • Alongside our interim Vice President for Native American Initiatives, Ann Marie Chischilly, I met with Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez. President Nez’s leadership and advocacy for Navajo students and communities is inspiring. I’m proud to count him as an NAU alumnus, and I am energized by the partnership and potential for NAU to work with the Navajo Nation and other tribal leaders to become the leading university in serving indigenous students. I hope to visit the Navajo Nation soon and to continue working with Ann Marie, President Nez and our other partners to provide education and opportunity for all.
  • NAU Volleyball opened Big Sky play with a great win against Idaho. I’ve been enjoying my visits to Rolle so far this semester—and I am very much enjoying the strong start to conference play for our Lumberjacks!
  • I had a wonderful hands-on experience at the Students for Sustainable Living and Urban Gardening (SSLUG) Garden last Friday, where I met with the faculty, staff, students and volunteers who make this community garden a model for sustainability and green space on campus. They even let me plant a milkweed plant in the garden! This was a new corner of campus for me to explore, and I am so thankful to see a living lab that models best practices and improves our community right here on campus.
  • I met with a diverse set of leaders at a broad convening of University Leadership Program participants and alumni. It was great to speak with our current and future leaders in an informal setting to learn more about their work, their experiences and their aspiration for NAU’s future. I am always inspired by our dedicated faculty and staff who make NAU such an incredible place to learn and work.
  • Friday evening, I attended my first Flagstaff Symphony Orchestra concert—the first of their 72nd season! Having recently met with Larry Lang, the director of FSO, it was great to see the incredibly artistry right here in Flagstaff. And I was pleased to share the experience with members of our NAU community. This partnership reminds me of the vitality and energy that are so closely linked in university communities, where students, faculty, staff and community members intermingle and share in diverse cultural enrichment and experiences.
  • Over the weekend, I visited with faculty and staff from CEIAS at a fun BBQ and stopped by the Flagstaff Music Festival downtown. While the visits were brief, they were meaningful and highlighted the sense of community at NAU and throughout Flagstaff and how they enrich and inform all we do. I also got to cheer on our Lumberjack football team on TV in a close game against Northern Colorado.
  • I joined our NAU and Flagstaff community in celebrating the 20th anniversary of our Martin-Springer Institute. The institute and the work of its director, Björn Krondorfer, is powerful, important and timely—learning from and sharing the history of the Holocaust and educating future generations. I was honored to welcome our community and appreciated hearing the stories and scope of MSI’s impact over the years.
  • This week began with a visit from the Havasupai Nation Council, including Chairwoman Eva Kissoon. We met at NAU’s Cline Library and discussed tribal preservation policies, how we can work together on research and cultural preservation and opportunities to provide greater access to education for the Havasupai people. My thanks to the Council and also to NAU’s teams at ONAI and Cline for their important work in advancing these collaborative partnerships with indigenous peoples throughout our region and beyond.
  • I also joined our Faculty Senate meeting to share updates about the NAU Strategic Roadmap, this week’s ABOR meeting, and answer questions from our faculty leaders.
  • Wednesday afternoon, I visited with our black faculty, staff and students at IMQ’s mixer. I enjoyed meeting with an energized group, sharing more about how we can advance equity and hearing the thoughts of our diverse community.

Thank you, Lumberjacks, for reading this update. I look forward to next week’s notes to debrief on the ABOR meeting, Family Weekend and more. Until next time, be well, and go Jacks!

José Luis

José Luis Cruz Rivera

NAU Communications