I write from Phoenix in the midst of a busy but productive and valuable week of work for our university. As committee meetings get underway with the Arizona Board of Regents, I’m pleased to share a summary of what has been an eventful past week.
Before I do so, however, I want to take a moment to acknowledge and celebrate the start of Hispanic, Latiné Heritage Month at NAU. The cover story in this week’s Review highlights the many events taking place at NAU over the next month, including a special event this evening—that I’m sorry to be missing due to my travels—on Latin American Identity, featuring my wife, Dr. Rima Brusi, and other NAU faculty, staff, and students at the IMQ Center. I hope you will participate in the many engaging, celebratory, and educational outreach events being hosted by our NAU community over the next month as we celebrate Hispanic, Latiné Heritage Month and elevate our excellence as a Hispanic Serving Institution.
- On Thursday, back from travels for Big Sky business, I spoke with several statewide media outlets about NAU’s health care programs and what we are doing to expand education in this crucial area of the Arizona workforce. Our expertise in public health, health disparities research, nursing and a range of allied health disciplines is a highlight of our excellent academic programming and aligns with the needs of communities within our state. I look forward to the continued work to expand access and opportunity for students to participate in these programs and to build healthier and more resilient communities—and I am always pleased to be an advocate and spokesperson for the great work we are doing on this front.
- I also joined members of my team to discuss opportunities for K-12 college-readiness pathways and partnerships with national colleagues working in these areas. In order to meet our ambitious goals, it will be critical to begin broadening access and encouraging college-going aspirations from day one, and we are developing plans and initiatives to do just that.
- Friday, I spent much of the morning at the University Union, which was a refreshing change of scenery and a great way to be in the heart of campus. In addition to writing in the Oak Creek Room, I visited with the dedicated and generous Student Affairs team for coffee and donuts in recognition of their status as the top participating department in Giving Day this spring. Thanks to all of our Student Affairs professionals for supporting the success of our students and building a supportive and inclusive campus environment where they can thrive. I also spent time with a few amazing students who will be attending the L’Attitude conference in San Diego next week, thanks to a generous scholarship that funds their participation. I’m always inspired by our students whose aspirations and talents can flourish at NAU.
- While I didn’t travel to Texas this weekend with our football team—there is more than enough travel on the calendar already!—I was filled with pride cheering on our Lumberjacks during their victory over Sam Houston State University. Our home opener is on Saturday, and I hope to see our Jacks out in force at the Skydome!
- With time in Phoenix booked for the second half of this week, I spent Monday and Tuesday in Flagstaff preparing on several ongoing strategic workstreams.
- Early Wednesday morning, I was on my way to Phoenix for a day filled with events and meetings. It began with a tremendous honor—attending the Victoria Foundation Higher Education Leadership Awards and being awarded the Loui Olivas Distinguished Leadership in Higher Education Award. My thanks to Dr. Olivas and the Victoria Foundation. This award is a reflection of our collective work here at NAU this past year, and I am thankful of the partnerships we have built, and the dedicated team committing their time and talent to delivering on our bold vision.
- The rest of the day was spent in smaller meetings, with several of our Regents, as well as Daniel Corr—our colleague and close partner at Arizona Western College.
- One of the highlights for me was visiting the Arizona Commerce Authority (ACA) and meeting with the ACA’s President and CEO, Sandra Watson. In our time together, we discussed opportunities to build NAU’s connections with the ACA and secure mutually beneficial and essential public-private partnerships. As the ACA engages in crucial work to ensure Arizona is one of the nation’s most economically competitive states, NAU is poised to be a leading partner that will ensure more Arizonans can participate in this prosperity and contribute to the booming workforce by broadening access to valuable postsecondary credentials.
There are a few more engagements ahead in Phoenix today and tomorrow. Then, I look forward to a more extended time in Flagstaff and the start of celebratory events in the lead up to the Presidential Installation on Sept. 30. I encourage you to review the schedule and participate throughout the weeks ahead—and I hope to see many of our faculty, staff and students at the all-NAU celebratory barbecue on Sept. 21!