President Cheng highlights NAU’s successes, future of possibilities

President Cheng

“We are working together to build the future we know NAU deserves,” President Rita Cheng told students, faculty, staff and the Flagstaff community during the campus forum held Tuesday, Oct. 18, at the High Country Conference Center. View the full powerpoint slideshow or watch the recorded presentation online.

“As we gather here today, our university is well-positioned to face a future filled with opportunity. There are possibilities in all directions–ways we can grow and lead, opportunities for students and our team, and we are well positioned to assume a greater role in Arizona’s economy and future,” Cheng said.

During her hour-long presentation followed by a question and answer session, Cheng discussed a variety of topics. NAU’s budget, the importance of state support, enrollment growth and plans to improve student retention were just some of the agenda items covered. Cheng also addressed the importance of staying in tune with national and state higher education trends.

“Across the nation, colleges and universities are failing because they do not respect student expectations, track the competitive marketplace or diversify their revenue streams,” Cheng explained. “NAU’s historical focus on the student experience means we are poised to thrive in the renewed national emphasis on outcomes and personal growth.” She mentioned collaborative efforts such as Achieve60AZ that help Northern Arizona University provide educational opportunities for more students.

In her presentation, Cheng stressed the important role people have in making NAU such a great university. She included an overview of faculty, staff and student accomplishments over the last year, emphasizing that “an NAU education is a valuable ticket to expand the mind and to improve career options and positively impact the economy.”

Cheng addresses crowdCheng announced that in order to challenge all students to grow and reach higher, NAU plans to turn the Honors Program into an Honors College next fall. “The college will create an NAU experience around student choice, with amplified options for students seeking an extra challenge,” she said.

Looking to the future, Cheng discussed ambitious goals set by both Northern Arizona University and the Arizona Board of Regents. By the year 2025, NAU hopes to accommodate 35,000 students, with an 80 percent retention rate. The university’s revenue of $550 million for the current academic year, is expected to grow to $720 million by 2025.

Cheng concluded, “Our team is strong because of each of you. We are all a part of something bigger than just this team and this moment. We are connected to an NAU vision that has impacted our state more than any history book can capture. We are carrying the NAU legacy into the future, and I for one am excited to see where we will go.”

NAU Communications