President’s Cabinet Meeting: May 2, 2019

The last cabinet meeting of the academic year was held Thursday.

President Rita Cheng started the meeting by expressing her gratitude to all who helped make Northern Arizona University’s inaugural Giving Day campaign, which concluded Wednesday at midnight, such a success.

She also gave an update for several dean positions on campus. Four candidates for the position of dean of the College of Engineering, Informatics, and Applied Sciences are visiting the Flagstaff Mountain Campus this week and next week. Cheng encouraged everyone to participate in the open forum portions of the interview to assist in the selection process.

“We also have been talking with potential interim deans for The W. A. Franke College of Business, and hope to hold interviews via Zoom with candidates next week,” she said.

Cheng thanked Interim Provost Brian Levin-Stankevich for his work over the last year, who will be leaving NAU May 11. Diane Stearns will assume her new position as provost on May 12. 

The recently appointed diversity fellow, Gabe Montaño, introduced himself to the cabinet.

“I am really excited for this position and honored to be here to serve in this role,” he said. “I would like to thank the university for this opportunity, and am looking forward to meeting all the commissions and celebrating the Diversity and Equity Awards tonight.”

Krista Allen, director of University Events, shared numbers for the upcoming spring commencements with the cabinet—more than 5,900 graduates have applied to graduate (100 more than last year), and each ceremony will have approximately 1,000 graduates in attendance. More information on the graduation ceremonies can be found online.

“I encourage everyone to participate in commencement,” Allen said. “Whether you volunteer to hand out programs, marshal or help distribute license plates, it’s so wonderful to celebrate our students’ successes first-hand.”

An email about commencement traffic changes will be sent out next week; updates also can be found on the NAUGo app.

Joanne Keene, executive vice president and chief of staff, reminded cabinet members that applications for the University Leadership Program are due by 5 p.m. May 3. Faculty and staff at every level are encouraged to apply or nominate a coworker for the program, which is designed to help prepare the next generation of higher education leaders. About 25 applicants will be chosen to participate in the 2019-20 cohort.

“Our team put together a great program,” Cheng added. “The University Leadership Program focuses on understanding the complexities of the university and teaches individuals how to interact with different leadership styles across campus. I highly recommend it for all.”

Dan Okoli, vice president for Capital Planning and Campus Operations, and Steve Vedral, director of planning, design and construction, gave an update on the status of major campus projects.

The Science Annex renovation is nearing completion. With the exception of updates to the stairwell, construction will be completed by the end of May. Okoli encouraged cabinet members to check out the new space—tours of the building can be scheduled by contacting Stephanie Bauer, associate director of Planning, Design and Construction.

The renovations to Prochnow Auditorium are scheduled to wrap up next month.

Okoli also informed the cabinet of plans to help improve the traffic congestion at the intersection of McConnell Drive and Pine Knoll Drive. He and his team are working with the city and NAIPTA to figure out how best to improve traffic flow and prevent NAU and city buses from bottle-necking.

At the Spring Campus Forum, Cheng announced a three percent salary increase would be issued to eligible personnel. Josh Mackey, chief human resources officer, and Roger Bounds, vice provost for academic personnel, provided additional details on the increase and how faculty and staff would be affected.

“When I arrived at NAU, it was made known to me immediately that this increase was top priority,” Mackey said. “After going over the numbers, we presented the possible percentage increases to President Cheng. Though the three percent increase was the maximum the budget would allow, she wanted to make it happen.”

Additional information regarding the faculty salary increase and the staff salary increase can be found online.

Vice President for Development and Alumni Engagement Rickey McCurry provided the cabinet with a comprehensive recap of Giving Day.

“We went into this campaign with a goal of raising $100,000 from 500 gifts,” he said. “As of midnight, our preliminary numbers show we have raised more than $258,865 from 1,090 gifts—224 of which were from first-time donors. We are thrilled!”

Donations were collected from throughout the world, including Uruguay, Switzerland and other parts of Europe.

“We look forward to celebrating today before starting on next year’s campaign tomorrow.”

In her report, Chief Institutional Data Officer Laura Jones went over new and continuing awards, student enrollment data and the budget report.

“Though we are up in almost all of our enrollment numbers, we still have a ways to go until we’re back on track,” said Jane Kuhn, vice president for Enrollment Management and Student Affairs. “Because we didn’t hit our freshman enrollment targets last year, our numbers this year are still soft.”

It was noted that the University of Utah and several universities in Washington are now part of the Western Undergraduate Exchange program, meaning NAU has much more competition when it comes to recruiting these students.

“Another challenge we’re facing is that students are applying to and visiting three to five different universities,” Kuhn said. “We need to make sure that NAU stands out.”

Vice President of Finance, Institutional Planning and Analysis Bjorn Flugstad addressed the budget, stating that we are managing expenses and will continue to monitor expenditures at the end of the fiscal year.  

Mackey informed the cabinet that he and his team are still evaluating data collected as part of the Organizational Growth and Effectiveness Initiative. The group is working to create deliverables to present, and hopes to have recommendations by the end of the month.

Cheng concluded the meeting by thanking Dylan Graham, who graduates next Friday, for all she has done as the president of ASNAU.

She also recognized and thanked those attending their last cabinet meeting, including Dean Dan Goebel, Interim Provost Brian Levin-Stankevich, Academic Chairs Council Executive Director Roy St. Laurent, Faculty Senate Interim President Joe Wegwert and Francisco Vélez-Torres, dean of the College of Business and Administration for the CETYS University System, who was at NAU this year participating in the ACE Fellows Program.