Sciences and the arts contribute to sense of place

Laura Huenneke

          by Laura Huenneke, Provost

One of the university’s prime assets is its location in Flagstaff—a community with great quality of life, set in a region of wonderful natural and cultural richness. Faculty, staff and students often report attachment to the place as being an important element in their commitment to NAU. Recently, I’ve seen some inspiring examples of the ways we are all embedded in the “one community” ethos.

As part of a large group crowded into a conference room at Coconino Community College, I participated in a discussion of next steps toward strengthening Flagstaff’s identity as the nation’s first STEM Community. It was inspiring to see so many fantastic ideas taking shape from local industry, public and charter schools, Flagstaff 40 leadership, Lowell Observatory and many others.

The STEM Consortium is attracting outside support as well: Science Foundation Arizona, the Arizona Science Center and the Helios Foundation were all represented at the meeting. As you might imagine, many NAU research and academic programs are actively engaged in this initiative.

Of course our community context is not just science-based. The recent Viola Awards ceremony and banquet celebrated the region’s vibrant arts community, and NAU talent was well represented among award recipients and nominees. Similarly, NAU colleagues offer the community a rich buffet of theater, music and other cultural events, as well as engaging in initiatives like the “ArtBox” or arts incubator discussions.

With spring break coming next week, take the opportunity to engage outside the ivory tower, whether through road trips, or service projects, or just having time to reconnect to our home community. Enjoy the week and come back refreshed.