Tapping into creativity, community

Laura Huenneke

by Laura Huenneke, Provost

Summer provides a respite from the rigid scheduling of the academic year, as well as a beautiful season in Flagstaff. Release from the crammed weekly calendar of classes and meetings doesn’t necessarily mean total relaxation and vacation, though.

For many academics, summer is a welcome opportunity to focus more deeply on research, scholarship or creative work. For some, it’s also the chance to connect with community partners. I’ve been enjoying both luxuries these past few weeks.

For example, I’ve been trying to visit each of the closing poster or presentation sessions for our many undergraduate summer research programs. Whether cinder cone geology or environmental science or astronomy, it’s inspiring to see our talented faculty mentoring students from across the region or the country–and to see how those students have grown and flourished.

I also had the benefit of spending two days with my colleagues in the Native American Cancer Prevention Partnership and with some of our community partners. This included a wonderful day at Hopi, with a great tour of First Mesa and a good listening session at Kykotsmovi Community Center. This, plus time spent on some writing projects, has been intellectually satisfying.

I’ve also spent time with some important regional collaborators. Last month we were warmly welcomed to La Posada and the thriving arts and community development efforts in Winslow. And yesterday I was part of a visit to the Discovery Channel Telescope, opening a new stage of the formal relationship with Lowell Observatory.

As we prepare for the coming year, I hope to hear some of your stories of how the summer has allowed you to deepen connections—whether to your intellectual and creative work, or to community service and colleagues.

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Invitation to new faculty and staff

Our new faculty and staff are beginning to arrive in town. It can be awkward to move to a new location and begin the process of meeting new colleagues, so I look forward to welcoming you to campus and to Flagstaff. If you are in town prior to the start of the academic year, please feel free to join me and colleagues for a “happy hour” welcome session from 5 to 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 8, and/or Thursday, Aug. 15, at the 1899 Bar and Grill (on the north end of campus). This is an informal opportunity to meet some of your new colleagues and start connecting with the university community (cash bar but hors d’oeuvres will be provided).