In 2016, we will continue to provide outstanding teaching and learning experiences supported by research and service. After all, these commitments are the very foundation from which we derive solutions to meet the demands of today’s rapidly changing world. We welcome those challenges and face them with integrity, innovation and a determined spirit. It’s a full-time, year-round endeavor and we take great pride in the many accomplishments of the Lumberjack Family.
Building on those foundational strengths, we face 2016 with an aggressive agenda. While the Arizona economy slowly rebounds, we must continue to build and strengthen efforts to ensure access to a higher education. Over the years, we at Northern Arizona University have been able to adapt to the budget cuts, increased demand for highly specialized programs, and the need to provide alternative methods of learning. We have demonstrated that we are creative problem solvers, and so are our students.
No one said college was easy. And today’s students certainly face their share of challenges. How will they finance their education? How will they manage the work load? What employment opportunities will be available to them during and after college? Where will they find solutions that meet their needs along this path?
We are fortunate to have such strong relationships throughout the region, state and nationally to address some of those questions. We rely on those relationships to make a difference in the lives of our students – knowing that they will ultimately make a difference to each of us. They are the future entrepreneurs, business leaders, researchers and change agents. They are also our future teachers, health care providers, social workers and so much more. It is our privilege to impart knowledge through the formal education process, but it also our responsibility to open the doors of opportunity throughout their journey.
As I watched our graduates cross the stage last month to receive their respective degrees, I was struck by the sheer joy on their faces. Yes, I’m optimistic about 2016. How can I be anything but, with those images, and stories of success, still in fresh in my mind? They are the next generation in a long line of Lumberjacks who will make a difference in this complicated, wildly exciting world. They see possibilities in every direction… and so do I.
Happy New Year! FBN
Rita Hartung Cheng is the president of Northern Arizona University.