The end of a year presents an opportunity for reflection. It’s a time to celebrate the success of a 12-month journey, and to plan for the future with bigger goals and programs that meet the needs of future students and economies.
Those of us who love NAU have many things to celebrate as 2016 comes to a close. Last January, I wrote of possibilities in every direction and I predicted great things for NAU in 2016. We have surpassed even my own optimism. This year, we have strengthened the NAU experience and expanded what we can offer to our students and our community.
We welcomed more than 30,000 students who chose us to shape their future in the individual-based experience that has made NAU great in Flagstaff, online, and on community campuses around Arizona. We enhanced programs to meet students where they need us with services that support their goals, better connect them to each other, and understand the cultural values that shape them. We celebrated the Big Sky-high accomplishments of our Lumberjack athletes, who have attained championships and recognition while maintaining notable academic performances.
We prioritized to ensure a responsible and reliable financial future, while providing certainty and stability for our students through the continued Pledge tuition program. We built stronger relationships with state leaders, and obtained a small increase in state funding that lays the groundwork toward a real conversation about balancing the costs of educating students. We made critical investments in the facilities, faculty, and staff that make us great each day.
We grew our research and discoveries to impact both the smallest details of life on Earth and the great mysteries of the universe around us. We increased our research funding through federal agencies and non-profit foundations because our faculty is renowned and respected.
Through all these victories, and in the hard work needed to attain them, the Flagstaff community has enhanced our success and celebrated our progress. Your support made it possible to exceed our goals for the first NAU comprehensive fundraising campaign and expand our partnerships for impactful research and job creation. You enabled us to reach higher, to plan for long-term success, and to ensure that our students can do the same.
As the value of an NAU degree grows and our university continues to play a critical role both in Arizona and in the world, we know that our successes are connected to our neighbors. You help us shape the NAU experience, and your enthusiasm makes our successes even more enjoyable. Whether you are a Lumberjack through your job, your education, your family, or simply through your loyalty, you know that you are a part of a unique team. Lumberjacks care about each other, and we pursue solutions that connect us for a stronger world.
These traditions and these values have made us great since 1899. They are our foundation, and they continue to shape our plans every step of the way. With you, we look confidently to the possibilities of 2017.
By Rita Cheng