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Lumberjacks Giving Thanks

Dr. Rita ChengOur thoughts turn to thankfulness as the colorful leaves and crisp mountain air of Flagstaff remind us that this year is coming to a close. What a year it has been!

NAU has accomplished new goals, and laid paths to achieve even more. We are opening our doors to more students and working to enhance Arizona’s college achievement to create more jobs and opportunities. Our faculty and staff are winning more awards, drawing more investments into our university, and finding more ways to put NAU at the forefront of discovery and innovation. Our team is strengthening our ties to the community, and connecting with our neighbors more than ever before.

NAU has grown in size, yes, but we have also expanded our success. Our research extends into areas of critical importance to Northern Arizona, like forest health and watershed management, astronomy and national security. Our new Center for Health Equity Research enhances well-being through work with minority, rural and underserved communities across the state. We have new classrooms that offer cutting-edge learning spaces so our students obtain hands-on skills they carry into their careers. Our Honors Program has increased by 25 percent this year, and participation in NAU’s study abroad programs has increased by 60 percent in the last five years. Our campus is home to diverse thought and world views, which lead to excellent artistic and cultural events that we share with our community. Our Lumberjack athletes are charging forward in every sport they enter, winning both games and accolades for their positive approach to teamwork and competition.

I would be remiss if I didn’t also acknowledge our commitment and pride for Native American partnerships and educational efforts during Native American Heritage Month. Our renewed outreach to our Native American neighbors strengthens our ties to the students from 122 Native American nations that have chosen to receive their education at NAU, and creates new opportunities for educational achievement. We are constantly striving toward our goal of being the nation’s leading university serving Native Americans.

My heart is filled with gratitude for the students who choose our campus, the team that works for NAU’s success, and the community and regional partners that supports us through every season.

As the holidays draw near and we all take time to focus on our blessings, I hope you will think of NAU. Whether you are a current or former student, an NAU employee or a Flagstaff resident who loves our university, you are an important part of our team. We are all Lumberjacks, and that’s truly a reason to be thankful! FBN

By Rita Cheng

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