Committee highlights diversity in NAU presidential search

October 20, 2020 GMT

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — Members of the search committee for the next president of Northern Arizona University have made diversity the subject of its first meeting, calling for someone who will collaborate with and support diverse populations, including the Native American community.

The 14-member Northern Arizona University Presidential Search Advisory Committee appointed by the Arizona Board of Regents discussed its vision for the Flagstaff-based campus and the future president during its Friday meeting, the Arizona Daily Sun reported Tuesday.


The committee is led by Regents Lyndel Manson, who has lived in Flagstaff for 20 years, and Fred DuVal.

“This will be the 17th president in NAU’s history and it’s obviously an extremely important task … It is the most important thing the regents do and we’ve got to get it right,” DuVal said.

The search consultant will use the information in the meetings to recruit candidates. Current President Rita Cheng announced last month that she would not seek an extension of her contract that expires in 2022. The consultant is scheduled to be selected in time for the next meeting.

NAU’s Native American Cultural Center Executive Director Ora Marek-Martinez said she would like a commitment to prioritize Native American communities and students.

“I’ve never heard of any other institution that has a commitment such as NAU to Native American communities and to students,” Marek-Martinez said.

The committee also mentioned experience in educational leadership as a priority.

“I know that we’re in that balancing act between education being a business and education being education, but the more grounded they are in education, the more trust there will be from faculty,” said Professor Kate Ellis, who represents the Faculty Senate.

DuVal and Manson said they plan to hold at least one town hall at NAU to seek further comments on who the community would like to see fill the position.