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Northern Arizona University announces second draft of strategic road map

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First Day Back (copy)

Students grab an early lunch in the student union at northern Arizona University during the first day of in-person instruction at the start of the fall semester.

Northern Arizona University announced the second draft of its strategic road map Tuesday afternoon. The draft has been refined from a larger set of objectives meant to help guide the university from 2022 through 2025.

Draft two has between five and 10 objectives and strategies for each of its seven goals, compared to the 20 to 30 presented in the initial draft. The next draft, currently scheduled for December, will be refined to a total of three to five objectives per goal.

The planning process will “shift gears” during the spring semester, said vice provost for teaching, learning design and assessment, Laurie Dickson. In January and February, a metrics working group will define targets for the goals, with a focus on “action and accountability” and a readership group pulled from the larger community will review the draft.

A fourth draft and engagement phase is planned for March, with the finalized version being brought to the Arizona Board of Regents for adoption in April or May of 2022. This is also when NAU plans to begin taking action to “fully implement” the plan.

University president José Luis Cruz Rivera said objectives from previous drafts are not being completely discarded.

“Objectives that do not make it into subsequent drafts and the final strategic road map will be moved to a separate list of important objectives that could be included as part of other initiatives and/or planning efforts at the divisional, departmental or unit levels,” he wrote in an update Oct. 29.

NAU designated working groups in September to develop each of the primary goals in the road map, six at the time. Each has a lead facilitator, student, faculty and staff member as well as a subject matter expert. The leaders of each group presented their refined goals Tuesday in advance of another round of feedback sessions.

Each goal has an overall statement outlining what it is intended to cover, followed by a list of more specific objectives. In this draft, many groups divided their objectives into three or four broader categories.

Goal five, for example, covers both stewardship of place and community engagement. The objectives are grouped under the broader goals of community partnerships, promoting community service and serving Arizona. Objective 5-10, under serving Arizona, is for the university to “continue to advocate for increased broadband access to remote areas for the state."

A recording of Tuesday’s presentation and the full text of draft two can be found on the plan’s website.

NAU also added a seventh goal to the road map after its initial round of feedback raised concerns about not including a commitment to Native Americans in its goals. A previous plan, One NAU, had this commitment as the third of its five goals.

The road map’s seventh goal is currently the same as the One NAU strategic plan’s third and will be refined alongside the pre-existing goals. Ann Marie Chischilly, the interim vice president for Native American initiatives at NAU and the executive director of the Institute for Tribal Environmental Professionals (ITEP), is the leader of the working group for this goal.

Cruz Rivera noted that the changes and feedback mean that the strategic road map will have “significant overlap” with the One NAU strategic plan, which covers 2018 through 2025. The announcement of the road map’s second draft included clarifications on how the two plans will relate going forward.

“The strategic road map has been developed in parallel with the existing strategic plan and other plans,” Cruz Rivera said Tuesday, listing the diversity, enrollment management and sustainability plans among these. “However, as we have moved forward with this process, it has become evident that we need to have a single unified guiding strategic document that will propel us into the next few years.”

He said this transition would be “easy” as the strategic plan was already integrated into the road map and would sunset once the road map was complete. He called the road map a “focused refinement” of the existing plan, which “elevates action and accountability.”

NAU also added two guiding principles to the three outlined in draft one. These are both commitments, to Native American students and to advancing the university’s status as a Hispanic Serving Institution. The previous principles, which continue through draft two, are commitments to diversity, equity, inclusion and justice, distinctive excellence and collaborative work. Dickson said these are meant to "infuse all actions and all efforts" at NAU.

The strategic road map’s overall priority is still to provide equitable post-secondary education.

Cruz Rivera said NAU had received “more than 5,000 engagements,” using various methods, in the first round of feedback solicited in mid-October.

“I am thrilled with the level of engagement, the quality of the feedback and the genuine appreciation for the work that we have seen in response to draft one of our strategic road map,” he said. “I am hopeful we will sustain this level of engagement in response to draft two and beyond.”

NAU is seeking feedback on the draft, including a series of Zoom sessions scheduled from Nov. 16 through 19. Sign-ups for the sessions and other ways to give feedback can be found at


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