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NAU President Rita Cheng won't seek contract extension
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NAU President Rita Cheng won't seek contract extension

Presidential Address

Northern Arizona University’s President Rita Cheng begins the 2019 commencement ceremony by addressing the crowd Friday morning in the J. Walkup Skydome.

After six years as the president of Northern Arizona University, Rita Cheng will not be seeking an extension of her contract.

“The diverse students of NAU have driven me to continue to serve as president of this tremendous institution which has demonstrated great success. Although a difficult decision, after 40 years in higher education, I have decided that it is time to step away from this role,” Cheng said in an Arizona Board of Regents press release Tuesday afternoon.

Cheng also announced her intention to not seek an extension of her contract in a letter to the community.

“I believe that now is the right moment to provide this notice in order to allow the Board sufficient time for a national search for NAU's next president. I look forward to continuing to serve NAU through this transition,” Cheng said in the letter.

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The letter outlined accomplishments made by the university in the areas such as enrollment, graduation, research and finances during Cheng’s time as president, but did not explain why she has chosen not to continue in the university’s leading role.

“Rest assured that I remain committed to our institution and to you — NAU's students, faculty and staff. The year ahead will have its challenges, but I look forward to meeting them together with you and to advancing NAU's academic and student-centered mission,” Cheng said.

Larry Penley, ABOR chair, recognized Cheng for her contributions to NAU’s honors, allied health and music education programs.

“I want to thank President Cheng along with NAU faculty, staff and students for working with President Cheng during this pandemic,” Penley said in the press release Tuesday.

The board plans to begin a nationwide search for Cheng’s replacement this fall. Cheng will continue to serve as president until her replacement is found.

For more, see Wednesday's Arizona Daily Sun.

Kaitlin Olson can be reached at the office at or by phone at (928) 556-2253.


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