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Top 2 Northern Arizona University president candidates selected
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Top 2 Northern Arizona University president candidates selected

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The Arizona Board of Regents has announced the two candidates who have been invited to interview for the position of Northern Arizona University’s next president: José Luis Cruz, the current executive vice chancellor and university provost at The City University of New York, and Bret Danilowicz, the provost and vice president for academic affairs at Florida Atlantic University.

In a news release Tuesday morning, Regents Lyndel Manson and Fred DuVal, co-chairs of the NAU Search Advisory Committee, described the two candidates as talented leaders needed to bring NAU into the future, and thanked the search committee for the many hours put into the search.

Cruz has been in his position at The City University of New York since 2019. Previous roles include president of Herbert H. Lehman College of the City University of New York, provost of California State University, Fullerton, vice president of Higher Education Policy and Practice at the Education Trust in Washington, D.C. and vice president of Student Affairs for the University of Puerto Rico system. He earned his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez, and his doctorate from the Georgia Institute of Technology.

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"Northern Arizona University has a 120-year legacy of expanding opportunities, broadening knowledge and serving — in partnership with the region's Indigenous peoples and sovereign Native Nations — as a proud steward of a most majestic place,” said Cruz, who is considered one of the nation’s leading advocates for policies to expand opportunities and improve educational outcomes for all students, especially those who have historically been underserved. “Propelled by a commitment to educational equity and inclusive excellence, and commitment to underserved populations, I would be privileged to lead the great, indefatigable Lumberjack community into the bold and boundless future that lies ahead."

Danilowicz has been at Florida Atlantic University since 2018 and previously served as dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Oklahoma State University, dean of the College of Science and Technology at Georgia Southern University, and has also held administrative and faculty positions at University College Dublin in Ireland. While at OSU, Danilowicz conducted research to assess the educational needs of Native American Nations -- which led to the formation of the Center for Sovereign Nations to engage and support students of these underserved communities.

He earned his doctoral degree in zoology from Duke University; a master’s degree from Georgia Southern University; a master’s degree in education: leadership and management from The Open University in the United Kingdom; and a bachelor’s degree in biology from Utica College of Syracuse University.

“NAU is an outstanding university surrounded by the stunning beauty of northern Arizona within one of the highest-ranked college towns in the country,” Danilowicz said. “I would be honored to become part of the Lumberjack family, embrace the culture, diversity and opportunity in northern Arizona, and continue to build on NAU’s legacy of student success and commitment to equity and underserved populations.”

For more information on the candidates and the search process, visit


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