Dr. José Luis Cruz Rivera
Northern Arizona University’s 17th president
José Luis Cruz Rivera began his tenure as the 17th President of Northern Arizona University (NAU) on June 14, 2021. Prior to joining NAU, Dr. Cruz Rivera served as President of Lehman College of The City University of New York and as Executive Vice Chancellor and University Provost of the 25-campus system. During his tenure at CUNY, Lehman enhanced its national reputation as an engine of social mobility and the Central Office of Academic Affairs registered important accomplishments on behalf of the University’s more than 20,000 faculty members, 26,000 professional staff and 500,000 students and learners.
A leading national advocate for policies to expand opportunities and improve educational outcomes for all students—especially those who have historically been underserved—Cruz Rivera is a frequent keynote speaker and writer on higher education issues. He has testified several times before the U.S. Congress, and his work has been covered by many media outlets, including The Chronicle of Higher Education, the New York Times, the Washington Post, and Univision.
Previously, Cruz Rivera served as provost of California State University, Fullerton. He is a former vice president of Higher Education Policy and Practice at The Education Trust in Washington, D.C. and a former Chief Student Affairs Officer for the University of Puerto Rico system. He began his career as a faculty member in engineering at the University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez, rising through the ranks and serving as chair of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department and dean of Academic Affairs.
Cruz Rivera chairs the board of directors of The Education Trust and serves on the board of the Data Quality Campaign. He is also a member of the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) advisory board, the Anchor Institutions Task Force, and the steering committee of the Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration. In the past, he has served on the board of directors of the New York Botanical Garden, the Institute for Higher Education Policy, the Regional Plan Association, and the Association of Chief Academic Officers. He has also served as a member of the Community Advisory Group of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, the advisory board of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities Committee on Academic Innovation and Transformation, and as a commissioner on the Postsecondary Value Commission.
Cruz Rivera is a Senior Member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, a patented inventor, and a National Science Foundation Career Award recipient. His work as a faculty member on optical interconnections for massively parallel processing systems was published in scientific journals and presented at international conferences. He earned his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering (magna cum laude) from the University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez and his master’s and doctorate degrees from the Georgia Institute of Technology. He is an alumnus of the Harvard Institute of Educational Management.