Instructional Leadership, emphasis: K-12 School Leadership (MEd)
A drone photo of N A U Flagstaff campus at dusk.

Announcing NAU’s next Provost

Dear Lumberjacks,

Several months ago, I informed you that Executive Vice President and Provost Karen Pugliesi would step down at the end of this academic year and that we’d launch a national search for her successor

Since then, the designated search advisory committee engaged in a rigorous, time-intensive, and deliberate search process that included vetting dozens of applicants, interviewing candidates on Zoom, and ultimately identifying four top candidates who were invited for campus visits. Once these visits were completed, I was privileged to review our community’s feedback on each of the finalists, as well as to reflect on confidential background and reference checks conducted by the co-chairs of the search advisory committee, our search consultants, and me personally. I also reached back out to some of the finalists for additional discussions after their visits.

As I reviewed the information available to me in light of the momentum underway, bold aspirations for the future at NAU, and the mission-driven team we have assembled to advance this work, I realized that the best option for us at this time was actually a fifth candidate—one who did not apply for the job and has been working hard for months to lay the groundwork for a successful transition to her successor: Dr. Karen Pugliesi.

To this end, I asked Karen (with some trepidation but a lot of hope) if she’d be willing to extend her tenure as Provost, and as importantly, as my thought-partner and co-strategist for charting the course for NAU’s future. In my conversations with her, she evaluated carefully the personal and professional context and the great body of work underway at NAU. I am thrilled to inform you that she said yes and will continue to be our Provost!

The path we have traveled reminds me that there is indeed much value in national searches, but that at certain points in an institution’s history, there is nothing like the type of homegrown talent who understands the local rhythms and ethos of a university, while embracing the need to adopt a global outlook in meeting the strategic context ahead. Karen epitomizes this talent like few others I have worked with in my nearly 30 years in higher ed. I feel most fortunate to have more time with her in our leadership team.

I extend heartfelt thanks to the search advisory committee, the co-chairs—Laurie Dickson and Kate Ellis—SP&A Executive Search, and all who contributed to the finalist visits, for their unwavering commitment to this search and to NAU. Your collective efforts have been instrumental in shaping the future of academic affairs at NAU.

As we look to the horizon, I am excited for what Dr. Pugliesi’s continued leadership will bring and the transformative work we have before us. Please join me in expressing our collective gratitude to Karen for her ongoing service to our community.

In partnership and with deepest appreciation,

José Luis Cruz Rivera