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Arizona Board of Regents announces José Luis Cruz as Northern Arizona University presidential finalist

The Arizona Board of Regents announced today that José Luis Cruz, Ph.D. is the finalist for the position of the 17th president of Northern Arizona University.

“Dr. Cruz has an extraordinary record of academic leadership, and I am confident he is the right leader to build on NAU’s success and ensure a bold and boundless future for this beloved and historic university,” said ABOR Chair Larry E. Penley. “He is a proven innovator in higher education who keenly understands the enormous opportunities that NAU offers as well as the challenges facing higher education. His unsurpassed commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion, coupled with a long track record as a leading national advocate to improve educational outcomes for all students — especially those who have historically been underserved — will serve Arizona and NAU well. I am personally honored that he has accepted the opportunity to be the next president of NAU and offer my sincere congratulations.”

Dr. Cruz is currently the executive vice chancellor and university provost at The City University of New York. Previously, Cruz 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. His full curriculum vitae is available here.

“I am honored that the Arizona Board of Regents has selected me as the finalist for the position of president of Northern Arizona University,” said Dr. Cruz. “Rima and I are very much looking forward to joining the proud Lumberjack family, serving the Flagstaff community, and the peoples of the great state of Arizona. We truly believe a bold and boundless future is within reach.”

Dr. Cruz will visit the NAU campus Friday, Feb. 19 and meet in virtual and limited in-person settings with students, faculty, staff and community leaders. He will share a community address at 4:45 p.m. via a virtual livestream.

The selection of Dr. Cruz as the finalist for NAU president comes after the board conducted an extensive nationwide search, appointed co-chairs and members of the ABOR NAU Presidential Search Advisory Committee and chose an executive search firm to assist with the search.

Throughout the search process, input from NAU stakeholders and members of the public was solicited to inform the search process. The board approved leadership characteristics necessary for the next president to lead NAU through the myriad of opportunities and challenges facing the university and the current higher education landscape as a visionary, dynamic, accountable and innovative president and chief executive for NAU. Search guidelines outlined search process criteria, including collecting input from numerous stakeholders, establishing an advisory committee and identifying prospects for the position.

The board will take action to approve contract terms and appoint Dr. Cruz as the new NAU president at a subsequent meeting.


Sarah Harper, 602-229-2542, 602-402-1341 |