Donate, Don't Ditch at spring move out
Donate, Don't Ditch at spring move out
Vol. 17 Edition 15  |  April 27, 2021
An NAU student, dressed in professional attire, presents a project using a tablet.

President's Cheng celebrates the Class of 2021

Hello Parent,
As we approach the end of academic year and commencement, I feel enormous pride about the many accomplishments of our students and graduates, including their successful completion of the academic year and – for graduates – finishing their degrees in the midst of a global pandemic.
We recently honored 47 Gold Axe Winners and Distinguished Seniors and six President’s Prize winners, celebrating the achievements in academics, leadership, athletics, and community service of our Lumberjack seniors.
Six undergraduates have received Advancing Science in America (ARCS) awards and, in a record for NAU, six students were selected for National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program awards. The awards provide support for students’ graduate education, a nod to their potential and research achievements in STEM and STEM education.
In addition, two NAU students received Fulbright U.S. Student Program awards and three Flinn Scholars confirmed they will be attending NAU this fall—our largest number of Flinn scholars ever. The Flinn Scholarship is one of the nation's most prestigious merit-based scholarships.
I was excited to see that more than 700 NAU students recently showcased their creative discoveries and research in the sciences, humanities, engineering, business, education, and the arts at our 13th annual Undergraduate Symposium. Projects were shared in a virtual format to peers, professors, and the campus and Flagstaff communities. The event is a testament to NAU’s commitment to research and discovery.
I am proud of all our students. During the pandemic, Northern Arizona University has awarded degrees to 8,500 students and nearly 6,000 will graduate in a few days.
I feel honored to have led NAU over the last seven years. Your students have achieved greatly and forever changed the fabric of our university. It’s been a privilege to serve and watch them grow, learn, and achieve. I am grateful you trusted NAU with your students’ education and I wish you and your family much success and health.


Rita Hartung Cheng

NAU President
An NAU graduate student smiles big while wearing their NAU graduation cap, gown, and hood.

Celebrate graduation with the class of 2021

We welcome parents and family to join us in celebrating the virtual graduation ceremony! This ceremony, a recorded celebration of students’ accomplishments, will be presented on April 30, 2021, at 11:00 A.M. (MST), and can be found at The site will feature a main stage message and degree conferral from President Cheng with the provost and the dean of the Graduate College. Additionally, there will be congratulatory videos from the Arizona Board of Regents, student government representatives, and the Alumni Association available to view on the site.
At 11:00 A.M. (MST), on April 30, 2021, four ceremonies will launch simultaneously:
  1. Social and Behavioral Sciences with Engineering, Informatics, and Applied Sciences
  2. Health and Human Services with Arts and Letters
  3. The Environment, Forestry, and Natural Sciences with NAU Online, NAU Yavapai, NAU Yuma
  4. Education with The W. A. Franke College of Business
Parents, family, and community members can access the commencement site after April 30 through the winter semester.

Calling all Backpack readers: Send us your feedback

The Parent & Family Services team wants to hear more about your thoughts on The Backpack. Let us know by filling out our 1-minute survey. Whether you are a parent or faculty member, we want to hear from all our readers. If you would like to reach out directly, our team can be reached at
Backpack Survey
An NAU student dressed in NAU blue and gold holds up their hands in a heart shape.

$200,000 dollars distributed to students through the Lumberjack Emergency Assistance Fund

The Lumberjack Emergency Assistance Fund (LEAF) provided emergency grants of $500 per student throughout the last school year. By the end of spring 2021, LEAF has funded approximately 400 students with $500 grants used to meet their most urgent needs. With funding from the NAU Foundation and the Associated Students of Northern Arizona University (ASNAU), LEAF will distribute approximately $200,000 directly to students in the 2020-21 school year. Over 77% of the LEAF applicants listed COVID-19 related job loss as the basis for their application.
You can contribute to the LEAF by visiting and searching for the Lumberjack Emergency Assistance Fund (Fund Number: 4450). You can contact the foundation at or by calling 928-523-2012.
NAU move out produces the equivalent of 11 large T-Rex or 73 tons of landfill waste.

"Donate, Don’t Ditch" at spring move out

Does your student have too many items to take home? On-campus residents can participate in the “Donate, Don’t Ditch” donation program in their residential communities. During spring move out, bins are located near community front desks for the donation of gently used items.
Students who live off campus can donate on April 28 & May 5 from 9:00 AM to 12:00 PM. The donation drop-off will be located behind Cline Library in parking lot P13.
We are looking for gently used clothing, unused school supplies, books, small household appliances, and small reusable furniture. Check out University Housing’s website for on-campus students and Off-Campus Life’s website for off-campus students.
An NAU student admires a 3D printed object at Cline Library's Makerbot Innovation Center

Explore Flagstaff this summer

Is your Lumberjack joining us in Flagstaff this summer? Check out some of these creative ideas for engaging in our local community.
  • Go for a hike in Flagstaff or Sedona. Students can choose from multiple trails on Flagstaff’s San Francisco peaks or take a 40-minute drive for one of Sedona’s various trails throughout Oak Creek Canyon and the red-rock landscape.
  • Visit the Grand Canyon for sunrise or sunset. The painted skies of sunrise and sunset are unparalleled at the canyon. NAU students are only 83 miles from experiencing the Grand Canyon.
  • Check out the night sky at Lake Mary. Just a 20-minute drive from campus, students can enjoy the benefits of living in our dark sky city.
  • Shop with Northern Arizona small businesses. Students can choose to visit our downtown shopping district or look for curbside pickup opportunities.
  • Go camping. There are multiple campgrounds located around Northern Arizona. Students can take a socially distanced trip to get out in nature and unwind after a full year of online learning.
  • Visit the MakerLab in Cline Library. Students can explore the multidisciplinary collaborative workspace where they can learn, explore, discover, and create in ways that foster imagination, promote creativity, and solve real-world problems. The lab features 3D printers that students can use for a small cost. Learn more on the library’s website.
Forecast from Flagstaff up-to-date announcements for fall.

Forecast from Flagstaff

Tune in to Forecast from Flagstaff to stay up-to-date on announcements for the fall semester! In the most recent episode, you'll learn about vaccination availability on campus, get a preview of back-to-school activities, hear from campus experts on new health and safety measures, and receive updates on learning options for the fall semester!
NAU is committed to the health and safety of students, faculty, and staff and follows CDC’s recommended guidelines on COVID-19. Not every photo in this e-newsletter will precisely represent these guidelines, as we aim to accurately present the NAU experience for you and balance that need with imagery that reflects the COVID-19 policies we have in place. Visit for our current campus health safety guidelines.
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