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NAU Presidents

Northern Arizona University's presidents have faced a variety of challenges since 1966, including student protests, job market instability, fast-changing technologies, and expanding global markets. They have dealt with the increased costs of running the university while at the same time dealing with regular state budget cuts. They have worked to increase diversity on campus, making NAU one of the strongest schools for Native Americans and Latino/as to attend. Each President confronted challenges in their respective tenures and faced them with an eye towards the future. Their leadership brought NAU to where it is today.


J. Lawrence Walkup, 11th President
December 21, 1957 to June 30, 1979

President Walkup focused on expansion of the university during his tenure. He added 49 buildings to the campus, increased program offerings and enrollment, and worked to be innovative in the changing face of education and student culture.




Eugene M. Hughes, 12th President
July 1, 1979 to June 30, 1993

President Hughes managed extreme state budget cuts throughout the 1980s and 1990s, but he worked diligently to turn the hospitality program into a nationally recognized school, expanded other academic programs, and increased student enrollment.




Clara M. Lovett, 13th President
February 28, 1994 to June 30, 2001

While serving as NAU's first woman president, Clara Lovett worked to strengthen NAU's state and national reputation. She developed partnerships between NAU and the city of Flagstaff and focused on Native American education and issues. President Lovett spearheaded an ambitious fundraising campaign to combat state budget cuts.




Owen F. Cargol, 14th President
August 7, 2001 to November 10, 2001

During his brief tenure, President Cargol strived to increase communication across campus. He created advisory groups to discuss campus issues, and addressed student fears after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. He was a visible and accessible president, who showed up to many campus events.

  • November 10, 2001 - Owen Cargol resigns as president.


    John D. Haeger, 15th President
    November 12, 2001 to August 14, 2014

    President Haeger faced the aftermath of September 11th and the Great Recession of 2007-2009. Despite these challenges, he was instrumental in working with the City of Flagstaff to build the High Country Conference Center, a premium event space.



    Rita Cheng, 16th President
    August 15, 2014 to Present

    President Cheng is committed to student success, nationally recognized research excellence, increase campus diversity, and providing additional educational opportunities for Native Americans. Enrollment has consistently increased during her tenure.