The Lumberjack’s best news stories of 2020

Illustration by Aleah Green

Election for mayor to be held in November | Scout Ehrler

As 2020 began, so did the 2020 election cycle for mayor of Flagstaff. Three challengers sought to fill the vacant seat of former Mayor Coral Evans as she launched an unsuccessful campaign for one of two seats in Legislative District Six. 


With coronavirus in Arizona, NAU is prepared and attentive| Trevor Skeen 

By the end of January 2020, COVID-19 was already making an appearance within Arizona, and NAU stated its preparedness to handle the virus if need be. At this point in time, it was believed that Arizona residents were not necessarily at risk of infection unless they had recently traveled to Wuhan, China.


Cheng: "I'm not resigning"| Brady Wheeler

In the wake of the student-led #RitaResign coalition, NAU President Rita Cheng addressed a bipartisan letter calling for her to step down. The coalition was formed at the beginning of the spring 2020 semester and began a campaign calling for Cheng’s resignation. This campaign was created following an audit that revealed $40,000 of improperly documented travel expenses on Cheng’s behalf.


Steven Jones sentenced to six years | Scout Ehrler, Brady Wheeler 

Last year was also the year that marked the sentencing of former NAU student Steven Jones, nearly five years after he fatally shot 20-year-old Colin Brough and injured three others. Jones was sentenced to six years in prison for the deadly campus shooting.


ABOR meeting: Students and alumni demand Cheng's resignation | Trevor Skeen 

During an Arizona Board of Regents (ABOR) meeting, President Cheng faced controversy stemming from her past decisions as president of NAU, particularly surrounding the university’s recent expansion.


COVID-19 spreads around the world | Trevor Skeen 

As the first COVID-19 death of a United States citizen was reported in Washington state, the U.S. and the world continued to monitor the disease’s transmission. At the time, the U.S. only faced roughly 16 presumptive positive cases. 


Coconino County faces $745,000 budget deficit| Mark Fabery 

After the Museum Fire scorched the landscape outside of Flagstaff, Coconino County was forced to manage a $745,000 budget deficit for post-Museum Fire mitigation efforts. The Flood Mitigation District came up with an array of safety measures to combat the 2020 monsoon season after the Museum Fire swept through  northern Arizona.


Flagstaff issues emergency and Arizona closes schools | Trevor Skeen 

As COVID-19 generated influence and uncertainty around the world, local structures were also adapting. More specifically, as the city of Flagstaff and local schools began preparations to address the ongoing situation through continued collaboration and closures.


Students and residents lose jobs as virus continues| Tess Spinker 

As the COVID-19 pandemic continued to grow within Flagstaff’s borders, April 2020 saw a spike in unemployment within the city. Many Flagstaff residents lost their jobs as all nonessential businesses were ordered to close due to coronavirus concerns.


NAU announces virtual commencement | Ray Anne Galzote 

For all spring 2020 graduates, NAU offered an alternative to an in-person commencement in the form of a virtual ceremony. Graduates were allowed to create a personalized message with photos to celebrate their accomplishments.


A new decade, a new climate action plan| Collin Vanderwerf 

The 2010 Climate Action Plan sought to attain carbon neutrality for NAU by 2020. In light of its failure, the university released a new 2020 Climate Action Plan to combat climate change and again meet their goal of carbon neutrality across campus.


Flagstaff City Council considers rent abatement for airlines | Scout Ehrler

The lockdowns that the world experienced throughout spring 2020 led to airlines seeking financial assistance from the federal and local governments to keep the airline industry afloat. 


The Black Lives Matter movement makes its voice heard in Flagstaff | Scout Ehrler 

Protesters in support of Black Lives Matter lined the sidewalk outside Flagstaff City Hall in late May 2020 to demand justice for George Floyd and speak out against systemic racism.Flagstaff residents followed the lead of countless other cities across the country that gathered to peacefully protest Floyd’s death.


Faculty share concerns as in-person instruction nears|Scout Ehrler, Brady Wheeler and Trevor Skeen

At the time, NAU planned to return to face-to-face instruction on Aug. 31, 2020. With the NAUFlex model in place, students were offered the option of whether or not to return, a choice many faculty members were not granted.


The Lumberjack shifts focus to digital format | Brady Wheeler 

As the fall 2020 semester began, The Lumberjack was forced to make a difficult decision, which resulted in the end of a print publication for the foreseeable future due to budget cuts.


NAU President Rita Cheng won't pursue contract extension | Camille Sipple 

Cheng stated in the beginning of September 2020 that she will not pursue a contract extension after it expires in June. ABOR immediately announced its intention to form a search committee.


ABOR appoints NAU Presidential Advisory Search Committee members | Mark Fabery 

After Cheng announced that she would not pursue a contract extension, ABOR swiftly appointed a presidential advisory search committee to find the appropriate replacement to be the next president of NAU.


Students required to move for more quarantine space | Alliya Dulaney 

As midterms approached, some students were required to move out of their current living spaces after a coronavirus surge plagued the NAU Flagstaff Mountain campus.


The question of presidential succession | Camille Sipple 

Leading up to the November 2020 elections and President Trump’s COVID-19 diagnosis, questions began to arise regarding presidential succession. Some of NAU’s political science professors discussed the potential for a presidential succession. 


Paul Deasy wins the Flagstaff mayoral race| Camille Sipple 

At 8:16 p.m. on election night, mayoral candidate Charlie Odegaard publicly conceded to candidate Paul Deasy via Twitter. Paul Deasy was later officially announced as the newly-elected mayor of Flagstaff.