In a recent email, NAU President Rita Cheng announced to the NAU community that she would not be pursuing an extension of her current contract and would be moving away from her current role as president. Cheng’s contract expires in June 2021. She stated that she will be leaving the position completely at that point in time.

“Although a difficult decision, after 40 years in higher education, I have decided that it is time to step away from this role,” Cheng said.

Cheng stated that she has provided the Arizona Board of Regents (ABOR) with such early notice to ensure they are able to find a replacement for her by June 2021, when her contract ends. ABOR also confirmed Cheng’s announcement with a statement on their website and recognized her achievements during her time as NAU President.

“The board recognizes and appreciates the many accomplishments of President Cheng and supports this personal decision,” ABOR’s statement said. “Cheng’s legacy will include many student-focused successes and an expanded national reputation for NAU.”

Within her emailed statement, Cheng reflected on several NAU accomplishments over her years as president such as research funding, first-generation student aid, NAU’s international presence and financial sustainability.

Cheng also said she recognizes the current and upcoming challenges regarding COVID-19 and NAU’s present academic year. NAU’s leadership is dedicated to maintaining a safe and healthy learning environment for its campus community, Cheng said.

“Rest assured that I remain committed to our institution and to you—NAU's students, faculty, and staff,” Cheng said. “The year ahead will have its challenges, but I look forward to meeting them together with you and to advancing NAU's academic and student-centered mission.”

Just as Cheng has since her arrival at NAU in 2014, she said she will continue taking pride in all future NAU achievements and endeavors. ABOR’s official statement affirmed that the board will begin searching for an individual to fill Cheng’s position this fall.

“The board is expected to commence a comprehensive nation-wide search for President Cheng’s replacement this fall,” ABOR’s website stated. “President Cheng will continue to serve as president until her replacement is found.”