This morning the Arizona Board of Regents announced its pick for the next president of Northern Arizona University. The six-month search yielded finalist Rita Cheng, Ph.D., the current chancellor of Southern Illinois University. If approved by a final Regents’ vote, Cheng will succeed current NAU president John Haeger, whose contract expires in June 2015.
A 28-member search committee made up of ABOR members, NAU faculty and staff, as well as community, business and tribal and educational leaders contributed to the choice of Cheng.
Cheng’s previous posts include provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. During her time there she also served as the interim dean of the School of Continuing Education.
Cheng has served at Southern Illinois University since 2010. According to the Arizona Board of Regents, she has bolstered the institution’s distance-learning program and technology initiatives for the university’s incoming freshmen. She oversees the 18,000-student university’s operating budget of more than $750 million. ABOR also says Cheng stabilized the university’s financial condition during a time of declining public support and developed successful fundraising and alumni association programs. She was also instrumental in the strengthening of academic and research facilities.
Cheng received her Ph.D. in management from the Fox School of Business and Management at Temple University. She earned her MBA degree from the University of Rhode Island and a bachelor of business administration degree from Bishop’s University in Quebec.
Though Haeger’s contract expires next year, he has said he would step aside before that time if a successor candidate was found. Haeger plans to return to teaching after stepping down as president.
A Flagstaff and NAU community meeting is scheduled with Cheng for Thu, June 12 at 3:30 p.m. at Ashurst Auditorium on the NAU campus.