Board of Regents - March Meeting

Dear Colleagues:

The Board of Regents met Wednesday as part of its regular meeting schedule. 

There were four presentations made at the morning session of the joint Policy and Finance Committee meeting. 

Sue Hodges Moore, Vice President for Planning, Policy, and Budget, and Senior Budget Director Ken Kline updated the Board on the state budget and its impact on NKU. At this point, I do not believe there will be any mid-year budget reductions from the state.  As you know, about 25 percent of our budget is from state funds while 60 percent comes from tuition revenue. Therefore, our enrollment and retention numbers are critical to our financial well-being.  If we are able to improve our retention and completion rates and continue to recruit a strong incoming class, it will allow for additional flexibility in our budget to address existing and new priorities and demands.  All of our faculty and staff play a significant and important role in student retention.  Please continue to do all that you can to engage our students and support their success.

For the second presentation, I provided a very brief update of our strategic planning efforts.  One of the clear messages from the 10 open sessions I hosted was a strong commitment to continuing our public engagement efforts.  Jan Hillard, Associate Provost for Research, Graduate Studies and Regional Stewardship, led a group of faculty, staff and students – Scott Fennell, Matt Kelley, Mark Neikirk, Julie Olberding, Steve Oldfield – who discussed some of the many projects in which our university is engaged.

Third, Dr. Cecile Marczinski, Assistant Professor in Psychological Sciences, shared her latest research findings related to drink mixers and alcohol intoxication.  Dr. Marczinski’s research has been featured prominently in research journals, as well as the popular press.  I intend to ask at least one faculty member to present his or her research at each board meeting. 

Finally, Provost Gail Wells and Ken Ramey, Vice President for Administration and Finance, briefed the Board on the progress of the Student Success Center.  The Board of Regents also had an opportunity to tour the plaza level and learn about the Compass Desk, Norse Advising, Career Services and the integrated IT operations in the new Center.  The Student Success Center is more than renovated space; it provides the opportunity to fully integrate our work and make the transition between offices seamless for our students.  All of this work is intended to contribute to a positive student experience and increased retention rates.  If you have not yet had an opportunity to see the renovated space, I encourage you to stop by.  There will be a “soft-opening” on Monday, April 22, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., and the official grand opening will be at 11:30 a.m. on Wednesday, September 11.

At the afternoon meeting, the Board took action on several items, including approving the Chase College of Law commencement speaker, an easement for Duke Energy, an updated list of appropriate terminal degrees for faculty, acceptance of major gifts, organizational chart updates and an amended policy pertaining to tuition for dually enrolled undergraduate and graduate students.

In addition to approving regular personnel actions, the Board also conferred Emeritus status to Tom Cate, Professor in the Department of Marketing, Economics, and Sports Business; Gina Foletta, Professor in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics; Mary Gers, Director of Simulation and Technology in the Department of Nursing; and Charles Hawkins, Professor in the Department of Physics and Geology.  Congratulations Tom, Gina, Mary, and Chuck for this well-deserved recognition.

The Board approved the naming of two new scholarships.  Endowed scholarships may be created and named once a fund has reached at least $10,000.  The Board approved the naming of the Nancy Helen Winstel Scholarship in support of undergraduate student athletes competing on the women’s intercollegiate basketball team and the Heather Bullen Memorial Scholarship in support of students who have attained sufficient credit hours to be of junior-level status and who are pursuing an undergraduate degree in a science, technology, engineering, and mathematics discipline.

The Board approved naming one of the six tennis courts the Carol Larkin Griffin Court.  This recognition is a result of a major gift to the GO GOLD campaign.

The Board approved faculty who were recommended for sabbatical leaves, summer fellowships, and project grants.  Congratulations to those who have received these awards.  I am looking forward to learning more about your research.

Two new academic programs were approved by the Board.  This Fall, we will begin a new Bachelor of Science in Data Science program, and in Fall 2014 we will begin a new Bachelor of Arts in Special Education program.

Finally, the Board approved a comprehensive list of fee and service charges for the 2013-14 academic year. 

As you know, at each Board meeting I provide a report.  The full text of my report is below.




Presidential Comments
Board of Regents
March 13, 2013
Strategic Planning

As you heard this morning, our strategic planning process is well underway.  Over the last several weeks, we have held 10 open forums with faculty, staff, and students to discuss strategic priorities.  The forums have been well attended, and we have received lots of good ideas.  We also had a joint meeting last week with the Alumni Association, Young Alumni Association, and past presidents of the Alumni Association.  We have meetings scheduled with the NKU Foundation and many other community groups and business and civic leaders in the weeks and months to come.

In addition to face-to-face forums, we have offered other ways for people to provide their input.  Our strategic planning website includes an online forum, and we have issued surveys to the campus community.  We received 985 faculty and staff responses and more than 1700 student responses to our Mission, Vision, and Values survey.     

We have organized seven work groups that are charged with looking at specific areas that will inform our plan.  Each work group also has an email address that is accessible from our strategic planning website for campus and community feedback.  The work groups are:

  • Competitive Forces
  • Demographic/Labor Market Forces
  • Fiscal/Economic/Political Environment
  • Institutional Trends & Vital Statistics
  • Mission, Vision, Values Review
  • Public Engagement Activities
  • Technology Trends

These work groups include more than 100 faculty, staff, and student participants.  They are presently working on reports that will help to inform the work of the strategic planning committee.

The work groups will also share their reports next week at a “stakeholder meeting.”  This meeting will bring together more than 100 members of the campus community to learn from our colleagues on the work groups.

In July, the committee will meet with the Board of Regents to discuss the strategic plan.

I am pleased to report that we are on schedule to present the proposed plan for your consideration at the November Board meeting.

Budget Development

On April 17, I will have a town hall meeting for the campus to share our progress on the 2013-2014 budget.  The good news is that the university continues to operate on a solid financial foundation as evidenced by, among other things, our strong Moody’s rating and favorable bond rates.  But the external economic climate causes us to continue to budget conservatively and to continue to look for efficiencies. 

These constraints will not prevent us from achieving our objectives, however.  In fact, earlier this month, we received bonding authority from the state to start the renovation and expansion of the Campus Recreation Center and authority to purchase and renovate a residence hall.  We intend to move forward with both projects.  In addition to benefiting our students, the projects will create more than 800 construction jobs and provide $90,000,000 in economic impact.

Executive Searches

We have concluded one executive search, we are in the process of finalizing two dean searches, and we will soon begin two more executive searches. 

  • As you know, we have hired Dr. Peter Gitau as our next Vice President for Student Affairs.  Dr. Gitau is here today and I’d like to take this opportunity to formally introduce him to the Board and our guests.  Dr. Gitau is coming to us from Southern Illinois University-Carbondale where he is the senior student affairs officer.  Dr. Gitau brings a wealth of experience and places high priority on partnerships with other areas of the campus, particularly with our faculty and the staff within Academic Affairs.  He will officially join our community on April 1.  Peter, thank you for being with us today. 
  • We are in the final stages of the searches for the Dean of the College of Law and the Dean of the College of Education and Human Services.  Three law dean finalists have visited campus.  The Provost and I met with the search committee on Friday, and we will make a decision very soon.  We have one more finalist for Dean of the College of Education and Human Services visiting campus next week. 
  • I have selected the members of the search committees for the Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost and the Vice President for University Advancement.  Once all members of each committee accept their appointment, I will announce the composition of the committees to the campus.

These searches are very important to our university..  I’d like to thank the committee chairs, committee members, and especially the campus community for the work you’ve done and the work yet to come. 

All of these efforts have been challenging and rewarding.  But I want to say just a few words about some of the most enjoyable activities since I became president: my contact with…Our Outstanding Students.

One of the things I have most enjoyed over the last several months is the opportunity to get to know our students better.  More than 100 students participated in open forums during the past month.  Their passion, dedication, and affection for NKU was evident. 

I have had an opportunity to meet many more students at our men’s and women’s basketball games – including our final home games of the season, which drew 6,700 fans.  I have had the pleasure of meeting with the women’s basketball team and having breakfast with the volleyball team.  By the way, the volleyball team had the highest GPA last semester – an impressive 3.64.

Two weeks ago, I had lunch with the casts and crew from Legally Blonde and Grease.  I hope you had an opportunity to see their productions.  They were fantastic.              

Last week I attended a concert that featured many of our students and a band named Harpeth Rising.  The music was phenomenal. 

I have also had the pleasure of attending several honor society induction ceremonies in the past two weeks.

And last week, I was a guest on Norse Code Radio, the student run campus radio station. 

These are just some of the experiences with students that I have had during the first weeks of this semester.  I continue to be impressed and inspired by our talented students and our dedicated faculty and staff.  I am honored to be your president.

Mr. Mann, that concludes my report.


Geoffrey S. Mearns
Northern Kentucky University
Nunn Drive
800 Lucas Administrative Center
Highland Heights, KY 41099
Phone: 859-572-5123
Fax: 859-572-6696