Dear Colleagues:

The Board of Regents met Wednesday as part of its regular meeting schedule.  As is now my practice, I write to share an update of the Board’s actions.

The Board heard three presentations in the morning Joint Policy and Finance Committee meeting.  Previously, the Board requested a presentation on campus safety.  Jason Willis, Police Chief; Jeffrey Waple, Dean of Students; Jeff Baker, Environmental Safety and Compliance Coordinator; and Barbara Sween, Director of Health, Counseling & Prevention Services, provided a broad overview of the many health and safety initiatives on our campus.

Sue Hodges Moore, Vice President for Planning, Policy, and Budget; Ken Kline, Senior Director of the Budget Office; and I updated the Board on our budget and tuition and fee recommendations.  As I shared at the Spring Budget Address, we remain in a solid financial position because of prudent budgeting and sound financial management.   

Finally, the Board heard three presentations from students who shared their research as part of the Celebration of Student Research and Creativity.  The following students presented:

  • Alexandra Ivers (Faculty Mentors: Judy Voelker; Sociology, Anthropology & Philosophy; Grant Edwards, Chemistry):  Prehistoric Production of Copper in Central Thailand: Slag as an Indicator for Differences in Metallurgical Practices and Health Concerns.
  • Shane Winslow and Andrew Boehringer (Faculty Mentor: Jonathan Reynolds, History & Geography): The Process of the Ascent: A Cultural History of Stairways in Cincinnati
  • Taryn Fledderman, Lori Mangan, Debby Fuller, and Stephanie Theobald (Faculty Mentors: Adele Dean, Nursing; Karen Tapp, Social Work; and Francois LeRoy, Study Abroad):  300 Hours in India

I’d like to extend my deepest appreciation to all of the faculty mentors who participated in the Celebration of Student Research and Creativity and to all of the students who worked so hard on their posters, presentations, and artistic presentations.  Our students’ work is remarkable, and we have much to be proud of.

The Board enjoyed lunch with our University-Wide Student Award winners.  Each student demonstrated exceptional leadership and academic achievement.  Award recipients are:

  • Shane Winslow, Excelsior Award
  • Adam Gottula, NKU Foundation Student Leadership Award
  • Mary Osbourne, Paul J. Sipes Award
  • Janol Vinson, President’s Award
  • Amy Clippinger, Regents Award
  • Kayla Justice, University Service Award

At the afternoon meeting, the Board took action on several items, including approving an honorary degree for Dr. Freeman Hrabowski, fee and service charges for 2013-2014, the six-year capital plan, SGA constitution revisions, a new master of science in health science program, tuition and mandatory fee rates for 2013-2014, fees for the American English Language Program, tax exempt financing for two projects, the 2013-2014 operating budget, and acceptance of major gifts.

The Board also named Dr. Michael Carrell, Professor of Management, as a Regents Professor.  I’d like to congratulate Dr. Carrell on this significant honor. 

Dr. Peter Schiff, Professor of English, was awarded Emeritus status.  Congratulations, Dr. Schiff.

The Board approved the naming of four new scholarship funds.  The funds include:

  • Wm. T. (Tay) Robinson IV Tennis Endowed Scholarship, in support of undergraduate student-athletes competing on the intercollegiate tennis team
  • Richard L. Murgatroyd Endowed Scholarship, in support of undergraduate students who have demonstrated academic achievement
  • Keith G. Stewart Endowed Scholarship, in support of non-traditional or transfer students who have demonstrated academic achievement
  • Tony Mazzaro Endowed Scholarship, in support of undergraduate or graduate students pursuing a degree in Social Work

In addition, the Board approved updates to the University’s Administrative Regulations.  These updates delineated university policies versus administrative regulations and created a University Policy Review Committee and a Creation, Approval, and Maintenance of Administrative Policies policy. 

As our academic semester comes to an end, I’d like to thank each of you for your dedication to helping our students realize their goals.  On Saturday, we will recognize 1600 students who have earned their degrees.  Commencement is a wonderful tradition, and I look forward to seeing many of you there.

Sincerely,

Geoff

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Presidential Comments
Board of Regents
May 8, 2013

Leadership Transitions/Searches

As we approach the end of an excellent academic year, we must prepare for some transitions.  In that regard, I express my appreciation to Gerry St. Amand.  Today is Gerry’s last official Board of Regents meeting in his capacity as Vice President for University Advancement.  Gerry’s transition to the law school faculty will take place later this summer.  As you know very well, Gerry has been an outstanding addition to the University’s leadership team.  He is a person of integrity, and he has always been willing to assist in whatever way possible – as demonstrated by his willingness to chair two search committees this year and to serve briefly as the acting athletic director.   Gerry is the personification of a servant leader.

I am going to miss Gerry’s wisdom and his sound advice.  Gerry, thank you for your commitment to our University.  And thank you for your assistance to me.

As we prepare for commencement, we simultaneously welcome new members of the NKU community.

I am pleased to welcome Dr. Peter Gitau, our new Vice President for Student Affairs, to his first official Board meeting.  Peter joined us at our March meeting, but he didn’t officially start until April 1.  Peter, welcome. 

I am also pleased to welcome and introduce Dr. Michael Cusack, our new interim Director of Athletics.  Mike has been busy meeting with coaches, staff, faculty and our student-athletes.  We are fortunate that he is willing to assist us during this time of transition.  Mike, welcome.  And thank you.

As you know, we recently completed our search for the new Dean of the Chase College of Law.  I have appointed Jeffrey Standen as the new Dean, and he will start on July 1.  I look forward to introducing him to you at the September meeting.

I have also appointed three search committees to assist us in identifying outstanding candidates for Vice President for University Advancement, for Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, and for Athletics Director.  All three committees are meeting regularly.

My goals are to announce the appointment of the new AD on or before July 1, to announce the appointment of the new VP for Advancement on or before September 1, and to announce the appointment of the new Provost on or before November 1.

These timelines are aggressive, and these are important positions.  But I am confident that we will continue to attract outstanding men and women to serve our University.

Budget

As you heard this morning, our budget for the next academic year will be balanced and stable.   We continue to budget our resources prudently.  In order to achieve our institutional objectives, though, we need more state support.  We may also need to consider reallocating some existing resources to align more fully with these objectives.  This possibility is especially important as we contemplate the completion of our strategic plan and begin to implement that plan.

At the Spring Budget Address, I announced that we are able to invest in a modest 1.5% salary increase for our faculty and staff.  This increase is well deserved, because we have often asked our employees to do more with fewer financial resources.  I remain committed to investing in our greatest asset – our people.

Enrollment

While we have built our budget on the assumption that overall enrollment will be the same as last year, there is some reason to be cautiously optimistic that we may have some modest growth. The principal reason for this optimism is that our incoming freshman class is looking very strong.

Let me give you some statistics.  Compared to last year, applications for Fall 2013 increased by more than 30%.  As of May 1, the number of prospective freshmen who have made a financial deposit to confirm their acceptance increased 18% compared to last year.  And this incoming class, as measured by median ACT score, is very likely to be the most academically prepared in our university’s history.

Strategic Planning Update

Speaking of the future, let me give you a brief update on our ongoing strategic planning process.  Last week, nearly 100 members of our campus community came together for a half-day meeting to discuss the progress on our strategic plan and to participate in a visioning exercise. 

In this exercise, we asked participants to envision NKU five years from now - after the university has successfully implemented our new strategic plan.  I told them to assume that the university is going to be featured on the front page of a newspaper.  I asked each of the nine groups to outline the article that they would write about our university’s achievements.  The nine stories are displayed on the boards in this room.  The responses were creative, and at times humorous.  But most importantly, they reflect the collective optimism in our future.

After holding ten open forums on campus, I have begun to meet with many external groups including the NKU Alumni Association, the NKU Foundation, the Covington Business Council, CEOs of large and mid-size companies, Northern Kentucky business leaders, state and local elected officials, and many more.  These meetings will continue throughout the Summer.

Since we began this process in January, we have made great progress.   I look forward to providing you with a more complete report at the retreat in July.  At that time, we will also receive your input and direction on a preliminary outline of the strategic plan.

Plaza Renovation

As part of the budget presentation, you heard a brief description of our plan to renovate the north half of the main University Plaza.  I am pleased that we will be able to complete this important project in time to welcome our students back in the Fall.  In addition to providing more green space and landscaping, the project will remove the concrete that is deteriorating there.  Many faculty, staff, and students have told me that this project is important and beneficial.  It will be a tangible investment in our increasingly beautiful campus.

Celebration of Student Research and Creativity

This morning, you also heard three engaging presentations from some of our undergraduate and graduate students.  Their work is inspiring.  Each of these students, and 593 others, participated in the University’s Celebration of Student Research and Creativity.  This celebration was the largest in the event’s history – and virtually every discipline on campus participated.  I’d like to congratulate the students for their outstanding work, and I am very grateful to the many faculty who served as mentors.  I was proud to see this level of research and creativity on our campus.  I’d also like to thank the co-chairs who made this effort possible – Dr. Judy Voelker and Dr. Steve Walker – and their committee for their many hours of hard work. 

Faculty Recognition

As you know, we have a very talented faculty.  I’d like to recognize three faculty members today for outstanding accomplishments.

In just a few minutes, I will ask you to approve naming Dr. Michael Carrell as a Regents Professor.  Dr. Carrell is a Professor of Management, the former Dean of our Haile/US Bank College of Business, and the Founding Director of the Alternative Dispute Resolution Center.  He is a nationally known expert in alternative dispute resolution.  I’d like to congratulate Dr. Carrell on this well-deserved honor.

The Cincinnati Enquirer recently recognized Cindy Foster, Associate Professor in the Department of Advanced Nursing Studies and Director of the Nurse Advocacy Center for the Underserved, as one of the Women of the Year.  Professor Foster was recognized for her efforts related to providing healthcare to underserved people in our community, including many veterans.  Professor Foster is also an Air Force veteran.  This recognition is a testament to Professor Foster’s important work in our community on behalf of the University.  Congratulations. 

And of particular personal interest, I’d like to recognize Dr. P.J. Ball.  Dr. Ball was in the newspaper this weekend for an outstanding achievement.  In addition to teaching chemistry at NKU, she is also an avid runner.  Dr. Ball placed 3rd in the women’s division at the Flying Pig Marathon on Sunday with a time of 3:00:34.   

Student Success Center

At the March meeting, we had an opportunity to visit the newly renovated Student Success Center.  In April, we celebrated the soft opening of the facility.  By all accounts, the Center is a vibrant addition to our campus and a place where students can go to get virtually any question answered.  It is a substantial investment in student success.

On September 11, we will have an official grand opening.  At that time, the transformation of the bottom level of the University Center will also be complete.

Athletics

Last week, we announced some of our Fall and Winter sports schedules.  Our men’s basketball team will play at Purdue University, at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and last, but not least, at the University of Kentucky.  In addition, we will have a number of home non-conference games this year.  We will host the University of San Diego, Hampton University, Navy, and Morehead State University.  The strength of this schedule is external validation of the quality and character of our entire intercollegiate athletics program.

Commencement

On Saturday, we will celebrate commencement during three ceremonies. More than 1,600 men and women will cross the stage and realize their goal of graduating.  I look forward to shaking each graduate’s hand and congratulating them on their achievement.   I hope that a large number of our faculty join us on this special day.

At the morning ceremony, our speaker and honorary degree recipient is Dr. Freeman Hrabowski III.  Dr. Hrabowski has served as president of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County since 1992.  He was recently named by President Obama to chair the newly created President’s Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for African Americans. 

The speaker for the afternoon ceremony is Ms. Mary Zalla, Chief Executive Officer of Landor Associates, a branding and market positioning strategy consulting firm. She is a 1987 NKU alumna.

The Chase speaker and honorary degree recipient is Mr. W. Bruce Lunsford.  Mr. Lunsford is the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Lunsford Capital, LLC, a private investment company headquartered in Louisville, Kentucky.  He is a 1974 graduate of Salmon P. Chase College of Law.

Board Leadership Change

Finally, I would like to express my appreciation to two special people.   At the beginning of this meeting, I expressed my appreciation to Regent Marty Butler for 11 years of service on our Board of Regents.  Today is Mr. Butler’s last board meeting.  Mr. Butler, thank you for your years of dedicated service to the University and your many contributions to the Board.  Our University is a stronger institution because of your leadership and commitment.  On a personal note, Marty, I want to thank you for the critical role you played in providing me with the opportunity to join this university.  Thank you.

And, today marks the last on-campus opportunity to recognize Regent Mann’s service as our Board Chair.  Mr. Mann, thank you for your leadership over the past two years during what has been a very important time for the university.  Thank you for your steady leadership and your willingness to serve so ably.   And thank you, Terry, for giving me the opportunity to serve.

Mr. Mann, that concludes my report.

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