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Dear Colleagues:

This week marks 100 days since I became NKU’s sixth president.  During this time, I promised to listen and learn, explore everything that’s possible and share ideas to take advantage of the opportunities of tomorrow.

Over the past few months, I have had the privilege of:

  • Learning about how our talented faculty and staff impact our students’ lives;
  • Touring our beautiful campus and our buildings;
  • Watching our campus come to life as our students returned for the fall semester, excited to share their adventures from the summer;
  • Getting to know our wonderful students;
  • Meeting our alumni who proudly carry the Norse Spirit throughout the region and the country;
  • Connecting with community leaders, business partners and K-12 educators to understand the university’s role in serving Greater Cincinnati and northern Kentucky;
  • Attending the New Executives to Kentucky program to learn more about the Commonwealth and advocating in Frankfort by sharing our mission with government officials and lawmakers;
  • Sponsoring HSN’s American Dreams Academy and being interviewed by MSNBC’s JJ Ramberg;
  • Advocating for TRiO funding during discussions with Sen. Mitch McConnell;
  • Welcoming the St. Elizabeth Board to the newly opened Health Innovation Center;
  • Accepting the Unity Award from the Northern Kentucky Chamber on behalf of NKU, St. Elizabeth Healthcare and the UK College of Medicine for our Health Innovation Collaboration;
  • Throwing out the first pitch at a Reds game; and
  • Tweeting to connect and engage with our students, the campus and community about NKU and the region. (Follow me @PrezVaidya.)

And that’s just scratching the surface!  Please take a look at this short video for a glimpse of a few highlights from the past 100 days.

This is a moment to reflect on what I have learned and anticipate all that lies ahead as we take the next step in our journey. We have just launched our Strategic Framework process and are gathering your input, which is essential to building the university’s strategy for the next three years and beyond. Here is where we are with the process:

  • At fall convocation in August, we said this would be a six-month process around the theme of advancing student success aligned with regional needs. In particular, we will focus on enhancing access, completion, and career and community engagement.
  • On September 14, we held a retreat that brought together the President’s Cabinet, deans, chairs, staff and leaders from Faculty Senate, Staff Congress and Student Government, along with the Strategic Framework Core Team, to begin discussing the framework and its themes. We heard from two panels—members of the community and our own students—about their perceptions, hopes and aspirations for NKU.   
  • And beginning October 1, we initiated Talk Shops using design thinking tools, where we have begun to better understand our students and their needs, the challenges they face and possible ideas for helping them succeed.

With each conversation, I continue to be impressed with how deeply everyone cares about helping our students fulfill their dreams. We have tremendous opportunities to serve current and future NKU students by “managing the present,” “selectively forgetting the past” and “creating the future.” Learn more about Vijay Govindarajan’s 3 Box Solution, which is being used in building our framework.

Through the summer and the start of the fall semester, we witnessed an unanticipated decline in enrollment, largely due to a smaller-entering first-year class and a drop in retention of continuing students. This challenge needs immediate attention and action. After consulting with various campus constituents, I have authorized a one-time investment of $1.2 million for marketing, retention and recruitment efforts that will impact both current and new students enrolling in fall 2019. I have asked Vice Presidents Eric Gentry and Kim Scranage to take the lead in our marketing efforts; Provost Sue Ott Rowlands and Vice President Dan Nadler to co-lead the retention efforts; and Vice President Scranage and Assistant Vice President Leah Stewart to augment our recruitment efforts. They are soliciting and engaging faculty, chairs, deans, staff and students in this collaborative work to deliver results. Thank you in advance for all that you are doing to maintain our focus on stabilizing and growing our enrollment.

There is a lot of work to do over the coming months as we develop and implement the three-year strategic framework for NKU. As I mentioned in an earlier communication, it will not always be easy, but it will be rewarding.  Thank you for your commitment to our university.  I am deeply appreciative of your talents and am confident that together, we will build a stronger NKU.

Sincerely yours,

Ashish K. Vaidya, Ph.D.
Northern Kentucky University
Nunn Drive
800 Lucas Administrative Center
Highland Heights, KY 41099
Phone: 859-572-5123
Fax: 859-572-6696