On January 10, the Board of Regents had its regularly scheduled January meeting. I write to update you on what took place.
In the morning, the Board heard four presentations.
Sue Hodges Moore, Senior Vice President of Administration and Finance, Lori Southwood, Chief Human Resources Officer, and Jennifer Sharp, Assistant Professor, Department of Counseling, Social Work and Leadership, joined by Carly Rospert and Jillian Darwish of the Mayerson Academy shared information about the NKU Strong initiative. This initiative is to develop a campus-wide strengths-based culture of wellbeing that helps staff, faculty, and students be their best selves and lead engaged and meaningful lives. By using the VIA survey and strengths-based tools along with culture shifting practices, NKU Strong is encouraging positive employee engagement across campus. Professor Jennifer Sharp shared her experiences incorporating character strengths in the classroom.
Diana McGill, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, spoke of the importance and impact of faculty student collaborative projects in the college. Joan Ferrante, Professor of Sociology, presented the results of her project entitled, “Mourning the Creation of Racial Categories.” Dr. Ferrante’s project challenges assumptions about who were are and seeks to contribute to the national conversation about race.
Sue Ott Rowlands, Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs, highlighted the Faculty Development Programs at NKU. Associate Professor of Chemistry Dr. Lili Ma delivered a report detailing the work completed during her sabbatical and project grant. As a result of Dr. Ma’s sabbatical and grant, she and undergraduate students at NKU were able to use new techniques to more efficiently measure the effectiveness of new potential cancer drugs on different kinds of cancer using NKU’s own facilities. As a result, NKU students now have the chance to be better prepared for jobs and advanced studies.
Dr. Dan Nadler, Vice President for Student Affairs, Tiffany Mayse, Director of Student Engagement, Alumna Brandi Mulligan, and students, Erica Bluford, Aaron Luken, and Keri Richardson presented on student engagement and co-curricular experiences at NKU. The presenters shared highlights, involvement statistics, and testimonials in four distinct areas within student engagement. These four areas include: Activities Programming Board, Norse Leadership Society, Student Government Association, and community engagement opportunities coordinated through the AmeriCorps VISTA program.
In the afternoon, the Board approved the presidential recommendations including the approval of faculty emeritus status for Andrea Cornuelle, Professor in the Department of Allied Health. Congratulations Andrea.
The Board also approved academic affairs personnel actions, non-academic personnel actions, major gifts acceptance, policy recommendations, and naming recommendations.
I have appended a copy of the comments that I shared with the Board.
The Board meets next on Wednesday, March 14.
I hope that your Spring semester is already off to a great start. Thank you for all that you do in support of our students and this university.
Board of Regents
Good afternoon and thank you for the opportunity to make a few remarks before we get to the direct business of the Board.
A few weeks ago, we celebrated our annual December commencement. I have to say what a special privilege it was for me to be on stage to congratulate each of our newest graduates. The look of sheer joy on their faces as they crossed the stage is a memory I will not soon forget.
In December, we conferred about 1200 degrees and certificates upon a talented, diverse, and dedicated group of men and women. The number of degrees conferred in December is on par with the record setting pace of the past few years. This success is due in large part to the dedication of our faculty and staff from all organizations within the university who together focus intently on ensuring that our students continue to be retained and graduated at record numbers.
Although we are not yet through the first week of the semester, I have some encouraging news to share about our enrollment numbers. Although official numbers are not obtained until later, as of the first day of class, our total headcount looks to be up very slightly – by 11 students, but up. If this trend holds, it will be the first increase in spring to spring enrollment since 2011.
The momentum from the fall appears to be carrying through to the spring. On top of the large number of December degrees awarded, we are adding more new students as well as continuing to improve our retention and persistence rates. I will provide final spring to spring enrollment results after the final census is taken in March.
Student-Athlete Academic Success
Speaking of records, our student-athletes continue to shatter them in the classroom. For the Fall 2017 semester, the student-athlete cumulative GPA was a 3.37; that’s over 0.1 higher than last year’s record and makes 13 consecutive semesters with a GPA over 3.0.
Congratulations to the entire Athletic Department, the student-athletes, their professors and advisors for this sustained commitment to academic excellence.
And, oh by the way, our recent men’s basketball victory over conference foe Oakland University was not only an exciting game, but it was televised on ESPN2 to a national audience in prime time. Great success on a national stage.
Sue Hodges Moore
Last month, Sue Hodges Moore, our Senior Vice President of Administration and Finance, announced that she is retiring from NKU at the end of February. Sue has dedicated over 40 years of her professional life to higher education in Kentucky through service to NKU, CPE, and the University of Louisville.
While her pending retirement from NKU is not news to anyone here, I wanted to take a moment in this setting to thank Sue during what is her final Board of Regents meeting at NKU. Sue, thank you for your many years of dedicated service to this university and to higher education in our Commonwealth. You have truly made an enormous positive difference in your university. You will be missed. We all wish you the best in your new endeavor as Chief Strategy Officer at Ball State University.
US 27 Development
One of the projects Sue and her team have worked on during her tenure is the US 27 development. A few weeks ago, I was joined by representatives from Highland Heights, St. Elizabeth Healthcare, and Fairmount Properties to announce the plan for a mixed-use, town center-style development along US 27 and Nunn Drive. The development will serve as an exciting gateway to our campus featuring restaurants, market-rate apartments, a hotel, retail space, and a large medical office building for St. Elizabeth and their partners at OrthoCincy. This currently vacant space will be transformed into a regional gathering place both for campus and the community.
The development agreement was signed between us and Fairmount Properties, the developer, prior to winter break. While there is still work to be done in finalizing other legal elements of the project, we expect construction to begin later this year. More to come as this exciting project takes shape.
50th Anniversary and Homecoming
Mark your calendars for Homecoming and the 50th Anniversary Kickoff. Homecoming begins on Sunday, February 4th and runs through Saturday, February 10th with the crowning of the King and Queen at the men’s basketball game. The 50th Anniversary will kick off with the Alumni Awards Celebration on Friday, February 9th. Stay tuned for more information about all these events and activities.
Finally, we can’t have presidential remarks without mention of budget.
First, we have been informed by our friends in Frankfort that our current fiscal year state appropriation will be cut by $516,000. I will provide greater details to the campus within the next several days by way of a campus wide message, so stay tuned.
Second, the Governor will present his budget for next fiscal year to the General Assembly next Tuesday, January 16th. We’ve been warned to expect further cuts, so as we manage the current year cut, we will do so with an eye on preparing ourselves for what is likely to follow.
At the same time, the Governor and General Assembly assert their continued intent to address pension reform to get our arms around a program whose cost is at the heart of the state’s financial challenges. We have been strong advocates for pension reform that transforms our current system into one that is sustainable and affordable for the state and for us as a public employer. So we look forward to working with our elected leaders over the next several weeks as they continue this pension reform effort.
Despite the challenges with the state budget, including the pension concern that has a substantial and direct adverse financial impact on us, we are not letting up efforts to obtain the remaining equity funding that the Governor and General Assembly addressed partially last biennium.
To that end, I am sending out a message today to the entire campus community and our friends urging your strong advocacy with the Governor and our legislators to address the remaining component of NKU’s funding disparity as the state addresses these other issues. Your strong efforts were responsible for our success last biennium in obtaining an additional $5.1M is state funding, and we are encouraged by numerous government officials that a strong advocacy effort this year can also be successful. So we need your advocacy - please read my message and follow up as requested to contact the Governor and our legislators – it will make a difference. Thank you in advance for your response to my request.
Mr. Boehne, this concludes my remarks.
Gerard A. St. Amand
Northern Kentucky University
800 Lucas Administrative Center
Highland Heights, KY 41099