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Dear Colleagues:

Below is the summary of the presentations and activity that took place at the regularly scheduled Board of Regents meeting on May 8, 2019.

The Board heard three presentations in the morning as a part of its joint policy and finance committee meeting.

  1. Director of Athletics Ken Bothof provided a report on the Department of Athletics’ organizational structure, along with the department’s mission and core values. He also discussed the importance of Athletics Development being closely aligned with University Advancement during the newly launched capital campaign. Senior Associate Athletic Director Dan McIver gave a report on increased revenue within multiple areas of the department due to the recent success of specific sport programs, gave an overview of the department’s 2017-18 final budget, and provided comparative budget information for Horizon League member institutions. Associate Athletic Director for Compliance and Student Services/Senior Woman Administrator Debbie Kirch discussed the importance of compliance with NCAA bylaws, highlighted an increase in academic success, and two new requirements coming from the NCAA related to sexual assault prevention on campus and student-athlete mental health support. Finally, BriAuna Keys, a track and field athlete representing the Student-Athletic Advisory Committee, presented on the role of student-athletes on campus and how her experience helped shape her view of campus life.

  2. Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs Sue Ott Rowlands joined St. Elizabeth Healthcare Executive Director for the Institute for Health Innovation and Vice President for Innovation Valerie Hardcastle, along with Interim Dean of the College of Business, Johnna Reeder Kleymeyer, and Vice Provost for Graduate Education, Research and Outreach, Samantha Langley-Turnbaugh, to describe entrepreneurship and innovation efforts at NKU. Innovation has been an integral part of NKU’s value proposition, and our reputation for entrepreneurship is growing in the region. Planning our next steps will be important as we consider how to move forward in our entrepreneurship and innovation efforts.

  3. Finally, Professors Tamara O’Callaghan and Zachary Hart spoke about another successful Celebration of Student Research and Creativity, which featured 422 student presenters and 129 faculty mentors in April. Student Jackson Coates presented his findings on common core state standards and their acceptance by local teachers. He was followed by students Annie Boytim and Ryan Chitwood, who shared the experience of their collaboration with the Cincinnati Museum Center and the Radiologic Science faculty as they performed X-ray and CT scans on Umi the mummy. The results of the study are now displayed at the Museum Center.

In the afternoon, the Board approved all of the recommended items including Academic Affairs and non-academic personnel actions, major gifts acceptance, the 2020-2026 capital plan 2020-2026 and the reorganization of the College of Education and Human Services and College of Health Professions.



Presidential Comments
Board of Regents
May 8, 2019

Thank you, Chair Scheben and members of the Board.

Inauguration Week

I’d like to once again extend my sincere thanks to all who helped make Inauguration Week in March such a special time. It was truly gratifying to see so many who attended the inspiring events celebrating our university. Each day we acknowledged all those constituents that make our university great. We celebrated our community, our current and future students, and our devoted faculty and staff.


This weekend, we will celebrate our annual May Commencements where we will confer more than 1,700 degrees to our talented graduates. We are up about 50 graduates over this time last year.

On Friday evening, we will celebrate our Chase College of Law Commencement. On Saturday morning, we will celebrate commencement for the College of Health Professions, the Haile/U.S. Bank College of Business and the College of Informatics. And Saturday afternoon will be the commencement celebration for the College of Education and Human Services and the College of Arts and Sciences.

I look forward to these days each semester. As a president, it’s always a very special moment to be able to shake the hands of each of our graduates and to see the hope and excitement on their faces.

Spring Forum

In mid-April, we celebrated all we’ve accomplished throughout this academic year and looked ahead to the future during the President's Spring Forum. Several topics were discussed, including highlights from around campus, the Board’s approval of our Success by Design strategic framework, and the FY2020 budget.

Further Faster: The Campaign for NKU

On May 2, we publicly launched an exciting new chapter for this university: Further, Faster: The Campaign for NKU.

This launch came in the way of an energized, zig-zag journey across NKU’s campus and into several of our buildings, including SOTA and the Health Innovation Center. I’d like to express my sincere thanks and appreciation for all those who made the event a success.

Through this campaign, which is aligned with our pillars of access, completion and career and community engagement, we are asking our alumni, friends in our region, and our campus community to invest in the life-changing power of public higher education.

Regent Boehne is chairing the campaign and is supported by an outstanding group of alumni and community leaders who are invested in NKU, our students, and our region. Thank you, Rich, for your leadership.

Over the next several months, you will hear more about this campaign from Vice President Eric Gentry and the Advancement team as we embark to move further, faster together.


The SACSCOC on-site committee conducted its review April 9-11, 2019.

The committee was very impressed with the QEP and could see its impact already. They saw a strong and collaborative culture and great work on assessment that has happened in the last couple of years.

The committee mentioned the great work done by our library staff in helping evolve library services, despite dealing with a challenging budgetary situation.

They also mentioned a sense of family here, great momentum and plenty of faculty goodwill to support the QEP.

Next steps include a written report about the visit for which we will have five months to respond. The final decision about reaffirmation will be announced in December 2019 by the SACSCOC Board of Trustees.

Pension Update

Governor Bevin has asked for a special session of the Kentucky General Assembly to address pension reform for impacted universities and quasi-governmental agencies.

Last month, the governor vetoed House Bill 358, a bill that reflected many of the priorities NKU and other institutions suggested through a consensus recommendation. This special session would be called to adopt the governor’s proposal, which has many elements of HB358. Those elements include a one year rate freeze on pension contributions to avoid the drastic increase we would face in July and options for us to review over the next year.

These options include:

  • Staying in the system and being subjected to future contribution rate increases.
  • Exiting the system by paying off our unfunded liability by lump sum payment.
  • Exiting the system and paying off our liability through installment payments.

The most significant change in the governor’s bill from HB358 is the elimination of the Tier 1 and 2 employee option to either stay in KERS or move to NKU’s defined contribution plan (TIAA) due to federal compliance and legal concerns. Instead, this bill mandates that each institution will have to determine whether to keep all of its KERS Tier 1 and Tier 2 employees in the system or move them all to the defined contribution plan.

If the bill passes, we will have until May 1, 2020, to determine the option best for NKU and our employees. Over that time, we will work with you all to ensure understanding of the bill and options moving forward.

We will continue to share details with you as we learn more information throughout the process. Thank you for all you do for our university, our students and our region.

Academic Affairs Update

On March 26, we celebrated the Grand Opening of the Rockwell Automation & CBT Company Mechatronics Lab in the Business Administrative Center.

The new lab provides a real industrial automation environment for students to assemble, program and operate integrated manufacturing systems. It prepares them for jobs in automation, control, instrumentation design and robotics areas.

The Mechatronics Lab has 10 workstations, each with state-of the-art equipment and technology. It’s designed to train a highly skilled workforce to keep our region competitive in advanced manufacturing.

Dr. Robert K. Wallace has been named the winner of the 2019 UK Medallion for Intellectual Achievement. The UK Medallion for Intellectual Achievement was created in 1990 to recognize Kentuckians who have shown exceptional intellectual achievement and contributed to the lasting value of the Commonwealth. Past winners include Wendell Berry, Bobbie Ann Mason, and Governor Bert T. Combs.

NKU student, Yvonne Sene, has been honored with the Society of Toxicology’s (SOT) highest award for undergraduate research. This Environmental Science major was among 17 students presented with the 2019 Pfizer Undergraduate Student Travel Award to attend the SOT’s Annual Meeting in Baltimore on March 11. The award covered the travel and lodging for students to present their research at the annual meeting. In addition to getting national research exposure, she was able to learn about the latest developments in toxicology and network with scientists from across the country.

The team, “G-CAN,” from Trigg County High School won the top prize at the Lieutenant Governor’s Entrepreneurship Challenge (LGEC) 3rd annual competition finals, held Friday, April 12, 2019, at the Haile/US Bank College of Business' Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE). Ten finalist teams competed from across the Commonwealth. The CIE won the right to host the competition through a statewide competitive bid. G-CAN pitched a prototype for a medical alert bracelet that delivers aid in the event of a medical emergency attack, even if someone is unconscious and cannot press a button, immediately notifying their emergency contact or 911. The device would be programmable to accommodate specific parameters, helping those with conditions including seizure disorders or Alzheimer's disease or dementia.

The CIE provided four unexpected $1,000 checks to individual competitors who embodied entrepreneurial spirit and potential but did not necessarily win the competition. Thanks to CIE Co-Directors Jeff Varrone, Zac Strobl and CIE Coordinator Sally Allen for their leadership.

The Scripps Howard Center for Civic Engagement in partnership with the City of Newport, Horizon Community Funds of Northern Kentucky, and the Kentucky Campus Compact, hosted a “Pathways to Higher Education” discussion on April 22, to discuss how best to strengthen ties between NKU and Newport’s P-12 students and adult learners.

Fifteen people attended from across several NKU departments and will provide support services and otherwise connect to P-12 and adult learners. Community partners from the Brighton Center, the city, the school district, the scholar house, and the Horizon Fund joined as well. Gayle Hilleke of the Campus Compact facilitated and helped identify current assets, challenges, and next steps. Target areas for improved connections include: housing, transportation, financial aid literacy, and “on ramp” strategies for both new college students and students returning to college after time away. The discussion was held at the Southgate Street School.

Rx Summit

NKU was a Platinum Sponsor of the recent Rx Drug Abuse and Heroin Summit in Atlanta last April. The brainchild of Representative Hal Rogers, the “Rx Summit” is THE largest national collaboration of professionals from local, state, and federal agencies, business, academia, treatment providers, and allied communities focused on drug abuse in the country. A record 3500 participants attended this year. NKU sponsored 20 attendees, including NKU faculty and staff, as well as NKU co-presenters from NorthKey, Owen County Schools, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, and St. Elizabeth Healthcare. NKU’s visioning session on providing early detection and intervention for drug use in high school was apparently the best attended of all visioning sessions.

This conference always features several prominent speakers, including this year Jim Carroll, the current US “Drug Czar;” Francis Collin, the Director of NIH; Robert Redfield, the Director of the CDC; as well as Kentucky’s own Secretary for Justice and Public Safety Cabinet John Tilley and Ernie Fletcher, our former governor.  As you may have seen already, it also featured talks by First Lady Melania Trump and President Donald Trump.

We are currently in talks to continue our sponsorship next year.

Student Affairs Updates

For the fourth consecutive year, Norther Kentucky University has been recognized as one of the Safest Colleges in America.

The USDE offered a competitive supplemental STEM grant that the Upward Bound staff wrote for and received in the amount of $38,000. Upward Bound has been able to strengthen its Science and Technology curriculum in collaboration with Academic Affairs and the staff looks forward to a three-day summer field trip for its sophomore participants focusing on the atom bomb and contagious diseases.

Health Services has been collaborating with Amanda Johnson of the Office of Parents Attending College to get “period packs,” which are pads and tampons provided to students in need, through her Sweet Cheeks grant to provide to students in need.

Two students with children were unable to afford a cap and gown for commencement, so Parents Attending College, UCAP, Special Events and Alumni Services teamed up to furnish these items for the students. On Saturday, these students will proudly walk across the stage in their caps and gowns. These offices are now planning to make this type of assistance available each semester.

In March, Director of LGBTQ Programs and Services Bonnie Meyer was awarded the Kentucky Commission on Human Rights Unbridled Spirit Award. This award was presented to “a group of outstanding women from across the state who have contributed to human rights work in Kentucky.”

African-American Student Initiatives hosted the first Civil Rights Student Away experience during Spring Break 2019.

Administration and Finance Updates

A new NKU mobile application was recently rolled out to students. The new mobile-friendly platform’s focus is to provide a personalized user experience for students.  Critical real-time and user specific data is displayed so the student can have pertinent and actionable information at a glance.

NKU Chief Information Officer Tim Ferguson was recently named to the 2019 Cincinnati Tech Power Player list.  The recognition event was held on April 3, 2019.

The restoration of the Kenton Garage will begin this month. It will be closed from Monday, May 13, through August 1.

Construction for the SBARRO’s national pizza brand in the Student Union Food Court will take place this summer with opening planned for the fall academic semester.

Athletics Updates

Five of our athletics programs earned Academic Progress Rate (APR) Public Recognition Awards from the NCAA last week. Baseball, men's cross country, men's track & field, women's cross country and women's tennis each earned recognition with the APR Award, which was presented to teams whose 2017-18 APR scores were among the top 10 percent of all squads in the teams' respective sports.

Last month, we announced Darrin Horn as the sixth head coach in the history of the men's basketball program. Coach Horn is coming off four seasons as associate head coach at Texas. During his tenure at Texas, the Longhorns went 71-66 and won the 2019 NIT. Welcome, Coach Horn.

Upcoming Events

On May 15 and 16, we will hold a two-day equity academy for faculty and staff which will be facilitated by Dr. Tia McNair of AAC&U. 

Informed by the guiding principle, “all people who work on campus have the capacity to be effective educators,” the academy will address how we can best serve our first-generation students, low-income students, underrepresented students, and adult working students in the classroom and outside the classroom community engagement, student programming, etc.

We will host the Governor’s School for Entrepreneurs June 23-July 13.

Chair Scheben and members of the Board, that concludes my remarks for today’s meeting.


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