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Dear Colleagues:

Through this public health crisis, first and foremost, we are committed to ensuring the health, safety and wellbeing of our students, staff, faculty and community. The university has been focused on transitioning to a virtual environment and maintaining operations remotely wherever possible. I want to extend my deep appreciation to everyone as we navigate through this process. We are now in the second week of our classes and I am proud of the way our faculty and staff are engaging with students in the virtual world. A special thanks to those who are still working on campus to meet the needs of the students and to keep the university operating safely.

Apart from continuing to serve our students, we are fulfilling our responsibility as a steward of place. We have donated gloves, masks and other health-related equipment. We are partnering with the Northern Kentucky Chamber and Tri-county Economic Development agency to provide webinars and support for small businesses that are struggling in this environment. And we have offered a list of facilities to the County, St. Elizabeth and the Governor’s Office as surge space for the health needs of the community if required. These are a few examples of the outstanding work of the faculty and staff in a time of great need.

The COVID-19 crisis is creating a lot of uncertainty around the economy and our financial situation. Therefore, I believe we need to do two things - we must be even more prudent and careful about our resources during this time of heightened economic uncertainty and focus even more on staying virtually connected with each other, with our students, and with the community

In order to provide maximum flexibility to weather these turbulent waters and protect our core mission, I am challenging the Cabinet to work with, across and within their divisions, to reduce expenses between now and June 30th to build cash reserves of at least $2 million dollars for the 2019-20 fiscal year. A preliminary estimate of forgone travel and hospitality expenses this quarter will net us approximately $750,000 so we are already 40% of the way there!

Effective immediately we are implementing a hiring freeze.  A hiring freeze will strengthen our reserves and improve our position as we close out this fiscal year and move into the 20/21 fiscal year.  In addition to the financial advantages, a hiring freeze allows us to assess our needs now and in the future, while we care for ourselves and the health of our families. The present requirement of social distancing and travel restrictions makes it difficult to effectively recruit, onboard and hire new employees. Only positions that are essential to meeting immediate safety, compliance or mission-critical requirements - and approved by the President’s Cabinet and the President - will be allowed to hire during this time.  NKU will honor verbal and written offers made, and offers accepted as of March 31, 2020. This applies both to internal and external candidates, as well as to reclassifications that have been received by HR as of Tuesday, March 31, 2020.

Finally, we must consider ways to continue the momentum of Success by Design and anticipate what a post-COVID-19 world will look like and how NKU should respond. In the coming weeks, we will need your input on the way forward as we look to serve the changing needs of our students and the region.  I very much look forward to receiving your input when we start engaging the campus community around these issues.

Because of you, NKU is an incredibly resilient, creative and innovative institution. We continue to inspire and transform lives and the region and we have taken the university further than anyone thought possible, faster than anyone could have imagined. Our history of being nimble and flexible positions us well to seek opportunities in the midst of this uncommon disruptor that is the pandemic. As my good friend George Mehaffy reminded me recently – “in times that are unimaginable, can we imagine and do the unimaginable?” I say absolutely yes!

Thank you for everything that you do for NKU. Be safe and healthy.



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