Below is the summary of the presentations and activity that took place at the Virtual Board of Regents meeting on November 11, 2020.
There will be a special Board of Regents meeting on December 2, 2020. The Board’s next regularly scheduled meeting will be January 20, 2021.
Board of Regents
November 11, 2020
Thank you, Chair Ward and members of the Board.
And thank you to everyone who is joining this Board meeting via live stream. We appreciate your participation.
Let me also add my gratitude to the servicewomen and men and veterans watching today. We thank you for your service and honor the sacrifices our veterans and active-duty students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends have made, and continue to make in order to secure the freedoms we all love. I would like to thank Travis Roy and the Veterans Resource Station for all that they do for veteran learners and active-duty students on campus.
We have a couple new members of the NKU leadership team to welcome, including a new member of the Cabinet who will join us on January 1, 2021.
VP for Student Affairs: Dr. Eddie J. Howard
I am excited to welcome Dr. Eddie J. Howard to NKU as our new Vice President for Student Affairs.
Dr. Howard will join us officially on January 1. Most recently, he was VP for Student Affairs at Youngstown State University in Ohio.
He brings an exceptional understanding of guiding and advocating for students’ needs and is quite experienced in retention, graduation and inclusive excellence. We are delighted to have him join us in our student-centered mission.
Welcome, Dr. Howard. And thank you to committee chair Ken Bothof and his committee for their work in bringing Dr. Howard to NKU.
Eddie is joining us via Zoom and I will ask him to say a few words.
AVP for Government Relations: Carmen Hickerson:
Carmen Hickerson joined us just last week as the new Assistant Vice President for Economic Engagement and Government Relations.
Carmen has more than 25 years of executive-level leadership experience, along with extensive experience in community engagement, advocacy and building national strategic partnerships.
Most recently, she served as the Vice President for Strategic Initiatives for Metro United Way in Louisville, Ky.
Carmen, we are excited to have you and I’m looking forward to working with you in support of this university, our students and the region.
Return to Remote Operations
I would like to thank everyone who has worked to make this virtual meeting possible like so many events these past several months.
We are not in the Governance Room as usual because just a couple weeks ago, Campbell and Kenton counties were added to the list of “red” counties in Kentucky, meaning that the COVID-19 cases had reached a critical level. Just as we did in March when the pandemic really took hold, we reacted in the best interest of our students, faculty, staff and the community at large by returning to online instruction and remote operations in adherence to Governor Beshear’s guidelines and recommendations.
This time, there are exceptions for the classes that absolutely must be held in person, but for the most part, instruction will be virtual until our county is no longer in a critical situation.
All offices on campus that can offer services remotely have temporarily stopped on-campus office hours while offices that must be on campus to provide services remain in limited capacity.
Although most of us are not on campus, we remain vigilant in our adherence to the NORSE NINE principles for health and safety and to protect each other.
The incidence rate is evaluated on a weekly basis and we are hopeful that Campbell County will move back to orange soon.
I remain inspired by and grateful to our faculty, staff and students who continue to rise to the occasion. I am proud of how resilient and adaptable this community has been since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. But I am mindful of the emotional toll this is taking on all of us and how much the lack of in-person engagement is affecting us as a campus community.
We are also hopeful that we will be able to return to campus for the Spring 2021 semester with operations similar to the fall. Based on the recommendations of our COVID-19 Preparedness Team, our plan for spring will be very similar to the fall.
Course formats will again include in-person, online and hybrid offerings. Courses that require an in-person element, like a studio or lab class, will be given priority, as well as classes for first-year students and graduating seniors.
We have made one change specific to spring by replacing spring break with a series of shorter university holidays that we believe will reduce the risks associated with traditional spring break travel. To that end, there will be three additional university holidays when the campus will be closed.
The spring semester will begin as scheduled on January 11 with the last day of classes on April 30. On Friday, January 15, we will hold the 2nd Annual Student Success Summit. Details will be forthcoming.
The MLK Jr. Day of Service, which I am delighted to say has become a yearly tradition at NKU, will take place virtually on Monday, January 18, 2021. The team in Student Affairs is planning a meaningful event and details will be shared with the campus community soon.
Student Emergency Fund
We also continue to support students through the Student Emergency Fund. As of this month, we have raised more than $133,000 and awarded more than $74,000 to students who continue to work to support themselves and their families while pursuing their degrees here.
We have assisted 251 students through this fund among 813 total applications with 427 applications referred to the CARES fund.
Speaking of CARES, we have awarded more than $2,490,000 to more than 2,800 students along with $34,300 in CPE funds to 101 students.
Thank you to everyone who has donated to support our students and to those administering these programs. It is so important that we continue to support learners as they continue toward their educational goals.
We are grateful for the federal funds that have helped us close funding gaps for our students and the university. We remain hopeful for another stimulus bill that will again help provide relief to NKU and all institutions of higher education. Our institutions are as important as ever.
Masks from Gifu University
We are also grateful for a very nice gesture from one of our oldest international partners. In October, Gifu University in Japan sent 2,000 masks to be distributed throughout our campus and community. If you have picked up a disposable mask from Health, Counseling and Student Wellness or other offices around campus recently, it may be from our friends at Gifu. I know we appreciate such a thoughtful gift.
Updates from CPE
The Postsecondary Education Working Group has continued to meet throughout the fall to discuss modifications to the performance funding model. Modifications agreed upon by the CPE must be finalized by before the upcoming legislative session.
Currently, the recommendations under consideration include:
Additionally, we continue to advocate for increased base funding to bring us into parity with other state universities. We are still the lowest in student appropriations per FTE.
Legislative Items for 2021
The 2021 legislative session will be a short 30 days and legislators must pass a one-year budget this year. That vote requires a 3/5 super-majority. Republican gains in the recent election will give them more power to control that budget-making process. The last two budgets have been passed over a gubernatorial veto and that looks likely to happen again.
In partnership with CPE, we will continue to advocate for increased funding for colleges and universities, asset preservation dollars, and specifically for us, legislative assistance with exiting the KERS plan. We have also shared with the NKY Caucus that we would appreciate greater flexibility and support for public-private partnerships.
For the pension, there are three items in which there is a potential need for legislative or administrative clarity, including:
Last month, I updated the campus on our options for a pension resolution, which we will decide on next month and present to the Board.
Also during the month of October, we held Pension Information and Feedback Sessions for Tier 1, Tier 2 and Tier 3 employees to help our staff understand the options and how they will be affected. We also continue to meet with the Staff Congress Pension Committee and shared our current analysis with them yesterday. I was joined by Chair Ward, Vice Chair Desmarais and Secretary Shumate. We will continue to keep the campus community updated as we proceed toward a decision.
NKU’s Voting Push
Last week, American citizens all across the country had their voices heard in the 2020 election in record numbers. I know thousands of NKU students, faculty, staff, and alumni fulfilled their civic-minded duty.
Because our student-centered mission goes beyond providing an education, we worked hard to encourage the community to take an active role in our democracy. Here are just a few examples:
It was wonderful to see how our campus community engaged the region to uphold the values and principles that make an effective democracy.
Sadly, back in September, we lost Alice Sparks – a champion for NKU and a pillar of our community. Alice advocated for schools at all levels in the Commonwealth, but her mark on NKU is extensive. She truly helped shape our university into the institution we are today.
She was appointed to NKU’s Board of Regents in 1992 and advised the university as a regent for seven years, including as the first woman chair.
Aside from her milestones and accolades, Alice was a good friend of the university and tireless supporter of NKU students and of our Norse athletic teams. Her memory will endure at NKU in the many lives she has impacted.
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
Late last month, we held our Campus Conversation on the Campus Climate Survey. The campus climate survey is an important tool that we use to measure and analyze the social and cultural climate of our campus community, summarizing the way in which students, faculty, and staff perceive campus, especially as it pertains to diversity.
Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer, Darryl Peal, hosted the virtual event and was joined by presenters Dr. Caroline Macke, an Associate Professor in the School of Social Work, and Dr. Nicole Dillard, an Assistant Professor of Organizational Leadership and Affiliate Professor in the Master of Public Administration program.
Dr. Macke and Dr. Dillard shared an analysis of the context, methods, and the quantitative & qualitative findings of the NKU 2018-2019 campus climate survey.
Important conversations like this will continue here at NKU and demonstrate our commitment to advancing equity, inclusion and diversity.
This fall, we launched a Common Experience for first-year students at NKU. This was meant to foster a common, academic conversation and cultivate engagement between students, faculty and staff.
With this year’s theme being Racial Inequities within America, three Common Read assignments were selected that have been utilized and discussed in first-year courses across campus.
Additionally, two panel conversations were held as part of this year’s Common Experience Lecture Series. The first lecture focused on the media and our perceptions of race. The second lecture looked at racial health disparities. The panels included a number of campus, local and national experts who led robust conversations about these crucial issues.
We have a webpage for Common Experience where students, faculty and staff can learn more about the initiative, keep updated with a calendar of events, view a playback recording of the lectures, and access the Common Read materials and helpful resources.
E-Sports Program at NKU
I am happy to announce that the NKU E-sports varsity Rocket League team has wrapped up its inaugural season and made it all the way to the Final Four round in post-season playoffs. Last night our team lost a hard-fought set of games to the University of Kansas.
The team finished the regular season unbeaten with a 10-0 record and won its conference with wins over Western Kentucky and Eastern Kentucky. Not only did they win every match, they did not lose a single game within a match, meaning our students went 30-0 for the season in games. Out of 123 teams in the NACE Collegiate Rocket League Fall Cup, NKU was one of only five undefeated teams heading into the national playoffs.
It’s important to note that this exciting opportunity for our students was made possible through seed funding from the Success by Design 2020 Innovation Challenge.
Congratulations are in order to Dean James Buss, the teams and the coach for an impressive inaugural season.
Eileen Harper Scholarship
Last month we announced and awarded a new endowed scholarship that honors the legacy of Eileen Harper and will help meet the region's demand for health-care professionals.
Senior nursing student Lexi Fowee is the first recipient of the Eileen Harper Memorial Scholarship. Lexi found a passion for nursing after she began volunteering at St. Elizabeth nearly a decade ago, went on to obtain her Certified Nurse Assistant license in 2017 and continues to work at St. Elizabeth.
This endowed scholarship will support NKU students like Lexi who are pursuing a degree in health-related careers and are also employed by St. Elizabeth Healthcare. Former state legislator Ken Harper established the scholarship to honor his late wife, Eileen, and to emphasize NKU's role in training future health care professionals across the region. That is a calling the Harpers grew to appreciate over the years of treatment and care they received at St. Elizabeth.
Thank you to Ken Harper and his family for their gift and dedication to this university, its students and the cause of public health. I know this scholarship will honor Eileen’s legacy for years to come.
Collaborative for Economic Engagement
Back in September, we celebrated the ribbon-cutting for an important partnership with the City of Covington. The Collaborative for Economic Engagement is a one-stop innovation hub for businesses and entrepreneurs to accelerate economic growth in the area. Since September, the team members have been meeting regularly on potential ways to leverage the Collaborative to accelerate economic recovery in our region.
This collaboration is a key element of our economic engagement strategy to catalyze a prosperous, equitable, and inclusive regional ecosystem through economic development and entrepreneurship. It will serve as a gateway to all the resources and expertise we have to offer while building on our legacy of being a steward of place.
We also hope to expand the regional services into rural counties by developing the Collaborative Extension located on the NKU Grant County campus.
Academic Affairs Updates
Student Affairs Updates
Administration and Finance Update
The search for our next Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs is also progressing nicely and we expect to announce finalist’s visits soon.
Over the past several weeks, the search advisory committee has worked with the search firm, Isaacson, Miller, and found strong interest in the position from a diverse pool of candidates.
Just last week, a dozen semi-finalists participated in virtual interviews with the committee and finalists have been invited to virtual interviews with multiple campus constituent groups later this month. The plan is to identify our next provost before winter break in December.
Thank you to committee chairs Bonita Brown and Dale Stephenson and their committee for all their continued work.
Interim Staff Regent Election/Farewell to Dave Bauer
I would like to thank Dave Bauer for his many years of service to NKU as well as his service as Staff Regent these past couple years. Dave has left NKU to pursue another job opportunity.
We have begun the process to elect an interim Staff Regent with an election committee appointed late last month to represent all areas of the university and levels of staff. Nominations were accepted through last week. A virtual open forum took place yesterday with another scheduled for tomorrow and the voting period will run November 13 through 20. The Interim Staff Regent will be announced November 20 and will have an official Oath of Office Ceremony on December 2.
AASCU Board & NKY Tribune Newsmakers Award
Last month at its annual meeting, I was honored to be elected to the American Association of State Colleges and Universities’ Board of Directors for a three-year term.
NKU is one of the more than 400 public colleges, universities and systems in AASCU. I look forward to advancing AASCU's promise of delivering on the American promise of access, affordability and educational opportunity and its commitment to underrepresented students as well as meeting the association's strategic priorities on behalf of the more than 3.5 million students we serve.
Business Courier and Northern Kentucky Tribune Honors
The Cincinnati Business Courier has selected me as a 2020 C-Suite Awards finalist as one of the region’s top-level executives. The Northern Kentucky Tribune also awarded me its annual Newsmaker Award in recognition of community outreach and impact.
These are wonderful honors that highlight NKU’s regional stewardship, so they really are a university-wide recognition. For two regional partners such as the Business Courier and the Tribune to celebrate NKU's accomplishments over the past year highlights our commitment to the public good as well as our faculty’s and staff's commitment to transforming our students and the surrounding community.
I’ll close my remarks today by recognizing our December graduates. Next month, 1,679 students will reach their goal of a degree or certificate, including 245 graduate students and 1,434 undergraduates.
Unfortunately, we again will not be able to gather together at the BB&T Arena to honor their achievements. The reality is that COVID-19 remains a threat and a large gathering like commencement is just not possible. Because of that reality, we will again hold a virtual Commencement Ceremony on Saturday, December 12, to honor our December and Summer graduates.
Work is underway to make this virtual event special. While virtual commencements are not the sendoff we wanted for our graduates, it is so important we make every effort to recognize their achievements in the best way we can. I know this virtual commencement will do just that.
Finally, we are just two weeks away from Thanksgiving and I would like to express my gratitude to the entire NKU community for their commitment, resilience and spirit during a year unlike any other in our history. And to all of you – members of the Board – for your dedication to and support of the university and of me personally.
Chair Ward and members of the Board that concludes my remarks for today’s meeting.
Ashish K. Vaidya, Ph.D.
Northern Kentucky University
800 Lucas Administrative Center
Highland Heights, KY 41099