Dear Campus Community:
It is with much sadness that I share the news of the passing of Alice Sparks – a champion for NKU and a pillar of our community. Alice’s commitment to education was steadfast, as she advocated for schools at all levels in the Commonwealth. Her mark on NKU is extensive, and she truly helped shape our university into the institution we are today. Appointed to NKU’s Board of Regents in 1992, she advised the university as a regent and chair for seven years. Alice served as the search committee chair responsible for selecting Dr. James Votruba to be our 4th President.
“Alice was well connected in Frankfort and never stopped advocating on behalf of the university. When I would hit a roadblock, she would get on the phone with the Governor and General Assembly leadership and use her savvy and persuasiveness to make the case… and she usually prevailed,” remembers President Emeritus Votruba. “Alice was a force who invested herself in NKU, and both our students and our community were the beneficiaries. Rachel and I celebrate her friendship and life of service, as we mourn her death.”
Alice served as a trailblazer in many ways, most notably as the first woman to chair NKU’s Board of Regents and as the first female chair of a Kentucky public university. She was the recipient of the NKU Foundation’s Distinguished Public Service Award in 1999 and the Lincoln Award in 2002. Just a few years ago, we honored her during our May 2018 Commencement with an Honorary Doctor of Education degree.
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. Regent Dennis Repenning has fond memories of Alice. “We’ll remember Alice for her generous contributions to NKU and our community. She combined wit, grace and humility and loved NKU basketball. But that was only a small part of who she was. Alice would work the phones, raising money for worthy causes. She checked on friends who were ill and wrote letters in support of friends or causes. Her death is a loss for all of us.”
When you buy a ticket to cheer on the Norse, you may notice Alice’s name graces the box office at BB&T Arena. She was an avid fan and served on the Go Norse Fund Board Executive team. NKU Athletic Director Ken Bothof described Alice as being highly respected because she always led by example.
“Alice had an infectious personality and truly lit up a room when she entered. She was a true leader of people,” remembers Ken Bothof. “NKU, our athletic department and many of our student-athletes, past, current and future, will have all benefited because of Alice’s commitment. Personally, I will miss her sense of humor, her willingness to speak candidly and her Northern Kentucky Spirit!”
Alice Sparks’ memory will indeed endure at NKU in the many lives she has impacted. We send our deepest condolences to her family and many friends.
She will be greatly missed.