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Dear Colleagues:

Below is the summary of the presentations and activity that took place at the Virtual Board of Regents meeting on January 20, 2021.

  1. That morning, the Board heard three presentations as a part of its Joint Finance and Policy Committee meeting.
    • Interim Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs Ande Durojaiye joined Assistant Professor Megan Downing, Associate Professor Kajsa Larson, Professor Joe Nolan, Executive Director of the Scripps Howard Center for Civic Engagement Mark Neikirk and student Danielle Polion, who is an Electronic Media and Broadcasting major and Mayerson Project participant, for an update on sabbaticals, project grants and summer fellowships.
    • Interim Provost Durojaiye joined Dean Dale Stephenson, Associate Dean Gannon Tagher, Associate Dean Vanessa Hunn, academic advisor Nicholas Pflum, President and CEO of MPI Consulting John Hawkins and student and Pre-major in Radiologic Technology Olivia Berry for an update from the College of Health and Human Services.
    • Interim Vice President for Administration and Finance and CFO Mike Hales joined Vice President for Enrollment & Degree Management Kim Scranage, Assistant Vice President for Enrollment & Student Success Ryan Padgett, Assistant Vice President for Enrollment & Financial Aid Leah Stewart and Assistant Vice President for Economic Engagement & Government Relations Carmen Hickerson for an update on enrollment, budget and the 2021 legislative session.
  2. In the afternoon, the Board approved all of the recommended items including Academic Affairs and non-academic personnel actions and major gifts acceptance, as well as Faculty Emeritus status for Dr. Bill Attenweiler, Ms. Nancy Jentsch and Dr. James Votruba, and a reorganization in the College of Education.  

The Board’s next regularly scheduled meeting will be March 10, 2021.



Presidential Comments

Board of Regents
January 20, 2021

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.

Before I begin my formal comments today, I would like to acknowledge the historic day we witnessed today in our nation’s capital.

Today was a celebration of American democracy after a tumultuous period of time since the November election.

But another milestone was reached today when we welcomed the nation’s first woman and the first woman of Jamaican and Indian descent, a daughter of immigrant parents, to be elected as Vice President. Personally, for me this was very meaningful. Vice President Kamala Devi Harris was primarily raised and inspired by her Indian mother. Her name means Lotus – a symbol of enlightenment and rebirth which seems appropriate for the times.


President Emeritus James C. Votruba

I will begin my comments today by congratulating my friend and colleague, President Emeritus Jim Votruba, on his retirement and well-deserved pending Professor Emeritus status in the College of Education where he has taught and mentored educational leadership students for the past several years.

NKU’s 3rd President and the longest-serving, Dr. Votruba served this institution with distinction from 1997 to 2012. Here are just a few of the accomplishments we attained during his tenure:

  • The creation of the Haile/US Bank College of Business and the College of Informatics.
  • Enrollment increases from less than 12,000 at his arrival to over 15,000.
  • 19 bachelor’s degrees, 42 master’s degrees and its first two doctoral programs.
  • The construction of the Dorothy Westerman Herrmann Science Center, the BB&T Arena, Griffin Hall and the Student Union, which rightly bears the name … James C. and Rachel M. Votruba Student Union.
  • And the move of our athletics programs to Division I.

Under Dr. Votruba, NKU solidified its role as a national leader in regional stewardship. In fact, he told NKU Magazine not long ago when asked about his proudest accomplishments, that it was “taking responsibility for advancing not only the dreams of our students, but the dreams of our region and our community.”

That commitment to stewardship of place is part of what brought me here and I am proud that NKU continues that regional engagement mission today.

Jim, congratulations. Thank you for your unwavering support of NKU students and this region. Best wishes for a fulfilling retirement.


VP for Student Affairs: Dr. Eddie J. Howard

During our last full Board of Regents meeting in November, I was happy to welcome Dr. Eddie J. Howard to NKU as our new Vice President for Student Affairs.

Dr. Howard officially began his new role on January 1, bringing to our community his wealth of knowledge and experience advocating for student success and inclusive excellence. Again, welcome, Dr. Howard.


Provost Search

The search for our next Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs resumed last week with two candidates participating in open forums with the campus. A third candidate was recently identified and is participating in interviews this week.

We hope to complete all interviews by the end of January or early February with an announcement soon after. In the interim, Ande Durojaiye has been ably leading the division of Academic Affairs.

I want to thank all who have participated in these hiring processes to fill such important roles for our university. Your engagement in these important decisions greatly impacts the future of NKU.


Spring Forward

Last week, NKU students began the Spring semester under the Spring Forward plan. Similar to last fall, classes are being held with a mix of face-to-face, online and hybrid delivery.

Per the plan, departments are maintaining minimum staffing levels on-campus so their locations are open to serve faculty, staff and students in-person, as necessary.

NKU will continue to follow the Commonwealth’s guidelines and reinforce our Norse Nine principles for those on campus, and the COVID-19 Preparedness Team will monitor the situation and recommend adjustments as necessary.

While we are happy to be back in many cases, I know this is still not the campus life anybody is used to whether we are faculty, staff or students. I know many are still concerned about the financial uncertainty they and their families are facing and many are struggling academically and emotionally.

We took those concerns to heart and made several adjustments:

We removed registration hurdles by eliminating certain registration holds and rolling-out a centralized holiday break virtual one-stop so students could call or email their questions with a 24-hour response time.

Tuition has remained unchanged and there have been no institutional scholarship renewal requirements. Parking is free in all garages to allow students to attend classes without worry. There is no online course fee, no late registration fee, no late graduation fee and no commuter meal plan mandatory fee. IT continues to provide laptops, hotspots and other technology resources.

Additionally, we are dedicated to supporting the health and wellness of our students. The following strategies will ensure students have access to wellness programming:

  • The Campus Recreation Center is open so we can all stay active during these cold months.
  • Health, Counseling and Student Wellness is available for students to answer their questions, perform COVID 19 testing and provide emotional support.

o   That included on-call support over the winter break,

o   And just yesterday, Vice President Eddie Howard announced that counseling fees at HCSW have been suspended for the Spring 2021 Semester.

Finally, we are committed to enhancing engagement opportunities on campus. This month, students have been invited to “Pitch a Program” – an opportunity to pitch their idea for a program or event on campus.  Open sessions will take place tomorrow, Friday and next Monday. We will also maintain campus traditions such Homecoming in different but safe formats.

Another new engagement opportunity is NKU's new TikTok account — @nkuedu1 — which launches later this month. We are looking for student, faculty and staff ambassadors to join the NKU TikTok team to create fun content representing their college, student organization, athletic program or affiliation with the university. Please follow this account and contact to join the NKU TikTok team.


Vaccine Update

Last week, I provided an update to the campus about COVID vaccinations. While we do not have all the answers, I can report that NKU will offer the COVID-19 vaccine on campus for faculty, staff and students and there will be no charge for getting the vaccine.

To that end, we are monitoring the Commonwealth of Kentucky’s Draft COVID-19 Vaccination Plan and Updates to develop our distribution protocols and prioritization schedule. Currently, we know that NKU faculty and staff are part of Phase 1C.

Last week, our licensed clinical healthcare faculty and staff who might be mobilized under the new crisis standards of care operations, as well as students who will have clinicals in healthcare settings began getting the vaccine through our healthcare partners.

We have now been informed that NKU employees over the age of 70 and those who work in K-12 schools will be able to receive the vaccine. We urge them to get registered as soon as possible to get vaccinated.

Then, beginning in mid-March, we hope that the remainder of NKU employees and students with underlying or preexisting health conditions will be able to get vaccinated.

Students without underlying health conditions will be able to get vaccinated when Phase 2 (over age 40) and Phase 3 (over age 16) vaccinations are available. At this point, we do not have a date when we can begin vaccinating those students.

We are currently developing a plan and a set of protocols for administering and distributing the vaccine in the most efficient manner possible. Updates will be shared through the Provost’s COVID weekly message.


SACSCOC Reaffirmation

Last year, SACSCOC, our institutional accrediting body had placed NKU on warning for not meeting the requirements for Core Requirement 11.1, which covers library and learning information resources, and standard 8.2b, which covers student outcomes in general education.

They requested a monitoring report to be submitted in Fall 2020. We implemented a plan to address the concerns raised by SACSCOC and submitted the monitoring report in September 2020. At its December 2020 meeting, the SACSCOC Board of Trustees reviewed our report and reaffirmed our 10-year accreditation without any additional requirements. The Board of Trustees was very impressed with the progress made by NKU. Our next reaffirmation will take place in 2029.

Thank you to everyone across campus who contributed to this effort and congratulations. This is an important accomplishment for our institution.


Student Success Summit

And speaking of student success, this past Friday, faculty, staff and students gathered virtually for our Second Annual Student Success Summit. This event is a new tradition on campus and has replaced the traditional convocation gathering with an engaging event focused on our core mission.

The summit featured a keynote panel moderated by interim Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs Ande Durojaiye and speakers included Jacqueline Smith, the Vice President of the Arizona State University Foundation, and Dr. Bridget Burns, the Executive Director of the University Innovation Alliance. The panel focused on innovations in student success, as well as community engagement.

We also acknowledged and celebrated examples of CARE — a concept that while new in name, is quite familiar to most of us here at NKU.

CARE is an acronym for Creativity, Appreciation, Resiliency and Engagement. The past year, the COVID-19 pandemic, economic crisis and a renewed national movement toward equality have truly challenged this university and we have risen to the challenge time and again.

Ryan Padgett, Assistant Vice President for Enrollment & Student Success, moderated a panel with colleagues and students from across campus to discuss and demonstrate how the NKU family exemplifies the four elements of CARE in our everyday work and interactions.

Panelists included Professor Abdullah Al-Bahrani, Associate Dean Gannon Tagher, Amy Clark, Director of Student Counseling Services, Bill Moulton, Assistant Director of Facilities, Duncan Rebilas a student in the Adult Learner program and coach of NKU’s inaugural Esports team, Americorps Vista NKU ROCKS Coordinator and alum, Jennifer Toyo and first-year student Mackenzie Mitchell.

In fact, we will continue to tell the story of CARE and you can help by sharing your experience with Staff Congress and reading about others’ at


Third Annual MLK Day of Service

Two days ago, NKU celebrated the Third Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service to honor the life and legacy of Dr. King.

While we were unable to gather together for in-person community service, many in the community still took the opportunity to serve through needed donations to local organizations in need such as the Women's Crisis Center and the Brighton Center, which remain in great need of personal care items.

We held a virtual celebration attended by NKU students, staff, faculty, alumni, community members, and family members. The program included a live keynote address from Alfonzo Jones, a national speaker with more than 25 years of experience working in higher education and a passion for working with students to help them achieve success. After his address, Mr. Jones led a discussion on race for our community. We also enjoyed student performances and other opportunities for NKU and community engagement.

I am proud of NKU’s continued service to the community and I look forward to returning to in-person service next year.


Legislative Items for 2021

This session will include the passage of the FY22 budget since the General Assembly passed a one-year budget a year ago.

We are encouraged and pleased by the Governor’s commitment to postsecondary education by including a 2% increase in state appropriations in his proposed budget, 1% of which will be to the base and 1% to performance fund.

AVP for Economic Engagement & Government Relations Carmen Hickerson, Trey Greyson with CivicPoint and I met with members of the NKY legislative caucus to advocate for our legislative priorities, which include:

  • Needed legislation for bond payments on our pension exit, which Senator McDaniel is leading on behalf of NKU;
  • Adoption of the recommendations of the CPE Performance Funding Working Group;
  • and funding for higher education appropriation and asset preservation bonds.

We will keep you updated on any needed legislative action during the session, which is scheduled to wrap up by the end of February.


CPE Performance Funding Working Group Recommendations

I served on a CPE Performance Funding Working Group over the summer and fall that was responsible for developing recommendations to the General Assembly. Those recommendations include:

  • The establishment of a general fund appropriation “floor” for each public postsecondary institution that equals the institution’s net general fund appropriation for FY 2020-21.
    • Going forward there would be no redistribution of this base funding.
    • All new appropriated funds would be run through the Performance Funding Model.
    • And performance Funding Model distributions are non-recurring, so each institution must earn them in subsequent years.
  • The working group will continue to discuss additional adjustments to the funding model over the next two years. These could include:
    • All degrees and credentials being considered in the model and not just 4-year degrees
    • Revisiting 50-percent weighting of nonresident students
    • Premiums for underserved populations and under-represented minorities.



Following the Board’s approval of the pension soft freeze at the December special board meeting, a work group was established and is meeting weekly to plan for the anticipated taxable bond issuance in early March 2021. This group includes NKU personnel, our underwriters at Morgan Stanley, financial advisors with Commonwealth Economics, bond counsel at Dinsmore & Shohl and Frost Brown Todd, and the State Office of Financial Management.

Last December 11, NKU officially submitted our application to KRS to exit the KERS nonhazardous plan. Again, we are continuing to work with our legislators and state agencies to receive the necessary authorizations and approvals for the bond issuance. If everything proceeds as anticipated with the bond issuance in early March, we will make an initial payment on April 1, 2021, to KRS for our estimated cost to exit and a final true-up payment in early 2022.


Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Last August, we implemented new federal regulations around Title IX and we were required to educate and ensure that the NKU campus community was informed about the new processes, protocols and resources available to those who have experienced sexual harassment and/or relationship violence.

In response, the Office of Inclusive Excellence and Title IX provided four uniquely designed online trainings tailored for specific populations for

  • Incoming freshman;
  • Returning students;
  • Graduate students;
  • And faculty, staff and administrators.

Nearly 11,000 members of the NKU community completed the hour-long training, including 70 percent of our students and 69 percent of our employees.

The office is dedicated to a commitment beyond compliance and maintaining NKU’s values and ethic of care for all involved.


Academic Affairs Updates

  • NKU has converted the Pathfinders support program — a required program of support to enhance the probability of persistence for students identified at the time of admission and based on high school performance – to eliminate the use of ACT or SAT scores. We believe this change offers more effective support and eliminates the biases that may exist related to standardized tests as a criteria for admission.
  • At the recent national EAB Connected 20 Conference, NKU was one of only a handful of schools recognized for its work to train faculty and staff in the area of academic advising on issues related to equity, racial bias, and cultural understanding. NKU’s work on diversity and inclusion in advising was presented to more than 800 institutions across the country in one of the EAB sessions.
  • The Chase College of Law received a grant from the Kentucky Bar Foundation Diversity Fund to support our newly launched program called “All Rise,” which is another 2020 Innovation Challenge funding recipient. This program supports students from diverse backgrounds throughout their law-school careers with financial and professional development assistance.
  • The Chase Finish Line Fund, which provides awards to students as they prepare for the bar exam, has completed its first year in operation with highly successful results. In 2020, Finish Line Fund recipients achieved a 96 percent pass rate on the bar exam, which bested the state average of 86 percent.
  • The Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship in the Haile/US Bank College of Business has been recognized as one of the Top 3 Finalists for Excellence in Entrepreneurship Teaching and Pedagogical Innovation by the 2020 Global Consortium of Entrepreneurship Centers.
  • The Center for Economic Education provided programming to 2,000 elementary, high school, and college students in 2020. They also trained 15 teachers through Danny Dollar Academy, an increase from 8 the previous year, reaching 1,000 students from 13 different schools in Kentucky and Ohio.
  • NKU student Isaiah Kelly won the Regional Entrepreneur Organization (EO) Global Student Entrepreneur Awards competition for the Cincinnati/Midwest Region. His company, Smoove Creations, is one of the 15 Greater Cincinnati's 2021 Startups to watch. Isaiah and fellow NKU students Liz Shrout and Ally Creech have been accepted as Top 50 finalists in the Baylor New Venture Competition. Only a handful of schools in the nation have more than one team in the top 50, putting NKU in the company of Yale, Rutgers, UCLA, UC San Diego, Texas A&M, and the University of Virginia.
  • Community Connections and the School of the Arts teamed up to make Martin Luther King Jr. Day activity packets that were distributed to local schools. More than 550 packets were ordered by teachers and the activity packets contained hashtags so the kids who completed them could share what they created by tagging NKU and SOTA. NKU faculty members Julie Mader-Meersman, Randel Plowman, Julia Sebastian, and several VCD students collaborated to create this impactful community outreach project. Thank you to everyone for this important work.
  • During fall 2020, CINSAM piloted the STEM Peer Mentor program, which had been awarded an NKU Innovation Grant.
    Seventeen peer mentors enrolled in SCI 393, received a $500 stipend, and were placed in first-year STEM seminar courses.
    Through this program, STEM Peer Mentors reached more than 430 first-year and Young Scholar Academy students. Faculty teaching these courses reported that Peer Mentors “helped our freshmen feel like it was okay to have questions and not be sure of everything in that first semester,” and that they helped “build a bridge and connect students.”
  • Finally, the College of Informatics launched the new Bachelor of Science program in Applied Software Engineering. This program was developed in collaboration with an external advisory council and it will provide the region with graduates proficient in server-side, mobile, and web application development, with a foundation that includes software security, human-computer interaction, technical writing, and ethics. This alternative to the traditional Computer Science degree is appropriate for career-changers and is one of only a few such programs in the country.


Administration and Finance Update

  • During the winter break, the second phase of the SBARRO’s Italian Restaurant was completed in the Student Union Food Court and the restaurant is now complete.
  • As part of our new university banking agreement with PNC, we have completed the installation of a state-of-the-art video banking machine in the Student Union. This machine allows patrons to conduct banking transactions virtually on site with the ability to speak with a banker via the video feature. A small working office structure was also built to allow PNC personnel to periodically work on-campus. PNC Bank has also installed two additional traditional ATMs on-campus, located in the University Center and Norse Commons. Under the current COVID-19 conditions, we anticipate the opening of the Student Union location in early February 2021.
  • Human Resources is working with TIAA to rollout a comprehensive Communication, Education, & Advice Strategy plan for Tier 3 employees transitioning to the NKU Defined Contribution Pension Plan on July 1, 2021. The plan includes educational webinars, weekly TIAA Virtual Office Hours with a TIAA financial consultant and one-to-one advice and counseling sessions to support the Tier 3 employees.



  • In Athletics, our Norse student-athletes continue to shine in the classroom. This fall, the department recorded a 3.42 cumulative GPA with all 17 programs achieving at least a 3.0 GPA. This continues a long stretch of academic success in Athletics. It is the 19th-straight semester above a 3.0 GPA, 13th-straight above a 3.2 and 7th in a row with at least a 3.37. Congratulations to all!
  • Competition resumed in late November for our men’s and women’s basketball programs and, to date, the men’s team has completed 11 of the 15 originally scheduled contests while the women have played 9 of 12. In order to be eligible for the NCAA postseason, teams have to reach 13 games played.
  • Finally, spring competition is just around the corner. Due to COVID-19, both the traditional fall sports and regularly scheduled spring sports will compete this spring. Volleyball, track & field, cross country and tennis begin this month, while men’s and women’s soccer, softball, baseball, and golf begin in February. While I am happy that our athletes are going to be able to compete again, the Horizon League will continue to provide safety protocol oversight in order to ensure the health of the teams and athletics staff.
  • On the national front, the NCAA is addressing the issue of Name Image and Likeness, Transfer and financial sustainability. The NCAA Presidential Forum, on which I serve as the representative of the Horizon League, has been tasked with providing guidance on the financial sustainability of college athletics issue. We are currently reviewing the very bold recommendations of the Knight Commission in that regard.


President Vaidya at AASCU Student Success Institute for Provosts

This past Friday, I was delighted to present on the topic of Leadership and Change at the inaugural AASCU Student Success Institute for Provosts where we discussed NKU’s strategic framework and how Success by Design was born, the process by which we adopted it, and implementation and challenges during a global pandemic.

Late last year, I was honored to be elected to the AASCU Board of Directors for a three-year term and I continue to look forward to advancing AASCU's commitment to underrepresented students and meeting the association's strategic priorities on behalf of the more than 3.5 million students we serve.

Federal Reserve Board in Cleveland Board Appointment

The Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland is one of 12 regional Reserve Banks that join the Board of Governors in Washington D.C. to make up the Federal Reserve System. The Cleveland Fed is part of the nation’s central bank and participates in the formulation of federal monetary policy, supervises banking organizations, provides payment and other services to financial institutions and the US Treasury, and performs many activities that support Federal Reserve operations. Additionally, the Bank supports the well-being of communities across its district through research, outreach, and education activities. The Bank has two branches, one in Pittsburgh and the other in Cincinnati.

NKU has a history of partnering with the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland and the Cincinnati Branch. They partner with the Center for Economic Education in the Haile US Bank College of Business under the leadership of Professor Al-Bahrani on a financial literacy program for fifth- and sixth-grade local students and in providing data for our economics students to compete in a virtual experiential learning opportunity the Econ Games.

That is why I am pleased to share that I was appointed to the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland branch board in Cincinnati by the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System. My role is to represent the education sector on the board. My appointment began officially on January 1, 2021. As one of seven members on the board for the Cincinnati branch, I will work with colleagues to provide input about local business conditions and industries.

24/7 Wall St.

Finally, in a special report released just last week, 24/7 Wall St. – a financial news and opinion company - reviewed a range of data from the U.S. Department of Education at over 6,000 colleges and universities, including tuition costs, graduate employment rates, student debt repayment, and median salaries after enrollment, to identify the most affordable colleges with the best outcomes in every state. For the Commonwealth of Kentucky, the university that was identified was – Northern Kentucky University!

Chair Ward 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