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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 May 12, 2021.

1.     That morning, the Board heard three presentations as a part of its Joint Finance and Policy Committee meeting.

  • Interim Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost Ande Durojaiye joined Brittany Motley, a Director with the Education Advisory Board (EAB) and Principal Consultant for Moon Shot for Equity, and Tom Sugar, EAB Vice-President for Partnerships, for a presentation on the Moonshot for Equity Initiative.
  • Director of Athletics Ken Bothof joined Deputy Athletic Director Daniel McIver, Associate Athletic Director for Compliance & SWA Debbie Kirch, Athletics Academic Advisor Nia Dowdy and student-athlete Kayla Thompson, a competitor in women’s track and field and the winner of the Horizon League’s Bobby Fong Award, for an update from Intercollegiate Athletics.
  • Interim Vice President for Administration and Finance and CFO Mike Hales gave a report on tuition and the annual operating budget.

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. Ellen Maddin and Dr. Greg Martin. 

The Board’s annual retreat is scheduled for July 21-22, 2021, and the next regularly scheduled meeting is scheduled for September 8, 2021.




Presidential Comments
Board of Regents
May 12, 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.

Acknowledge Regents who are leaving

Before we get started, I’d like to thank a few members of the board who are participating in their final Board of Regents meeting today.

  • First, our student regent, Lauren Goodwin, graduated from NKU this past weekend with a degree in criminal justice with minors in pre-law and organizational leadership. Lauren has been a leader in many capacities on campus throughout her time here with organizations such as the Women’s Soccer Club and the Northern Kentucky Leadership Institute. And of course, she served this past year as President of NKU’s Student Government Association. I can’t imagine a more challenging tenure as SGA president and Lauren served admirably. Thank you, Lauren, and best wishes in the future.
  • Staff Regent Jim Parker has been with us just a short time in this capacity, but like he has always done in his 30 years of service to NKU, he stepped up when he was needed this December to fill a Board vacancy. Jim has been the building services supervisor here since 2017 and leads a strong team of dedicated custodians and labor crew. Thank you, Jim. It has been a pleasure and I am grateful you are part of this community.
  • Regent Lee Scheben has served on this Board since 2015, including recently as Board Chair. He has long been an advocate for this university. Lee is eligible for reappointment, and we certainly hope that happens, but we wanted to be sure to acknowledge his service at this last meeting of the academic year. Thank you, Regent Scheben.
  • Finally, Regent Dennis Repenning is leaving us after many years of dedicated service to this university, including two terms as regent beginning in 2009 and a term as Board Chair from 2013-2015. He also served on the Presidential Search Committee in 2017 … and we all know how well that search turned out. Regent Repenning, thank you for your service and dedication to this university.

Welcome New Regents

  • I would also like to welcome Student Government President Aliya Cannon and Cori Henderson who will join the Board on July 1 as student and staff regent respectively. Dr. Michael Baranowski has also been re-elected as Faculty Regent. I am excited to work with each of you. Thank you for your service to NKU.


Last weekend, we celebrated our first in-person commencement since 2019, and I believe that is a great place to begin.

During our ceremonies Friday, Saturday and Sunday, we honored the success of more than 1,700 May 2021 graduates and more than 3,000 graduates from 2020. Among those learners joining our more than 77,000 NKU alumni were 551 students graduating with honors … that’s a GPA of 3.5 or over! There were 619 first-generation students among the graduates, 941 grads who were post-traditional learners, 258 under-represented minority learners and 42 active military personnel or veterans.

We were also able to welcome back many of our 2020 grads for a much deserved ceremony of their own on Sunday afternoon.

On behalf of our entire community, I want to offer congratulations to these graduating classes and best wishes for the future.

I also want to thank our special events team for their planning not only for this May, but for their great work on our previous two virtual commencement exercises. Special thanks to Chair Ward, Vice Chair Desmarais, and Regent Repenning who represented the Board during the ceremonies. 

Thank Community for a Successful Academic Year

Commencement is always a fitting end to the academic year and this weekend was a wonderful celebration of perseverance, grit and hard work.

I want to thank the entire campus community for a successful year where we met significant challenges while remaining focused on student success.

Now we can look forward to going “Back to the Future” this fall with a renewed commitment to serving our students and the region.

Fall 2021 — Back to the Future

We will share the full scope of the plan for Fall with the campus soon, but our students will enjoy an enhanced experience, which will include in-person learning, residence halls at capacity, and campus events and activities that engage them and the community in ways we have come to expect. Our university will have the vibrancy that we yearn for, but with a renewed sense of how we support our students.   

We are using what we have learned through the pandemic to create an even more responsive and supportive experience for learners so we can significantly boost retention, persistence and graduation rates and close equity gaps.

Idea Challenge for Vaccine Equity

Speaking of the pandemic, we have worked to get our region vaccinated against COVID-19. As of Monday, 56.3 percent of northern Kentucky residents over the age of 18 have had at least one shot.

The Institute for Health Innovations hosted the Idea Challenge for Vaccine Equity last month in partnership with St. Elizabeth Healthcare and the Northern Kentucky Public Health Department. 

The event challenged regional college students to pitch their big ideas on how to get accurate and timely COVID-19 vaccination information to medically underserved communities. Entries came from all over the region, including from NKU, UC, Xavier, and Miami University.

Finalists competed in a live virtual event on April 26 when they pitched their proposals to a panel of judges from the IHI, St. Elizabeth, the Health Department and community leaders representing the underserved.

You may view the proposals and winners by visiting the Idea Challenge website at

Spring 2021 Enrollment Update

As Mike Hales shared earlier this morning, we have mixed news with respect to enrollment going into the next fiscal year. While our accelerated online (AOL) graduate enrollments continue to climb, the undergraduate enrollment fell 5 percent this Spring mainly due to falling persistence rates by our continuing students. We are seeing declines in first-year student fall-to-spring retention rates which fell to 82.8 percent from a three-year average of 86.1 percent and a five-year average of 86.5 percent.

The retention rates of our underrepresented minorities, first-generation, and low-income students also saw some of the lowest rates in the last couple decades.

However, with HERF II and student success initiatives underway, we are optimistic that we can impact fall retention and persistence throughout the summer and heading into fall.

CPE Funded Summer Academy

Last week, NKU was awarded a CPE Summer Bridge Grant of more than $42,000 to fully fund the pilot for our NKU Summer Academy.

The intention is to demonstrate the feasibility of a Summer Academy and support students’ transition into a comprehensive first-year experience.

This program will be an extension of NKU’s Summer Spark program and will support 25 incoming students who meet pre-college academic criteria that place them at-risk before they even start college. It will provide these students the opportunity to take two in-person courses with an NKU faculty member and peer teaching assistant and earn six credit hours before their fall semester, among other opportunities.

All expenses for this program will be covered by the grant.

Success by Design Metrics

Our work on Success by Design continues as well. In late March, Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer Bonita Brown announced the launch of new Success by Design Metrics. The metrics measure the things we value across our strategic pillars. I encourage you to take a look at our new metrics website:

Founders Day

The last Board meeting coincided with our Founders’ Day celebration during which we encouraged the community to participate in our Inaugural Day of Giving.

More than 600 people in the NKU community helped raise in excess of $316,000 on NKU Founders’ Day to support scholarships, university programs and much more. Thank you to all who gave and who continue to give for coming together to support our students.

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

  • NKU is celebrating Asian Pacific American Heritage Month this month. Throughout May, the Office of Inclusive Excellence will be sharing the names, stories and photos of Asians and Pacific Islanders on social media. We celebrate them for their incredible achievements and contributions to America's history.
  • The Office of Inclusive Excellence submitted NKU’s 2019-20 Council on Postsecondary Education Diversity Report on March 1. The Council scores progress annually on both quantitative and qualitative elements. We received our score last month and I am delighted to announce that NKU has passed, met and exceeded all minimum qualifications and targets mandated to provide new academic programs.
    The minimum score to pass for four-year institutions is a 24.  NKU received a 29 out of 36, including a perfect 18 out of 18 on the qualitative portion of our report.
    Our score for 2020 is our largest increase and highest score since this reporting process started. Congratulations to all involved.  


  • The IHI received a $750,000 grant from the EDA to support the Collaborative for Economic Engagement at 112 Pike Street in Covington. The grant is designed to accelerate economic recovery in the region through entrepreneurship and innovation, with a special focus on women, underrepresented, and rural entrepreneurs. 

Student Affairs Updates

  • May is Mental Health Awareness Month and representatives from Health, Counseling & Student Wellness were present in the Student Union all last week providing education and awareness to students, as well as handing out promotional items to encourage mental wellness on campus. The staff in that office is also promoting mental health awareness on social media throughout this month.
  • As part of our focus on mental health, gold folders have been distributed to all staff and faculty with resources on how to help a student. In addition to the hard copies, one can also access The Gold Folder on NKU's Student Affairs webpage. We are already receiving positive feedback from faculty and staff about this valuable resource.
  • The virtual Latino Programs and Services’ annual fiesta celebration of Latino students was hosted by students Jacky Romo and Brittney Cabrera with featured keynote speaker Anthony Muñoz. Incoming Latino scholarship recipients were recognized, along with well-deserved recognition of the 2020 and 2021 Latino students who had the highest GPA from each of the colleges. The 2020 and 2021 Latino Mentor Program Mentees of the Year were also recognized. Thank you to everyone who had a hand in bringing the community together for this important year-end event and congratulations to Latino Programs and Services for 20 years of honoring our Latino learners.
  • In April, the Gold and White Celebration honored the hard work of our student leaders and organizations. More than 100 students from more than 50 organizations participated in the virtual event this year.
  • UJIMA: A Night of Black Excellence was also held in April. Ujima is a Swahili word as well as the third principle of Kwanzaa, meaning “collective work and responsibility.” It is in this spirit of unity that the community comes together annually to celebrate the achievements and excellence of our Black faculty, staff and students at NKU. This annual event is hosted by the NKU Black Faculty and Staff Association in partnership with the Office of African American Student Initiatives. It is also one of the Office of Admission’s signature recruitment events for prospective African American students and their families. This year's celebration was held virtually with more than 150 in attendance, including Keynote Speaker Romana Malone, the School Board Chair of Newport Independent Schools. The event also featured performances by the NKU Anointed Voices Gospel Choir, current NKU students and alumni. The Black Faculty and Staff Association awarded students with more than $4,200 in scholarships. 
  • Sherehe, which means celebration in Swahili, is another signature semester-end program to celebrate our African and African American graduates through the office of African American Student Initiatives. SHEREHE intends to provide African and African American graduates with a more intimate ceremony honoring their achievements. During the ceremony, family members have an opportunity to have an active role by donning their graduate with a Kente academic stole, which is provided by the Office of African American Student Initiatives. This spring’s ceremony took place last week in a hybrid format with 36 students participating as well as performances from Anointed Voices Gospel Choir and other current students.  
  • In late April, 36 student organizations set up our first student organization rally in more than 18 months in the Student Union lobby. All of our nine areas of engagement were represented and the students had a great time seeing one another and recruiting students for their organizations.
  • Finally, in late March, the Center for Student Inclusiveness coordinated a program to celebrate Women’s History Month. The program entitled “Exploring Womxnhood: A Panel Discussion With NKU Women About Lived Experiences,” included members of NKU’s community sharing the challenges women face today. This program was moderated by Dr. Bonnie Meyer, the Director of LGBTQ Programs & Services and included Dr. Nicole Dillard, Irene Encarnación, Amanda Johnson and Dr. Aimee Krug.

Academic Affairs Updates

·       In the College of Arts and Sciences, the Kentucky Center for Mathematics secured $275,000 in grant funds for the design and implementation of a statewide professional learning course which supports the Mathematics Teaching Practices.

·       An NKU team consisting of computer science majors taking the Cryptology class placed first in the team Kyrptos codebreaking contest held by Central Washington University. There were 128 participants in the contest, forming 65 teams from across the world. The NKU team finished all three challenges in four-and-a-half hours and was one of only 10 teams to do so. Congratulations to all.

·       MPA and organizational leadership faculty Dr. Nicole Dillard and Dr. Kobena Osam and developed a best practice guide for the entire NKU community in support of Black student wellbeing. It focuses on developing support to foster healthy learning environments for Black students who have been impacted by two public health pandemics in COVID-19 and racism. The guide was shared in the NKU Faculty Research, Scholarship and Creative Activities newsletter in March.

·       The ACCSB Board of Directors has extended the Haile/US Bank College of Business’ accreditation for an additional five years. Only about 5 percent of business schools worldwide have this very prestigious accreditation.

·       Finally, the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship 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 Chase College of Law has been named a Top School for Business Law in 2021 and a Top School for Litigation and Advocacy in 2020 by PreLaw Advisor, a national publication. This designation places Chase in the top 10 percent of U.S. law schools for these categories.

·       In the College of Education, the Supported Higher Education Project (SHEP) at NKU has been awarded a $65,000 Kentucky state grant. SHEP is an initiative that provides meaningful inclusive opportunities to up to 10 young adults with an intellectual disability on the NKU campus. With support from volunteer peer mentors, NKU students with disabilities take university courses, engage in student activities and organizations, and complete on-campus internships. Congratulations to project director, Dr. Melissa Jones.

·       Back in March, the US National Security Agency notified Computer Science faculty members Dr. Ankur Chattopadhyay and Emily Taylor in the College of Informatics that they had earned a prestigious NSA GenCyber grant. This $75,000 grant will fund a two-week immersive summer experience giving high-school teachers a solid foundation in cybersecurity, with the goal of enhancing the teaching of the field and ultimately increasing the pool of cybersecurity talent. Companies including Western & Southern Financial Group and US Bank have agreed to contribute teacher engagement opportunities as part of the grant project, and NKU students will assist in the workshop.

·       The Steely Library supported its first Library Fellowship for Undergraduate Students of Color this spring. Elisabeth Kone is from the Ivory Coast and is a junior majoring in Psychology with a minor in Studio Arts. As part of the fellowship, Elisabeth was awarded $1,500 for her participation in the program and introduced to academic librarianship, a challenging and rewarding field filled with mobility and advancement potential. Elisabeth worked closely with a mentor team of library faculty and staff and completed a bibliography of Kentucky artists, authors, and musicians. Her research project will be showcased in Steely Library’s digital repository. Congratulations, Elisabeth.

·       During Experiential Learning Week late last month, a different experiential learning practice was highlighted each day, focusing on study abroad, internships and practicums, student research and creativity, and service learning. We saw 11 live panels and 8 pre-recorded videos including 79 students, faculty, staff and community member panelists representing every college.

·       Also that week, the spring 2021 Celebration of Student Research and Creativity included 212 presentations involving 49 mentors and 274 students. Over the course of the two-day event, we had 243 visitors who played 2,275 videos online. NKU utilized a new system and streamlined presentations that made the Celebration viewable to the external community and employers. Congratulations to all our students and their faculty mentors for such a successful celebration of student work.

Administration and Finance Update

  • Last month, NKU issued $205.5 million in taxable bonds to finance our estimated KERS cessation lump sum payment, taking advantage of the low interest rates. The NKU team and external consultants did a great job working through all of the complex financial, legal and political issues associated with the issuance. The preparation for this important work began soon after the Board decision to exit KERS and involved seeking and receiving a favorable credit opinion from Moody’s. Due to the strong demand in the bond market, NKU was able to receive very favorable terms in its sale of taxable bonds.
  • The bond issuance has been referenced in a number of national publications as a potential model for other institutions with pension funding issues. Congratulations to all involved in this important work.


  • Track & Field’s Kayla Thompson was recently named the Horizon League’s Bobby Fong Award recipient. The award is presented to the student-athlete who displays the attributes of integrity, respect and stewardship. Kayla is the third Norse to win the award in its six-year history.
  • As you heard this morning from Athletics, our fall and spring sports have had tremendous seasons this spring in competition and inside the classroom … and we currently stand third in the Horizon League McCafferty Trophy all-sports standings.
  • NKU also earned the right to host both the Horizon League Women’s Soccer Championship as well as the Men’s Soccer Championship. While both the women and men played an exemplary match, we fell just a little short against UW Milwaukee. The NKU Men’s Tennis team also made it to the Horizon League championship game losing a tough set of matches to #1 ranked Cleveland State University.


  • Our esports varsity team will be a full member of the Esports Collegiate Conference (ESC) for the fall season.
  • We are the second non-founding institution to join the conference since its creation last June and our students will compete in all fall and spring competitions for the league going forward. The 12 schools in the conference include Miami University of Ohio, Akron, Ball State, and Northeastern University among others.
  • The NKU Esports Club has been around since 2016, but we launched our varsity program last October through seed funding from the Success by Design 2020 Innovation Challenge.
  • The club now has nearly 600 active members and recently opened its official arena and hub called, “The Sandbox.” This arena has state-of-the-art gaming stations and periphery equipment, as well as large monitors for fans to watch live competitions and game replays.

National Teacher Appreciation Week and National Nurses Week

I would like to end on a couple important acknowledgements, beginning with a note of gratitude for two service-oriented professions. Last week, we celebrated National Teacher Appreciation Week across the country and on campus, honoring all of our wonderful faculty here and the teachers throughout our region.

Today is nursing pioneer Florence Nightingale’s 201st birthday and the final day of Nurses Week, which we celebrate every year from May 6 to May 12 to honor the incredible nurses who have always been there to care for us when needed. That is especially true this year.

Thank you to the teachers and nurses, and to the faculty mentoring the future students pursuing a career in these noble fields.

All Roads Lead to NKU

Finally, NKU and the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Cincinnati are partnering to ensure the region’s youth have a pathway toward a college degree and a more rewarding future through a new outreach event we are calling, “All Roads Lead to NKU.”

We will take an open house on the road beginning this Saturday at the Boys & Girls Club in Price Hill to show prospective students what it's like being a student at NKU. They will have the opportunity to learn more about getting involved on campus, residential housing and many different career pathways. Advisors from Admissions and Financial Aid will be on hand, along with current students to help address questions.

In June, we will visit the Kenton County Boys & Girls Club for a similar event.

I appreciate all work in making this new outreach event happen.

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