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Dear Colleagues:

This message was supposed to provide you with a legislative update since the Kentucky General Assembly convened on January 5 for its annual legislative session.

It is ironic that yesterday will go down as one of the most painful, tragic, and disgraceful days in our history and for our democracy. Back in October, I shared some thoughts about the upcoming elections and the pride I have for our system of governance which serves as a beacon of democracy to the world.

Which is why the events of the past two months culminating in yesterday’s acts of mob violence were unbelievable. Instead of celebrating an historic election – more Americans voted in 2020 than in any other election; the most secure election in history; and one that produced the first woman and a woman of color no less, to be elected vice president - we witnessed a relentless attack on the integrity of the election and the creation of a false narrative about the result.

As I watched in horror at the unfolding events at the Capitol, I asked myself – how did it get to this? How will we recover from the damage to our democratic and social norms?

More than a century ago, John Dewey professed that American democracy requires that the education community look to civic engagement to advance both community and campus. Yesterday’s horrific events were a powerful reminder of our obligation to uphold, instill and reinforce the values of democracy in our students and ensure that they can understand and analyze data and information, so that the truth guides us and our actions.

As far as the Kentucky General Assembly is concerned, there will be several issues of interest to us in the current 30-day legislative session:

  • Whether there will be an increase in the FY22 budget for postsecondary education.
  • As part of our decision to exit the Kentucky Employee Retirement System, we will need some legislation to enable our ongoing bond payment obligations.
  • The Performance Funding Working Group, which included my fellow university presidents, as well as Council on Postsecondary Education leadership, Senator David Givens, Representative James Tipton and Budget Director David Hicks, reviewed the current model and approved some minor changes that will be presented to the General Assembly for adoption during the session. The most relevant change to the model is that each institution’s current appropriation (not including funding for mandated programs and debt service) will become the floor appropriation for the next three years. Any additional appropriation will flow through the performance funding formula. This is mostly good news for NKU and provides us with more certainty about our annual appropriation while giving us an opportunity to earn more through improved performance. However, we will continue our push for parity funding with other state institutions in future discussions.  

We will also be monitoring any bills filed that relate to higher education and provide updates throughout the duration of the session. If the need arises, we will encourage you to contact your legislator. You can use this link to find your representatives in Frankfort.

If you need additional information about the legislative session, please contact our new AVP of Economic Engagement & Government Relations, Carmen Hickerson, at

I will continue to share developments and new information as it becomes available. Thank you for all you do for our university, our students and our region.