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To: Faculty and Staff
From: President Ashish Vaidya
Date: 01/21/22
Subject: January Board of Regents Summary

Dear Colleagues:

Below is the summary of the presentations and activity that took place at the Board of Regents meeting on January 19, 2022.

  1. That morning, the Board heard three presentations as a part of its Joint Finance and Policy Committee meeting:
    1. Assistant Provost for Special Projects and Professor Jason Vest, Professor Mark Bardgett and Professor Seyed Allameh joined NKU students Karlee Migneault, Natasha Nail, Alexis Eckart and Jose Fonseca Lopez, and Gatton Academy of Mathematics student Avery Lenihan for an update on sabbaticals, project grants and summer fellowships.
    2. Dean Ginni Fair joined Dr. Shannon Reeves, director of The Primrose School of Symmes and an NKU alumna, and NKU student Kandice Williams for an update from the College of Education.
    3. Vice President and Executive Director of the Institute for Health Innovation Valerie Hardcastle updated the committee on the Institute for Health Innovation.
  2. In the afternoon, the Board approved all recommended items, including Academic Affairs and non-academic personnel actions, major gifts acceptance and Staff Emeritus status for Leo Calderón. 

The Board’s next regularly scheduled meeting will be March 16, 2022.




Presidential Comments
Board of Regents
January 19, 2022

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.

We begin the first Board meeting of 2022 in a virtual format which has been the norm for nearly two years now. This was necessitated due the surge in cases due to the Omicron variant of Covid-19.   As we have done before, the faculty and staff we adapted and responded quickly, to ensure that we continue to serve students while keeping everyone safe.

We announced that spring 2022 semester classes would be delayed a week and would start January 18 instead of January 10. The delay was meant to give faculty some time to plan safe in-person and hybrid activities for the first few weeks. It is our hope that by February the Omicron wave of COVID-19 will subside.

I want to express my deep appreciation to the faculty and staff for once again being flexible and responsive to the needs of our students.

Leo Calderón Recognition

I want to begin by recognizing Leonel Calderón, who is being recommended for Staff Emeritus status.

Staff Emeritus rank is awarded to staff members upon retirement who have provided distinguished service to NKU and have met NKU retirement eligibility.

Leo, as most of us know him, was the longtime director of Latino Student Initiatives, who retired earlier this month. Leo has been an integral member of NKU for more than 35 years, serving as Director of Latino Student Initiatives since 2001.

Leo is much deserving of this honor and I strongly recommend for Leo Calderón to receive this designation.


Interim VP Administration and Finance

I would like to welcome Benjamin Figueroa as the interim Vice President for Administration & Finance/CFO.  Ben’s appointment began on January 1, 2022 and will be through the end of June while we conduct the search for a permanent Vice President for Administration & Finance/CFO.

Ben has over 30 years of experience in higher education finance in the California State University System office, Cal State LA and more recently at Hartnell Community College District as their Vice President for Administrative Services and Chief Business Officer.

Ben and I worked together when I was Provost at Cal State LA where he served as my Director of Academic Finances/Resources directing the administration and finances of the Academic Affairs Division, including six colleges and the University Library.

Ben resides in Pasadena, California with his wife of 30 years, Marion Chew Figueroa. They have 3 adult children.

Please join me in welcoming Ben.


Tammy Knochelmann & Bonita Brown

Earlier this month, Tammy Knochelmann accepted an appointment as Executive Secretary to the Board of Regents.  She will take on her new responsibilities with the Board while continuing to serve as Executive Assistant to the President. I am grateful for her service and commitment to NKU. Tammy has been a vital member of the Office of the President for many years, and I am confident the work of this office and the work of the Board will continue at a high level.

Please join me in congratulating Tammy on her new role.

I would also like to take this opportunity to recognize Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer, Bonita Brown, who previously served as Executive Secretary to the Board. 

Bonita has transitioned to focusing exclusively on the critical work of implementing Success by Design and serving as the campus coordinator for the Northern Kentucky/Greater Cincinnati Moon Shot for Equity initiative. 

Bonita, thank you for your outstanding service to the Board. 


Legislative and Budget Updates

The Kentucky General Assembly convened for its 60-day working session on January 4 with the primary task of crafting a two-year budget. NKU’s priorities for the session are primarily focused on funding requests.  These include:

An increase in the performance funding appropriation. The Council on Postsecondary Education (CPE) has requested $67.5 million in 2022-23 and $90 million in 2023-24. This represents an increase of 10% in higher education funding. NKU continues to perform well in the measured outcomes categories and stands to benefit from more investment in the model.

CPE is requesting $350 million in each year of the biennial budget to fund asset preservation projects. The CPE proposal will require a 50% match from the institution for these projects. NKU’s top priorities for asset preservation are improvements to the Fine Arts Center and Steely Library.

We are also hopeful the general assembly will consider funding for new capital projects. We are in conversation with legislative leaders about strategic investments in NKU’s capital plan priorities.

CPE is also requesting $60 million for a fifth round of Bucks for Brains funding, an endowment program that matches state investment with private donations to support research at the University of Kentucky and University of Louisville and strengthen essential programs at the comprehensive universities.

In addition to these funding priorities, we will be closely monitoring any bills that would impact the university and our operations.

Governor Beshear is proposing to fully fund CPE’s request but in the form of base funding rather than in the performance funding pool. He is also providing $60 million for Bucks for Brains and an additional $10 million for Bucks for Brains for regional comprehensives. The Governor’s budget includes $500 million for Asset Preservation with 50% institution match while allowing CPE to grant a waiver for part or all of the match. Finally he is including bond funding for up to two capital projects for each institution.

The House released its version of the budget as well and it includes $50 million each year for Performance Funding, $30 million for Bucks for Brains for UK/UL only, and $700 million for Asset Preservation, $350 million in each year of the biennium with a 25% match for UK and UL only.

While we follow the deliberations in Frankfort, we have initiated the process for developing the FY23 budget for the university. Last week I shared with the campus, the budget development guidelines, expectations, timeline and process. The university budget will be brought before the Board for action during the June meeting.


Academic Affairs Updates

The Mayerson Student Philanthropy Program, offered by the Scripps Howard Center for Civic Engagement, is in its 21st year, and completed the Fall 2021 semester with 17 classes. Together, the classes invested $34,000 in 22 different nonprofits. The range of needs funded included emergency housing, a food pantry, a museum exhibit, special education, and after-school classes at community centers.

For Spring 2022, there are 16 classes across thirteen disciplines. Professors Julie Olberding and Megan Downing recently published research that confirms that teaching with student philanthropy in online classes delivers the same benefits to student learning that teaching in-person delivers. Their article, published in the Journal of Nonprofit Education and Leadership, is one of more than two dozen published over the past 20 years by our faculty reporting the benefits of using student philanthropy in the classroom. NKU professors are the leading scholars in the nation on this creative way of teaching.

Steely Library launched a new state-of-the-art makerspace called Stego Studio last September, enabling students, faculty, and staff to access high-quality prototyping and fabrication equipment, including high-end 3D printers, scanners and a Glowforge laser cutter. Expert library staff partner with members of the NKU community in support of project-based learning and research across the disciplines. During the fall semester, Stego Studio supported diverse projects ranging from visual aids for public speaking, armatures for stop motion animation, and models of hands for radiology.

Earlier this month, Mr. Derrick Robertson joined the NKU community as the Senior Director of Undergraduate Admissions. With over 10 years of experience working in higher education at a variety of institutions, he will be leading the effort to expand recruitment of diverse learners across the region, the Commonwealth and beyond. He comes to us from the University of Cincinnati where he was Director of Recruitment for the College of Arts and Sciences. Derrick has his bachelor’s and JD from Southern University and a Master’s in higher education from Sam Houston State University.

Please join me in welcoming Derrick to NKU.

In December 2021, Professor Michael Mannheimer in the Chase College of Law was elected to the prestigious American Law Institute. The ALI is the leading organization producing scholarly work to clarify, modernize and improve American law. Membership is limited to leading voices on the bench, bar and academia. By participating in the Institute’s work, Professor Mannheimer will have the opportunity to influence the development of the law in both existing and emerging areas, and to work with other eminent lawyers, judges, and academics.

Dr. Isabelle Lagadic from the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry in the College of Arts and Sciences was awarded the Outstanding Intrapreneur Award for 2021 in Education from the Global Intrapreneur Institute for her work with the International Research and Scholarly Exchange Program (IRSEP). Congratulations, Dr. Lagadic.

Dr. Kobena Osam has been working with five MPA students to develop a best practice guide for NKU advisors to enhance the quality of support for Black students during the pandemic. The students involved in this project are: Nick Bliven, Krystal Daniels, Julie Muehlenkamp, Monique Nuby, and Will Parsons. With Dr. Osam's guidance, these MPA students are applying organizational theory to develop a product to improve organizational performance.

As U.S. embassies abroad have begun to open again, we have seen an increase in international students applying to study at NKU. While last spring we were only able to welcome 30 new international students to NKU, we are delighted to welcome nearly 100 new international students this spring. We hope to see increased interest from international students for semesters to come, with more applications and a higher yield.


Student Success Summit

This past Friday, we held our third annual Student Success Summit. This was a virtual event where we celebrated and highlighted the various work NKU is doing to support students and reaffirmed our commitment to CARE — which stands for creativity, appreciation, resiliency and engagement. We also heard from a panel with representatives from the southeastern Wisconsin region – the 1st region to launch the Moon Shot for Equity initiative - to better understand how the initiative is working for them.


Student Affairs Update

In December, the Division of Student Affairs welcomed Ms. Priscilla Ayala, as the Unit Director for the Center for Student Inclusiveness and the Director for Latino Student Initiatives. Her work has focused on building collaborations with diversity, equity, and inclusion on campus and with community partners to ensure a support system for students as they foster a sense of their self-identity and belonging during their academic careers. Priscilla has both her bachelor’s and Master’s from Missouri State University. She comes to us most recently from the University of Arizona.

This year marked the 29th annual Norse Leadership Society (NLS) Fall Retreat, and 92 students joined 24 faculty and staff for a weekend of leadership development and community building. The Norse Leadership Fall Retreat is a four day, personal and professional leadership development retreat for Northern Kentucky University students.

Parents Attending College had 36 student-parent families register for assistance this year, with a total of 130 individuals. Thanks to our generous sponsors, all individuals received at least one gift.

Unfortunately, this past weekend we had to cancel the annual MLK day of Service. However, we were able to honor the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. with virtual events and opportunities for service.

The National Panhellenic Council plot, a winning idea from the 2020 NKU Innovation Challenge, will have a groundbreaking on Saturday, February 5, at 2:00 p.m. This plot will provide an area on NKU’s campus that will foster a sense of pride for past, present, and future members of the NPHC community and create a positive environment for NPHC to promote sororities and fraternities while educating students about the history of these diverse organizations.

And finally, Homecoming Week will take place January 31 through February 5. The theme this year is “Fantastic Voyage: NKU Through the Decades.” We also recently announced the 2022 Alumni Awards recipients. They are:

Nathan Smith (’94); Jakki Haussler (’88); Tracy Schwegmann (’95); H. McGuire (Mac) Riley (’86); John P. B. Jose (’15); and Peg Adams (’86)


Office of Inclusive Excellence

I am happy to note that we have hired Morgan Keilholz as Title IX Investigator in the Office of Inclusive Excellence. Reporting to CDO Darryl Peal, she started at NKU on January 4, 2022. Welcome, Morgan.


Administration and Finance Update

The office of University Wellness received Silver Level recognition on the Workplace Health Achievement Index with the American Heart Association for 2021 for building a culture of workplace health and well-being. The American Heart Association’s Workplace Health Achievement Index measures the extent to which the company has implemented workplace health best practices. Organizations recognized at the Silver level have achieved an Index score of 105 – 127 out of a maximum 217 points.

The office of IT has successfully completed the Multi-factor Authentication (MFA) security pilot. Multi-factor authentication is a layered approach to securing data and applications where a system requires a user to present a combination of two or more credentials to verify a user’s identity for login. MFA increases security because even if one credential becomes compromised, unauthorized users will be unable to meet the second authentication requirement and will not be able to access the targeted physical space, computing device, network, or database. We will be expanding its use to all faculty and staff accounts as quickly as possible. 



Academic excellence continues to be a tradition among Northern Kentucky University's student-athletes. The Norse registered a department-wide 3.41 cumulative GPA.

Seven programs registered GPAs of at least 3.50, including volleyball, softball, soccer, cross country, women’s track and field and golf. The women’s tennis team once again registered a 3.72, the highest GPA among all programs.

I want to recognize the retirement of Athletic Director Ken Bothof. After nine years leading our Division I Norse Athletics programs, Ken will be retiring effective June 30, 2022.

During his tenure as AD, Ken overhauled our athletic program. and assisted in our transition to Division I. Ken’s focus on academics should be celebrated too, boasting 14-straight semesters with a cumulative, department-wide GPA of 3.20 or better. That also includes a current streak of eight-consecutive semesters of a GPA better than 3.37.

Facility enhancements included new turf installations for soccer, baseball and softball, as well as rebranding in BB&T Arena, NKU Soccer Stadium, Regents Hall and Albright Health Center. We are beginning a national search for a new athletic director soon and we will share details with the campus as soon as possible. Please join me in thanking Ken for his service and congratulating him on a great career.

Chair Ward and members of the Board, that concludes my remarks for today’s meeting.