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To: Faculty and Staff
From: Bonita J. Brown, J.D.
Interim President, Northern Kentucky University
Date: 01/20/23
Subject: Thank You and A Look Forward


Dear NKU faculty, staff and students,

I am honored and excited to be of service to Northern Kentucky University as your interim president. I am thankful to the Board of Regents for selecting me for this opportunity.

I am also grateful to the Board as they have been working very diligently behind the scenes on numerous matters to ensure that NKU remains connected to its mission and its place in the region. Thank you for all that you do.

In my role as vice president and chief strategy officer, I have been privileged to work with many of you across the campus on our strategic plan, Success by Design, so I am very excited about continuing to work with you in this new role.

I know these are difficult, challenging and uncertain times, but NKU is known for its resiliency and how it supports students in reaching their academic goals. I have seen many of you go above and beyond to get the work done and to support our students.

We have seen the results:

  • Our overall retention rate is up to 77.5 percent, better than the 70 percent during COVID in 2021, and we closed the equity gap nearly 7 percentage points during that time.
  • Our six-year graduation rate has increased to 51.7 percent, up from 49.7 percent during COVID. Our six-year graduation rate has increased nearly 8 percentage points over the last five years.
  • Just a month ago, NKU awarded 1,334 degrees and celebrated the ultimate in student success.

We are doing the hard work and while we have had successes, there is more to be done. I wish I could tell you that things were going to immediately be different going forward, but I think we all know that we still have difficult work to do. As we work through our finances and our enrollment challenges, I ask for your support and your patience.

As you might imagine, I have not yet determined any plans for my tenure. However, I do know that we will need to do three things:

  • We must focus on stabilizing our campus regarding budget, processes, policies and procedures.
  • We should build on our sense of community by bringing back vibrancy to campus and building new connections. We have a lot of new faculty and staff who arrived during the pandemic, and we need to connect with each other.
  • We will refocus on our purposes of student success and being a steward of place for this region.

I will be on tour and hosting listening sessions across campus in the near future, and I really want to hear your thoughts and your ideas. I want you to be thinking about what you can do in this moment because maintaining the status quo is not an option. Be ready to embrace change.

NKU has a special place in the hearts of many people in this community, the region and across the state, and we are vital to the growth of this region. Together, we can continue to exemplify the NKU spirit while, at the same time, positioning ourselves for the new realities ahead. I am excited and humbled and cannot wait to work with this amazing campus.