My Dear NKU,
It’s finally October 2 and I am officially your seventh president! I hope that you can sense the honor and joy I feel to serve you. In addition to other communication modes, I plan to write to you regularly and post these messages on the president’s office website, in case you’re interested in catching them in a forum other than your email box. Today’s message focuses upon five themes: home, listening, joy, positive momentum, and thanks.
First, home--I am happy to be home with you at NKU. As most of you know or have heard, I spent the first 14 years of my career here and have built my academic leadership record and style upon the lessons, norms, and values I learned here. Student-centeredness, scholarly teaching, regional engagement, shared governance, and belonging are core to me, thanks to you. I have built many programs, services, and initiatives in the 13 years I’ve been leading elsewhere, many informed by my time at NKU. Put simply, I love this institution’s mission and people.
Second, listening--I have been listening closely to all NKU constituents since this search process began and am ready to listen actively to you—each of you. For those who don’t know, I once taught an Effective Listening class and take listening very seriously because I know how critical this skill is to be an effective leader, strategist, and friend. My calendar is filling up with many listening sessions with the colleges, units, student groups, external constituents, and more. Higher education is people-centric work, and I will lead you best if I hear from you and weave aspects of your ideas, insights, and imagination into my leadership and vision. My email address is Cady@nku.edu and you’ll see me all over this campus—please extend yourself to me. In addition to the formal responsibilities of my new role, my husband Steve Thompson and I are thrilled to attend countless university and community events in the weeks and months ahead. Just this weekend, Steve and I were jazzed to attend the first graduating class’s alumni events, a phenomenal SOTA performance (highly recommend—so much talent!), and Norse athletics events (women’s volleyball, softball, and soccer)! When you see us on campus, please share updates, information, and ideas with us--and yes, we will work hard to learn your names and understand all that you do for NKU!
Third, joy—I have felt sheer joy, thanks to each of you who has called, texted, emailed, posted, or greeted me in person to congratulate me. Once offered the position, I knew that this was going to feel special, but it has been better than I imagined to be welcomed back by thousands of my beloved NKU alumni and colleagues, congratulated by thousands of my UC colleagues and other partners in Northern Kentucky and Greater Cincinnati, and celebrated by even more friends, neighbors, and family from 51 years in this region. You have made a beautiful full circle moment even more beautiful and joyful for me. I am genuinely grateful and feel even more energized to do the best work of my whole career here with and for you (that’s right—this leadership role is my grand finale and I plan to serve you for many years).
Fourth, positive momentum—I return with a commitment to move us forward as effectively and swiftly as possible, informed by data as well as your voices and ideas. It will take teamwork, hard work, trust, forward leaning, and positive attitudes--I am eager to build us forward with and for you. Know that my top priorities are to strengthen our enrollments and finances while also nurturing a healthy and positive culture on our campus, as we build NKU to flourish well into the future. It will take time, but I am confident that we will grow and thrive together. I am committed to creating major positive momentum with you to best meet the needs of our students and this region with the values that have served us well for decades.
Fifth, thanks--I offer sincere thanks to Bonita Brown, JD, for her strong and compassionate leadership as Interim President from January until now. Please join me in thanking her for the important and valued role she has played and know that I am eager to work closely with her in
this transition onward. Additionally, it is clear to me that folks in all roles have stepped up during a particularly challenging year and I offer my thanks to you as well. Finally, I also want to thank Eric Gentry, Corey Best, Tammy Knochelmann, and everyone on the Marketing/Communication and Development teams who have worked hard to plan and execute the presidential announcement, communication, and transition activities. I genuinely appreciate the teamwork that has facilitated each and every detail for my smooth transition. I’ll end as I began, there’s no place like NKU and there’s no place like home.
Onward and Upward--Here we go!
Cady Short-Thompson, PhD