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September Board of Regents Update

Dear Colleagues:

I write to update you on last Wednesday’s Board of Regents meeting.  The Board met as part of its regular meeting schedule.

The Board heard four presentations during its morning session. 

Leah Stewart, Interim Associate Vice President for Enrollment Management, presented our preliminary enrollment figures for the Fall 2014 semester.  Our enrollment is down slightly, but the academic strength and diversity of the incoming freshman class is strong.  The preliminary retention rate shows a modest improvement, but we still have much work to do.

Larry Blake, Assistant Vice President for Facilities Management, and Jane Goode, Coordinator for Campus and Space Planning, provided a presentation on the University’s extensive sustainability program. 

Francois LeRoy, Executive Director of the International Education Center, discussed our many international education opportunities.  Ryan Salzman, Assistant Professor of Political Science, and Jason Perry, an NKU student, discussed the Washington DC Study Away Program.  Sharyn Jones, Chair of the Department of Sociology, Anthropology, and Philosophy, Stephanie Zach, a recent graduate, and Ian Takaoka, an NKU student, shared their experience on the Fiji Study Abroad Program.  

Finally, Sue Hodges Moore, Senior Vice President for Institutional Effectiveness, made a presentation on the University’s collaborative approach to risk management and awareness. 

During the afternoon session, the Board approved all of the items on the consent agenda, including awarding Emeritus status to Robert Langenderfer, Associate Professor in the Department of Allied Health.  Please join me in congratulating Professor Langenderfer.  The Board also approved the revised Policy Creation, Revision, and Communication Policy.  You can find this policy, and many of the University’s administrative policies at  The Board also approved a new preface to the Faculty Handbook.

My report to the Board is below.

The next regularly scheduled Board of Regents meeting is on Wednesday, November 12.  The Policy and Finance Committee will meet at 9:00 a.m., and the Board of Regents business meeting will start at 1:00 p.m.  Both meetings are open to the public and will be held in Student Union room 104.

I hope you have had a good and productive start to the semester.  I remain deeply grateful for your service and your commitment to our University.




We have had an excellent start to the academic year.  In addition to our normal activities, we also opened our newest residence hall -- Northern Terrace.  The opening of this facility added 200 more beds to our residential inventory.  We now have approximately 2,000 students living on campus.

The increase in campus residence halls coupled with our emphasis on evening and weekend programming is showing some promising results.  For example, the evening before classes started, the NKU men's soccer team hosted the University of Kentucky.  The game ended in a draw.  But more than 1,900 people, the majority of whom were students, attended the game – that’s an attendance record.

There are several other important initiatives and updates that I’d like to share with you this afternoon.

Campus Leadership

In addition to welcoming our new students, we also welcomed several new campus leaders.  Five of these new leaders are here today.  We welcomed three new academic deans.  Katherine Frank, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences joined us from Indiana University, East.  Becky Porterfield, Dean of the Haile/US Bank College of Business, joined us from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington.  And Cindy Reed, Dean of the College of Education and Human Services joined us from Auburn University. 

In addition to our new academic deans, we welcomed Kathleen Roberts.  Kathleen is the Senior Advisor to the President for Inclusive Excellence and joined us from Samuel Merritt University.  And in October, Kimberly Scranage will join us as our new Vice President for Enrollment Management.  Kimberly joins us from Kutztown University. 

All five of our new colleagues are here with us this afternoon.  Please stand so that we can welcome you.

One of the most important external validations of an institution’s current strength and its future prospects is that institution’s capacity to attract outstanding new people.  Based on this predictor, I know our future is very bright.


Earlier this morning you heard an update on our preliminary enrollment and retention statistics.  As we shared, we have had a modest gain in our retention rate, but we must do much more.  Our fall enrollment is showing a slight decrease.  We are continuing to encourage new students to enroll in the second session of the Fall semester.  While the fall enrollment numbers have decreased slightly, the academic quality of our freshman class has remained consistently strong.  The entering class has an average ACT score of 23.3.  We declined admission to more than 500 new freshmen who applied, because we are committed to our academic admissions standards.   

IPP Process

As I shared at the Fall Convocation, we are halfway through the four-year reclassification process.  This year, we will conduct a yearlong, campus-wide self-study of our athletics program as part of the NCAA Division One Institutional Performance Program.

The steering committee, which is chaired by Sue Hodges Moore, will evaluate our governance process and our commitment to rules compliance, academic integrity, and gender, diversity and student-athlete well-being.  The steering committee and the sub-committees have met and will continue to meet on a regular basis.  Regent Repenning is a member of the steering committee and a member of the governance committee.

I was also pleased that the Atlantic Sun recently took action that will allow our student athletes to participate in Atlantic Sun postseason tournaments.  We look forward to our first conference postseason tournaments this year.

HIC Update

I am pleased to report that we are continuing to make excellent progress with our Health Innovations Center.  Last week, I hosted a joint meeting of the external and internal advisory committees.  These groups continue to make important contributions to the overall program and plan for the health innovations complex.  Also last week, a selection committee reviewed RFPs from design teams and narrowed that list of applicants to five finalists.  The proposals were excellent and our job was very difficult.  Next week, we will interview the five finalists and select our design team for the project.  I anticipate that we will make our decision by October 1.

College of Health Professions Dean Search

As you know, Dean Denise Robinson has announced that she will return to the faculty at the end of this academic year.  Dean Robinson has provided excellent leadership for the College of Health Professions, especially during this time of excitement and change as we look to expand our academic programs and as we prepare to design the new health innovations center.  The search committee has been assembled and has met.  I will continue to update you throughout the search process.

Statewide Tour

Later this month I will start my statewide tour.  The purpose of this tour is to raise awareness about our University and share the many things that make NKU distinctive and special.  I will be visiting eight regions of the state, starting in late September and ending in early December.  I will host receptions for prospective students, alumni, and friends in several cities and towns, including Somerset, Pikeville, Bowling Green, Owensboro, Paducah, Ashland, Louisville, and Lexington.  During these visits, I will meet with community and business leaders, education leaders, and elected officials.  I am also going to speak to seniors and juniors at more than 20 high schools.  I’ll be tweeting about my visits using #RoadToNKU. 

Please join us – either in person or through social media – on the RoadToNKU.


In July, I presented a comprehensive proposal to the Executive Committee of our University Foundation to enhance support for our University initiatives, including our fundraising activities.  I am very pleased to report that the Foundation Executive Committee approved this proposal yesterday.  I am grateful to the men and women who serve on the Foundation and the Executive Committee for their continuing support of our University. 


I often say that education has the capacity to change the trajectory of a student’s life and the life of her family.  NKU students are not only changing the trajectory of their lives, they are also saving the lives of people they have never met. 

Previously, I have told you about PulsePoint, the app that students in our Center for Applied Informatics created.  This app alerts trained personnel when there is a medical emergency in close proximity.  The app has made national news in the past and it made national news again this week.  Please allow me to show you just one clip of the national coverage. 

As you have heard me say, something special is happening at NKU – something very special.  And this represents just one more example.

Geoffrey S. Mearns
Northern Kentucky University
Nunn Drive
800 Lucas Administrative Center
Highland Heights, KY 41099
Phone: 859-572-5123
Fax: 859-572-6696