President Mearns kicks off series to highlight humanities in academia

The path to becoming the president of NKU began in a non-traditional way, President Geoffrey Mearns told a crowd of students, faculty, friends and family on Wednesday as the first speaker in a semester-long series that will highlight the valuable skills achieved by studying the humanities.

Mearns graduated from Yale with a BA in English and after graduating law school, eventually became a federal prosecutor where he investigated and prosecuted members of the Italian mafia in New York City, he explained.

Through his sarcasm and humor, Mearns was able to convey that his success as a prosecutor was in part because of his English degree.

“I sincerely do believe that I became an effective trial lawyer in part because my education was well grounded in the humanities,” Mearns said.

Viva Humanities will feature speakers throughout the fall semester that will help focus on how the English, history and geography, philosophy, world languages and literature disciplines can help prepare students for a wide range of careers.

Aaron Harrell, freshman, attended the event because his teacher assigned it, but said he really enjoyed it and wants to attend more of these type events.

“I was just thinking in my head that I should attend these more often,” Harrell said.

Katherine Thamann, junior, attended because a friend brought her, but she said wants get more involved on campus and hopes to attend more Viva Humanities events.

She’s also glad she attended because she was the winner of the Nook HD they raffled away.

“I’m still shaking,” Thamann said.  “I never win anything.”

Mearns said the humanities taught him to listen and to value people and “lead [him] to this place at this time and for that, [he’s] grateful.”

“If you pursue things that are interesting and you surround yourself with people who inspire you or challenge you, and then you give your best to those tasks, the rest will take care of itself,” Mearns said.