Strategic plan gives NKU new direction

After months of gathering information from area businesses, government personnel, faculty, students and administrators of Northern Kentucky University, an Academic Strategic Plan was rolled out to the NKU Board of Regents, where it was met with unanimous approval.

The plan aligns future programming at the university with the direct needs of the community and region it serves. It calls for specific strengthening in the areas of health care, education and information technology.

That strengthening will occur in the way of expanding graduate programming in those areas.

The plan was a result of more than 30 conversations involving more than 500 people from the areas’ employment sectors: health professionals, manufacturing and high-tech industries, social services and educators.

It came about as a result of the Visions, Values and Voices document that outlined the strategic plan for the university. According to Rogers Redding, provost and chair of the planning committee, it will serve as an “overarching umbrella” for programs which need to be emphasized.

“A big part of our mission as an institution is to be not only connected with the community but to be embedded in the community,” said Redding. “I’m very confident that this is going to be a plan that people will embrace and will reflect the universities values.”

Vernon Hicks, chemistry professor and co-chair of the committed, said that although the university wants to move in new directions, it can’t at the expense of current undergraduate programming.

“We emphasized the fact that we didn’t want any new programming to be unfunded,” said Hicks. “No money will be drained off of those (current undergraduate programs) in order to fund these new programs.”

Along with targeting specific programs, the plan also calls for strengthening the first-year experience through improved academic advising and assistance and expanding cooperative work experiences and internship opportunities.

It also emphasizes improved services for non-traditional students and support for students and faculty to internationalize the campus.

Also addressed in the plan is the impact of the new community college on the university. As the community college develops, the university will reduce offerings in remediation programming, evaluate lower-level course offerings and establish appropriate admission standards for both freshmen and transfer students.

Redding sees the initial impact of the community college as reducing the admissions rate of the university and also decreasing current enrollment.

“We could lose as many as a couple thousand students initially,” said Redding. “My sense of it is that we would be back up to and maybe even exceed our present enrollment by attracting more adult learners.”

No one is quite sure when the community college will be ready to assume remediation programming or even when and how the academic plan will be implemented. What is sure is that NKU has a direction for the future with this new plan.

“I can guarantee that it will not be just a report that gets filed away and gathers dust in somebodies file cabinet,” said Redding. “It will be a living document that gets visited from time to time.”