Neil M. Bush visits NKU

Scott Wartman

A member of one of the most prominent political families in the United States visited Northern Kentucky University on March 5. Neil Bush, brother of President George Bush, discussed a new business venture opening in Covington that could provide opportunities for students. He presented his new company called Ignite! Learning which offers online supplements for middle school courses.

The company, based in Austin, Texas, tested its product in schools in 14 schools nationwide, two of which are located in Cincinnati.

By fall, Ignite! will open an office in Covington, Ky., which Bush said he hopes to convert into a marketing center for the company. Bush said once the company gets established, he would like to see a partnership established between Ignite! and NKU, which would use student interns to help with market research. The company will have a small office in the Madison E-Zone in Covington, which is a company that houses upstart technology businesses.

“If we can collaborate with the college, the students get experience and we get help,” Bush said.

Having Bush come to campus was a big boost for NKU, said Dr. Rebecca White, director of the entrepreneurship program, which sponsored the lecture.

“I am excited about him coming on campus,” White said. “We want him to see the program and are looking for ways to get him involved in the (entrepreneurship) program.”

During his one and a half hour presentation, Bush outlined his company, which he said serves to help kids learn using whatever technique is best suited for them. Each of the test schools this semester received a trial run of the program for the course Early American History . The program consists of multimedia exercises online, which Bush said allows students to use music, movies and text to learn the material.

“Learning isn’t about memorizing facts, it is about doing things and taking part,” Bush said.

One of the local schools that offered a trial run of the program was Nativity Grade School in Pleasant Ridge, which used the program in its fifth-grade American history course.

Ignite! got students interested in history more than a textbook would, said Loi Cliare Latcha, a third-grade teacher at Nativity who oversaw the integration of the program.

“They have been relaxed and happy, and they are going to the other screens seeing what the other students are doing,” said Latcha. “You don’t normally see that in social studies classes.”

Students who attended the lecture said it was exciting to see the president’s brother and to hear he is starting a business in Covington. Business Management major Matthew Bolte, who attended the lecture, said he liked Bush’s sincerity in wanting to improve education for school children.

“One thing that struck me is that he is passionate,” Bolte said. “I heard some people remark they saw tears coming down his eyes. Plus, it is a great opportunity to meet the brother of the president.”

Neil Bush is the middle child of six children in the Bush clan. He is 47 years old and raises three children in Houston, Texas. He worked on George W. Bush’s failed 1978 congressional campaign and helped out with each of his father’s campaigns. Neil Bush came to the nation’s attention in the early 1990s for his involvement as director of the failed Silverado Savings and Loan, which cost the federal government $1 billion to clean-up during the S’L crisis. Regulators never pressed charges, but he paid $50,000 to settle a lawsuit lodged by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.