Students talk to panel about future of university

The only promise President Votruba made at the Nov. 6 Visions, Voices and Values (VVV) meeting was that he’d listen.

“What we’re doing tonight is getting issues on the table,” Votruba told a group of students gathered in Norse Commons for the meeting.

Among the “strategic priorities” listed in that agenda were: strengthening the curriculum; supporting faculty excellence; enhancing student recruitment and retention; strengthening public engagement; improving campus facilities and environment, and promoting staff effectiveness and satisfaction.

Votruba was joined by professors and administrators to hear student suggestions and concerns about the direction the university is going and how it can improve. Similar meetings were held five years ago, which culminated in a five-year strategic agenda that helped guide the university’s growth.

Five years later, President Votruba and a new VVV panel are looking for feedback about the university’s previous five years and the future from both the NKU community, as well as communities surrounding campus.

Students at last week’s meeting talked about everything from the quality of water in the dorms to lighting in some parking lots.

One student said she was so worried about walking to her car, which was parked in a poorly-lit lot, that she had to call the Department of Public Safety (DPS) for an escort.

After speaking with some members of the panel, Votruba said a solution to the lighting problem was currently being discussed.

Another student complained that DPS failed to update him on the state of their investigation after his dorm room was broken in to. He said he would have liked for an officer to contact him with an update.

“That’s reasonable,” said Votruba.

Another student complemented DPS, saying they were accessible and visible.

“They work hard to keep this campus real secure,” Votruba said.

The University 101 class, which is designed to introduce students to college and NKU, was also brought up for discussion.

Jerry Smith, assistant vice president for Enrollment Management, who serves on the VVV panel? said he’s heard from people on both ends of the spectrum saying University 101 either covers too much or too little content.

Students also had mixed opinions about the Transitions program, which serves as a starting point for some incoming freshmen.

Some students said the program helped them out, while other said they would have benefited from smaller group sizes and more interaction with their Transitions advisor.

The effect of the budget stalemate in Frankfort was somewhat apparent during the meeting.

Votruba said he doesn’t foresee the approval for the funding of a $40 million Regional Special Events Center “anytime soon.”

“For that to change, the economy is going to have to change,” he said.

New housing projects, including possible family or Greek housing, were also discussed, but no definite plans have been made.

The next VVV student meeting is scheduled for 2-4 p.m. Dec. 2 in BEP 200.