Stallings reveals anecdotes of university’s colorful history

Dr. Frank Stallings, Professor Emeritus of Literature, spoke about the history of Northern Kentucky University to a group of students and faculty members on Jan. 28.

The 2004 Homecoming Committee sponsored Stalling’s presentation as part of “The Norse: The Untold Story.”

Stallings was asked to give the presentation for homecoming because of his long term at the university that gave him a wealth of knowledge about its history, according to Stephanie McGoldrick, Activities Programming Board adviser. Stallings has been at NKU since 1972.

“This was an opportunity for people to learn about NKU’s history, because homecoming is a celebration of history,” McGoldrick said.

Stallings gave a brief chronology of NKU, including choosing the campus location, groundbreakings, first classes and former campus presidents.

Despite the many significant events that have taken place at NKU, he only had time to discuss main events, mostly from when NKU began.

“Thirty-three years in 50 minutes is going to be tough,” Stallings said.

Stallings said Louie B. Nunn signed Northern Kentucky State College (NKSC) into existence on March 14, 1968.

In February, 1969, The Kentucky Post released an article about Nunn’s “vision becoming concrete” with a committee appointed to choose the campus location.

The committee consisted of four representatives from each of three local counties, Boone, Kenton and Campbell.

Dr. W. Frank Steely was appointed the first president of NKSC in December 1969.

Then in June 1970, the first classes were offered on NKSC’s Covington campus.

The complete course schedule was placed on a one-page ad.

The first semester at NKSC began that August with 1,662 students enrolled.

Stallings joked that even then, parking was a problem at the Covington campus.

Nunn drove a bulldozer into the ground to begin the Nunn Hall groundbreaking ceremony in March 31, 1971.

Stallings said this first groundbreaking was “an occasion” with a large crowd and band. Several groundbreaking ceremonies soon followed for the construction of Regents Hall and the science center.

Enrollment had increased to 3,596 when the first classes began at the Highland Heights campus in August 1972.

The first published picture of NKSC was taken in April 1973 during the first “Rites of Spring” celebration, and it featured a student rowing across Lake Inferior in a bathtub.

Stallings said at some point people realized this was not a good idea and people are no longer allowed to do so.

Construction on the W. Frank Steely Library began in October 1973, soon followed by the groundbreakings for the Fine Arts Center, the Charles O. Landrum Academic Center and the University Center.

In 1976, NKSC became NKU. In July Dr. A.D. Albright accepted presidency of NKU.

The campus grew in several ways. Enrollment rose rapidly, buildings and residence halls were constructed and sports teams excelled.

The Norse baseball team played in the NCAA Division II World Series in the spring of 1979.

The Norse volleyball team went to a NCAA Division II Tournament in the fall of 1981.

Votruba spoke to the audience at the end of Stallings’ presentation.

Votruba said it was an honor to be president of a university with some of the “finest faculty members” he has ever met.

For more information about NKU’s history, contact Steely Library for a copy of Stallings’ book, “Groundbreakings: Northern Kentucky University’s First Twenty-five Years.”