Votruba outlines campus improvements

Moving the university forward and the vast changes Northern Kentucky University is enduring was one of the many topics in President James Votruba’s State of the University Address last Friday. Votruba expressed how the early pioneers of this university stayed and created an academic foundation. For this reason, NKU has renamed the Old Science building Founders Hall in honor of those pioneers who founded NKU. It is because of these academic foundations that NKU has 14,000 students enrolled for the fall semester and for the first time, implemented admission standards for incoming freshmen. According to Votruba, the average ACT score for freshmen rose from 21.7 to 22.8 due to the stricter standards. Along with the stricter admission standards, enrollment is strong in many other areas as well. Enrollment has increased at the graduate level with the addition of two new masters programs, organizational/industrial psychology and liberal studies. Online courses offered also have elevated enrollment from last year. Restructuring programs was also necessary for continued academic success. The college of informatics was added to the existing disciplines. Along with this addition, the college of nursing became a separate department, exiting the college of professional studies. The department of social work and human services has joined with the education department to create the need to help child development both in school and out of school. Over the past year, many changes have happened to NKU, but one of the biggest changes is about to occur. Campus is about to receive a face lift of about $100 million. One of the first changes that have already begun is the lake development project that is near completion. “Lake Inferior will become superior in the coming months! When completed, the lake project will include water falls, walkways, a bridge and amphitheater. The area will become the esthetic hub for the campus,” said Votruba in his speech. NKU will break ground later in the year on a new student union. Also in the works is the Bank of Kentucky Center, an 8,000-10,000 seat complex capable of holding athletics as well as special events for the surrounding community. “This new campus gathering spot will have a major impact on both student recruitment and retention” Votruba said. At the end of the address, Votruba stressed the importance of continued student success. He said that progress has been made, but the university can do better. Along with continued academic success, NKU needs to address the needs that the Commonwealth of Kentucky wants met with its public universities. Votruba suggests that addressing these needs will strengthen public support for NKU. With enrollment on the rise, Votruba realizes a need to expand to avoid overcrowding. To complete this effort, Votruba has asked for two new academic buildings. “Around the state I sometimes hear that with our $60 million dollar Bank of Kentucky Center, we’ve had our turn,” Votruba said. “My response is that this is not about taking turns. It’s about making investments that will leverage Kentucky’s economic future. “It’s about return on investment. Measured by this standard, we can still claim a place at the head of the line,” Votruba said. It is a period of transition from the pioneers of the past to the expansion of the future.