Convocation honors NKU’s founders, past

Almost 40 years ago the area where Northern Kentucky University is now located was nothing more than farmland. It was then, in 1968, that the founders of NKU began building the university that we know today.

This year, President James Votruba’s annual fall convocation Aug. 18 included a “special event to honor the founders and what they’ve meant to our campus,” Votruba said.

According to Votruba, the dedication “is not about the past. This is about the foundation on which we’ll continue to build.”

The founders, some of which were in attendance at the convocation, will be honored by a 6-foot-6-inch tall concrete monument in front of Founders Hall.

Founding Regent Ken Lucas spoke, emotionally recalling when NKU began and “we were a college on paper” with no teachers, students or buildings.

“I was in the right place at the right time,” Lucas said about his part in the university’s early years.

Following the dedication, which was held under a tent in front of Founders Hall, a video made by current students to commemorate the founders was shown in Greaves Concert Hall. It consisted of clips from interviews with the 28 different founders. While introducing the video, Provost Gail Wells relayed to the audience that they are “indeed standing on the shoulders of giants.”

After the video, Votruba began his 10th convocation address in which he outlined the university’s recent accomplishments and its future challenges and goals. He also took a moment to welcome the new additions to NKU’s faculty and staff.

Votruba stressed the importance of continuing to make NKU a better learning experience for students while reminding the audience that their “work can never loose sight of our core values,” Votruba said.

This year’s enrollment reached about 14,200, a record for NKU, but in his speech Votruba envisioned enrollment reaching 20,000 by 2020. The rise in enrollment is what sparked the need for new buildings and additions to NKU’s campus.

Another key part of the convocation address was the Northern Kentucky Vision 2015 plan, co-chaired by Votruba. He outlined some of the recommendations of the plan, including bringing more jobs and a more diverse group of people to the area. He stressed the importance of Vision 2015, saying, “If Vision 2015 is successful, the entire state will benefit.”

“No institution in this region is more central to implementing Vision 2015 than NKU,” Votruba said.