Carving our name

Courtesy of Joseph Ruh

Students will have an extra $350,000 in need-based scholarships to draw from next fall, according to the 2007-08 budget briefing April 17, bringing the total amount offered to $1.35 million.

The briefing was held at the Spring Convocation, an annual summary of Northern Kentucky University’s budget and goals for the next year.

“We want to get to a point where no student is denied access because of a lack of money,” NKU President James Votruba said. “There’ll be young people who realize they can attend school.”

Of the total new scholarships, $250,000 will go into the general need-based grant program, while the other $100,000 is for The Northern Difference, which targets Northern Kentucky students.

But the new funds were just one of the announcements Votruba made at the Spring Convocation. Votruba listed the university’s total revenue, $24,051,700 and described where he will spend it. Under this budget, $1.23 million will be set aside for 16 new full-time tenured professors and all classrooms will be upgraded to “smart classrooms,” which are lecture halls and classrooms with objects such as projectors, motorized screens, computers and TVs, according to IT’s Web site.

“The only way you can recruit faculty is with good salaries,” Votruba said, adding that tenure is about freedom, not job security. “You get rid of tenure, you get rid of the university.”

Votruba also allotted funds to recruit three police officers and one counselor. The budget will allocate $150,000 to student organizations and sports clubs, as well as $75,000 to study abroad scholarships ,which will internationalize campus, a prime goal of Votruba’s.

“We need more international students, more students studying abroad,” Votruba said, noting that students need “a global perspective.”

He also described the 2008-2012 Strategic Agenda, NKU’s current vision statement obsolete.

“We’ve accomplished our vision statement. Let’s become recognized as the premier comprehensive metropolitan university,” Votruba said.

This means focusing on developing talent, according to Votruba, and taking the lead in the community. To do this, the budget will include $100,000 for library enhancement, $500,000 for the Math Center and $291,000 to “campus wellness,” such as exercise equipment and programs that encourage students to get healthy.

Another item on the agenda was whether or not NKU should change its name. Votruba said that several community leaders have said they think the university needs a new name.

Examples of new names Votruba mentioned were Kentucky Commonwealth University and Chase University. He said that they were not necessarily possibilities, “I just tossed those out,” he said to the Cincinnati Post.

Votruba asked for a show of hands among the people at the convocation and told the Cincinnati Post the response to the name change was mixed. “I think a few more people said we ought to stay the way we are, but there were a fair number who said, ‘Yes, we ought to think about a name change.'”

A Facebook group called “Keep NKU’s Name,” has been made in opposition of the proposal of changing NKU’s name. It now has 937 members and a petition to keep the name from changing.

This is the 10th Spring Convocation Votruba has held, the first being in 1998 during his first year as NKU’s president.