Votruba celebrates 10-year anniversary

Before the Dorothy Westerman Herrmann Science Center, the first parking garage and before the University Suites appeared on Northern Kentucky University’s campus, there was Dr. James Votruba.

The university hired Votruba in 1997, 10 years ago this year. Coming from Michigan State University, Votruba recalls being excited about his first visit to the NKU campus and the Northern Kentucky area.

“On our first visit we could see it was a dynamic region with a dynamic university and the work I had done in the past was well suited for where the university was headed,” Votruba said.

NKU has hit the ground running with Votruba’s guidance. Evidence of the university’s growth is springing everywhere. The roundabout to control all the new traffic, the Bank of Kentucky Arena to house graduations and sporting events and the new Student Union Center. Even the look of the campus is changing with the new landscaping and the reconstructing of the lake.

In that 10 years, admission standards have increased to bring in students more prepared for college and even with those new standards. Votruba is proud of the university’s growth but admits he alone hasn’t been the cause of the change.

“NKU was a strong university before I arrived,” Votruba said, crediting the hard work of hundreds of others who, he said put in the same level of commitment to the growth of the university that he has.

Looking to the future, Votruba also predicts more growth at NKU, which he expects to advance from the 15,000 students to 26,000 by the year 2020. He also envisions more academic buildings and new parking garages to accommodate the students.

Nevertheless, he said that “ten years from now, some things won’t be any different than they are today.” Small class sizes will always be a trademark of NKU, and he said will always have a caring faculty.

When reflecting on the past 10 years Votruba said he sometime feels like 1997 was just yesterday, while other times he feels as though he has been here forever. “There’s not a lot about the job I don’t enjoy,” Votruba said.

“It’s been a wonderful 10 years for my wife and I. We’ve made terrific friendships with people who share our values and goals,” Votruba said. “Everyone wants the opportunity to do something important and that opportunity has been given to me in the past 10 years. I can’t imagine much more important work than what we’ve done here.”