NKU receives $15 million grant

Northern Kentucky University’s College of Business received a late birthday gift from the Carol Ann and Ralph V. Haile, Jr. US Bank Foundation August 22.

The $15 million gift, the largest gift NKU has received from a single donor, was presented to the College of Business at the Fall Convocation, which marked the beginning of the new school year.

“NKU is the beacon on the landscape of Northern Kentucky,” said Tim Maloney, president and CEO of the foundation, in a press release.

“This gift makes a bold statement. And there is no more appropriate way to celebrate Ralph Haile’s legacy than to endow and strengthen the resources of NKU to create new generations of leadership for our region.”

Maloney added that the donation is an investment in all of Northern Kentucky. He said it signals to the local business community and to decision-makers across the commonwealth.

According the press release, the Haile Foundation is a private family foundation whose goal is to enhance the quality of life in Cincinnati. It focuses its efforts and resources on economic development, arts, culture, education and human services.

The donation will establish endowed chairs for faculty and support faculty recruitment, retention and development, as well as provide scholarships to business students and for international experiences. It will also expand NKU’s Finance Investment Program.

The college will also be renamed the Carol Ann and Ralph V. Haile US Bank Foundation College of Business. During the Convocation, Votruba also gave the State of the University speech.

Votruba touched upon the increase of fall enrollment.

“We expect overall enrollment to increase by approximately three percent (or 450 students), with the largest increases occurring in the upper division, graduate and law,” he said.

Votruba added that the Campus Master Plan is set to be completed by this fall. The new plan includes issues such as new green space, as well as bike and pedestrian paths. Academic and residential clusters will all combine, which Votruba said will “assure that (NKU) grows larger and a sense of intimacy remains.”

Votruba also pointed out some priorities for the 2008-09 school year:

1) Active engagement of students in learning.

2) Simplifying and strengthening general education.

3) Ensuring that major and minor curriculum requirements are consistent with best practice.

4) Strengthening advising at all levels of undergraduate curriculum.

5) Inclining students toward a lifetime of civic participation.

6) Internationalizing the curriculum in order to prepare students to live and work in a global environment.

7) Making it possible for all students to finish their degree in four years with a financial incentive to do so.

As for the future of NKU, Votruba touched upon three areas that will affect the general public:

1) Expect Kentucky’s budget picture to remain uncertain.

Votruba said this means that the university will need to budget conservatively and be cautious about taking on more than they can afford to support.

2) The public will continue to demand greater accountability and transparency from its universities.

As for NKU, Votruba said it will be asked to demonstrate progress in key domains such as student performance, retention and graduation rates.

3) College affordability will continue to be a growing public concern.

In the absence of state support and more student demand, Votruba said NKU has chosen to be aggressive in both tuition increases and increases in need-based financial aid.

“Still, the financial pressures on students continue to mount and (NKU) must protect againist qualified students being priced out of a college education,” Votruba said. “Today, NKU students pay a larger percentage of their education than any other student body in Kentucky.”

Even with the completion of the new Student Union and the Bank of Kentucky Center, Votruba said there is still a 30 percent space deficit.

“For the casual observer, it would be easy to conclude that with all the construction, NKU must have an abundance of space,” he said.

Votruba added that there has not been an addition of a new academic building on campus since the completion of the Dorothy Westermann Science Center in 2002.

“While the College of Informatics building will soon be coming out of the ground, it will take five to six comparable facilities to meet the space requirements for a campus that has been asked to double its degree production by 2020,” Votruba said.

At the end of his speech, Votruba remained optimistic for the future of NKU, adding that he dreams of what the university can become tomorrow. He noted that he has very little patience for naysayers and doubters.

“Give me dreamers any day and particularly if they have the capacity and courage to pursue dreams no matter what obstacles they may encounter,” Votruba said.