A life remembered: NKU’s ‘cornerstone’ has died

Northern Kentucky University students continue to mill about the campus as the end of the semester draws near and few realize that the end of an era has drawn around them. Dr. W. Frank Steely, the founding president of Northern Kentucky University died early the morning of Nov. 29 after battling illness.

Steely was president of Northern Kentucky State College from December 1969 to September 1975. It would not be until June 19, 1976 that NKSC would become NKU.
However, this would have never happened without the work and tenacity of Steely.

NKU President James Votruba said this of Steely: “Dr. Steely was the human cornerstone of this university. He was a tireless and tenacious founding president. Frank Steely was given the Herculean task of building a university from the ground up – and he succeeded.”

During Steely’s presidency the young college achieved many milestones. Among them: The first commencement at NKSC in 1973; conditional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools; the formation of the NKSC Research and Development Foundation, which is now known as the NKU Foundation and the beginning or completion of 12 construction projects.

Steely’s remains will be driven through campus at approximately 1:30 p.m. on Dec. 2 before arriving at the First Baptist Church of Cold Spring for visitation, which will be held from 3-7 p.m. the same day.