Special events to honor Votrubas set

Northern Kentucky University plans to honor the outgoing university president semester-wide.

The series is titled “Celebrating Dreams: The Presidency of James C. Votruba.” Each event will reflect on the contributions of President James Votruba and his wife Rachel during his decade-and-a-half tenure with NKU.

“It’s a tribute to both he and Rachel,” said Board of Regents Chair Terry Mann. The Board of Regents put the series together. “She’s been a real partner in this with him, and it is as much a recognition to her as it is to him.”

The idea of “Celebrating Dreams” was inspired by Votruba’s theme that “dreams come true at NKU,” Mann said.

Events ranging from a tribute at halftime of the last home basketball game of the season to a concert performance by pianists Anna and Dmitri Shelest are among the plans.
“It’s good to have them spread out throughout the semester,” said Allen Lloyd, a freshman chemistry major. “It gets more people into it.”

Board of Regents members on the planning committee, members of the staff, and Bank of Kentucky President and CEO Bob Zapp suggested potential events.

The committee chose events it believed would best pay tribute to the Votrubas, with the possibility of adding one or two more events to the list, according to Mann.
A scholarship has also been established to honor the Votrubas.

The James and Rachel Votruba Endowed Scholarship Fund is designed to help NKU recruit top student talent, help students with financial needs to finish their undergraduate studies and enable more students to expand worldwide views through study abroad experiences, said Gerard St. Amand, vice president for university advancement.
“He said that would be the greatest honor that he could think of as far as appreciation for his services,” Mann said.

According to St. Amand, the scholarship has currently yielded over $375,000 in commitments. The goal is to raise at least $500,000 by the Celebrating Dreams Gala May 22. If that goal is reached, the annual payout of approximately $17,500 will be “sufficient to fund more than two full-resident tuition scholarships every year,” St. Amand said.

As part of “Celebrating Dreams: The Presidency of James C. Votruba,” the Student Union will officially be renamed the “James and Rachel Votruba Student Union” at the Student Organization Celebration April 11. “I like it,” Lloyd said. “A few of the buildings are named after people who have contributed to the campus, and he’s contributed a lot.”

Events will happen throughout the remainder of the semester. A list of “Celebrating Dreams: The Presidency of James C. Votruba” events was emailed to all students Feb. 8.
The next event scheduled to pay tribute to the Votrubas is at halftime of the last home basketball game Feb. 23.

“I think it’s a good idea,” said Whitney Johnson, a senior social work major. “It’s a good way to have a remembrance so everybody knows of him.”

“It is designed to give people who want to express their gratitude the opportunity to do so,” Mann said, “and there are a lot of people out there who want to say thank you in some way to the Votrubas.”