Mearns reflects on “Road to NKU”

On Thursday, Feb. 26 NKU hosted the final “Road to NKU” event for the semester at the Capital Plaza Hotel in Frankfort, Ky where President Mearns welcomed Northern Kentucky caucus members, members of the general assembly, constitutional officers, cabinet secretaries, and Frankfort alumni to share in the results of the project. The event was aimed at recruiting for the university, celebrating alumni and re-introducing NKU to the Commonwealth.

“After two years of being at NKU traveling around the state, I kept hearing that our university was a hidden gem,” Mearns said. “It’s always good to be a gem but not necessarily good to be hidden.”

In August 2014, President Mearns set off on “The Road to NKU” visiting high schools around the Commonwealth to meet with prospective students. Mearns hoped to raise awareness and appreciation for the university.

“One of our goals was to attract more new students from across Kentucky to come to NKU,” Mearns said.

In the fall, Mearns visited 25 high schools across Kentucky. Since then the number of students who have applied from those 25 schools has increased by over 50% for fall 2015 admission in comparison to the fall 2014 semester, according to Mearns.

When speaking to prospective NKU students Mearns focused on the growth of facilities at the university, as well as over 2,000 students living in campus housing. He also educated students about current and future investments to improving dining halls at Norse Commons and Callahan Hall, as well as investments into the innovative Griffin Hall and proposed plans for the Health Innovation Center.

When meeting students, Mearns wanted to inform students about the dedicated staff and the success of the current students that came from their high schools. Despite the anticipated increase in student population, small class sizes will not be threatened according to Mearns.

“We continue to have class sizes in the range of approximately 24 students per class,” Mearns said. “We value the personal educational experience that faculty and staff provide to our students.”

Mearns said that he will continue to visit high schools and will be extending the “Road to NKU” next fall to the high schools in Ohio and Indiana as well as continuing to visit schools in Kentucky.

With the college admission process becoming more digital every year, Mearns reflects on some lessons he has learned on the “Road to NKU” project.

“When we’re thinking about recruiting prospective students, we focus on the website and send email,” Mearns said. “Even in this digital age, there is still no substitute for meeting people face to face.”