NKU modifies master plan for new residence hall

The NKU Board of Regents voted Wednesday to approve the use of land currently occupied by Parking Lot F as a site for a new residence hall.

A last-minute addition to the agenda, the issue was one of seven presidential recommendations that were passed in one vote by the board.

According to background information provided in the recommendation, “numerous options for relocating the lost parking capacity are under consideration … the team is focused on a solution that provides adequate replacement parking that is conveniently located.”

Lot F currently has 330 parking spaces. The background information also stated the replacement parking for Lot F would be completed before the lot is closed.

Will Weber, president of SGA who serves as a regent, had the only comment for NKU President Geoffrey Mearns prior to the vote.

“I just want to stress the importance of looking for that parking, because it is very important to students to make sure it’s conveniently located,” Weber said.

Mearns assured Weber that he understood the importance of the issue.

“We do understand the importance of that,” Mearns said.

The new residence hall would be part of the ongoing student housing project the university is undertaking with the help of American Campus Communities and Fairmount Properties.

The plan is for 500 to 700 beds in the new residence hall, which would house freshmen. The developers also believe the plan would best meet the university’s enrollment goals, and that student life would benefit from the “easy visual and pedestrian connection to campus.”

No timeline for the new residence hall was given in the background information provided to The Northerner.

Pension contributions continue to hurt NKU

A morning presentation by Chief Financial Officer Mike Hales and Comptroller Russ Kerdolff on the finances of the university continued to show the negative effects of pension liabilities.

The increased payments to the Kentucky Employees Retirement System (KERS) continues to be a problem for the university, according to the report.

Not including pensions, the university had liabilities of $174.1 million in 2016. However, when the pension liability of $249.7 million was added in, the overall liability was $423.8 million.

The two-year increase shows up in the net position of the university. Two years ago, NKU’s net position, which is assets minus liabilities, was $404.6 million.

However, liabilities have gone up from $187.9 million in 2014 to $407.3 million in 2015 and $423.8 million in 2016. This has caused NKU’s net position to drop to $186.8 million in 2015 and $187.6 million in 2016.

Despite the challenges facing the university, Hales and Kerdolff emphasized the credit rating of the university has not dropped, even with the increased liability.

NKU student enrollment drops

NKU enrollment dropped slightly in the fall of 2016, according to a report presented to the Board of Regents Wednesday.

The report, given by Kimberly Scranage, Vickie Natale, Leah Stewart and Ryan Padgett, showed continuing undergraduate enrollment dropped from 8,636 in 2015 to 8,436 in 2016.

New freshman enrollment dropped from 2,266 in 2015 to 2,147 in 2016. The other area that dropped was in new law students, which was down from 162 in 2015 to 127 in 2016.

A new metro tuition plan will be implemented for new students starting in the fall of 2017 to try to combat losing students, especially to the University of Cincinnati, which hasn’t raised tuition in four years.

Current students that are receiving the metro rate would be grandfathered in, according to the report.

The Northerner will have more detailed information on these stories in the coming weeks.