Board of Regents: What you need to know


Cole Grecco

The Board of Regents met to discuss a range of topics, including a dip in enrollment rates, sabbatical leave and introducing a new secretary to the board.

Cole Grecco and Emily Sherry , News Editor, Copy Editor

Student enrollment for the spring semester is lower than anticipated, according to NKU President Geoffrey Mearns on January 11 during the meeting.

“We’re presently tracking a bit behind our enrollment target for spring 2017,” Mearns said  “But our active and proactive registration efforts continue throughout this week.”

NKU is still in the process of counting how many degrees were handed out in December however, Mearns has been advised that it may have been the largest ever for December commencement.

The production of graduates at such a high rate puts increasing pressure on NKU to recruit more students despite increased competition and declining demographics, Mearns said.

A new enrollment and student success plan has been implemented in order to continue the reach for high success and higher enrollment rates. 

“[The university is] implementing our new scholarship and need-based model, and our new tuition incentive program, or what was the metro tuition area,” Mearns said.

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NKU will be hosting the Governor’s Scholar Program (GSP) again this summer and Mearns said the number of GSP scholars applying to NKU has increased.

Along with GSP applicants at an all-time high, the number of transfer students coming to NKU has risen, and Pathfinders participants have had the highest fall to spring retention rate to date.

However, the spring enrollment isn’t quite where Mearns was hoping.

College of Business: Mentor and mentee program

The college of business made a presentation about providing academic experiences and developmental avenues for their students.

John Wagner, vice president of labor relations for the Kroger Co., helped start the mentor and mentee program during the summer of 2015.

Along with his team and a handful of participants, the college of business set goals to expand the program.

The effort seeks to support the college of business’s mission by developing a program that motivates students to reach their full potential in life, business, and society.

The program offers one-on-one interactions that students often cannot find in a classroom setting.

“We want to have something much broader that will impact the students of NKU even after they graduate,” Wagner said. “We want them to be as successful and experienced as they can.”

In spring 2016, the committee recruited 20 mentors and mentees to get the program started. By fall 2016, they added an additional 25 new mentors and mentees, and hope to add 50 by spring 2017.

Faculty development programs: Sabbatical leaves

Faculty members, who worked closely with the faculty senate and faculty benefits committee, presented a discussion regarding the professional growth, expertise, and effectiveness of all faculty in relation to sabbatical leaves. 

Sabbatical leaves are paid time periods in which a person does not report to a regular job, but remains employed with the business. Generally, while off, they further their knowledge of their discipline or studies. 

According to the presentation, sabbaticals competitive merit-based proposals are open only to tenured full-time faculty and department chairs. Those who have previously taken a sabbatical must wait six years, or 12 semesters, before taking another.

Dr. Andrea South, an associate professor in communications who has taken a sabbatical, spoke on the importance of broadening one’s  perspectives and personal development, which can be achieved through sabbaticals.

South believes that they provide personal education growth for both herself and within her courses.

Reflecting on her time spent in an Addiction Research consortium, Dr. South, a family communications scholar, said her time on sabbatical leave inspired her to apply for Chase College of Law.

“My teaching is better. I feel rejuvenated, South said. “I have a new passion for my research, and deeply, deeply, more committed to my time here at NKU.”

Facilities update

In early December, American Campus Communities (ACC) completed four focus groups with NKU students and housing staff to discuss potential residence halls.

“Our students reacted very positively to the proposed floor plans, but not surprisingly affordability was a recurring theme expressed by our students,” said Mearns.

Mearns said they will continue to have discussions with the ACC over the next two to three months to understand the implications of building a new residence hall as well as upgrading existing residential facilities.

“Fairmont has indicated a strong interest among hoteliers for a 100 to 120-room hotel and retail interest is also strong,” Mearns said. “The project will likely include market rate apartments and office space along with a structured parking facility.”

Mearns also updated the board on the progress of the current construction on campus, Founders Hall and the Health Innovation Center. 

The bidding for Founders Hall is now complete and the project is currently on schedule and within budget.

Enclosing the Health Innovation Center and installing major mechanical equipment is the current focus on the building’s construction process. 

Jager returns to NKY

Mearns announced that Ben Jager will be the new executive assistant to the president and secretary to the Board of Regents.

Jager, a graduate of Covington Catholic High School, returned to the area after receiving a Bachelor of Arts in sociology from EKU and a master’s degree in education from Virginia Tech.

Jager was most recently working in student affairs at the University of Nebraska-Omaha.

“As we know, while it’s not possible to replace Katie Herschede, I am confident that Ben will serve our university and this board very well,” Mearns said.

Jager’s first day at NKU will be March 1.