(Correction: An earlier version of this story stated President Vaidya said a shortfall would negatively affect compensation increases when in fact he said it would not affect increases. The Northerner regrets the editing error.)
On Sept. 12, NKU’s Board of Regents tackled a projected enrollment decline of 4 percent this semester, which affects university spending for the same period. NKU President Ashish Vaidya told regents he believes recruiting and retaining 540 students NKU can make up for this.
Enrollment decline sharper than expected
When approving the fall semester’s budget in May, NKU expected only a 1.1 percent decrease to student enrollment. Vaidya said current projections, however, indicate a 4 percent decline excluding those in accelerated online courses.
“This has an estimated shortfall budget of $2.7 million for this fall,” Vaidya told the Board. “While we are not exactly sure what the reason was for this rather abrupt decline, preliminary analysis suggests that many of our students are returning to work or dropping down to part time status in order to work some more.”
A shortfall in a budget doesn’t mean we don’t have that money, but it does mean we have less money than we need to spend this semester. Vaidya said the offices of Institutional Research and Enrollment & Degree Management have determined that retaining 540 students would make up for the decline.
“These 540 students don’t represent just tuition dollars, but students and individuals whose future goals and expectations are ones that we must uphold,” Vaidya said.
Vaidya also wanted to assure university faculty and staff that the budget shortfall would not negatively affect any planned compensation increases scheduled for January 2019.
“I am confident that the campus community will work together to retain these additional students,” Vaidya said. “Secondly, perhaps more important, I am firmly committed to ensuring that our dedicated faculty and staff are fairly and adequately compensated for the hard work they do on behalf of our students.”
New team to focus on student success
To ensure current and future student success, Vaidya and NKU have put into motion a team that will design NKU’s strategic framework. Nominations have been received for the core team of individuals who will work to develop this framework, including those who will serve on the resource advisory and consulting group.
“This group will be finalized very shortly and they will begin their training this week,” Vaidya said. “We will be launching a strategic framework website, which will serve as the public face of this campaign for the individual to take part in and learn more about the process.”
This initiative aligns with another that Vaidya spoke about. NKU recently launched a clinical research certificate program through the Department of Allied Health in the College of Health Professions. The post-baccalaureate certificate is possible through a partnership with a CTI company. With ten employees enrolled, this program aims to educate employees to become business and regulatory managers for clinical trials.
Vaidya said he has met with NKU community and business partners St. Elizabeth Healthcare, Fifth Third Bank, Corporex, BB&T, Western & Southern, Duke Energy and the chambers of commerce for northern Kentucky and Greater Cincinnati.
“They say many great things about our students and what we do here, but they’re also quick to add that we need to do more and how can they help with meeting the talent needs of this region,” Vaidya said.
Recognizing NKU founders
The Board of Regents honored three Kentucky state legislators who were crucial in securing the funds needed to create NKU’s predecessor, Northern Kentucky State College. Ken Harper, Clyde Middleton and Art Schmidt, who passed away on Sept. 2, were all recognized for their hard work and dedication to NKU.
“I think most of you know that the people sitting here today were the ones fighting for Northern many years ago, some fifty years,” said Lee Scheben, chair of the NKU Board of Regents. “They’re the ones that fought in scraps to get this university underway. We can’t thank them enough.”
After the Board completed their resolution of recognition, State Senator Wil Schroder presented a senate citation, acknowledging Harper, Middleton and Schmidt’s hard-earned accomplishments.
“We’re amongst some individuals that never had to question if their time in Frankfort made a difference. They have the opportunity to be here today at a university that we know would not have happened without their support,” Schroder said.