On Jan. 16, NKU’s Board of Regents gathered for their first meeting of 2019. After a fall semester that fell short of enrollment expectations, President Ashish Vaidya was pleased to announce some changes that came with the new year.
Enrollment trending up for start of spring semester
As of the first day of class, the overall NKU headcount was up 5 percent, and full time enrollment was up 2.6 percent over last spring.
Vaidya believes that NKU’s accelerated online programs are mostly responsible for the improvements, and cited some changes to retention and persistence as also helping.
NKU’s 2018 fall semester saw a drop in enrollment of 4 percent, excluding those in accelerated online courses. Vaidya had challenged the faculty and staff of NKU to help improve retention, which he believes has shown early signs success. As of Jan. 14, preliminary first year retention of degree-seeking students is up over last year. This includes a continued rise in the retention of underrepresented minority students.
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“Retention is up because we are retaining students who are currently enrolled despite the loss of enrollment last fall,” Vaidya said. “This is an indicator that the one time investment measures put in place last semester are paying dividends – and this was accomplished through a collaborative and sustained effort across the campus.”
The one-time investment mentioned by Vaidya was a $1.2 million marketing, retention and recruitment effort. According to documents provided by the Board of Regents, some of the bigger initiatives within this effort are: promoting NKU’s new EDGE program, free application month in November, strengthening the center for Student Inclusiveness and more targeted marketing.
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Online classes take the cake
“Our online education programs are significant reason for the plus to enrollment. We were recently recognized by the community for accredited online schools for our online learning offerings in 2018 and 2019,” Vaidya said.
NKU was nominated several times by Accredited Schools Online for wide range of things, including: best online schools in kentucky (6th), best online bachelor’s degree (41st), best construction management schools (20th) and best radiology technician schools (42nd).
“Considering the relative youth of our online portfolio it is very encouraging to be nationally recognized for such efforts,” Vaidya said. “Since launching our programs in the spring of 2018 we have grown from 174 across 13 degree programs and no certificates, to more than 1400 students in 20 programs and eight certificates.”
NKU Online features programs ranging from healthcare and nursing, to business and library informatics. Nursing touts the largest selection of programs and certificates—most of these are online master’s programs as well as post master’s certificates for various specializations.
More construction coming to campus
Kenton Garage and Commonwealth Hall are both slated for renovations in 2019; Kenton Garage will see the improvements start in mid-May whereas the Commonwealth Hall renovations should begin by the end of January.
According to documents provided by the Board of Regents, the goal of the Commonwealth Hall renovations is to install a new mechanical system that will provide greater energy efficiency, while also improving the occupants comfort. The idea is that it will give the ability heat or cool each room year round.
NKU has selected Moody Nolan and Lord Aeck Sargent to design a new residence hall. Moody Nolan is a nationally recognized architecture firm with offices in Covington and Lord Aeck Sargent is a firm that focuses on the planning and design of residential life facilities. NKU’s internal planning committee is allegedly leaning towards a more centrally located cite somewhere in the Boothe Village. The idea is still in development but NKU is looking to fast track it for completion by a tentative date of July 1, 2020.