President Ashish Vaidya hosted a spring forum Thursday, April 18, to a crowd of staff, faculty and students alike. Vaidya talked briefly about enrollment, the 2020 fiscal year budget and upcoming university initiatives.
“If there is anytime in higher education that is the worst time to do something like this, it’s probably April, in the second or third week,” Vaidya joked, eliciting laughs throughout the SU ballroom.
Vaidya wasted no time addressing men’s basketball Head Coach John Brannen leaving NKU for a head coaching job at the University of Cincinnati.
“Some of you may have seen my Sunday comments on TV—I did challenge the University of Cincinnati president to an arm wrestling match, but didn’t hear back from him,” Vaidya joked, getting more laughs from the crowd. “Obviously he knows where the strength in the region lies.”
After finishing the pleasantries and giving people recognition for various achievements from the last semester, Vaidya transitioned to talking about enrollment, retention and what improvements NKU has seen this spring.
“I want to point out that this spring, we are seeing more than a 5.5 to 5.8 percent [enrollment increase] compared to last spring. Most of that is because of the growth in our graduate programs,” Vaidya said.
Though enrollment is up by roughly 800 students since spring of 2018, Vaidya’s presentation specified that enrollment is projected to decline for the 2019-2020 semester, excluding the enrollment for accelerated online programs.
As posited in a previous story, How NKU fights its shrinking enrollment, Kentucky’s performance-based funding model did have an affect on NKU’s state appropriated budget. For the 2020 fiscal year, NKU will receive $1.7 million less from the state than it did in the 2019 fiscal year.
“We are moving more and more towards having a much more diversified set of revenue options available to us,” Vaidya said. “Whether it’s things like the accelerated online programs, or through other kinds of corporate and business partnerships that we need to engage. This is the world that we live in now, we can’t always place our bets on state appropriations.”
To further develop NKU’s budding accelerated online programs, an investment of approximately $4 million will be made to various colleges across campus. This comes at a time where the state will be undergoing a biennial budget request with the Council on Postsecondary Education (CPE).
CPE staff will be working with university presidents across the Commonwealth to determine funding priorities, which requires each university to determine what’s most important to them.
“What I’d like to do, because obviously this is new for me as well, is to really engage [faculty and staff] in the conversation about what our end product should be, and how I can best advocate for those going forward with CPE,” Vaidya said.
As the spring semester comes to a close, NKU is still looking for a Chief Strategy Officer and is wrapping up the search for two open dean positions. Vaidya stated that after receiving feedback from the campus community, the university will be reassessing parking and other fees as part of a larger conversation around affordability.
“Next year we will be engaging and our campus master planning process, something that we have not done for over nine years, and something that we actually feel is essential to going forward with the way things have changed,” Vaidya said.
This will be an overall assessment of the physical infrastructure of NKU’s campus, and is just one of many things Vaidya has asked students, faculty and staff for feedback on. For more information, visit NKU’s website on the spring forum.