A growing metropolitan regional university located in the Cincinnati metropolitan area, NKU is committed to instilling a passion in its students that will lead them to fulfilling careers, community engagement, and meaningful lives. This commitment has been a driving force as the university has expanded academic offerings and advanced new opportunities for experiential learning for its students. The NKU community can look back at the past decade with pride at the founding of two new colleges, the construction of several new buildings on campus, and a successful transition to Division I athletics. The university’s evolution is measured by its visionary leadership, reaffirmed commitment to globally comprehensive undergraduate and graduate education, and the launch of a revolutionary Health Innovation Center (HIC) in 2018.
The most recently established of Kentucky's eight public universities, NKU began as a University of Kentucky extension campus in Covington, Kentucky in 1948. In 1968, the state legislature established Northern Kentucky State College as a public four-year institution. It was renamed Northern Kentucky University in 1976. Over time, NKU has transformed itself into a regional university of more than 14,500 students and 2,000 faculty and staff on a thriving 424-acre campus with technologically-advanced infrastructure. NKU is comprised of six academic colleges: the College of Arts and Sciences, the Haile/US Bank College of Business, the College of Education and Human Services, the College of Health Professions, the College of Informatics, and the Salmon P. Chase College of Law. The addition of the new Honors College will add a new dimension to this impressive portfolio.
The university values its role as an integral part of the Greater Cincinnati region and recognizes the region as a powerful source of knowledge and experience that can strengthen, enhance, and enrich every aspect of the university. NKU achieves its mission by cultivating outstanding faculty, state-of-the-art programs, and community partnerships. NKU prides itself on its learner-focused education, entrepreneurial spirit, global perspective, innovative programs, technology-enhanced academic programs, and active co-curricular learning opportunities – including student research, education abroad, internships, co-op programs, and service learning. NKU has been named “One of America’s Best Universities” by Forbes, and the university is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
NKU sits in the heart of a vibrant metropolitan region with a dynamic, growing economy. NKU is accessible from four major highways and surrounded by an ecosystem of large and small businesses, entrepreneurs, and organizations committed to building a culturally and economically diverse community.
With all the attributes of a larger college town, NKU’s location in Highland Heights, Kentucky allows it to take advantage of the conveniences of metropolitan living – it is seven miles south of downtown Cincinnati and 20 minutes from the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport – while being located in a suburb. In the rolling hills of Highland Heights, our campus provides a peaceful and quiet community with a safe, clean and walkable campus. In 2016, Highland Heights was named as one of the top 30 safest college towns in America.
Northern Kentucky is home to nationally ranked public schools and both sides of the river offer multiple private school options. This location provides a variety of communities or neighborhoods from rural farmland to urban condominium living all within a 20-mile radius of our campus.
Students, Faculty and Staff
NKU supports 14,566 students, including 11,584 full-time equivalent enrollments. About 68 percent of the students are Kentucky residents, primarily from Northern Kentucky. Students come from 107 Kentucky counties and 44 states, with more than 400 international students from 56 countries. In 2016 the freshman class had an average high school GPA of 3.5 and an average ACT score of 23.9, the highest in NKU history. Eighty-three percent of our student population is White, 7 percent African-American, 3 percent Hispanic, and 2 percent are classified as “two or more races.”
NKU has a proud history of helping students who arrive on campus through diverse pathways to succeed. Side by side, the university serves residential students enrolled directly after high school, commuters, and working adults. The university has been recognized as one of America’s most military-friendly and disability-friendly schools. NKU has a large population of commuter students with only 20 percent of full-time, undergraduate students living on campus.
NKU has a commitment to a diverse faculty and student population. To support these efforts NKU provides scholarships to students from underrepresented groups and offers programs such as NKU R.O.C.K.S for African American Students and L.A.M.P. for Latino students. Fifty-one percent of new NKU students are first-generation college students, with 37 percent qualifying as low-income by federal standards. NKU offers a program, Summer SPARK, for incoming first generation students to aid them transitioning to college.
In 2016-17, 2,941 degrees and certificates were conferred, 79 percent of which were baccalaureate degrees. NKU has 569 full-time faculty (374 tenured/tenure-track and 195 non-tenure track), 454 part-time faculty, and 958 staff members.
A presidential search is underway as Geoffrey S. Mearns, NKU’s fifth president, announced he would leave the university in May to become president of Ball State University. Mearns began his tenure at NKU on August 1, 2012. During his presidency, Mearns led the development of a five-year strategic plan to guide the university toward its goals of improving student success, fostering academic innovation, engaging the community, developing talent, and supporting institutional excellence. In addition, he successfully advocated for a substantial increase—more than $5.1 million—in annual state operating support for NKU.
Gerard “Gerry” St. Amand is serving as interim president until the search concludes. St. Amand most recently served on the faculty of the Chase College of Law and is a long-standing member of the NKU community. He previously served as Dean of the College of Law from 1999-2006 and as Vice President for University Advancement from 2006-2013.
Sue Ott Rowlands began her tenure as NKU Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs in January 2014. Before joining the NKU community, she served as Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences at Virginia Tech. Ott Rowlands has an academic background in theatre and is an accomplished actor and director. She has a history of success in strategic planning, working across disciplines, bolstering student success, and advocating for diversity. While at Virginia Tech, she successfully led her college through a university capital campaign, expanded the College’s Undergraduate Research Institute, and developed numerous international programs and partnerships. Before her appointment at Virginia Tech, she served for two years as interim dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Toledo, where she was also chair of the Department of Theatre and Film. Prior to that, she led the acting and directing program at The Ohio State University. Ott Rowlands received her bachelor’s degree from Oklahoma Christian College and her Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of Oklahoma.
In November, 2013, the Board of Regents approved the university’s five-year, institution-wide strategic plan. The plan represents the shared vision, values, and goals of the entire university community and is the unifying instrument that optimizes the use of available resources and talent toward the achievement of NKU’s mission and aspirations. The plan is not a prescribed list of actions, but it serves as a guide for university growth and development. University leadership continues to work with the NKU community to pursue this vision. NKU looks forward to celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2018, and to developing the next strategic plan for future growth and prosperity.
To learn about the full strategic planning process Fuel the Flame, and to view the Strategic Plan, visit http://fueltheflame.nku.edu.