As a public comprehensive university located in a major metropolitan area, Northern Kentucky University delivers innovative, student-centered education and engages in impactful, scholarly and creative endeavors, all of which empower our graduates to have fulfilling careers and meaningful lives, while contributing to the economic, civic, and social vitality of the region.
Northern Kentucky University will be acclaimed by students, alumni, the region, and the commonwealth for:
- Our Success…in preparing graduates for a global society.
- Our Contribution…to regional progress and economic growth.
- Our Delivery…of distinctive academic programs.
- Our Dedication…to the development and wellbeing of our people.
- Our Effectiveness…in securing and managing resources sustainably.
Our Core Values
These are the core values that Northern Kentucky University embraces as we go about our work:
- We will promote a culture that fosters and celebrates EXCELLENCE in all that we do.
- We will engage in honest, fair, and ethical behavior with INTEGRITY at the heart of every decision and action.
- Ours will be a community that embraces INCLUSIVENESS, diversity, and global awareness in all dimensions of our work.
- We will approach our work - how we teach, engage, and serve - with creativity and INNOVATION.
- We will maintain a climate of COLLEGIALITY built on respect and characterized by open communication and shared responsibility.
NKU is the youngest of Kentucky’s eight state universities. The university’s roots go back to 1948 when the University of Kentucky established a two-year community college in Covington. In 1962 the extension branch was renamed Northern Community College. Five years later, a grassroots petition asking for a new college in the region was signed by more than 3,000 people including children, many of whom would someday graduate from NKU. As a result, an independent four-year degree-granting institution was created in 1968 by then-governor Louie B. Nunn, who signed legislation to establish Northern Kentucky State College, which eventually became Northern Kentucky University.
In late 1969, Dr. Frank Steely was selected as NKU’s first president. He immediately began work to hire faculty and staff, obtain funding, and oversee building construction. From 1970 to 1972, undergraduate courses were offered at the old community college’s location until Nunn Hall was completed in Highland Heights. When Nunn Hall opened in 1972, it constituted all of NKSC: the president’s office, classrooms, library, bookstore, vending machines - everything was located there.
Rapid growth occurred during the early years: nine buildings were constructed in the 1970s. The Salmon P. Chase Law School of Cincinnati merged with NKSC in 1971, and the first intercollegiate men’s basketball game was held that year. The first NKSC commencement ceremony was in the spring of 1973; graduate programs were added in 1975; the state college became a full-fledged university in 1976; and before the end of the decade the athletics program was winning regional championships. Chase Law School moved to the main campus in 1982. The first residence hall also opened that year, marking a shift from a student body composed exclusively of local commuters to a more diverse one from across the nation and the globe. When President Steely resigned in September 1975, the school enrolled almost 4,300 students.
Dr. A. D. Albright served as the second president, leading the institution from 1976-83. During his term, additional academic buildings opened and eased overcrowding. The 1977 opening of the University Center with a place to eat, meet, and hold student activities brought a more traditional campus feel. In 1983, at the end of Dr. Albright’s presidency, the school enrolled about 8,500 students and employed 1,160 faculty and staff.
In the 1980s and early 1990s, NKU began to focus on its place in the region and the world. Dr. Leon Boothe, president from 1983-97, sought to diversify the university by initiating an international exchange program. He also led the first capital campaign in response to state funding cuts that reached a cumulative 30 percent of the university’s state appropriation. At the end of Dr. Boothe’s presidency, enrollment stood at 11,785, and 1,584 faculty and staff served the university.
Dr. James C. Votruba became NKU’s fourth president in 1997 and retired from the position in the summer of 2012. Under his leadership, new programs were added including cutting-edge undergraduate programs, many more master’s degree options, and two doctoral programs. Numerous buildings were built during his tenure including the Dorothy Westerman Herrmann Natural Science Center, the James C. and Rachel M. Votruba Student Union - named for President and Mrs. Votruba upon his retirement as president - The Bank of Kentucky Center, and NKU’s newest building: the super-high-tech Griffin Hall, home to the College of Informatics. Throughout his presidency, Dr. Votruba built on the concept of NKU as a metropolitan university, calling on the whole campus to become locally and regionally engaged for the benefit not just of the campus but also the community at large. On numerous occasions, NKU has been recognized nationally for its success in sharing knowledge through public engagement.
NKU’s athletics program was very successful during Dr. Votruba’s tenure as president. As a member of NCAA Division II, NKU won three national championships and 22 regional titles. The university’s first national athletics championship was earned by the women’s basketball team in 2000. When the women repeated in 2008, they became the first women’s team in Kentucky to win two national championships. The men’s soccer team followed in 2010 with a national title of its own.
At the end of Dr. Votruba’s presidency, NKU employed about 2,030 faculty and staff who served close to 15,800 students: 85 percent undergraduates, 11 percent graduate students, and 3 percent law students.
NKU named its fifth president, Geoffrey S. Mearns, a former federal prosecutor, law school dean and provost, in 2012. Under his leadership, the university continued to excel and attract high-achieving students who benefited from a student-centered faculty and extremely dedicated administrators and staff.
Following a storied Division II tenure, the athletics program reclassified to Division I beginning in 2012, joining the Atlantic Sun conference. In July 2015, NKU moved to the Horizon League, with member schools located in Kentucky, Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois and Wisconsin.
Today, NKU is a vibrant, exciting center of teaching and learning, research and creative work, and service to the northern Kentucky region, the commonwealth, the nation and the world.
In July 2018, the university welcomed its sixth president, Dr. Ashish Vaidya. Prior to joining NKU, Dr. Vaidya served as the interim president of St. Cloud State University in Minnesota. The university also opened the Institute for Health Innovation (IHI), a transdisciplinary center that furthers NKU’s commitment impacting population health issues. The IHI brings together programs and departments across the university to prepare graduates for real-world challenges. The Institute is housed in the Health Innovation Center (HIC), NKU’s new state-of-the-art facility that opened in the fall of 2018.
NKU offers associate degrees in a limited number of areas and eight bachelor degrees: Bachelor of Arts (B.A.), Bachelor of Science (B.S.), Bachelor of Fine Arts (B.F.A.), Bachelor of Music (B.M.), Bachelor of Music Education (B.M.E.), Bachelor of Science in Nursing (B.S.N.), Bachelor of Social Work (B.S.W.), and Bachelor of Science in Business Administration (B.S.B.A.). Undergraduate students have a choice of 73 majors and 89 minors. Students can also choose from among more than 200 student clubs and organizations ranging from disciplinary clubs such as the biology club to service organizations, advocacy groups, Greek organizations, sports clubs, faith-based organizations, leadership societies and more.
Since active NCAA Division I membership was granted in 2016, NKU athletics wasted little time making its presence felt on the national scene. Women’s soccer won the Horizon League Tournament and reached the NCAA Tournament that fall. Men’s basketball followed in March with the University’s second Horizon League Tournament title and faced Kentucky in the NCAA Tournament in front of 4.93-million viewers on CBS. Since then, NKU has added a Horizon League regular-season title in men’s basketball and several individual league titles as well.
Northern Kentucky University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges to award associate, baccalaureate, masters, and doctoral degrees. Contact SACSCOC at 1866 Southern Lane, Decatur, GA, 30033-4097 or call 404-679-4500 for questions about the accreditation of Northern Kentucky University.
The following organizations have accredited specific NKU programs: AACSB International-the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business; American Bar Association (ABA); American Chemical Society (ACS); American Council for Construction Education (ACCE); Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education (CAATE); Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care (CoARC); Council on Social Work Education (CSWE); Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology (JRCERT); National Association of Schools of Music (NASM); National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration (NASPAA); National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE); Council for Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP); Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE); Engineering Technology Accreditation Commission (ETAC); Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology ABET, Inc; and Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP).
NKU makes available online a variety of campus maps (http://nku.edu/campusmaps.html) including: a three-dimensional view of the Highland Heights campus with links and information about each building; a regional map showing the location of the Highland Heights campus, NKU’s Grant County Center, and NKU’s METS Center; and driving directions to the Highland Heights campus.
NKU provides a variety of calendars (http://nku.edu/calendars.html) online, including a public events calendar (http.nkuconnections.nku.edu), specific calendars for athletics (http://nkunorse.com) and music (http://artscience.nku.edu/departments/music/concerts.html) events, and several academic calendars (http://inside.nku.edu/registrar/calendars.html).