Northern Kentucky University

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Northern Kentucky University
Historic seal of Northern Kentucky University
Seal of Northern Kentucky University
Motto Qualitas-Factus,
Motto in English
Established 1968[1]
Type Public
Endowment $89 million[2]
President Geoffrey S. Mearns
Provost Sue Ott Rowlands
Academic staff
Administrative staff
Students 15,405
Undergraduates 13,206[4]
Postgraduates 2,199[4]
Location Highland Heights, Kentucky, United States
39°01′55″N 84°27′55″W / 39.03194°N 84.46528°W / 39.03194; -84.46528Coordinates: 39°01′55″N 84°27′55″W / 39.03194°N 84.46528°W / 39.03194; -84.46528
Campus Suburban, 425 acres (1.72 km2)[5]
Colors Gold & Black
‹See Tfm›     ‹See Tfm›    
Athletics Norse
Mascot Victor E. Viking
Affiliations Atlantic Sun Conference
(Horizon League on July 1, 2015)[6]
Current logo of Northern Kentucky University
NKU's Library, as seen from the incoming main drive. This is actually the rear entrance and view. The front faces the campus plaza and features a sloping glass facade.

Northern Kentucky University is a public, co-educational university in northern Kentucky located in Highland Heights, seven miles (11 km) southeast of Cincinnati, Ohio. The university is primarily an undergraduate, liberal arts institution, but it also features graduate programs. Total enrollment at the university currently exceeds 15,000 students, with over 13,000 undergraduate students and over 2,000 graduate students served by nearly 2600 faculty and staff.[4] Northern Kentucky University is the third largest university, behind the University of Cincinnati and Miami University, but before Xavier University, of Greater Cincinnati's four large, four-year universities and the youngest of Kentucky's eight state universities, although it is not the last to join the state system, as the University of Louisville did not become a state university until 1970.

Notable among the university's programs are the Salmon P. Chase College of Law and the College of Informatics, founded in 2006.[7] The university has been cited for academic quality and value by such publications as CIO Magazine,[8] U.S. News and World Report,[9] and Forbes.[10][11] The University issues an annual report that recaps significant achievements by students, faculty, and staff.[12]


Northern Kentucky University's "Loch Norse" and University Center

Early history[edit]

Northern Kentucky University began in 1948, when an extension campus for the University of Kentucky was opened in Covington, Kentucky, known as the UK Northern Extension Center.[13] After 20 years in operation as an extension center for UK, it became an autonomous four-year college under the name Northern Kentucky State College (NKSC).[1] In 1970, Dr. W. Frank Steely was hired as the first president.[14] The following year, the Salmon P. Chase College of Law, formerly an independent law school in Cincinnati, merged with Northern Kentucky State College. The main campus moved from Covington to Highland Heights, Kentucky, in 1972. NKSC awarded its first bachelor's degrees in May 1973. Rapid expansion resulted in the school being upgraded to university status in 1976.[15]

Recent history[edit]

Since its founding in 1968 and elevation to university status in 1976, Northern Kentucky University has expanded with numerous construction projects, new colleges and a much larger, more diverse student body. The most recent former president of the university, Dr. James C. Votruba, is largely credited with transforming the image of the university since his arrival in 1997, helping to build the university's reputation as a respected academic institution.[16] As part of Votruba's administration, the university has increased its admissions standards and improved the academic performance of its students. Northern Kentucky University also launched a new university logo and branding effort in 2002.[17] In recent years, the university has also concentrated on the construction of new and improved facilities across campus.


The Northern Kentucky campus plaza in 2010

Academic facilities[edit]

Northern Kentucky University's main campus in Highland Heights, Kentucky is situated on 400 acres (1.6 km2) of rolling countryside along U.S. Route 27, just off of Interstate 275 and Interstate 471, seven miles (11 km) southeast of Cincinnati, Ohio. The campus was built beginning in the early 1970s, and the first building, Nunn Hall, opened in 1972.[15] Although most of the university's students commute daily to the campus, approximately 2,000 students live on campus. In recent years, the university has been in the process of expanding its campus and facilities. The $60 million Bank of Kentucky Center is a recently completed 9,400-seat arena. It serves as the primary venue for athletics on campus, and also as a venue for entertainment, such as live bands and concerts. The arena is named after The Bank of Kentucky, which made an endowment of $5 million toward construction. Additionally, a new $37 million, 144,000-square-foot (13,400 m2) Student Union building, which opened to students in August 2008, largely replaces an old university center and is designed to accommodate student needs on campus. The building includes cafeterias, stores, a game room, offices for student life programs, and other amenities for students. Other recent projects included the construction of a new parking garage to accommodate the arena and a European-style roundabout for traffic control and flow management. The most recent university master plan envisions a massive expansion of the campus by the year 2020, including multiple new academic buildings, housing developments, campus quad areas, athletic fields, parking lots and connector roads.[18] The Landrum Academic Center houses an Anthropology Museum. The university campus is also the first educational institute in the world to have a laser-projection planetarium, as part of the Dorothy Westerman Hermann Natural Science Center. The Covington campus, located in Covington, Kentucky, closed at the end of 2008. It mainly served nontraditional and adult students and also hosted the Program for Adult-Centered Education and Emergency Medical Technology programs.[19] Northern Kentucky University's Grant County Center, located in Williamstown, Kentucky, is a partnership between the Grant County Foundation for Higher Education and Northern Kentucky University. It houses Northern Kentucky educational programs and the Williamstown Innovation Center.

The Japanese Language School of Greater Cincinnati (シンシナティ日本語補習校 Shinshinati Nihongo Hoshūkō) is a weekend supplementary Japanese school held at the Mathematics, Education and Psychology Center (MP), formerly known as the Business Education Psychology (BEP) Building.[20][21] The school was founded in 1975.[21]

Northern Kentucky's welcome sign, skywalk and new arena, The Bank of Kentucky Center


Northern Kentucky's main library is the W. Frank Steely Library, completed in 1975 and named after the first president of the university. A $9.1 million renovation and expansion project was completed in 1995. The library's five floors contain over 850,000 volumes, more than 18,000 bound periodicals, and approximately 1.4 million microforms. The two-floor Chase Law Library, Northern Kentucky's other library on campus, contains more than 313,000 volumes and 57,000 monographic and serial titles.

Civic engagement[edit]

Corporate and university partnerships include The Scripps Howard Center for Civic Engagement, the Fifth/Third Entrepreneurial Center, the Metropolitan Education and Training Services Center, The Center for Applied Informatics and Fidelity Investments. Other centers on campus include the Center for Applied Anthropology, the Institute for Freedom Studies, the Center for Environmental Restoration, the Small Business Development Center, the Institute for New Economy Technologies, the Center for Environmental Education, the Center for Integrative National Science and Mathematics and the Chase Local Government Law Center.


Northern Kentucky University's Griffin Hall

Northern Kentucky University includes an international enrollment process, with many students hailing from Kentucky and Ohio, as well as Indiana. Northern Kentucky University students organize to form six colleges. The newest college is the College of Informatics, founded in 2006, replacing the College of Professional Studies.

Northern Kentucky University students are also a part of university-wide honors programs as well as individual chapters in numerous honor societies. Northern Kentucky's Alpha Beta Phi chapter of Phi Alpha Theta, the International History Honor Society, has won 18 consecutive best chapter awards.

University rankings
Forbes[22] 606 (2012)

Lecture series[edit]

Students may attend lecture-style debates between well-known conservative and liberal guests. NKU's Alumni Association Lecture Series has featured such guests as politicians Mario Cuomo, Alan Keyes, Steve Forbes, Newt Gingrich, George McGovern, Bob Dole and John Edwards; political strategists James Carville, Mary Matalin and Paul Begala; journalist Bob Woodward; and commentators George Stephanopoulos, George Will, Tucker Carlson and Al Franken. Most recently, the 2007 lecture featured former Republican political candidate Pat Buchanan and former Senate Majority Leader, Democrat Tom Daschle, and the 2008 lecture featured Karl Rove, the Republican political consultant and former Deputy Chief of Staff to George W. Bush and Dee Dee Myers, the Democratic strategist and former White House Press Secretary in the Clinton administration.

Intercollegiate athletics[edit]

Northern Kentucky University Norse athletics logo

The university's teams for both men and women are nicknamed "Norse". Their mascot is named Victor E. Viking.[23] Currently, Northern Kentucky University is part of the Atlantic Sun Conference, but will leave that league on July 1, 2015 to join the Horizon League.[6] NKU is in the process of becoming a full Division I member. During this time, NKU will not be eligible for NCAA championships during the four-year reclassification period to Division I.[24] The university fields teams in baseball, men's and women's basketball, men's and women's cross country, men's and women's golf, men's and women's soccer, softball, women's track and field, men's and women's tennis and women's volleyball.

Club sports[edit]

Students have also organized club teams in ice hockey,men soccer club, taekwondo, fencing, boxing, lacrosse [1], rugby, kickball, skeet & trap, and Brazilian jiu-jitsu. These clubs are primarily organized through the Sport Club program.

Student life[edit]

Northern Kentucky University's new Student Union building, under construction as of June 2008

Greek life[edit]

National Panhellenic Conference

North-American Interfraternity Conference

National Pan-Hellenic Council


Northern Kentucky University's "Loch Norse" and Fine Arts Center


The Northerner is Northern Kentucky's award-winning, independent, student-run newspaper.[25] It is published both in print and online. The university is also home to an independent, student-run Internet radio station Norse Code Radio. Northern Kentucky University hosts to the award-winning public radio station, WNKU, founded in 1986.[26] The public can listen to the station live in the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky area on 89.7 FM, the Middletown/Dayton area on 105.9 FM, the Portsmouth/Ashland/Huntington area on 104.1 FM or worldwide at

NorseMediaTV is the PEG access Public-access television cable TV station run by Northern Kentucky University. It airs on channel 818 on Cincinnati Bell Fioptics cable and 18 digital/96 analog on Insight Cable of Northern Kentucky. NorseMediaTV students and faculty produce many original programs, such as "Norse Access" - a weekly talk show, various sporting events and entertainment programming. Many NorseMedia programs have won awards at the local (Blue Chips),[27] regional (Philos) and national (Telly) levels, usually in the professional categories. NorseMediaTV also produces live telecasts of NKU basketball, soccer, volleyball and softball games. Students in the Electronic Media & Broadcasting program at NKU are invited to create and assist in producing programs for the station.

Noted people[edit]

Northern Kentucky University has over 60,000 living alumni, approximately 41,000 of them in Ohio and Kentucky. Many have gone on to achieve success in a variety of fields, including athletics, journalism, business, and government.

Northern Kentucky University's presidents include:

  • Dr. W. Frank Steely, 1970–1975
  • Dr. Ralph Tesseneer, 1975-1976 (interim)
  • Dr. A.D. Albright, 1976–1983
  • Dr. Leon Boothe, 1983–1996
  • Jack M. Moreland, 1996-1997 (interim)
  • Dr. James Votruba, 1997-2012
  • Geoffrey S. Mearns 2012-

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "University Histo
    . President's Message. Northern Kentucky University. Retrieved April 1, 2010.
  2. ^ As of August 2011."NCSE PUblic Tables Endowment Market Values" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-02-06. 
  3. ^ a b "Employee Headcount by Full- and Part-Time Status". Institutional Research. Northern Kentucky University. Retrieved April 1, 2010. 
  4. ^ a b c "Student Headcount by Level". Institutional Research. Northern Kentucky University. Retrieved April 1, 2010. 
  5. ^ Campus Information
  6. ^ a b "Northern Kentucky University to Join Horizon League in July" (Press release). Horizon League. May 11, 2015. Retrieved May 11, 2015. 
  7. ^ [2]
  8. ^ [3]
  9. ^ [4]
  10. ^ [5]
  11. ^ Xavier, Miami, UC, NKU make Forbes ranking
  12. ^ [6]
  13. ^ Northern Kentucky University - The NKU History Quiz - Northern Kentucky University
  14. ^ "Northern Kentucky University" by Will Frank Steely, The Kentucky Encyclopedia (University Press of Kentucky, 1992): 684-685.
  15. ^ a b Google cached page from NKU 2007 catalog
  16. ^ NKU counts on Votruba - Person, place fit perfectly for 10 years
  17. ^ New logo for a changing university - News
  18. ^ Master Plan
  19. ^ The Northerner: NKU Covington campus closes
  20. ^ Wood, Karli. "Name changes alter campus face" (Archive). The Northerner. September 14, 2011. Retrieved on May 8, 2014. "With the construction of Griffin Hall, NKU moved 550 operations between the Business Education Psychology (BEP) and Applied Science and Technology (ST) buildings,[...]and BEP will be called the Mathematics, Education and Psychology Center."
  21. ^ a b "English Information" (Archive). Japanese Language School of Greater Cincinnati. Retrieved on May 8, 2014. "BEP102 Northern Kentucky University, Nunn Drive, Highland Heights, KY 41099"
  22. ^ "America's Top Colleges". LLC™. Retrieved October 19, 2013. 
  23. ^ Getting to know Northern Kentucky - College Basketball Nation Blog - ESPN
  24. ^ "NKU accepts invitation to join Atlantic Sun Conference, will reclassify to NCAA Division I". Northern Kentucky University. December 8, 2011. Retrieved December 8, 2011. 
  25. ^ "NKU newspaper honored". The Kentucky Post (E. W. Scripps Company). 2008-02-28. Archived from the original on 2005-11-12. 
  26. ^ WNKU Professional Awards
  27. ^ Blue Chip Cable Access Awards

External links[edit]


  1. ^ "Delta Community Credit Union". Northern Kentucky University Alumni Association.