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Northern Kentucky University (NKU) is a public, co-educational university located in Highland Heights, Kentuckymarker, seven miles (11 km) southeast of Cincinnati, Ohiomarker. NKU is primarily an undergraduate, liberal arts institution, but it also features graduate programs. Total enrollment at the university currently exceeds 17,000 students, with over 15,000 undergraduate students and nearly 2,000 graduate students. NKU is the third largest university in Greater Cincinnati and the youngest of Kentuckymarker's eight state universities. NKU is also among the top 600 institutions named to Forbes Magazine's 2010 "America's Best Colleges" ranking.


NKU's W.
Frank Steely Library

Early History

NKU's history began in 1943, when an extension campus for the University of Kentuckymarker was opened in Covington, Kentuckymarker, known as the UK Northern Extension Center. After 20 years in operation as an extension center for UK, it became its own college in 1968, when NKU was founded originally as Northern Kentucky State College (NKSC). Three years later, in 1971, the Salmon P. Chase College of Law, formerly an independent law school in Cincinnatimarker, merged with Northern Kentucky State College. The main campus moved from Covington to Highland Heights, Kentuckymarker in 1972. NKSC awarded its first bachelor's degrees in May 1973. Northern Kentucky State College was expanded and renamed to Northern Kentucky University in 1976.

Recent History

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


Highland Heights

Northern Kentucky University's main campus in Highland Heights, Kentuckymarker is situated on about of rolling countryside along U.S. Route 27, just off of Interstate 275 and Interstate 471, seven miles (11 km) southeast of Cincinnatimarker, Ohiomarker. The campus was built beginning in the early 1970s, and the first building, Nunn Hall, opened in 1972.

Although most of NKU's students commute daily to the campus, approximately 1,500 students live on campus, which creates an atmosphere of a smaller, private university for residents, but with the resources of a larger, public university.

In recent years, NKU has been in the process of expanding its campus and facilities. The $60 million Bank of Kentucky Centermarker is a recently completed 9,400 seating-capacity 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.

NKU's new Student Union building, under construction as of June 2008
Additionally, a new $37 million, 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 NKU 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.

The Landrum Academic Center houses an Anthropology Museum. The NKU 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.

Other locations

NKU's Covington campus, located in Covington, Kentuckymarker, mainly serves nontraditional and adult students and also hosts the Program for Adult-Centered Education and Emergency Medical Technology programs.

The NKU Grant County Center, located in Williamstown, Kentuckymarker is a partnership between the Grant County Foundation for Higher Education and NKU. It houses NKU educational programs and the Williamstown Innovation Center.

Student Life

Northern Kentucky Leadership Institute

NKLI is the parent of several programs/organizations at Northern Kentucky University. NKLI has introduced the Leadership University Series which was developed as an interactive approach to personal and leadership development. This program is designed to meet both new and experienced leaders’ needs.

Norse Leadership Society

The Norse Leadership Society (NLS) is recognized by students, faculty, and staff as the premiere leadership organization on campus. NLS is composed of outstanding student leaders with a sophomore status or higher. Members come from different backgrounds and always display tremendous pride in the university. Most NLS members are also leaders in other student organizations and in the community.

The mission of the Norse Leadership Society is to serve students by being recognized as the premiere leadership and personal development student organization on Northern Kentucky University’s campus. This mission is upheld by providing programs and activities that will cultivate a broad base of leadership and developmental skills either independently or through an association with other local organizations.

Notable events held by NLS are the Fall Gatlinburg Retreat, Corporate Leadership Conference, and Leadership Symposium.

Leadership Mentors

Leadership Mentors (LM) is an organization that prides itself in facilitating various seminars, lectures, activities and fun-filled events. The members that compose the Mentors are varied in background, class year, and activity level. Each one of them is involved in another organization on campus.

The Mentors team assists the Office of Student Life at NKU by presenting the iNvolved lecture to incoming freshman via University 101 classes. In the iNvolved lecture, students give a broad overview of campus life and different ways to become an iNvolved student.

Apart from incoming freshman education, Mentors outreaches to local high schools assisting the graduating seniors in college-related issues from dorm life to general life in college. The Mentors team are also well trained delegates that can facilitate anything from leadership development to team-building through creative, fun, and interactive means.

The Mentors are also affiliated and guided by the Office of Admissions at NKU and are well adept and trained to guide tours of the Highland Heights Campus from the prospective of a current student and life on campus. They also serve as a student liaison group for prospective and current students

Freshman Service Leadership Committee

The Freshman Service Leadership Committee (FSLC) is a freshman-based student organization dedicated to the development of leadership through service. Through both the fall and spring semesters at NKU, FSLC members can be seen throughout campus. Whether it be working fundraisers for one of their upcoming events or showing off their skills at NKU’s Service on Saturday, FSLC members are dedicated to giving back to the community.

While attending FSLC meetings, students will be given the opportunities, put their leadership skills to test, and develop their skills to new heights. Members can be elected to an office on the Executive Board. In addition, students can Chair a Committee that will focus on helping facilitate group functions, social activities, and community service projects.

Activities Programming Board

The Presidential Ambassadors

Northern Kentucky University's (NKU) Presidential Ambassadors (PA's) are an elite group of 25 students dedicated to helping all students become more versatile. Membership is offered to students who achieve high levels of academic excellence, demonstrate involvement in student life and the surrounding community and exhibit dedication towards the promotion of NKU. PA's are student volunteers that participate and provide support for campus events and activities, host tours for guests of the university and attend numerous leadership retreats and conferences throughout the year. PA's take pride in their opportunity for personal development and service while maintaining the status of the most elite organization at NKU.

Greek Life

Northern Kentucky's Greek Life consists of four fraternities and five sororities. The members of these organizations are very involved in campus life.



Student Government Association


NKU's "Loch Norse" and nearby buildings


Northern Kentucky University has grown to include six colleges. The newest college at NKU is the College of Informatics, founded in 2006, replacing the College of Professional Studies.

Honors programs

Northern Kentucky University features a university-wide Honors program as well as individual chapters in numerous honor societies. NKU's Alpha Beta Phi chapter of Phi Alpha Theta, the International History Honor Society, has won 16 consecutive best chapter awards.


NKU'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 300,000 volumes, more than 18,000 bound periodicals, and approximately 1.4 million microforms. The library also houses the Greater Cincinnati Library Consortium Media Collection.

The two-floor Chase Law Library, NKU's other library on campus, contains more than 313,000 volumes and 57,000 monographic and serial titles.


NKU Norse athletics logo


Northern Kentucky University is an NCAA Division II school that is part of the Great Lakes Valley Conference. The university's teams for both men and women are nicknamed "Norse" and should not be called anything that varies from "Norse"...i.e. Lady Norse, Norsemen, Lady Norsemen, etc. should not be used as they are not the school's official mascot.

The Norse field teams in men's baseball, women's softball, men's and women's basketball, soccer, cross country, tennis, golf, and women's volleyball.

Women's basketball team

In 2000, the NKU women's basketball team became NKU's first national championship team by winning the NCAA Women's Division II Basketball Championship, ending their season with a 32-2 record. The 2002-03 team was the NCAA Women's Division II national runner-up.

The team won their second national championship in 2008, becoming one of only five schools to win more than one NCAA Women's Division II Basketball Championship, as well as the only two-time champions in the state of Kentucky. One of the top coaches in NCAA Division II women's basketball, Nancy Winstel, has been head coach of the team since 1983.

Other accomplishments

  • NKU has claimed the GLVC All-Sports Trophy in five of the last seven years (1999-2000, 2000-01, 01-02, 04-05 and 05-06).
  • The men's basketball team was the NCAA Division II national runner-up during the 1995-96 and 1996-97 seasons.
  • The women's soccer team was the NCAA Division II runner-up in 2000 and advanced to the NCAA Division II Final Four in 1999 and 2001.
  • The fastpitch softball team holds the NCAA record (including Division I) for most consecutive wins in a season with 55.
  • In 2006, the Norse cheerleading squad won the Universal Cheerleading Association's national title in the small unit coed category of NCAA Division II competition, and also won the national title again in 2007 and 2009.

Club sports

Students have also organized club teams in ice hockey, taekwondo, fencing, boxing, lacrosse, rugby, kickball, skeet & trap, and Brazilian jiujitsu. These clubs are primarily organized through the Sport Club program.


NKU's "Loch Norse" and Fine Arts Center

Public media

NKU is host to the award-winning public radio station, WNKUmarker, founded in 1986. The public can listen to the station live in the Northern Kentucky area on 89.7 FM or worldwide at

NorseMediaTV is the educational public access television channel run by Northern Kentucky University. It telecasts on channel 18 on Insight Cable of Northern Kentucky. NorseMediaTV produces many original programs, such as Northern Lights hosted by Dr. James C. Claypool, which won the 2006 Blue Chip Cable Access Award for the best news/talk show in the professional division. NorseMediaTV also produces live telecasts of NKU volleyball and softball games. Students in the Electronic Media & Broadcasting program at NKU are invited to assist in producing studio programs, but the university itself retains creative control over the station. NorseMediaTV is online at

Student-run media

The Northerner is NKU's award-winning, independent, student-run newspaper. It is also published online at via the College Publisher Network. The university is also home to an independent, student-run Internet radio station, Norse Code Radio, online at


NKU's "Loch Norse" and University Center

Civic engagement

NKU is a national model of civic engagement and economic development initiatives. 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 Infrastructure Management Institute, and Fidelity Investments.

Other centers on campus include the Institute for Freedom Studies, the Center for Applied Ecology, 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.

Lecture series

The university also hosts yearly 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.

Notable Alumni, Faculty, and Staff

NKU's Dorothy Westerman Hermann Natural Science Center and plaza

Notable Alumni

  • Steve Chabot, former U.S. Representative from Ohio's 1st Congressional District, earned his Juris Doctor from the Salmon P. Chase College of Law in 1978.
  • Actor George Clooney briefly attended NKU but did not graduate.
  • Actor and hip-hop artist Chris Bridges attended NKU.
  • Wrestler "Wildcat" Chris Harris attended NKU for two years but did not graduate.
  • Ken Lucas, former U.S. Representative from Kentucky's fourth congressional district from 1999 to 2005, received an honorary doctorate from NKU. Lucas was a founding regent at NKU, where he served for 23 years on the Board of Regents, 13 of those as chairman. After his term in Congress, Lucas donated his congressional papers to the Schlachter Family Archives in NKU's Steely Library. In 1994, Lucas had a building on campus named after him, the Lucas Administrative Center.
  • Rich Boehne, president and CEO of The E.W. Scripps Company, the Cincinnati-based media company, graduated in 1981.
  • David Mack, acclaimed creator of the comic book Kabuki and former writer/artist of Daredevil, graduated from NKU in 1995 with a BFA in graphic design.
  • Actress Jenny Robertson, who has appeared on such television programs as Law and Order and Reno 911!
  • Raymond J. Brune – Four-time Emmy Award winning media producer and co-head of Yani-Brune Entertainment. Brune has produced more than 15,000 hours of live network, cable and local television.
  • Shawn Nordheim, Mrs. Kentucky 2006, has an associate's degree in nursing from NKU.
  • Gary Webb, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, attended NKU and was on staff of the student newspaper, The Northerner, before dropping out and joining The Kentucky Post. He later worked at the San Jose Mercury News, where his series, "Dark Alliance," alleged that the U.S.-supported Contra rebels in Nicaraguamarker sold drugs in America and were largely responsible for introducing crack-cocaine into the U.S. There was debate about the accuracy of the series, although the series was soon found to be accurate. Webb committed suicide in December 2004.
  • Warren Bettis, an Ohio jurist who serves as a judge on the Ohio Court of Claims, earned his law degree from the Chase College of Law in 1952.
  • Joe Zerhusen, the public-address announcer for Cincinnati Reds home games at Great American Ball Parkmarker.
  • Brigham A. McCown, the Deputy Administrator and Acting Administrator of the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) at the U.S. Department of Transportation, earned a law degree from the Chase College of Law in 1997.
  • Ryan Abeo (RA Scion), MC of Common Market, a hip hop duo based in Seattle, Washingtonmarker, attended NKU, but did not graduate.
  • Suzanne Fitzpatrick, television writer for shows including The Nanny, 7th Heaven, The Dooley and Pals Show.
  • Tom Luken, former mayor of Cincinnatimarker, U.S. Representative from Ohio, and father of former Cincinnati mayor Charlie Luken, earned his Juris Doctor from the Salmon P. Chase College of Law in 1950.
  • Rockin' Ron Schumacher, 1983 graduate of Northern Kentucky University with a Bachelor's degree in Radio/Television/Film. He's worked at WCLU in Covington, 55KRC in Cincinnati and since 1990 has been hosting the midday show on 103.5 WGRR Cincinnati's Greatest Hits.
  • Tricia Macke, a TV news anchor at WXIX-TVmarker in Cincinnatimarker.
  • Sheree Paolello, a TV news anchor at WLWT-TVmarker in Cincinnatimarker.

Notable Faculty

  • Mark Hardy, Broadway actor, appeared on Broadway in Titanic: The Musical, Les Misérables, and Sunset Boulevard.
  • Ken Jones, playwright and screenwriter, Best known for the plays Darkside, The Middle of Yesterday, A Red Eagle Falling, Victims of the Ice Age, and The Great Easter Egg Hunt. Wrote the book for the musical Burgertown. Previously head writer for Lightpoint Entertainment at Disney/MGM Studios.
  • Gary McGurk, an actor from Home Improvement and Babylon 5, is a current acting professor at NKU.
  • James Ramage, a faculty member in the history department, is a well-known Civil War expert who has a Civil War museummarker in Fort Wright, Kentuckymarker named in his honor.
  • Robert Trundle, a philosophy professor who Fate Magazine named as one of the 100 most influential people in Ufology in 2005 based on his book Is E.T. Here? and an article published in Science and Method in the Netherlands
  • Ukrainianmarker pianist Sergei Polusmiak, an internationally-renowned concert artist and master teacher, is artist in residence and professor in the music department.
  • NKU double bass instructor Owen Lee is a published artist who has gained international acclaim as a musician, including a spot on the cover of Bassist Magazine. He is currently principal bassist in the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra
  • William Brian Hogg, Director of Jazz Studies at NKU, is an internationally recognized jazz performer and educator, and is also the founder of the EMPOWER program, a community outreach program designed to return the roots of African American heritage to "at risk" and "urban" youth.
  • Joan Ferrante is a sociology professor who is best known as the author of several popular sociology textbooks, among them Sociology: A Global Perspective.
  • Stephen Leigh, a novelist, is an assistant professor at NKU.
  • Hazel Barton, cave-exploring microbiology professor that has been featured in national and international press, TV and film.

Northern Kentucky University Presidents

  • Dr. W. Frank Steely, 1968-1972
  • Dr. Ralph Tesseneer, 1972-1973 (interim)
  • Dr. A.D. Albright, 1973-1983
  • Dr. Leon Boothe, 1983-1996
  • Jack M. Moreland, 1996-1997 (interim)
  • Dr. James Votruba, 1997-present

See also


External links

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