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NKU Announces Success by Design’s First Five Initiatives and "2020 NKU Innovation Challenge" 


October 23, 2019— Northern Kentucky University announces the First Five Initiatives the university will implement in its Success by Design Strategic Framework and the “2020 NKU Innovation Challenge,” a program to unleash innovations in student success.

Success by Design identifies the university’s singular focus on student success aligned with the needs of the region and outlines three pillars of student success: Access, Completion and Career & Community Engagement. NKU will begin implementing the framework by tackling the First Five, the top initiatives determined through campus feedback. 

Success by Design took a new approach to strategic planning and that carries over into the implementation phase. Every objective and goal identified through our framework is important, but we must have a starting point. The First Five Initiatives align with every pillar of student success,” said President Ashish Vaidya.  

Initiatives one and two fall under Access. NKU will focus on improving affordability by examining student aid dollars as well as non-tuition fees and expenses. The university will also strengthen and expand the pipeline that starts in preschool and extends through high school and transfer institutions. Initiatives three and four focus on Completion by providing coordinated care for students and ensuring co-curricular and real world learning experiences are integrated into the curriculum. The fifth initiative addresses Career & Community Engagement through an emphasis on economic development, entrepreneurship and innovation in technology, health and logistics. 

Implementation Teams oversee each initiative and represent a diverse group that includes deans, department chairs, faculty, staff and students. University leaders will also look to the campus to continue to innovate while the First Five implementation is underway. 

“While our top initiatives have been identified, that does not mean everything else gets put on hold. I know our campus has many great ideas to help our students achieve, and we want to give them the platform to share these ideas,” said Chief Strategy Office and Vice President Bonita Brown. “That’s the basis of our ‘2020 NKU Innovation Challenge’– provide the opportunity to present these ideas and secure resources to make it happen.”

The “2020 NKU Innovation Challenge” is designed to be flexible to support both small and large scale projects. Anyone on campus can share their ideas and apply for funding– from $5,000 to $100,000– to implement their plans for student success. While $1.5 million of the one-time $2 million Strategic Investment and Innovation Fund will be allocated to the First Five Initiatives, the remaining $500,000 will be available to unleash innovative ideas from across campus. 

The deadline to submit proposals is December 6. Finalists will be notified in late December and will pitch their ideas to the campus in January 2020. Proposals that are not selected as finalists will be shared with the appropriate implementation teams. 
For more information, visit the “2020 NKU Innovation Challenge” website.  

About NKU: Founded in 1968, we are a growing metropolitan university of more than 14,000 students served by more than 2,000 faculty and staff on a thriving suburban campus near Cincinnati. Located in the quiet suburb of Highland Heights, Kentucky—just seven miles southeast of Cincinnati—we have become a leader in Greater Cincinnati and Kentucky by providing a private school education for a fraction of the cost. While we are one of the fastest growing universities in Kentucky, our professors still know our students' names. For more information, visit