NKU's Votruba to retire as president

James Votruba (Source: NKU.edu)
James Votruba (Source: NKU.edu)

HIGHLAND HEIGHTS, KY (FOX19) - NKU president James Votruba is retiring.

Votruba made the announcement Friday morning during Fall Convocation at Greaves Concert Hall.

Votruba will retire after the 2011-12 academic year, and then stay to teach educational leadership. He said that the time is right for him and wife Rachel to strike a more reasonable balance between work and family life.

"It has been a great honor to represent both our university and our community," said Votruba. "NKU is a great place to be a university president and we can expect a large number of very strong candidates."

Votruba was named president of NKU on Aug. 1, 1997. He came to NKU from Michigan State University where he was vice provost for university outreach and professor of higher education from 1989-97.  Prior to his tenure at MSU, he was dean of the College of Education and Human Development (1983-1989) at Binghamton University.  He previously held faculty and administrative positions at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Drake University.

During his tenure at NKU, he has served on numerous boards has been active in the community, along with his wife.

"Northern Kentucky is our home and Rachel and I will continue to be actively involved in the community," said Votruba.

During Votruba's tenure, student enrollment at NKU has climbed by 34 percent since his arrival, from 11,785 in 1997 to nearly 16,000 today. During that time, the university has added 19 bachelor's degree programs (for a total of 70), 42 master's or graduate certificate programs (for a total of 49) and two professional doctoral programs. The faculty/staff has grown by 32 percent (from 1,550 to 2,043).

The university has also opened numerous new facilities under Votruba's leadership, including the Dorothy Westerman Herrmann Natural Science Center, a Student Union, The Bank of Kentucky Center and the Griffin Hall informatics center. It has also established a Grant County Center and the METS Center for Corporate Learning in Erlanger.

"My proudest accomplishment is the emergence of the university as a fully mature metropolitan university," Votruba said. "Fourteen years ago we were both a community college and a four-year university. Today we are in terms of the breadth of our curriculum, the quality of our faculty and students, our physical facilities, our budget – we are in every respect a mature metropolitan university."

NKU Board Chair Terry Mann says the search for a new president will be very inclusive the board hopes to name successor in March 2012. He said a search committee is already being formed.

"I know I speak for the entire board when I thank President Votruba for his outstanding leadership over these past years," Mann said. "The university is stronger because of his contributions. Our lives have been enriched because of his contributions. I am confident we will attract an outstanding pool of candidates because of the quality leadership he has provided over the past 14 years."

Mann said NKU will hold a series of public forums to "consider NKU's future and what characteristics we need in a president to help us achieve that vision."

Also during his speech on Friday, Votruba said he expects to announce a NCAA Division I conference for NKU this semester.

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