Serving the Community: Northern Kentucky University Helps Drive Regional Growth

Northern Kentucky University keeps its eyes open to the needs of the Northern Kentucky and Greater Cincinnati region.

Sarah Kuta
On Sunday, December 8, 2019 - 06:47
Northern Kentucky University in the Northern Kentucky and Greater Cincinnati region

Since its founding in 1968, Northern Kentucky University has embraced its role as a steward of place – a commitment to serving the needs of the region through the development, application and exchange of knowledge and ideas.

The 420-acre campus, located a few miles from Cincinnati in the quiet suburb of Highland Heights, drives regional growth and prosperity, in part, by forging innovative partnerships. These collaborations help solve the community’s biggest challenges while educating students to become tomorrow’s professionals.

“We always keep our eyes and ears open to the needs of the region, and we look for unique ways to serve our students,” says NKU President Ashish Vaidya. “We’re here to serve the workforce needs of this region. We’re also here to provide the innovation and research needed to address with community-based issues and challenges.”

In an effort to address the physician shortage in Kentucky, for example, NKU recently collaborated with St. Elizabeth Healthcare and the University of Kentucky College of Medicine to open a 19,806-square-foot northern Kentucky campus. The goal? Educating future doctors for the Northern Kentucky and Greater Cincinnati region. 

In partnership with St. Elizabeth, NKU recently opened the Health Innovation Center, a state-of-the-art technology and learning facility designed to help prepare the next generation of health care professionals.

Northern Kentucky University in the Northern Kentucky and Greater Cincinnati region
Northern Kentucky University

The university, which serves 15,000 students, is also leading a community-wide effort to address the opioid epidemic in the region. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recently awarded NKU $1.8 million to establish and expand access to services that treat integrated substance use disorder and mental health issues.

“We are very much focused on collaboration and seeking partners across the spectrum,” Vaidya says. “If there are issues, we want people to think of NKU as a partner that’s willing to help them brainstorm and be here. We are ready to help make this community the best it can be.”

A collaboration between NKU and Ion/Apex, one of the region’s largest electrical contractors, is another cutting-edge, public-private partnership aimed at addressing workforce needs in the region. The collaboration will allow paid apprentices to earn college credit toward an NKU degree, curtailing a talent shortage otherwise expected to come as experienced, northern Kentucky trade professionals reach retirement age. 

Working together with Rockwell Automation and CBT Company, the campus also created a new laboratory to meet industry needs and give students hands-on learning in mechatronics engineering. 

Serving the community is embedded in the fabric of NKU, from its top leadership down through each and every department.
“It can’t just be a small thing that happens in one place – it has to be integrated across the entire mission of the university, from teaching and learning to scholarship and service,” says Vaidya. “We have to think of how we add value for not only the students, but also for the social and economic prosperity of this region.”

Learn more at Northern Kentucky University.


Sarah Kuta is an award-winning Colorado writer and editor. She regularly writes about travel, nature, education, personal finance and other topics.