Presidential Search

Dear NKU Community and Friends,

Here's an update on the presidential search process.

The committee has selected Isaacson-Miller as the external firm that will aid in our nationwide search for the university’s next president. They are very familiar with our university, having helped recruit several current senior academic leaders to NKU. Their direct experience and knowledge affords them an uncommon ability to identify candidates that could be a good fit to serve as our president. 

Our goal is to find and hire the very best candidate for the position. How we handle the process itself could play a huge role in improving the odds of success.

That’s why we’re beginning with broad information gathering; opportunities for all to contribute to both the job description and the candidate profile that will drive our aggressive, proactive, nationwide search.  The upcoming campus and community listening sessions are essential opportunities to influence the outcome. Search committee members are also your delegates to the process. Let them know what you expect.

I have charged the search committee with the task of ensuring that the process is inclusive and the pool of candidates is both deep and diverse. Inclusiveness is one of the university’s core values and has been a particular source of strength for the campus community these past few years. It will also serve to guide the search committee as they identify the qualities necessary for consideration. 

Inclusiveness is one of the university’s core values and has been a particular source of strength for the campus community these past few years. It will also serve to guide the search committee as they identify the qualities necessary for consideration. 

Just as the search committee and board will be taking a broad look at all candidates, I would encourage you to use a similarly wide lens when thinking about what you’d like to see in our next president. Although everyone comes from a different corner of the university, one thing that binds us together is that we all care deeply about NKU and the community it serves. I hope that this will be a guiding principle for us all as we go through the search process together.   

Once the search committee distills, weighs and balances the desired attributes of our next president (no doubt accepting, reluctantly, that “perfect” is not likely to be a reasonable expectation), the search begins in earnest. This is when the search consultant really earns its keep, scanning for candidates and matching the desired qualities and experiences. It’s possible that the best candidate is not looking for a job or has never heard of NKU. It’s also possible that the best candidate will show interest unsolicited, or be someone right under our nose, or someone who will be nominated for the role by one of you.

To ensure we gather the most attractive and appropriate pool of talented and diverse higher education leaders, we’ll give the search committee and firm the latitude necessary to protect the names of those who have interest in the position.

The committee will dedicate a chunk of its summer to reviewing and ultimately interviewing candidates. They will then recommend a shortlist of finalists to the board of regents. Depending upon the sensitivities of the actual candidates, they may or may not be available for open forums in the final phase of the process. We won’t know until we get closer how we’ll handle the final stretch. Most critical, though, is that we manage our process to produce the very best candidates. Flexibility could be key to securing the most appropriate president for NKU.

As I said at the beginning, first up are the listening sessions where we gather your feedback and ideas. Members of the presidential search committee and search firm will be present to facilitate these discussions. See the dates below for your respective listening session.

Faculty listening sessions
Monday, April 10 from 12:00pm – 1:00pm in University Center 270, Otto Budig Theater (no food or drinks inside)
Thursday, April 20 from 1:00pm – 2:00pm in Student Union 109

Staff listening sessions
Tuesday, April 11 from 9:30am – 10:30am in University Center 270, Otto Budig Theater (no food or drinks inside)
Wednesday, April 19 from 2:30pm – 3:30pm in Student Union 108

Student listening sessions
Tuesday, April 11 from 2:15pm – 3:15pm in University Center 270, Otto Budig Theater (no food or drinks inside)
Wednesday, April 19 from 3:30pm – 4:30pm in Student Union 108

Community listening sessions
Monday, April 10 from 5:30pm – 6:30pm at Gateway Community & Technical College Convening Center – Boone County Campus, 500 Technology Way, Florence, KY 41042. Parking is free (directions attached)
Wednesday, April 19 from 5:30pm – 6:30pm at NKU Campus Student Union 108. Please park in the Kenton Garage. Parking will be validated. (directions and details attached)

I can’t stress enough how valuable these sessions are to the search process. Depending on how the process plays out, this will likely be the best opportunity for the firm and the committee to hear directly from you. We sincerely hope you’ll be able to join us.  

If you have any questions about the listening sessions, please email More to come.

See you soon.



Archived communication

NKU campus community:

We’re making tremendous progress on our search for the university’s next president.

The search committee is now in place, led by Regent Norm Desmarais. Norm, working with the university community, solicited a broad and diverse group to handle this vital search. The 19 members represent talent and expertise from both inside and outside the university. They are listed below, or at  

Plus, we’re close to selecting the best external firm to assist with the nationwide search. This firm will work closely with the search committee to identify, recruit, assess and ultimately recommend candidates to interview for the position. Their participation in the process will ensure that we are provided with a rich and diverse pool of candidates that exemplify both the mission and ambition of Northern Kentucky University.

Soon, we’ll be holding listening sessions on campus to hear your thoughts and ideas in preparation for development of the job profile we’ll use to attract and screen candidates. These sessions are an essential step in the process, and we sincerely hope you’ll join us as we decide together what to look for in our next president.

While our schedule is aggressive, it will still take some months to get the best person in place. To bridge the gap between Geoff’s departure in May and the new president’s arrival, the regents will name an interim president to lead the university.

At the board meeting on March 15, I will propose that the regents consider and support Gerard St. Amand to serve in that interim role.

Most of you know Gerry from his service to the university as Vice President for University Advancement and Dean of Chase College of Law. If there is one trait that defines his career path, it is dedication. He could have easily served five additional years in the United States Army’s Judge Advocate General Corps and retired as a colonel. However, Gerry saw an opportunity to make an impact, so he left the Army to join NKU as Chase Law Dean. So too could he have quietly retired after his tenure as Vice President for Advancement came to an end, but he chose to return to the faculty of Chase Law where he continued his brilliant career of service and education to our students and university. 

Gerry's particular experience with our university, his familiarity with the strategies and culture that have come to define NKU, in addition to his proven and diverse leadership skills, make him my recommended candidate for this key positon.

It’s also important to note that by considering Gerry, we allow our senior campus leaders to continue their demanding roles without having to take on additional duties during this transition. Bringing him on board to an already strong senior leadership staff will allow NKU to continue its trajectory as a university on the rise while we search for our next president.

More to come. Just wanted to give you a preview of the recommendation that I will make to the board in a couple of weeks as well as additional updates on the presidential search process.

Presidential Search and Selection Committee

·               Normand Desmarais (Chair) – Regent, Chairman & Founding Partner, TiER1 Performance Solutions

·               David Bauer – Heavy Equipment/Grounds Operator, Operations and Maintenance

·               Martin Butler – Attorney, Strauss Troy (Chase ’77)

·               Garren Colvin – CEO, St. Elizabeth Healthcare (MBA ’96)

·               Brent Cooper – President & Owner, C-Forward Information Technology

·               Maureen Doyle – Chair & Associate Professor, Computer Science

·               Virginia Fox – Regent, Former Executive Director & CEO, Kentucky Educational Television

·               Rachel Green – Director, Human Relations & EEO, Human Resources

·               Francoise Kazimierczuk – Assistant Professor, Allied Health

·               Wendy Lea – CEO, Cintrifuse

·               Monica Molestina – Undergraduate student, Organizational Leadership & Spanish

·               Dannie Moore – Assistant Vice President, Student Inclusiveness

·               David Raska – Assistant Professor, Marketing, Economics & Sports Business

·               Cindy Reed – Dean, College of Education & Human Services

·               Dennis Repenning – Regent, Attorney, Dennis Repenning PSC (Chase ’79)

·               Lee Scheben – Regent, Executive Vice President, Heritage Bank (Chase ’91)

·               David Singleton – Associate Professor, Chase College of Law

·               Rebecca Walker – Acting Director, College of Informatics Advising

·               Matthew Zacate – Associate Professor, Physics & Geology



Rich Boehne

Chair, Board of Regents

Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2017

Campus community:

Since Geoff’s announcement last month that he plans to leave NKU, the Board has made significant progress on the transition process. I have some news to share with you today.

I am happy to say that Geoff will continue to serve as the president through Spring Commencement on May 7. Well before that, however, we intend to name an interim president who will step in until the new president is named.

The Board of Regents has full confidence in the ability of our academic and administrative leaders to maintain the university’s momentum during this brief time of change at the top. The needs and dreams of our students march forward, at an ever-increasing pace, and those of us charged with guiding the ship intend to deliver on our promises to them during this or any other transition.   

To that end, we are already soliciting search firms to assist us in locating the best candidates for the job. That’s done in the form of a public “Request For Proposal” or “RFP” for short. Proposals will begin streaming in the next few days. I’m confident our reputation will attract interest from some of the top search firms in higher education.

I can also share that Regent Norm Desmarais has agreed to chair the search committee. Norm’s professional experience and personal commitment to NKU make him a terrific choice. Norm is the chairman and founding partner of the Covington-based tech firm Tier1 Performance Solutions. His wife and two daughters are graduates of NKU, and he joined the Board last June.

Norm will guide the search process, but he won’t be working alone. He will be in touch soon with faculty, staff, students, and members of our community as we build out the search committee. This is important work, and also time consuming. I hope those of you asked to participate will be willing and eager to help select the next president of our outstanding university.

We also need your input as we draft the job description for the next president. You’ll soon see an extensive schedule of open forms on and off campus to gather feedback from the entire NKU community. We also have the results from the recent presidential assessment, which will be helpful as we craft the profile. This period of information gathering is one of the most critical phases of the search. Transitions, although stressful, provide an opportunity to recalibrate and consider what traits and experiences are most critical for our next president.

What’s next?

The Board’s goal is to secure a president whose talents best fit with NKU’s aspirations for the future. Brief or long. Whatever it takes to achieve our goals.

The target schedule outlined in the RFP calls for naming a search firm in early March; information-gathering in the late March and early April; targeting and interviewing candidates over the summer; and concluding the process early in the fall semester. An aggressive schedule? Yes. But we are confident it can be achieved.

So, much to do but we’re on our way.


Rich Boehne

Chair, Board of Regents



Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2017

Dear NKU Community & Friends,

It is with deep regret that I inform you that Geoff Mearns will be leaving NKU to become president of Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana.

On behalf of the Board of Regents, I would like to thank Geoff for his tireless work to move our university forward over the past five years. Under his strong and steady leadership, we have achieved new heights in academic success, advocacy, and athletics. We are truly on the rise as we prepare to celebrate our 50th anniversary in 2018. Please join me in thanking Geoff and wishing he, Jennifer, and the entire Mearns family well in this new chapter in their lives.

Geoff will be deeply missed not only on our campus, but across the Northern Kentucky and Greater Cincinnati region and the Commonwealth of Kentucky, where his leadership and hard work have paid real dividends for higher education. The board had been actively engaged in securing Geoff’s continued service here at NKU when he let us know of his interest in the Ball State position late last week.

Here on campus, as confirmed by the recently-concluded comprehensive assessment of his performance, Geoff worked skillfully to improve our level of state funding and managed difficult budget decisions, all the while keeping us focused on long-term goals such as advancing student success, expanding the overall educational experience we provide, and furthering our unwavering commitment to improving the lives of all students.

Geoff, Jennifer and their children have also become part of our family, and it’ll be hard to see them pack up the truck for Muncie.

We will miss Geoff’s leadership. However, the success we have seen in recent years has been made possible through a bold and determined collective effort by all of you. We have become an institution of first choice for students from across the region, the state, and the nation. And our graduates go on to have a profound impact on the region and far beyond. Our future is bright.

Now, our job is to work together to build upon the successes of Geoff’s time here at NKU and find ways to use this transition as an opportunity and a launching pad for even better days ahead. 

The Board of Regents is moving rapidly to launch a search for his successor, and we will be calling on some of you to help with this critically important process. We anticipate having more information to share over the coming weeks, including the timing of Geoff’s departure, the naming of an interim president, and the creation of a presidential search committee. I will keep you informed throughout this process.

Thank you for all that you do to serve our students. If you have questions or comments, you can always get in touch with the board through the Office of the President at 572-5123 or by emailing

See you soon.

Board of Regents, Northern Kentucky University
Nunn Drive | 800 Lucas Administrative Center | Highland Heights, KY 41099
©2017 Northern Kentucky University