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About Northern Kentucky University


It all began in 1946 at the Trailways® bus station in Covington, Kentucky. A handful of students and instructors participated in classes offered through the University of Kentucky's educational extension services. The students were secretaries, recent high school graduates, and World War II veterans on the G.I. Bill. These students took a variety of courses, including beginning math, typing, first-year business classes, and English. The instructors were area high school teachers.

In the years that followed, a bipartisan group of members of the Northern Kentucky community lobbied for a new institution, which paved the way for the creation of Northern Kentucky State College in 1968. Just a year later, more than 1,000 students were enrolled as the institution began to prepare for a move to its new home in Highland Heights. The campus grew quickly, soon adding a law school and a residential village.

In 1976, the institution became a university. The campus continued to expand, with enrollment topping 8,000 students in 1980 and 10,000 students less than a decade later. Year after year, the University responded to increasing student demand by establishing new academic programs at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, including the doctoral degree.

The 1990s saw unprecedented community engagement and new strategic partnerships, all of which brought national recognition to the University for its contribution to the economic and social vitality of the Northern Kentucky region. NKU would become a perennial member of the President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll. And when the Carnegie Foundation created a new designation for community engagement, NKU would be part of its inaugural class.

From its first days, NKU would be a place where faculty and staff put students at the center of learning and made student success their life's work, both on campus and online. This University is a place where the flame within each student is fueled and the dream within each person is realized.

Our Mission

As a public comprehensive university located in a major metropolitan area, NKU delivers innovative, student-centered education and engages in impactful scholarly and creative endeavors—all of which empower our graduates to have fulfilling careers and meaningful lives while contributing to the economic, civic, and social vitality of the region.

Our Vision

NKU will be acclaimed by students, alumni, the region, and the commonwealth for:

  • Our Success in preparing outstanding graduates for a global society
  • Our Contribution to regional progress and economic growth
  • Our Delivery of distinctive academic programs
  • Our Dedication to the development and wellbeing of our people
  • Our Effectiveness in securing and managing resources sustainably

Our Core Values

We will promote a culture that fosters and celebrates EXCELLENCE in all that we do. We will engage in honest, fair, and ethical behavior, with INTEGRITY at the heart of every decision and action. Ours will be a community that embraces INCLUSIVENESS, diversity, and global awareness in all dimensions of our work. We will approach our work—how we teach, engage, and serve—with creativity and INNOVATION. And we will maintain a climate of COLLEGIALITY built on respect and characterized by open communication and shared responsibility.

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