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Desmarais to Chair Search for NKU's Next President

The search is on for the next president of Northern Kentucky University.

Covington businessman Norm Desmarais, appointed to the NKU Board of Regents by Governor Matt Bevin last year, will lead the search committee, Regents Chair Rich Boehne announced Tuesday.

Current president Geoff Mearns will serve through the spring commencement ceremony on May 7 before moving on to the president's job at Ball State University in Muncie, In. Boehne announced that an interim president will be selected before then.

"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," Boehne said. "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."

The Board is soliciting search firms to assist in the search for the new president. Proposals are expected within the coming days, Boehne said. "I’m confident our reputation will attract interest from some of the top search firms in higher education," he said.

Desmarais, who led the COV200 celebration of Covington's bicentennial in 2015, is the father of two NKU graduates. His wife, Lisa Desmarais, is also a graduate, and current works as director of information technology for the Kenton County government. They reside in the Amos Shinkle House in Covington's Licking Riverside neighborhood.

Boehne said that Desmarais will be assisted by faculty, staff, students, and members of the community as the search committee is constructed.

A schedule of open forums on and off campus will be released soon. "We also have the results from the recent presidential assessment, which will be helpful as we craft the profile," Boehne said. "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.

"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."

A search firm will be named in early March, with information gathering taking place in late March and early April, Boehne said. Candidates will be interviewed in the summer, and a new president will be named early in the fall semester.

"So, much to do but we’re on our way," Boehne said.

-Staff report