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NKU President's Contract Renewed, Extended

The contract of Northern Kentucky University President Ashish Vaidya was renewed and extended Thursday in a unanimous vote by the board of regents.

Dr. Vaidya's new contract extends his role as leader of the university from July 1, 2022 through June 30, 2026, with a one-year extension through June 30, 2027.

“Considering all his accomplishment for the university, the Board is very pleased to retain President Vaidya, continuing his strong and unwavering leadership for NKU,” said Board of Regents Chairman Andrá R. Ward. “President Vaidya has demonstrated this leadership countless times throughout his tenure as our sixth president, from securing many public-private partnerships that increase access to higher education to prioritizing the metal health of our campus community throughout the pandemic.

"Renewing his contract now will ensure NKU’s momentum will not slow down as we approached the end of his first contact next June.” 

Vaidya took over in Highland Heights on July 1, 2018, succeeding Geoffrey Mearns, who departed for the president's job at Ball State University in Indiana.

At the time, the university was facing a pension crisis, a situation that Vaidya addressed in a manner that kept the pension for long-term employees and saved the university more than $73 million in cessation costs, with annual savings on bond payments of approximately $4 million per year, an announcement said.

Vaidya was also credited for his advocacy work in Frankfort

Vaidya also created a strategic framework process to include both campus and community voices in the discussion on NKU’s future, the announcement said. That effort, called Success by Design was released in April 2019 and focuses on aligning student success with the needs of the region. One month later, the university launched its Further, Faster Capital Campaign to provide a sustainable source of funding to accomplish these goals.  

“In my time leading NKU, I am proud of our collective accomplishments,” said Vaidya. “The one that stands out is bringing diverse voices together to create the Success by Design framework for NKU’s future. It builds on the university’s legacy of being a steward of place and highlights NKU’s agility in activating its campus community to support the needs of the region. I am looking forward to seeing our work evolve to continue to meet the needs of our students.” 

In his time leading NKU, Vaidya has served chair of the Horizon League board of directors, on the American Association for State Colleges and Universities’ board of directors, on the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland’s Cincinnati Branch board of directors, and as part  of EAB’s Moonshot for Equity.

On campus, he created the Chief Diversity Officer position and established the Chief Strategy Officer. These cabinet-level positions support NKU’s core values and goals, the announcement said.  

He and his wife established the Ashish and Nita Vaidya Fund for Mental Health and Student Engagement. They dedicated funds for two essential services that support NKU's students' academic goals.  

“Nita and I consider Northern Kentucky home, and we are incredibly happy to continue  to lay down roots here. We are excited to see what the future brings for university and  region and are proud to do our part to invest in NKU’s future,” said Vaidya. 

The proposed contract will extend his service from July 1, 2022 to June 30, 2026, with a  one year automatic extension to June 30, 2027. Final terms and further details will be determined in the new contract. 

Vaidya holds a bachelor’s and a master’s degree from St. Xavier’s College (Mumbai, India), and a master’s and a doctorate from University of California, Davis. He joined NKU from St. Cloud State University in Minnesota where he served as interim president.

-Staff report