Saturday, April 22, 2000

NKU lobbying effort pays off

BY Ray Schaefer
Enquirer Contributor

        HIGHLAND HEIGHTS — While one Northern Kentucky University team made national sports news, a second lobbied for the school's future.

        NKU Team 2000, a group of 25 students, celebrated their success at an on-campus reception Friday. The team helped persuade state lawmakers, whose biennial session ended last week, to allocate as much as $28 million for NKU projects.

        Junior Kara Clark of Reading said what her team did is just as important as NKU's women's basketball team winning the NCAA Division II national championship last month.

        “We're both keeping Northern's name out there,” Ms. Clark said.

        NKU President James Votruba said the school's haul from Frankfort included:

        • $12 million for a new power plant. Joseph Wind, assistant vice president for community and government relations, said it would replace the one built when the university was founded in 1968.

        • $8.5 million to run university facilities. Mr. Wind said NKU would be able to divert other funds to hire more faculty and create new programs.

        • $1.4 million for the Metropolitan Education and Training Services, an NKU work force development program.

        • $1 million to study how to improve the old science building.

        • $700,000 for deferred maintenance projects.

        Dr. Votruba said NKU could get another $4 million if enrollment and fund-raising goals are met.

        “They were twisting our arms,” State Sen. Katie Stine, R-Fort Thomas, said. “It was an inspiration. It was encouraging, and it encouraged us to lobby the other legislators.”

        Most Team 2000 members had no experience with government before the General Assembly started. Student Government Association President Christopher Boggs, a senior from California, said they fought a bias against Northern Kentuckians.

        “The feeling (was) that we all drive Jaguars and live with our parents,” Mr. Boggs said. “Sixty-five percent of our students work at least 30 hours (a week). We pay for our own education.”

        Dr. Votruba said in the end it was the students' work in Frankfort that paid off.

        “Students make a difference at NKU,” he said. “At no time in our history have students made a greater difference.”


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