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Thursday, March 16, 2017

Mearns: NKU Got A Win With Senate Bill 153

Geoff Mearns. FTM file. 
Northern Kentucky University's first trip to the NCAA tournament wasn't the only good news the university received recently.

This week, the Kentucky House of Representatives gave final approval to a sweeping overhaul in the funding model for public universities and community colleges. Rather than a one-size-fits-all model, Senate Bill 153 will allocate money based on the success of schools in areas like graduation rates, numbers of degrees and credit hours earned, and student operation support.

For Kentucky’s public universities, the formula for performance-based funding will allocate 35 percent of funding based on student success, which will be measured by a number of criteria such as diploma production. Another 35 percent will be based on course completion, and the final 30 percent will be for student support operations.

Outgoing NKU President, Geoff Mearns, was excited about the bill.

RELATED: BREAKING: NKU President, Mearns, To Take Job at Ball State 

This email was sent to all NKU faculty and staff this afternoon, updating them on the passage of Senate Bill 153.

Dear Colleagues:

For 20 years, Kentucky has funded public higher education based upon historic politics, rather than student outcomes. That antiquated approach has been a detriment to institutions like NKU, because of our significant growth during that time.  It’s also been an impediment to increasing degree productivity all across the Commonwealth.

Yesterday, the Kentucky House of Representatives joined the Senate by passing Senate Bill 153, our legislative priority this session, to create an outcomes-based funding model. The model allocates state support based on three main components: student outcomes, credit hours completed, and institutional operations. While initially the model will apply to only five percent of our state appropriation, it has been designed to apply over time to the entirety of Kentucky’s higher education funding.

Three years ago, when I began advocating for the creation of an outcomes-based funding model, someone familiar with the legislative process told me there was no way this change would ever happen. But because of people like you, who contacted our elected officials and who advocated on social networks, what was once said to be impossible is now poised to become law.

I am very grateful to our Northern Kentucky Legislative Caucus. In both the House and the Senate, we had strong leadership and support. Because our Caucus kept this issue at the forefront, historic change will now become a reality.

I am also grateful to Governor Bevin, who included outcomes-based funding as a pillar of his policy agenda since he was a candidate two years ago.

Finally, most importantly, I am grateful to you. Over the past two legislative sessions, nearly 7,500 messages have been sent to Frankfort advocating for an outcomes-based funding model. This advocacy campaign was funded by our NKU Foundation.

Change is never easy.  But because you took the time to contact our elected officials, we have positively changed the future of our University and the Commonwealth.

This step is an important one for NKU, but it is not our last step. Our quest for fair funding will continue next year, when we advocate for the other half of our funding disparity – $5.1 million more funding for our University. Until the playing field has been completely leveled, Kentucky’s higher education funding model will not operate as equitably and efficiently as it has been designed.  With your continued support, I am confident we will finish the job next year.

Thank you.


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