Northern Kentucky University faces a likely delay in its goal to double enrollment within the next decade, along with possible larger tuition increases, cuts in student financial aid and hiring freezes.

Kentucky’s $300 million gap in balancing the General Fund budget this fiscal year prompted a meeting in January between Kentucky presidents of higher education institutions and Gov. Steve Beshear to discuss how they would respond to a 3 percent cut this year, with next year’s cuts projected from 6 percent to 12 percent.

The 3 percent reduction means that NKU must cut $1.6 million between now and June 30, which the university hopes to meet with a hiring freeze and its available cash. NKU earlier stated that additional cuts would mean tuition hikes above the already planned 6 percent a year and possible enrollment caps on programs including nursing and finance.

Meanwhile, the state’s public school districts are being asked to prepare for as much as a 7 percent reduction in state school funding for the 2008-2009 fiscal year.

University of Cincinnati professor, administrator and alumna Gisela “Gigi” Escoe of Hyde Park was appointed as the university’s first vice provost for assessment and student learning. She’s charged with developing strategies that enhance the undergraduate learning experience and analyze success according to the UC|21 strategic plan.

Now in its second year, Northern Kentucky University’s Executive Leadership and Organizational Change program is drawing experienced business leaders from industries as diverse as health care, manufacturing, technology and law enforcement. The average student in the two-year program is about 40 years old with nearly 15 years’ experience as a manager. The two-year program accepts no more than 25 students each year, and much of the course work is done online, with the classes meeting about one weekend a month.

Xavier University assistant professor of physics Dr. Heidrun Schmitzer was awarded the Cottrell College Science Award, her second funded through the Research Corporation. Dr. Schmitzer’s proposal on micromanipulation and microtools will support her summer research and a stipend for two student assistants.

UC stands among the nation’s top 25 public research universities in the U.S., according to the National Science Foundation. The majority of research grant money comes from science, and UC and its affiliates reached an all-time high in external support in 2007, achieving a 28 percent increase in five years to $333.5 million.

The undergraduate interior design program at UC has placed first for the ninth year in a row in an annual “scorecard” for design programs. The program ranked ahead of the Pratt Institute, Cornell University and others in the annual employer poll conducted by the Design Futures Council and the journal DesignIntelligence to gauge the schools that best prepare students for professional practice. The undergraduate industrial design program ranked No. 2 nationally for the third straight year and the graduate program No. 3 for the second, placing above Carnegie Mellon University, Stanford University and Ohio State, among others. UC’s undergraduate architecture programs ranked No. 5 and the graduate program No. 7.

Xavier’s Department of Music received accreditation from the National Association of Schools of Music, which establishes national standards for undergraduate and graduate degrees and other credentials.

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