Former federal prosector turned NKU president looking at ways to help students face 21st century challenges

03/25/2014 09:38 AM

Northern Kentucky University President Geoffrey Mearns says his experience as a prosecutor on a high-profile case translated into his desire to serve others through education.

Mearns spent the first 15 years of his working life as an attorney which led him to be a federal prosecutor and enabled him to work on prosecuting Terry Nichols for his role in the Oklahoma City bombing on April 19, 1995.

Mearns prosecuting skills came in handy seven months into his tenure when a scandal rocked the NKU campus involving then athletic director Scott Eaton who admitted to having inappropriate relationships with NKU employees and a student.

“I knew from my experience that the first thing to do was, once you got the facts, was to make a decision and communicate that decision to the public and the rationale for that decision,” Mearns said.

Mearns fired Eaton for the inappropriate relationships and then commissioned an investigation that found that Eaton had allegedly misappropriated over $300,000 between 2007 and 2013. As of now, no formal charges against Eaton have been filed.

Mearns became the 5th president of the university with an enrollment of 15,264 students when he was hired in August 2012.

NKU faces many challenges such as increased tuition costs and the students ability to absorb those increases, an outdated funding formula from the state which Mearns says short changes schools like NKU. Mearns said he is looking for more ways to form partnerships with area businesses which would help Northern Kentucky University turn out graduates who would be attractive hires for those businesses.


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