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NKU names Cady Short-Thompson as its next president

woman stands before black background at a microphone
Zack Carreon
Cady Short-Thompson

Northern Kentucky University's Board of Regents voted unanimously Wednesday morning to approve hiring Cady Short-Thompson, Ph.D. as the university's seventh president.

Short-Thompson was selected by NKU's presidential search committee and will become the first woman to permanently sit as president of the university.

Interim President Bonita Brown, who took over the top position in January, was NKU's first Black president and the first woman to hold the position.

Short-Thompson served as executive director of Breakthrough Cincinnati, an organization that prepares high-need students for college. She also spent 14 years at NKU as a professor and chair of the Communication Department. Following her time teaching at NKU, she was provost at Hope College and dean of the University of Cincinnati Blue Ash College.

RELATED: NKU selects Bonita Brown as interim president

For Short-Thompson, the opportunity to lead the university where she once taught was one she couldn't pass up.

"I never want to forget this moment. It is special for me," Short-Thompson said. "I could not be happier to be here today and to be home."

She takes over the university as it works to fix declining enrollment and pull itself out of a multi-million dollar budget deficit, but she says her experience has prepared her for this situation.

"I know finance; I've worked in higher education and worked with budgets for many, many years. My intimate knowledge of how a university runs and the finances that are needed to be successful, all of those expectations and qualities are met in my leadership," Short-Thompson said.

NKU had been searching for a new leader since former President Ashish Vaidya left the university in December. The search process took several months, but secretary of the Board of Regents and leader of the search committee Kara Williams says the time spent was worth it.

RELATED: NKU is trying to work through an $18.7M budget deficit

"During the interview process, Dr. Short-Thompson was certainly a leader amongst leaders," Williams said. "Her passion, her energy, her understanding of the university, of the Northern Kentucky community, of the Greater Cincinnati region, all of those traits made her a standout. But her ability to listen, to synthesize and take in information, to hear from so many folks and paint a compelling vision for our future ultimately stood out."

Despite NKU's recent enrollment and financial issues, Short-Thompson says she's focused on the future and looking forward to developing a plan to make the university a better place.

She will officially begin her role as president on Oct. 2.

Zack Carreon is Education reporter for WVXU, covering local school districts and higher education in the Tri-State area.