Northern Kentucky University
Geoffrey S. Mearns has served as president of Northern Kentucky University since August 1, 2012.
During his tenure at NKU, Mr. Mearns has led the development of a new five-year strategic plan that is guiding our University to its 50th anniversary in 2018. The new plan is the culmination of a process that engaged students, faculty, staff, alumni, and community leaders. Under this plan, our University continues to develop innovative academic programs within each of its six colleges – programs that break down barriers between disciplines and emphasize a transdisciplinary approach to solving real-world problems.
During Mr. Mearns’ tenure, the University has also welcomed the most academically prepared and diverse classes in the school’s history, and undergraduate retention rates have increased substantially as a result of concerted effort and a comprehensive plan. More of those students than ever before are now living on campus, enhancing student life as we complete our transition to NCAA Division I athletics in the Horizon League.
In 2014, as a result of Mr. Mearns’ effective advocacy, the University secured a $97 million investment from the state to design and build a modern health innovation center that will house an integrated portfolio of programs to prepare healthcare professionals and to provide solutions to the health and wellness challenges facing the Commonwealth and the nation. To enhance this public investment, Mr. Mearns secured an $8 million philanthropic investment from St. Elizabeth Healthcare to support the simulation facilities in the health innovation center. This gift is the second largest in the University’s history. The center is scheduled to open in 2018.
In 2016, Mr. Mearns also successfully advocated for a substantial increase – more than $5.1 million – in annual state operating support for NKU. These resources will begin to address the historic funding disparity that has impeded the growth and impact of the University.
Prior to his arrival at NKU, Mr. Mearns was provost and senior vice president for academic affairs at Cleveland State University. In this role, he led the most successful re-accreditation process in CSU's history, and he co-chaired a task force that developed CSU's new budget methodologies. Mr. Mearns also spearheaded CSU's concerted and comprehensive efforts to improve undergraduate retention and graduation rates. Prior to becoming provost, he served four and a half years as dean and professor of law at CSU’s Cleveland-Marshall College of Law.
Before his tenure at Cleveland State, Mr. Mearns practiced law for more than 15 years. Mr. Mearns’ legal career included service as a federal prosecutor in the United States Department of Justice. His extensive record of community service includes serving as chair of three federal judicial screening committees and serving as a trustee for several Cleveland nonprofit agencies. He was a member of the National Academy of Sciences Committee on Identifying the Needs of the Forensic Science Community.
In Northern Kentucky, Mr. Mearns has continued his community service record. Among many other activities, Mr. Mearns currently serves as chair of the NKY CEO Roundtable. Mr. Mearns also serves on several boards, including United Way of Greater Cincinnati, the Health Collaborative, and Cintrifuse, and he is co-chair of the 40th Annual Heart Mini Marathon, the region’s largest single-day fundraising event, which benefits the American Heart Association. Mr. Mearns also served as co-chair of the myNKY regional visioning campaign.
Mr. Mearns earned a bachelor's degree in English from Yale University in 1981 and a juris doctor from the University of Virginia in 1987. After graduating from law school, he clerked for the Honorable Boyce F. Martin, Jr., of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit in Louisville.
Mr. Mearns and his wife, Jennifer, have five children: Bridget, Christina, Clare, Molly, and Geoffrey, Jr.