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Mark Neikirk ▌ Executive Director ▌ Scripps Howard Center for Civic Engagement 859-572-1449 ▌ Northern Kentucky University ▌ FH 536. What is the Scripps Howard Center for Civic Engagement?.

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Mark Neikirk▌Executive Director ▌Scripps Howard Center for Civic Engagement859-572-1449 ▌Northern Kentucky University ▌FH 536

what is the scripps howard center for civic engagement
What is the Scripps Howard Center for Civic Engagement?

An office at NKU that works to connect the campus and community so that students might enjoy an enriched learning experience and so that the community might get the benefit of the university’s intellectual capital.



“We are committed to treating the metropolitan region as an extension of our campus. We will build partnerships throughout the region that both serve the learning needs of the public and enhance the learning opportunities available to our faculty, staff and students.”

-Strengthening Our Capacity to Serve: NKU’s 2003-2008 Strategic Agenda

NKU puts an emphasis on public engagement

a creation story genesis chapter one
A creation story: Genesis Chapter One
  • “…formless and empty, darkness was over …”
  • Three counties, 32 cities plus fire districts, service districts and planning and zoning boards (in a “stepchild city”)
  • No town square
  • Asset: 350,000 people (lots to talk about)
  • Asset: A young university itching for public engagement
really good programs no audience
Really good programs -- no audience

Two events in early 2008 ….

  • “Coal Black Horse” and Robert Olmstead
  • Bob Woodruff and the panel that was bigger than the audience
lessons learned
Lessons learned


A brand

Community partners

A committee

A plan/structure

Student connection

building the forum
Building the Forum

Rule No. 1

Don’t fly the plane while you build it.

Rule No. 2

Don’t be afraid to break the rules.

first event creation story continued
First event: Creation story continued…

NKU should be “a safe place for difficult conversations”

Darn good thing, too, (because this was a difficult conversation to stage)

Timely, local – only place it was likely to happen

structure learned from 1 st event
Structure learned from 1st event
  • Suggestion from the steering committee and/or community
  • Steering committee discussion and decision
  • Ad hoc committee
  • Planning
  • Marketing
  • Event
love those clickers
Love those clickers
  • Audience engagement
  • Panel prompts
  • Audience definition
  • Keep things running on time
second event november 2008
Second event: November 2008

Partnered with the Newspaper Readership Program

Informed by student poll


our largest event we got our audience
Our largest event: We got our audience

Marketing tools




Social networks

A billboard

Bottom line


is hard work

Audience: 260

eleven forums in 18 months 1 275
Eleven forums in 18 months = 1,275+
  • Mock trial on creation science … 225
  • What’s next for the new president … 80
  • Media literacy … 60 (plus 80 for related event)
  • Town hall with the governor … 260
  • Smoking regulations … 60
  • Urban innovation … 220
  • Inclusion and diversity … 50
  • Health care play/panel … 80
  • Citizen lobbying workshop … 50
  • Newspapers in the information age … 160
  • Local governance dialogue … 70
most recent event leveraging the forum
Most recent event: Leveraging the Forum

Faculty lunch with NYT reporter

Student dialogue with NYT reporter

Faculty breakfast with Princeton prof

Classes at the Forum

most recent event april
Most recent event (April)
  • Governance dialogue
  • 1 county, 16 cities
  • Consolidation-adverse culture
  • City-county tension
  • Tool: facilitated reflective listening
  • Target audience: public officials
outcome white paper
OUTCOME: White paper


An analysis of the day’s conversation suggests five points of consensus that emerged. This is not to say that every participant agreed on every point. But these five points were evident common ground during the course of the day.

The local government is highly valued. Local government is the government closest to citizens, and therefore valued for its ability to be responsive to taxpayer needs. But this relationship also creates a natural demand for municipal and county services, and meeting those needs is challenging as the cost of basic services rise.

New models of government and governance bear exploration. Kenton County, as a community, should be open to new models of government and governance that pool resources and that assure……………

what s next
What’s next?
  • Urban renaissance
  • Health reform
  • Government regulation
  • Death penalty/mock trial?
  • Student-created forum


Mark Neikirk |Executive Director | Scripps Howard Center for Civic Engagement | Northern Kentucky University | Founders Hall 536 | 859-572-1449