Cliff Peale, The Kentucky Enquirer

University campuses appear to be the newest battlegrounds over tobacco use. As Northern Kentucky University prepares to take its first steps toward becoming a tobacco-free campus, the University of Cincinnati has backed off because of the lack of widespread support. NKU’s governing Board of Regents is expected to vote today on banning tobacco from the Highland Heights campus.

The Bank of Kentucky has committed the first-ever million-dollar donation to Gateway Community & Technical College. The $1 million donation to Gateway’s affiliated foundation will go to help develop Gateway’s Urban Campus in Covington. The college and the foundation already are spending up to $17 million on the campus, which eventually will spread over about six square blocks in Covington.

Geoffrey Mearns says there are several things he won’t do as Northern Kentucky University president. He’ll balk at sitting in a dunk tank during student celebrations, as some colleagues at Cleveland State University have done. And he wouldn’t be too excited about taking a quiz, as NKU President Jim Votruba did this year when he was replaced by a student as “president for a day.” Mearns, 52, will have his chance, starting Tuesday at 10:30 a.m. when NKU’s governing regents are expected to elect him as NKU’s fifth president.

Kentucky officials have rejected St. Elizabeth Healthcare’s application to open a top-level neonatal intensive care unit in Edgewood. St. Elizabeth has been fighting for more than a year to open the unit, which would provide ventilation and other services to babies born between 28 and 32 weeks of gestation. But the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services ruled late Wednesday that while St. Elizabeth demonstrated the NICU would benefit Northern Kentucky, it did not prove that families needing the service could not get medical care at Cincinnati hospitals or elsewhere in Kentucky.

Northern Kentucky University will accept an invitation Thursday to join the Atlantic Sun Conference, putting NKU in Division I collegiate sports. NKU has scheduled a special Board of Regents meeting Thursday afternoon to discuss intercollegiate athletics. Spokesman Chris Cole would not confirm that the university would join the Atlantic Sun, but representatives from that league have been on the Highland Heights campus and have expressed interest in NKU before.

Patrick Reddy / Kentucky Enquirer

A fear that Northern Kentucky University would be too powerful for other Ohio Valley Conference members will keep NKU out of that Division I conference, NKU said Thursday. NKU still says it should receive an invitation by the end of the year and be playing Division I sports by fall of 2012. After a four-year probation, that would make it eligible for the “March Madness” men’s basketball championship and other national tournaments. But the expansion to Division I won’t be in the OVC, leaving the Georgia-based Atlantic Sun and the Illinois-based Summit League as the top possibilities.

Manufacturers in Northern Kentucky say they need more graduates from the Center for Advanced Manufacturing at Gateway Community & Technical College. Slightly more than a year after Gateway opened the $28.5 million building on its campus off Mount Zion Road, it's producing about 115 manufacturing technology graduates a year, but even Gateway officials acknowledge that local manufacturers probably need 300 or more every year.