New Informatics Center to Feature World's Most Advanced Instrumentation 

Griffin Hall, future home of NKU College of Informatics
Griffin Hall, the future home of the Northern Kentucky University College of Informatics
Northern Kentucky University (NKU) has received a $6 million gift to support efforts to equip its new informatics center with some of the world's most advanced informatics instrumentation. The facility, scheduled to open in fall 2011, will be named Griffin Hall. The gift, from Griffin Industries, will be matched by $1 million from the Commonwealth of Kentucky's Comprehensive University Excellence Trust Fund, bringing the total impact of the gift to $7 million.

Griffin Hall will house NKU's College of Informatics, which consists of three academic departments as well as an outreach unit, the Infrastructure Management Institute. It is being designed by Goody Clancy, a firm that has designed stunning university buildings throughout the United States, including on the campuses of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of Michigan, Harvard University and the University of Chicago.

The facility will feature a computer assisted virtual environment (CAVE) that will be available for businesses to use for product development. While several large corporations boast their own CAVEs for research and development, the CAVE located at Griffin Hall will be one of the only CAVEs available for public use. It also will boast a Digitorum that will be capable of running complex simulations in homeland security, computer and financial security, and other industries. The Digitorium can double as a network operations center (NOC) that will allow broad use by a variety of private and government sectors.

Robert Griffin, CEO of Griffin Industries, said the company saw this as an "extraordinary opportunity" to impact the region's future. "We are very excited about this opportunity to invest in NKU and to help to position the community and region at the forefront in the field of Informatics," he said. "This is an opportunity not only for NKU and its students, but also for northern Kentucky and Cincinnati businesses."

Griffin emphasized that NKU informatics graduates will be well positioned to take local companies to new heights in terms of technology and expertise. "The company and the region are going to get the benefit out of this too. That's exciting," he said.

NKU Dean of Informatics Douglas Perry said the Griffin Industries gift will have an impact that is felt for generations to come. "The digital technology incorporated into this stunning building — most notably the Digitorium — will bring informatics to our students through demonstration, development, collaboration, simulation, representation and performance," he said. "Griffin Hall will be an entirely new environment in which students can learn, grow and play in the best sense of the word.

"But there is more," Perry continued. "By intentional design, the building will transcend the College of Informatics. Its facilities will be available to the larger university to enhance and extend the expression of the tremendous pool of talent on campus. And it won't stop there. The Center for Informatics will be a natural attractor to the community at large, providing a new venue for engagement. Companies can partner with our Infrastructure Management Institute to make use of our unique facilities to develop products and foster new business. Residents can come to be enlightened, enriched and entertained. Professionals can convene to enhance their skills and expand their network."

In addition to being home to some of the most advanced digital technology available, Griffin Hall also will be the first "green" building on NKU's campus, having been designed for LEED Silver certification.

The NKU College of Informatics was founded in 2005 through the reorganization of three departments — Information Systems (now Business Informatics), Computer Science (formerly combined with Mathematics) and Communication — from three different colleges. The number of majors in these departments has steadily increased since the creation of the college, and it now has over 1,300 majors in just its fourth year of operation. In that time, it has launched four new undergraduate and graduate programs while maintaining or expanding its existing programs in everything from computer science to public relations.

"Congratulations to Dr. Jim Votruba, his staff and Northern Kentucky University on their initiative and vision for a College of Informatics that will be a key component in attracting and developing talent and future jobs for the regional and statewide economy," Griffin said. "We recognize the kind of impact that an informatics college can have, and we applaud NKU for taking the steps to make this dream a reality."