Home » WKU raises $202.3 million in five-year New Century of Spirit Campaign

WKU raises $202.3 million in five-year New Century of Spirit Campaign

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. – Western Kentucky University has declared success in the New Century of Spirit Campaign by exceeding the campaign’s $200 million goal.

According to Kathryn Costello, WKU’s Vice President for Development and Alumni Relations, a total of $202,305,534 raised to support students, faculty, programs and capital projects.  The announcement was made Friday night at the President’s Circle Gala and Campaign Celebration.

“This historic Campaign has resulted in remarkable gifts that benefit students, faculty and the campus as a whole,” Costello said. “The stories and the people who gave so generously to WKU will be part of the fabric of the University forever. Every time young people in the community play a violin or Ching-Yi Lin and the Pre-College Strings Program are showcased, there is Jerry Baker. The Augenstein Alumni CenterChandler Chapel and Houchens-Smith Stadium are places, but the story is the people behind them. We will tell these stories forever.”

WKU President Gary A. Ransdell said the Campaign, publicly announced in September 2007, persevered through the recession of the last four years to exceed thegoal.

“The completion of this Campaign is a major barometer in how the transformation of WKU has unfolded over the last 15 years,” he said. “Our first Campaign raised $102 million between 1998 and 2003. This Campaign, with more than $200 million in gifts and pledges, marks dramatic progress in the philanthropic behavior of our faculty and staff, alumni and friends.  When our alumni are giving sacrificially to allow us to become ‘a leading American university with international reach,’ we are much more capable of achieving and much more inclined to pursue that vision. The successful completion of this Campaign does, indeed, signal a transformed philanthropic culture at WKU.”

Don Vitale of Bowling Green co-chaired both this Campaign and the previous Investing in the Spirit Campaign.

“As co-chair of both campaigns, it is noteworthy that despite a weak economy, the Hilltoppers were able to raise twice the amount of funds than were raised during the first Campaign,” he said. “This confirms the increased support that President Ransdell is receiving for his transformational goals for WKU.”

Rick Guillaume of Louisville also served as co-chair of this Campaign.

“Raising more than $200 million in this very challenging economy is a tribute to theoutstanding University guidance provided by President Ransdell and his staff as well as the noteworthy accomplishments of WKU,” he said.  “Each member of the Campaign Cabinet contributed significantly to the Campaign.  As an alumnus, I feel that the success of our Campaign represents anopportunity for excellence at WKU both physically and academically.  Over the years, I have learned that giving is not about getting something in return. Instead it is about change that will make a difference for the present as well future generations, and this successful campaign has certainly accomplished that.”


Specific Highlights of the New Century of Spirit Campaign

• 42,795 total campaign donors

• 8,278 alumni and friends donated $1,000 or more

• 1,692 faculty and staff donors gave more than $7.25 million

• 181 new members of The Society of 1906 committed more than $60 million


• $54 million raised for student scholarships

• $11 million in new scholarship endowments

• Five new endowed faculty positions, bringing the number of professorships created since 1998 to 31. New positions include:

* BB&T Professorship in Economics for the Study of Capitalism

* Greulich Endowed Chair in Energy Systems

* Jarve Endowed Professorship in Honors

* Leichhardt Endowed Professorship in Horticulture

* Hays Watkins Endowed Professorship in Corporate Leadership


• Baker House and Gardens – result of Jerry Baker’s gift – the largest ever to WKU

• Adams-Whitaker Student Publications Building

• Augenstein Alumni Center

• Chandler Memorial Chapel

• Houchens Industries – L.T. SmithStadium

• Paul C. Orberson Baseball Clubhouse

• Vitale Clinical Education Complex


• Bill Gatton’s $4 million gift to name the Gatton Academy of Mathematics andScience in Kentucky

• Dixie and Pete Mahurin’s lead gift to enhance the relocation of the World Council for Gifted and Talented Students to WKU

• Exxon Mobil’s $1 million gift match to create WKU SKyTeach

• $700,000 raised for the new Physical Therapy Program

• Significant corporate investment including new gifts from:  LoganAluminum, Toyota USA Foundation, James Graham Brown Foundation

Future Impact

• More than $60 million in new deferred gifts were documented in this campaign including transformational support from Jerry Baker, Lula and D.B. Burchett and many others.

Success stories

Rachel Reetzke, a 2010 graduate from Franklin, Ky., received several scholarships during her undergraduate career at WKU, including the Charles Roy Martin Scholarship, the Mary Hutto Scholarship and the Dan Pelino Endowed Graduate Fellowship.  During her time at WKU, the Communication Disorders student worked at the Kelly Autism Program and was a student in the WKU Honors College and the Chinese Language Flagship Program.

She first visited China in 2009 through the privately funded Honors College China Field Studies Program, during which she observed children on the autism spectrum and became compelled to learn the Chinese language to continue effective research in China and advocate for children’s needs.

After receiving a Critical Language Scholarship to study in Beijing in the summer of 2010, Reetzke decided to pursue a prestigious Fulbright grant, spending a year in Guangzhou, China, where her research is focused on validating the Chinese Autism Diagnostic scale. She also spent a year at the University of Cambridge as a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar.  She is now pursuing a combined master’s and doctoral program in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders at the University of Texas-Austin.

Reetzke’s amazing road to success began when she received private scholarships that enabled her to pursue her undergraduate degree at WKU.  Her love for China began when a donor’s gift allowed her to visit the country for the very first time.

For more information, contact Dr. Craig Cobane, Dean of the Honors College at WKU, at (270) 745-2081 or [email protected]

Heins Santiago Velastegui Intriago is a Peruvian student who was able to come to WKU for one semester and wanted tocontinue his studies. He was an excellent student with good grades and was highly motivated.  However, without a scholarship, he could not have remained at the University.  With the help of the College Heights Foundation and a donor to the WKU Foundation, he is now in his third year of study at WKU.

For more information, contact Alex Downing, President of the College Heights Foundation, at (270) 745-4597 or [email protected]

The Gatton Academy of Mathematics and Science in Kentucky opened in 2007, thanks in part to a leadership gift from C.M. “Bill” Gatton of Bristol, Tenn., and a native of Muhlenberg County.  In only its fifth year, the Gatton Academy was named the nation’s top high school, as it topped the list of America’s Best High Schools in the May 29, 2012, issue of Newsweek magazine.  An additional honor came from the Washington Post, which named Gatton Academy to its list of top-performing schools withelite students for the fourth consecutive year.

For more information, contact Dr. Julia Roberts, Executive Director of The Center for Gifted Studies and the Gatton Academy of Mathematics and Science in Kentucky, at (270) 745-6323 or [email protected]

In the spring of 2003, John and Linda Kelly created the Kelly Autism Program to serve the needs of children with autism and their families.  That summer, discussions began about the need for a Clinical Education Complex in the community.

In December 2004, the Preston Family Foundation named the Preston Acquired Brain Injury Resource Program.  In August 2004, the CEC’s yearlong construction project began, spearheaded by Suzanne Vitale.  Dr. Page and Betty Talley named the Talley Family Counseling Center in March 2007, and in March 2008 Dan and Vickie Renshaw made a gift to name the Renshaw Early Childhood Center.

In April 2008 the Clinical Education Complex was renamed for Suzanne Vitale.  Fifteen KAP students have graduated from WKU and 42 are enrolled at the University. More than 300 clients are served each semester by the six programs of the Suzanne Vitale Clinical Education Complex—all because of the initial gift from the Kellys.  (The Clinical Education Complex also includes the Communication Disorders Clinic and the Family Resource Program.)

For more information, contact John Kelly at (270) 779-1409 or Dr. Doug McElroy, WKU Associate Vice President for Academic Enrichment and Effectiveness, at (270) 745-7009.