It’s not hard to tell that Dale Augenstein is a WKU graduate. His restaurant in Hilton Head Island, S.C., is like a mini-museum, full of WKU memorabilia, and he is known for hiring WKU students to work there. He attends most football and basketball games, is president-elect of the WKU Alumni Association and a member of the WKU Board of Advisors.
Today (Oct. 29) WKU announced that a new alumni center will bear his name.
Augenstein, an Owensboro native, is pledging $1 million toward the $5 million needed to build the center. His gift brings the total raised to $3 million and he’s chairing the campaign to raise the rest.
“As the campus has grown and our alumni base has grown, we have needed a much larger facility to accommodate the staff and provide more of a welcoming center where students and alumni feel a tight connection to the university,” Augenstein said.
The Augenstein Alumni Center will be located in Block 12 of the Bowling Green Tax Increment Financing District, directly down the hill from Van Meter Hall. It will border College Heights Boulevard and 14th Street in the block between Center and Kentucky streets.
As a student in the late 1970s and early ‘80s, Augenstein looked for opportunities to be involved on campus. He was a cheerleader for football and basketball and president of Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity. Although he now lives in Hilton Head Island, where he owns Steamer Seafood, he gets back to campus often.
“I have continued my involvement because I absolutely love and appreciate the education I got from this university and I have just thoroughly enjoyed my involvement and want to give back in every way that I can,” he said. “President Gary Ransdell has taken this university to a completely different level and it is a pleasure being involved with a winning team.”
Dr. Ransdell said WKU depends on support of its alumni and friends to provide a quality educational experience for its students.
“Dale is a wonderful example of how our alumni can make things happen at WKU,” he said. “He is not only willing to give financially, but gives of himself by volunteering his time to WKU and the Alumni Association, supporting WKU athletics, staying active with his fraternity, and displaying his WKU spirit at his restaurant. Dale shows what the WKU spirit is all about.”
Donald Smith, Executive Director of the WKU Alumni Association, said alumni support has been important throughout WKU’s history.
“Now, we hope alumni and friends will eagerly help us celebrate the past and plan for the future as we embark on this new venture,” Smith said. “The Augenstein Alumni Center will be a much needed and welcomed addition to campus. This will be a facility that our 90,000 alumni and many University friends will be proud to call home.”
Augenstein said the building will reflect the quality and stature of the campus. “We’re not going to cut any corners,” he added. “We’re going to build this so that people will be proud of it a hundred years from now.”
Augenstein said having his name on the building is “a little humbling. My love for the university is not predicated on my name being anywhere. It is from the heart. I really enjoyed my time on campus.”
He said he will be gathering about 25 volunteers to assist him and the staff in the fundraising effort.
“We’re not going to get any state funding for an alumni center. This is our building, so it is critical that the alumni step forward and make a donation of any amount because it all adds up,” he said.
“This is truly a house that the alumni will build.”
About the Augenstein Alumni Center
Ground will be broken in the spring of 2011. It will be associated with a conference center and hotel space and adjacent development will include a parking garage and residential development. Once completed, the center will provide:
- A grand ballroom to accommodate large social gatherings
- A WKU museum to highlight the history and traditions of the institution
- An executive board room with multi-media capacity
- A living room for smaller gatherings, receptions and social events
- A library to showcase work by WKU alumni, faculty, staff and students as well as display Heralds, Talismans, and BU Towers from the past
- An auditorium for lectures, workshops, presentations and campus orientations
- An executive dining room for small luncheons and events
- A large atrium for public space and donor recognition areas
- Administrative offices for the Alumni Association and WKU Foundation