A familiar face at WKU will become president of the College Heights Foundation in January.
Donald Smith, Associate Vice President for Development and Alumni Relations and Executive Director of the WKU Alumni Association, has been named by the Foundation to replace Alex Downing. Downing is leaving the Foundation Dec. 31 for a position at Franklin Bank & Trust.
“I am extremely excited about the opportunity to serve as President of the College Heights Foundation,” Smith said. “I find the mission very compelling, and I was fortunate enough to attend WKU because of a generous scholarship provided by the CHF. I am forever indebted for the doors that were opened and the opportunities afforded to me as a result, and I am humbled and honored to serve in this new capacity.”
Smith will continue to work with the Alumni Association during the search for a new executive director as work nears completion on the Augenstein Alumni Center. Kathryn Costello, Vice President for Development and Alumni Relations, said Smith’s continued assistance during this time is critical to assuring a smooth transition.
“Donald has provided superb leadership within our division,” Costello said. “Each year, under his leadership, we have seen growth in the Annual Fund, in Alumni memberships and in other measurable ways. The Augenstein Alumni Center and Alumni Square are successful due in large part to Donald.”
Smith said he takes great pride in the future of the Alumni Association.
“There are many exciting things happening with the WKU Alumni Association, and I have thoroughly enjoyed the past 18 years being affiliated with such wonderful people who freely give of their time, talent and treasure to benefit their alma mater,” he said. “The opening of the new Augenstein Alumni Center in April 2013 is a testament to the unwavering loyalty of Hilltoppers around the globe, and the Alumni Association is poised for an even more prosperous future.”
While Smith’s departure from Development and Alumni Relations “is a huge loss to the division,” Costello said his experience and familiarity will be a major benefit to the Foundation.
“We will miss Alex Downing as he leaves CHF, but it is gratifying that Donald will take his place as President,” she said. “CHF and the WKU Foundation are integral partners in WKU’s success in philanthropy. The staff in our division, alumni and volunteers already know and respect Donald which will make the transition seamless.”
Mike Simpson, chair of the CHF Board, said the Board’s decision to hire Smith was unanimous and enthusiastic.
“He has earned this opportunity through his nearly 20 years of service to the WKU Alumni Association and his pursuit of advanced degrees with emphasis on higher education administration,” Simpson said. “He is obviously well known by WKU alumni as well as the many donors to the College Heights Foundation and will transition easily into this role.”
Simpson said the CHF has assisted deserving students who want to attend WKU for nearly 100 years. “I am confident Dr. Smith’s leadership will allow us to continue that mission for many years to come,” he said.
Smith began his career at WKU in 1994 as Coordinator of the Annual Fund. He has a bachelor’s degree in Corporate and Organizational Communication from WKU, a master’s degree in Higher Education Leadership from Vanderbilt University and a doctorate in Higher Education Leadership and Policy from Vanderbilt.
Contact: Donald Smith, (270) 745-6256.