At the WKU Board of Regents first quarterly meeting on Friday (Jan. 29), President Gary A. Ransdell announced his intention to retire in 2017. His last day serving as President will be June 30, 2017, and following a brief sabbatical, he will officially retire from WKU Dec. 31, 2017.
“After considerable thought, Julie and I have decided that 20 years on the job is long enough to fulfill the commitment we made in 1997 to lead a transformation of our great University,” Dr. Ransdell said. “We have done our best to do just that. WKU is a dramatically different institution today than it was 20 years ago – financially, physically, intellectually and attitudinally. Serving my alma mater has been a dream come true. This University has been my passion and has had my full focus and maximum energy. I will pursue the next 17 months with all I’ve got and will work to ensure that WKU is positioned as well as possible for new leadership in 2017.”
Board Chair Freddie Higdon of Lebanon, Kentucky, described the process that will follow to appoint a successor. “I want to assure the WKU family that we will conduct an exhaustive search to find the right person to serve WKU going forward,” he said. “We will appoint a search committee in due course with the intent of proceeding this spring with a national search.
“President Ransdell has been a tireless leader for WKU,” Higdon said. “I can think of no other single individual who has had more impact in a community and in a Kentucky university environment than Gary Ransdell. He is currently the longest serving university president in Kentucky and has earned tremendous respect from his higher education colleagues and from our state’s leadership and business community.”
Higdon credited President Ransdell with orchestrating the University’s transformation that has resulted in a number of impressive achievements, including: the rebuilding of much of the WKU campus; completion of two successful capital campaigns that raised more than $300 million; creation of the WKU Honors College and the Gatton Academy of Mathematics and Science in Kentucky; addition of bachelor degrees in Engineering and four doctoral degree programs; expansion of WKU’s regional campuses in Glasgow, Owensboro and Elizabethtown; and two successful reaccreditation reviews.
“I know I speak for the whole Board when I say that this is bittersweet,” Higdon said. “We are happy for Gary and Julie, but we will miss their leadership for our University.”
Dr. Ransdell was named WKU’s ninth president on Sept. 12, 1997. Originally from Louisville, Kentucky, he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from WKU in 1973 and a Master of Public Service degree in Public Administration from WKU in 1974. He received his Doctor of Education degree from Indiana University in 1978. His professional career began at WKU as a field representative in the Office of University School Relations, now the Office of Admissions. He also served as Associate Director of Alumni Affairs at WKU from 1978 to 1981.
In 1981 Dr. Ransdell was named Director of Alumni Relations at Southern Methodist University, and in 1987 he was named Vice President at Clemson University, where he served until coming back to WKU in 1997. Read President Ransdell’s full bio here: https://www.wku.edu/president/index.php.
Contact: Bob Skipper, (270) 745-4295