Professorship in marketing established at Gordon Ford College of Business

Jack Dobbs

WKU alumni Joe and Susan Walters of Campbellsville made a gift of $1.1 million to WKU’s Gordon Ford College of Business.

The gift establishes the Joseph L. Walters Professorship in Marketing, according to a press release from the College of Business.

“In the discussions about what I could do to help the Gordon Ford College of Business, we ended up focusing on the Department of Marketing,” Joe Walters said in a news release. “Marketing is such an important part of any organization, and I wanted to be able to help students through a professorship to gain experience and be able to be in the profession they choose.” 

Joe Walters was a first-generation college student, who received a bachelor’s in management in 1983. While he was on the Hill, he met his future wife Susan Tesseneer, who was working toward a Specialist in Education at the time.

“I had a wonderful experience at Western,” Susan Walters said in the release. “My main memories are of people: meeting Joe, the different kids I worked with and meeting my dearest friend Mary Ann McCelvey and her husband, Dr. George McCelvey, who was an English professor.” 

Joe Walters and Susan Walters were married in 1985 and soon moved to Virginia, where he found work as a pastor. Upon returning to Kentucky, he took a job in the construction field and worked as a fundraiser for Campbellsville University.

“I realized in life that I am a bridge builder,” he said. “I go in and I can help get something going, but I don’t tend to stick with it for too long. Every time it is a totally different field of experience, but my degree from Western helped me make each of those transitions.”

Interim Vice President of Philanthropy and Alumni Engagement John Paul Blair said he has known the Walters for many years. 

“I think this is a great testament to what WKU is all about, and it’s a testament to the Walters and their generosity,” Blair said.

Blair said a professorship opens up opportunities for both students and faculty such as a funding increase, a salary stipend and research opportunities. 

President Timothy Caboni said in a news release that endowed faculty positions such as the Walters’ professorship enhances the university’s ability to add and retain nationally prominent faculty.

“At the core of everything we do is our goal to transform the lives of our students, and we are grateful for Joe and Susan Walters’ generous gift and the ongoing support they provide to help us achieve this mission,” Caboni said in the release. 

Walters said he is looking forward to continuing the work he has contributed to WKU. 

“Giving back becomes part of your life and that’s why I think it is important for us to be examples for younger people that may have an opportunity later in life to be philanthropic,” Walters said in the release. 

Reporter Jack Dobbs can be reached at 270-745-0655 and [email protected]