Ransdells to be recognized as notable alumni

Gary and Julie Ransdell on Oct. 10, 2016, in front of the President’s House. “This is a house where decisions are made and things happen that strengthen the university or engage some aspect of the university in meaningful ways,” Gary Ransdell said. Michelle Hanks/HERALD

Callie Miller

Selected by the National Board of Directors of the WKU Alumni Association, the Ransdells will be joining WKU’s 26th class of noted alumni, following Ransdell’s 20 year tenure as university president, which began in 1997. The induction ceremony will be held during a luncheon from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Friday, Oct. 13, at the Sloan Convention Center.

The award is intended to recognize the accomplishments of alumni who have made significant contributions to their field or endeavor.

“To be recognized by our university where we met, married, watched our family become Hilltoppers, and devoted most of our career and service is indeed the best honor for us,” Gary Ransdell said. “It will be a proud and emotional moment. There is no other college or university in our minds which can measure up to WKU. We are honored to be inducted into WKU’s Hall of Distinguished Alumni.”

Under Ransdell, WKU’s student body grew from 14,500 to over 20,000, according to a press release from WKU. Graduation rates increased and annual numbers grew from 2,500 to 4,200. Applicants to the university doubled, and retention grew from 67 percent to 76 percent. When Ransdell was president, WKU added academic programs including electrical, civil and mechanical engineering, and doctorate programs in education, nursing, physical therapy and psychology.

Several buildings were constructed or improved during Ransdell’s tenure, including the Engineering and Biological Sciences Building, Snell Hall, Gary A. Ransdell Hall, Ogden College Hall and The Gatton Academy of Mathematics and Sciences.

The Board of Regents unanimously voted to grant Ransdell life-long president emeritus status last year.

The Ransdells have “certainly contributed significantly to the university,” faculty regent Barbara Burch said of the Ransdells’ induction, adding that their merit is recognized through this prestigious award.

One of Ransdell’s main focuses while president was international reach, in which he helped to increase both WKU student participation in study abroad programs as well as the number of international students on campus. Julie Ransdell was known for hosting various events for student groups at the WKU President’s House, as well as serving as co-chair of the WKU Sisterhood, a group of women who make annual contributions to the university.

Elizabethtown senior Haley Jones, who serves as a Spirit Master, said she felt the Ransdells deserved the honor of being inducted into the Hall of Distinguished Alumni.

“I’m very excited that they’re being recognized in this capacity,” Jones said. “During their tenure here, they’ve more than earned this, and they’ve transformed this campus for the better.”

Following the retirement of Loren Crabtree, Ransdell will become president and CEO of Semester at Sea starting Jan. 1.

Reservations for the luncheon on Friday can be made on the WKU Alumni Association website.

Reporter Callie Miller can be reached at 270-745-6011 and [email protected].