New space serves as link to downtown businesses

Rebekah Alvey

WKU’s Gordon Ford College of Business has expanded into downtown Bowling Green where new classes and opportunities for outreach will be offered.

A 5,000-square-foot office space in the Pushin Building, located on the Fountain Square, was donated by John and Carolyn Ridley, owners of the Pushin Building. The space was donated with a three-year lease. John Ridley serves on WKU’s Board of Regents and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in biology from WKU.

Michelle Trawick, associate dean of the college, said the space will provide classes in the MBA program taught by Bob Hatfield, associate dean for graduate programs and research of the business school. There will also be other resources provided, such as executive education programs and a space for the Center of Excellence to host meetings and seminars.

These programs allow students to continue education hours and maintain accreditation. The new space will also allow students in programs such as the Center for Applied Economics to conduct research.

Hebron junior August Snelbaker, who is a math economics and financial planning major, said the expansion is a great opportunity for masters students, which she hopes to become.

Previously, the new programs being offered were at the Knicely Conference Center located on South Campus. Before the expansion, Trawick said it was more difficult to connect with businesses and the knowledge at WKU was “insulated” from the community.

Trawick said the new location is more convenient for businesses because of parking and location and will be a better “link” for the business program.

Snelbaker said the college of business has been great at connecting students with graduates and employers and the expansion is another example of that. In her experience, she said employers usually think highly of WKU graduates and the college of business.

Snelbaker already takes advantage of programs that help her network and perfect professional skills such as interviews. She said the new offerings can be a great way to further network and create professional relationships.

There has been a push by Gordon Ford College to improve Grise Hall as the space for the business school on campus. According to Trawick, there are no guarantees for a new building at this point.

Because there is no set plan for expanding the college, Trawick said they are being resourceful with every potential space.

“We are using any space we can to provide the most experiences for our students,” said Trawick.

The furniture inside the building was either donated or was a surplus from WKU. Trawick said the college is trying to save as many resources as possible during the process. The classroom tables and furniture are new, however.

The space officially opened Aug. 8 during a ribbon cutting ceremony. Trawick said there was a strong turnout from the business community which is an indication of their further interest.

In a press release, John Ridley said he and Carolyn Ridley donated the space because “we believe in education.”

“The gift of education is an investment in our future,” John Ridley said. “We recognize that we have been blessed in our careers and that we have a responsibility to help others. We are grateful to be able to pay it forward by supporting the Gordon Ford College of Business.”

Reporter Rebekah Alvey can be reached at 270-745-6011 and [email protected]