Governor visits WKU for Gatton expansion

Lashana Harney

Governor Steve Beshear stopped by WKU’s campus to celebrate the impending expansion of Florence Schnieder Hall, the building which currently houses the Gatton Academy of Math and Science.

Last year, the state allocated an additional $2 million in funding to expand Gatton Academy to accommodate for 80 new students. This addition will bring the total number of Gatton students to 200. 

While the building is being expanded, Gatton students will stay in Bates-Runner Hall starting in fall 2015. Upperclassmen honors students who had hoped to move into Bates are now being redirected to Gilbert Hall, which will be co-ed. 

Also present at the expansion ceremony were Speaker Pro Temp Jody Richards and Kentucky senator Mike Wilson, who serves as chair for the Senate Education Committee. 

Julia Gensheimer, a Gatton Academy student, said due to Gatton, her knowledge of various topics has increased substantially. 

“Now I know how to code in Java and Mathematica…and have established a love for chemistry,” she said.

Gensheimer said she was thankful for Gatton Academy and how it has prepared her for college. 

“This community is truly one of a kind,” she said. 

President Gary Ransdell said due to the expansion, Gatton students will have an opportunity to travel the world, engage in research, compete for academic awards and scholarships and pursue an education and career of their dreams.

 “Best of all they will become Kentucky’s future leaders,” he said. “Doctors, scientists, entrepreneurs, legislators and maybe even governors.”

Others continued to praise the work of Gatton Academy.

“You’re getting gems coming here from all over the state of Kentucky,” Carol Martin “Bill” Gatton said. “When they come here, these gems get polished.”

Gatton serves as the largest donor toward the building. He said he hopes finances allow him to continue giving to his namesake program.

“I want to keep on making money so I can give it away,” he said.  

Veronica Johnson, an incoming Gatton student from Bowling Green, said she was really excited for the expansion and has wanted to go for a long time.

“It’s been so successful so far and just letting other people have that opportunity and making the state better, and it’s pretty cool,” she said.