Elizabethtown campus offers military, nontraditional students opportunities


The Elizabethtown/Fort Knox campus rests 80 miles away from WKU’s main campus. Despite being the regional campus the farthest away from Bowling Green, Elizabethtown’s campus has developed a culture all its own. 

The regional campus boasts over a tenth of WKU’s population. As of 2014, its 2,076 enrollees are 70 percent undergrads, according to enrollment reports. Elizabethtown/Fort Knox students have the largest population of web-based course enrollment of all of WKU’s regional campuses. more than half (56 percent) of those who attend take classes online. 

“[Employers] are looking for students that have done the work, not just the theory, and our students are getting those opportunities here,” said Donielle Lovell, professor of sociology at WKU Elizabethtown.

Over the next 50 years, the campus has partnered primarily with Fort Knox, Elizabethtown Community and Technical College (ECTC) and the Hardin County school district. 

A number of students at WKU Elizabethtown began their degrees at community colleges like ECTC to earn their associate degrees before transferring to WKU Elizabethtown, said Blake Butkovich, an academic advisor for WKU Elizabethtown. 

“There is absolutely no typical student,” she said.

Jasmine Routon, a graduate student in WKU’s sociology department, originally started her education at ECTC before transferring to WKU Elizabethtown upon completing her associate degree. 

“I was able to not only start right away, but I was also able to finish my associates with ECTC while also taking classes that Western had to offer,” Routon said. 

Routon said the transition between ECTC and WKU Elizabethtown was very smooth. It also helped prepare her for when she started her graduate studies on the Bowling Green campus, though she does miss the one-on-one interaction from the regional campus, she said.

The university also has roots on Fort Knox’s base.

Beatrice Cobb, the coordinator of military programs at WKU Elizabethtown/Fort Knox, said she’s proud of the fact that they are able to work closely with active duty soldiers. For instance, the aforementioned students never have to pay more than $250 per credit hour, Cobb said. 

“We have huge numbers of veterans here, and they have education benefits that will allow them to come to school,” said Evelyn Ellis, the regional chancellor of WKU Elizabethtown/Fort Knox. “We offer programs that they’re interested in, so I think it really presents a great opportunity.”

The regional campus also offers services to the families of active duty soldiers and retired veterans. 

“[Cobb] takes care of most of the active duty students [on base], but we get a lot of family members, a lot of people who are retired, and a lot of people who have GI bills or VA benefits that come to us for any number of reasons,” Butkovich said. “Whether they live on post or something like that, there are a lot of ties to Fort Knox as far as the students that we get to come down here.”

With the community around Elizabethtown continuing to develop, Lovell said she believes the presence of the campus is vital to the community. 

“We serve an important purpose of educating the students that are here that, due to life circumstances or just the fact that they love Hardin County, want to stay here and get their education,” she said. “I fully anticipate seeing this campus grow even more. I’ve seen it in the six years that I’ve been here, and I expect to see it in the next six years.” 

Abbigail Ledford, a junior from Meade County studying social work, said she liked that she could continue to work at her full-time job in Elizabethtown while pursuing her education at night.

“For a long time, I think there’s been a stigma about staying at a community college for a lot of people,” she said. “Seniors in high school are so ready to just get up and move and go off to college and have that experience, but you can still have that college experience here. It’s worked out super well for me.”