Downing leaves WKU after 17 years at College Heights Foundation

Michael McKay

Alex Downing, president of the College Heights Foundation, announced Friday that he would be leaving WKU to work at Franklin Bank & Trust after 17 years.

The College Heights Foundation primarily helps fund scholarships for current students, according to the foundation’s website.

Downing has many personal connections with the university. He and his siblings are WKU grads and his father, Dero Downing, was the fourth president of WKU.

The Downing University Center was named after Dero Downing, which Alex Downing told the Herald in February was “humbling.”

Alex said he was a small child when the building was built and dedicated, but has heard stories growing up about how his father was embarrassed to have a building named after him while he was still the sitting president.

But he said in the end that his father was grateful he would be named after a building that is a “place of constant student activity.”

“It was an honor for my father to have his name associated with that building, especially one that is such a home to students,” Downing said. “It’s an honor for my family.”

The senior Downing left another legacy — for his son. Dero also served as president of the College Heights Foundation, after resigning from the job of university president in 1979. Dero Downing also served on the Board of Directors for the foundation until his death 2011.

Alex worked for the College Heights Foundation in some capacity with his father for part of the 17 years he worked at WKU with the foundation.

“He has always been my greatest role model, and I think it’s because of his undying loyalty to Western,” Alex told the Herald in an 1999 story. “I’ve learned so much. What’s so great is being able to draw on his experience and his knowledge of the university and higher education.”

Attempts to contact Downing for this story were unsuccessful, as he is on vacation for the next week.

Downing will remain with WKU until December 31. A search committee will be put together to find a replacement.