Wells Fargo investment officer, Beshear donor Ridley named WKU regent

John Ridley/wellsfargoadvisors.com


John Ridley, an investment officer for Wells Fargo Advisors, was appointed by Gov. Steve Beshear as the newest member of WKU’s Board of Regents.

He was sworn in on for a six-year term on July 27 and replaced Jim Meyer, whose term on the board expired.

“The mission that the university has is a focus on making students better, and there’s proof of that in their successes,” Ridley said. “I just want to help continue that legacy.”

Like other regents, Ridley applied for his appointment on the board.

His application underwent review from a nominating committee, using statutes that govern universities in the state.

The nominating committee narrowed the applications to three individuals for Beshear’s approval, who selected Ridley.

According to Robbin Taylor, vice president for public affairs, WKU and the other comprehensive universities like Northern Kentucky University and Murray State University have eight Regents appointed by the governor. The remaining three members are elected to represent faculty, staff and students.

His appointment has come with some controversy.

Shortly after Ridley’s appointment, The Courier-Journal reported that most of the Regents appointed by Beshear — including Ridley — donated to Beshear’s election campaign.

Ridley said that he believes supporting the campaign was not the reason for his appointment as a regent, saying he supported the governor’s campaign because of his stance on education.

“I support a governor who supports education and who has successfully managed budgets despite hard economic times, that reflects his commitment,” Ridley said.

Ridley, a 1974 WKU grad, said he does have a personal connection with the governor.

“I have known Steve a long time,” Ridley said. “His father was a preacher at my church, his family has always been good, nice people to my family for as long as I can remember.”

Taylor said she’s known Ridley “for many years” and considers him a personal friend.

“He has been an active WKU alumnus and a supporter of many community organizations and events,” she said.

WKU president Gary Ransdell said he has known Ridley “for the better part of 40 years.” The two were undergraduates at WKU around the same time.

“He’s a smart, hardworking, creative guy,” Ransdell said of Ridley. “He has good experience and insight and is an overall policy person. I believe he’ll fulfill the proper role of a board member.”

Patricia Minter, faculty regent, recently met Ridley for the first time at a retreat for board members and said he was “off to a good start.”

“He seems to have enthusiasm and a good attitude,” Minter said. “I have no doubt he’ll bring those things to the table at board meetings.”