WKU to induct three distinguished alumni at Homecoming

Cameron Koch

Three renowned WKU alumni will be

inducted into the WKU Hall of Distinguished Alumni during this

year’s Homecoming celebration.

Jerry E. Baker, Vicki Phillips and

Norris “Norro” Wilson will all be enshrined Friday during a

luncheon at Sloan Convention Center, making them the 20th class of

distinguished alumni. 

The luncheon will include an

induction ceremony, with a video highlighting the major

accomplishments of each inductee’s career. Inductees will then

deliver an acceptance speech.

Anybody who attended or graduated

WKU is eligible to be nominated for the honor. Hopeful inductees

can nominate themselves or be nominated by others by filling out an

application packet that is then reviewed by a selection

committee. 

Tracy Morrison, assistant director

of the Alumni Association, said it isn’t easy to be

selected.

“We have astronauts, actors, college

presidents,” she said. “It’s very competitive to get in.

“It’s the highest honor we bestow

upon our alumni.”

Donald Smith, executive director of

the Alumni Association, highlighted the difficulty and the prestige

of being accepted into the Hall of Distinguished Alumni.

“When you look at 97,000 alumni that

potentially could be nominated and out of the hundred or so that

people have taken the time to fill out an application and

nomination for, all of which are deserving,” said Smith. “And then

it gets narrowed down to 15 and really any of those 15 are

deserving.” 

Those 15 are then sent to the

National Alumni Board of directors, of which three inductees will

be chosen.

Baker, a business owner and

philanthropist, graduated from the Bowling Green Business

University in 1951 and since then has made considerable

contributions to WKU. Baker in 2006 made a $15 million gift to WKU,

a donation that included his arboretum, which is a botanical garden

for trees, his collection of art, and even his home.

He is currently a member of the WKU

Alumni Association and served on the WKU Foundation Board of

Trustees. Baker  received an honorary doctorate from WKU in

2001.

 Phillips received her master’s

degree in school psychology from WKU in 1987 and later earned a

doctorate in education from the University of Lincoln in England.

Phillips is currently director of Education in the U.S. branch of

the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and oversees College-Ready

Education, a program that helps to ensure students who graduate

high school are prepared for college.

She began her career as a teacher in

Simpson County.  Phillips received an honorary Doctor of Public

Service degree from WKU in 2010.

Born and raised in Scottsville,

Wilson attended Western Kentucky State Teacher’s College on a music

scholarship and would go on to become a song writer and music

producer. His single, “Do It to Someone You Love,” was a top 20 hit

in the 1970s. Wilson wrote numerous other hits in the 1970s and

1980s, including “A Very Special Love Song” performed by Charlie

Rich, that earned Wilson a Grammy for Best Country Song in

1974.

Wilson is also an inductee of both

the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame and The Kentucky Music Hall

of Fame.