Ransdell: WKU spirit ‘part of our DNA’

Katherine Wade

Engraved in granite stones in the plaza outside Diddle Arena are six words — character, responsibility, respect, leadership, loyalty and wisdom.

These were the words chosen in 2005 by the university as the best definitions of the WKU spirit.

A concept established in 1906 by Henry Hardin Cherry, founder and first president of WKU, the WKU spirit continues to be a thriving presence on campus today, even to newcomers such as Kathryn Costello.

Costello, vice president of Development and Alumni Relations, has been at WKU for seven months and already feels that sense of family, place and empowerment that she says make up the WKU spirit.

“There is such affection and caring for the institution by both students and faculty,” Costello said. “It’s a beautiful location as well. And I think WKU does well helping students find their voice, intellect and passion for the rest of their lives.”

Before coming to WKU, Costello worked at a number of different universities across the country, including Vanderbilt University, the University of Maryland, the University of Georgia and Rice University.

Taylorsville freshman Andrew Dockery has only spent a couple weeks at WKU, but said it already means a lot to him. Dockery said he especially sees school spirit at sporting events, such as football games.

“The WKU spirit here lifts up not only the athletes when they need a big stop or big score in a game, but also the students,” he said. “The students here always smile when they see the red towel.”

Dockery thinks the red towel motivates people to succeed and that the WKU spirit reaches people in many ways.

President Gary Ransdell said that to him, the WKU spirit means self-confidence, self-esteem, pride and leadership.

“Those are the things that allow one to become a master of their own success and the success of others around them,” he said.

Ransdell said the WKU spirit is unique to our university because it is “part of our DNA.

“It’s part of the fabric of our institution,” he said. “It was created in the very beginning by Henry Hardin Cherry as a combination of the head and the heart, and that’s unique to WKU because it’s an intangible.”

Costello said she believes that the WKU spirit has continued to thrive since Cherry because each president after him has continued to carry on the tradition.

“It’s something I hope this institution can keep forever because it sets us apart.”