Alumnus pledges $1.75 million

Emily Ulber

A $1.75 million commitment from a WKU alumnus will create a chaired faculty position within the Ogden College of Science and Engineering, officials announced Tuesday afternoon.

WKU received the pledge from Walter Scott, a New York physician who graduated from the university in 1956, according to a WKU press release. The gift will create the Walter Scott Chair in Physiology.

The full release follows:


BOWLING GREEN, Ky. – Western Kentucky University has received a $1.75 million commitment from Dr. Walter Scott, a New York physician who graduated from WKU in 1956.  According to WKU President Gary Ransdell, this gift, which is outlined in his estate plans, will create the Walter Scott Chair in Physiology within the Ogden College of Science and Engineering.

Dr. Scott, a native of Calhoun, Ky., is a professor of endocrinology at New York University and continues to practice medicine at Beth Israel Medical Center.  After he received his degree in Biology from WKU, Dr. Scott went on to receive a M.D. at the University of Louisville in 1960.  While at WKU, he was a laboratory instructor assisting Dr. L.Y. Lancaster and President of the Biology Club. He has been active in several of the academic institutions in New York, starting at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, where he was eventually promoted to Professor and Associate Dean. He went on to serve as President of the New York Academy of Sciences and later, as Chair of Biology at New York University. He currently serves on WKU’s Board of Advisors.

“Western has been a part of my family for a long time,” Dr. Scott explained.  “My father’s sisters attended Western, so it was natural for me to go to Western.  I had a terrific time there, and I got a lot of support from science professors like Dr. L.Y. Lancaster, Dr. Ward Sumper, and Dr. Glenn Dooley.”

Dr. Scott said he hopes to strengthen WKU’s program in pre-medicine through his gifts.  “I think it’s something that’s needed. Solid instruction in the sciences will provide a good backbone of training for future doctors,” he said.

“Dr. Scott’s gift commitment is about academic quality in a priority discipline,” Dr. Ransdell said. “Dr. Scott has built his career teaching and conducting research at a very high level.  He knows how important the life sciences are to WKU and to the quality of life in his native Kentucky.”

Dr. Ransdell said Dr. Scott’s support provides important support for WKU’s $200 million New Century of Spirit Campaign. “Endowed faculty positions make a direct contribution to the overall quality of learning at WKU, enabling academic endeavors that would not otherwise exist,” he said. “The capacity to attract and retain nationally prominent faculty is essential to WKU’s success in being an effective steward of its region and preparing highly skilled graduates who will be leaders around the globe.”

According to Dr. Ransdell, Dr. Scott made a bequest of $500,000 in 2000 to go toward the Walter Scott Chair in Biology.  He later decided to make the gift current instead of coming out of his estate.  This gift was matched by the Commonwealth of Kentucky’s Regional University Excellence Trust Fund for a total $1 million.  He is a member of the Society of 1906, which recognizes donors who include WKU in their estate plans.

Diana L. Kinslow, WKU’s Director of Planned Giving, said deferred commitments are an important component of WKU’s Campaign.   These gifts may be made by including WKU in a will, as a beneficiary of a trust or gift annuity, or as beneficiary of a retirement plan or a life insurance policy. 

“The Society of 1906 currently has more than 320 members, and their collective estate commitments total more than $86 million,” Kinslow said.