WKU inducts three distinguished alumni

James Ramsey

Stephani Stacy

Today, WKU will induct three former Toppers into its Hall of Distinguished Alumni. The induction ceremony will take place from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Sloan Convention Center.

James Ramsey is the current president of the University of Louisville, but he was first a student at WKU.

Ramsey, who’s from Fern Creek,  earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration at WKU and went on to receive his master’s degree and doctorate in economics at the University of Kentucky.

After finishing school, he held a variety of jobs over the next few decades. He became WKU’s vice president for Finance and Administration and taught economics in 1992. He worked as a budget director for Kentucky from 1995 to 1998.

In 1999 the Louisville Ad Federation named him Kentucky’s Distinguished Economist of the Year. He has traveled around the world giving lectures on economic principles. In 2001, he received the National Governors Association’s Outstanding Public Service Award.

Joe Downing was a soldier whose time spent in the U.S. military during World War II eventually turned him into an internationally-known artist.

Downing, who attended WKU from 1945-46, originally planned to be an optometrist but instead spent the second half of his life studying art. He received encouragement from Ivan Wilson while at WKU and took classes at the Chicago Art Institute while simultaneously enrolling at Northern Illinois College of Optometry.

Before beginning his career in optometry, Downing took a vacation in France that turned into a permanent residence. He is one of three Americans whose work is displayed in the Louvre. The Smithsonian Institute and the Museum of Modern Art in New York City show his work as well. Downing died in Menerbes, France in 2007 at the age of 82.

Josephine Cherry Lowman attended the Sargent School of Physical Education in Cambridge, Mass., after graduating from Kentucky Normal School in 1919. She headed the physical education department of WKU from 1921 to 1923. Her career as a teacher led her and her husband, Shepard W. Lowman, to Oklahoma, where she began a women’s exercise program at the YMCA in Tulsa.