STAFF EDITORIAL: Sentiment right, timing off in decision to name building after Ransdell

Herald Staff

THE ISSUE: The Board of Regents decided to name the new College of Education building after President Gary Ransdell.

OUR STANCE: The Herald congratulates Ransdell on his contributions to WKU but thinks the board should have waited to name a building after him, since he has 12 years left on his contract.Friday, the Board of Regents voted unanimously to name the new education building after Ransdell, who became the president of WKU in September 1997.

The Herald congratulates Ransdell, who has long been a supporter of journalism and our publication, and we recognize his contributions to WKU.

Sure, Ransdell has done a great job leading his administration and the entire WKU community into what the university is today.

Under his leadership, enrollment has grown by 39 percent, and there have been $470 million in renovation, construction and beautification since 1998, according to a Bowling Green Daily News article.

His accomplishments are already a mile long, and he’s just reaching the third quarter. And aside from his professional achievements, he’s simply a nice, approachable guy.

But the effects of naming the building after him this soon could be unfavorable considering that he still has a while to go. And a lot can happen in 12 years.

Foremost, many faculty members have expressed resentment toward Ransdell for issues such as faculty and staff raises and changes in administrative salaries.

While Ransdell has changed the quality of life on campus and lived up to his reputation of being a “fundraising guru,” as stated in the August 21, 1997, edition of the Herald, some also suggest that the education building should reflect someone whose focus is solely academics.

The WKU community has grown to know Ransdell as a straight-laced, likable president. But there have been instances of good people in high places making mistakes that tarnish their image. And when things as permanent as buildings, awards or scholarship funds are named in their honor, their image, good or bad, is forever attached.

We aren’t suggesting that Ransdell will be involved in some huge scandal – we trust his character. But the board should have considered more people who had a longer period of influence, specifically within the College of Education. Surely there were deans or professors who broke ground in the department and are equally deserving.

Or they could’ve waited a few more years to have a clearer definition of Ransdell’s legacy.

And with $450 million going to more planned construction in the next 12 years, there will be other naming possibilities.

There have been three buildings named after WKU presidents while they were still in office. But just because it has happened before doesn’t mean it’s the best idea.

When Ransdell was hired, he stated his vision, and he has followed through on many of his promises. But many of his predecessors who earned a place in WKU’s history may have been overlooked in this decision. He still has work to do.

And if his seemingly heartfelt commitment to his alma mater is as strong as he projects, then he shouldn’t mind reconsidering if that’s what’s best for WKU.

This editorial represents the majority opinion of the Herald’s 10-member editorial board.