Senator to receive doctorate in May

Shawntaye Hopkins

U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell never set foot on Western’s campus as a student, but he might be honored like one in May.

The Board of Regents academics committee approved on Friday an honorary doctorate to be awarded to McConnell, a Republican from Kentucky.

President Gary Ransdell said the award is to recognize his contributions to Western and higher education.

The degree would be awarded to McConnell at the graduation ceremony in May. It must be approved by the Board of Regents, who next meet on April 30.

“His leadership and contribution both to the state and university are very well known,” Provost Barbara Burch said during the committee meeting.

Ransdell said McConnell deserves the recognition for several reasons. He said it is rare that a Kentuckian reaches the status of majority whip in the U.S. Senate.

McConnell is responsible for about $35 million in federal funding for earmarked projects at Western, Ransdell said. McConnell helped secure about $12 million for Western projects in the current federal budget, he said.

“He’s been a good friend to Western in recent years,” Ransdell said.

McConnell, who is originally from Louisville, has been re-elected to the Senate three times since he was first elected in 1984. He was elected as majority whip in 2002.

McConnell received his undergraduate degree at the University of Louisville and a law degree from the University of Kentucky.

McConnell worked in Washington as an intern following his graduation, then returned to Louisville to serve as the Jefferson County Judge Executive.

McConnell is also a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee and the Senate Agriculture and Rules Committee. He chairs the Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittee.

Reach Shawntaye Hopkins at [email protected]