Alumnus makes $2 million committment

Mai Hoang

A new building for the Ogden College of Science and Engineering is on schedule.

And thanks to a recent financial gift, there will be more money to pay people to teach in it.

William McCormack, a 1957 alumnus, and his wife, Ann, have made a $2 million legacy commitment that will establish professorships in biotechnology and physics. The contribution is the last in Western’s five-year capital campaign. Administrator’s announced at a press conference this morning that the campaign reached $102 million, over $20 million more than the original goal.

Tom Hiles, vice president for Institutional Development, said the professorships would not be established until after William McCormack’s death. However, McCormack is interested in making it a cash gift, enabling Western to implement the program sooner.

The McCormacks made a donation in 2000 toward another professorship in the Ogden College. The recipient of the first professorship, Charles McGruder, will have a major role in running the Kentucky Academy of Math and Science, which is yet to be established.

“It will be a stamp of excellence in our sciences,” Hiles said. “I think it will be something that will lead to other role models giving similar gifts.”

Blaine Ferrell, dean of the Ogden College, said the professorships are in two areas that will have an impact. The state wants to attract biotechnology companies, while physics is a foundation for the other sciences.

“Anything we do that builds excitement in the program will attract new faculty,” Ferrell said. “The faculty has already built some excitement.”

McCormack, a physician, led Hiles and President Gary Ransdell to other physicians who gave gifts in the campaign or are interested in giving gifts, Hiles said.

“He’s so supportive of the campaign, he wanted to help us close it out in a big way,” Hiles said.

McCormack could not be reached for comment. Hiles said that McCormack has been ill.

In a Western press release, McCormack said he was pleased to give more support for Western.

“I feel that education is the single most important aspect of your life in terms of maturity and growth,” he said in the release. “The more we contribute to allowing young people to go to school and learn, the better our state and country can progress and face the problems of today.”

President Gary Ransdell said he is pleased about the gift, especially since the professorships are in the sciences.

“We have made such an effort to strengthen our applied sciences as part of our university’s strategic plan,” he said. “And for him to support physics, chemistry and biotechnology is a wonderful boost of confidence to our faculty in the sciences and really gives us confidence in the future.”

On Monday, Western announced that a gift from Cal and Margaret Turner of Bowling Green will create a professorship in journalism.

“To announce three professorships in our programs of distinction is precisely what the state challenged us to do in higher education reform,” Ransdell said.

Reach Mai Hoang at [email protected]