Campaign may hit $90 million mark tomorrow

Joe Lord

Tom Hiles had never set foot in Kentucky, much less on the Hill, before interviewing at Western at the request of its newly appointed president.

Six years later, he and his staff have brought Western millions of dollars from alumni and others across the nation.

Soon, they’ll take it over the top.

Western is expected to announce a donation tomorrow that will put it over the $90 million goal of “Investing in the Spirit,” the university’s first capital campaign.

The campaign ends on June 30, but the total amount raised during its five-year run will not be announced until the gala on Sept. 19, said Hiles, now the vice president for Institutional Advancement.

He declined to say what the current total is.

“I’ll just say we’re very close,” Hiles said.

Western increased its goal from $78 million to $90 million in April 2002. President Gary Ransdell said the campaign has played a major role in molding Western since he took the helm in 1997.

“Dero Downing often said that universities are a lot like people, they have personalities,” Ransdell said of the former president. “Well, we have defined a personality for Western over the last few years. It’s aggressive, ambitious, entrepreneurial and nationally focused.”

The campaign has led to 94 new scholarships and 24 endowed professorships since it began on July 1, 1998, according to documents provided by the office of institutional advancement.

Ransdell said all its gifts allow Western to do things it normally can’t do through state funding and tuition revenue.

Hiles agreed.

“Campaigns are about supplementing the priorities of the university,” he said.

English professor Mary Ellen Miller, a former faculty regent, said she welcomes the campaign’s soon-to-be met goals and congratulates Ransdell, Hiles and his staff.

“I think their ability to raise that kind of money when the economy is not in the greatest shape in the world is really kind of phenomenal,” she said.

Miller said she would like more donors to give to liberal arts departments.

Reach Joseph Lord at [email protected]