Breaking news, sports and campus news from Western Kentucky University

College Heights Foundation celebrates 100th anniversary

Alexandria Anderson
The College Heights Foundation held its centennial celebration at the Cliff Todd Center on July 17, 2023.

More than 100 College Heights Foundation members, alumni and supporters gathered at the Cliff Todd Center today to celebrate the College Heights Foundation centennial.

The College Heights Foundation serves as the “Guardian of Trusts” to more than 1,800 endowed and non-endowed funds and provides scholarship assistance to students through support from alumni, corporations and organizations. Since its creation in 1923, when a WKU faculty member gave $100 to support deserving students, the foundation has grown to nearly $250 million in assets.

Donald Smith, president of the College Heights Foundation, opened the celebration by describing the work the foundation has done for WKU’s students and campus over its 100 years.

“The collective support of the foundations over the past century has provided more than half a billion dollars in private support to Western Kentucky University,” Smith said.

The College Heights Foundation is governed by a Board of Directors composed of business and professional leaders. Mike Simpson, chair of the board, acknowledged the growth of the foundation during its 100 years and the importance of its work.

“Even more important than the growth and the overall endowment is the fact that 1000s of students’ lives have been and will continue to be impacted through the financial assistance made possible through the generous philanthropy of others who strongly believe in higher education,” Simpson said.

Simpson also discussed the merging of the College Heights Foundation and the WKU Foundation, which was announced in May at the quarterly WKU Board of Regents meeting. He said since the creation of the university’s strategic plan, they were “actively engaged in consolidation.”

“The next logical step was to build on our respective strengths and maximize our collective potential by consolidating our assets to generate even greater economies of scale,” Simpson said.

Smith said the consolidation of these assets “made the most sense” and that the merging of the two has been a smooth process.

“I think going forward, our investment policies are aligned, our spending policies are all aligned, and so we can eliminate that donor confusion and maximize our collective potential,” Smith said.

Many WKU alumni and staff were in attendance. Georgena Brackett, president-elect of the WKU alumni association board of directors, said the foundation’s legacy should be celebrated and that she is excited to see further connections with the WKU alumni association.

“Any longevity to an organization, you need to celebrate that, because it’s too easy to see positions dissolve and go away,” Brackett said. “Obviously there’s a lot of time and continued effort, decades and decades and decades to maintain this establishment.”

Smith said the celebration not only highlights the foundation’s economic success, but it is valuable to the history of the foundation and building its future. During the event, the College Heights Foundation was presented with a 100 Years of Service proclamation from the city of Bowling Green and Warren County.

“It’s not just about showing the donors that success we’ve had,” Smith said. “I think it’s just important in any organization’s history and culture to celebrate those milestones […] It just shows the foresight and the vision that they had at that point in time and we’re able to continue that tradition and really forecast for the next 100 years.”

He described focusing on long-term goals as a priority of the foundation and that it is essential to create resources for generations to come.

“The foundation’s goal is always looking ahead to the future to create that intergenerational equity and create private resources for the institution to prosper for the long term,” Smith said.

Editor-in-chief Alexandria Anderson can be reached at [email protected].

More to Discover