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Growing Private Support

Growing Private Support

A key difference in WKU today is the level of philanthropic support among alumni, friends, faculty, staff, and corporate partners. Prior to 1997 only about $3 million was raised annually. Today annual giving is at $17.9 million, and the University’s endowment has increased from $19.3 million in 1997 to $111.8 million in 2012.

Shifting to a philanthropic culture

In 1998 WKU launched its first major capital campaign, “Investing in the Spirit,” with a goal to raise $78 million in private funds. That goal was exceeded by a substantial amount, and WKU posted a record $102 million in total gifts and pledges by the end of the campaign in 2003.

The success of the “Investing in the Spirit” campaign created a change in how WKU is perceived and demonstrated a shift to a more philanthropic culture.

The second major fundraising campaign for WKU, “A New Century of Spirit,” was publicly announced in September 2007 with an even more ambitious $200 million goal. By the campaign’s conclusion in June 2012, private gifts and pledges reached more than $202 million. This number is even more noteworthy considering the recession that began in 2008.

The scholarships, endowed professorships, improvements to academic and athletic facilities, and new and enhanced student life programs that were made possible by the generosity of donors during these two campaigns are a lasting testament to the power and importance of private support.

The next major capital campaign will focus on strengthening scholarship support for WKU students.

Alumni and friends support WKU at many different levels, and all donors have a significant impact on the University’s goals of teaching, research, and public service. The President’s Circle, which recognizes donors who give $1,000 or more each year, now includes more than 2,500 members. The Cherry Society, which honors lifetime giving of more than $25,000, has also grown exponentially during the last 15 years, and it is not uncommon to recognize donors at levels of $1 million or even $5 million. In addition, The Society of 1906 honors individuals who make legacy commitments to the University through their estate plans. Donors who include WKU as a beneficiary of wills, life income agreements, retirement plans, or other assets are now a major part of WKU’s fundraising success.

Lifelong Hilltoppers

WKU alumni play an important role in enhancing and strengthening the WKU Spirit. Much of the success of the two capital campaigns was due to the more than 100,000 alumni around the globe who are proud to call WKU their alma mater. With the growth in enrollment and graduates, the alumni base, too, has grown by more than 50 percent in the past 15 years.

Alumni support is substantial in a myriad of ways from philanthropy and volunteerism to mentoring current students and participating in special events. The Alumni Association annually conducts more than 200 events and programs that impact more than 50,000 alumni, and a record number of alumni volunteers–more than 2,000 annually–are contributing their time, talents, and energy to the Association. Because of this, the WKU Alumni Association achieved Top 10 status in the country in overall alumni participation rate for public comprehensive universities.

The Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) recognized the WKU Alumni Association as the best overall alumni relations program in the southeast district in 2012. The Augenstein Alumni Center, slated to open in 2013, is a proud display of the alumni spirit and will create a place for all alumni to call home.

“I wanted to make this gift because I have been interested in education for many years, and I believe that education is the hope of the world.”

                           – Gordon Ford, Spring/Summer 1999 WKU ALUMNI magazine


“A college education made a change in my life. WKU is an institution with a perpetual life. The endowment will provide permanent support, and the home will be open to the public so everybody in the area can enjoy it.”

                                       – Jerry Baker, Summer 2006 Spirit of Giving newsletter


“As co-chair of both campaigns, it is noteworthy that despite a weak economy, the Hilltoppers were able to raise twice the amount of funds than were raised during the first campaign. This confirms the increased support that President Ransdell is receiving for his transformational goals for WKU.”

        – Don Vitale, Co-Chair of Investing in the Spirit and A New Century of       Spirit campaigns


“I could never express to any of the scholarship donors the gratitude and relief I have due to their scholarships. I hope that one day I will be in a position where I can help out college students as well, just as I was helped when I needed it most.”

     – Hannah Brantley, junior from Salem, Ky., and multiple scholarship recipient


Marrquon Bartee, a film editing major at WKU, performed in the "Hilltopper of the Century" music video, produced 2012, to thank those who donated to the most recent capital campaign, "A New Century of Spirit."
Marrquon Bartee, a film editing major at WKU, performed in the "Hilltopper of the Century" music video, produced 2012, to thank those who donated to the most recent capital campaign, "A New Century of Spirit."

1998 First major capital campaign begins Gordon Ford gift of $10.6 million announced for the College of Business 2003 Investing in the Spirit concludes having raised $102 million 2006 WKU announces the largest gift ever to the University in the amount of $15 million in Planned Giving from Jerry Baker 2007 Second major capital campaign begins 2012 A New Century of Spirit campaign concludes having raised more than $202 million

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 Last Modified 9/24/14