Gordon B. Ford
The Western Kentucky University Board of Regents named the University's business college in honor of Gordon Ford, CPA, who made a commitment of more than $10.6 million in gifts to support business programs.
"The Gordon Ford College of Business reflects the impact that this commitment will have on Western Kentucky University," WKU President Gary Ransdell said. "This gift, the largest ever received by the University from a single donor, will be transformational, not only for Western, but for the community and region as well. It will provide a solid foundation for growth into the next century."
The commitment includes $9.5 million in unrestricted funds in the "Gordon Ford Dean's Fund for Excellence." In addition, $500,000 -- combined with a $500,000 match from the Commonwealth of Kentucky -- will create the Mattie Newman Ford Professor of Entrepreneurial Studies, named in honor of Gordon Ford's mother. Ford will also continue to fund a scholarship program for accounting and business majors that he began in 1992, bringing the total commitment to $10.6 million.
Business college Dean Robert Jefferson said the focus of the Ford Fund for Excellence "is to establish study at Western's Gordon Ford College of Business as the premier undergraduate program in Kentucky. This program will have activities which will provide added value to the Western degree for both graduates and employers."
Investments from the fund will support student and faculty scholarship, research projects, technological enhancements and social and leadership development for graduates, he said.
The $500,000 match from Kentucky's Regional University Excellence Trust Fund will create a $1 million endowed professorship that will attract and support talented and prominent faculty interested in working with students to bring distinction to Western's business students and graduates.
"The Mattie Newman Ford Professor of Entrepreneurial Studies will provide instructional and program leadership, while further promoting the importance of a quality education for management and business professionals," Dr. Jefferson said.
President Ransdell added that "support for nationally recognized faculty is essential in preparing competent graduates and leaders for business and economic development opportunities in Kentucky and the mid-south region."
Ford said he chose to make this gift because he has "been interested in education for many years, believing that education is the hope of the world."
Ford's family has had a connection with Western for more than 90 years. His mother attended Western in 1907-09, just after it moved to its present location on the "Hill" in 1906, and received a teaching certificate. Ford came to Bowling Green in 1931, graduating from Bowling Green Business University in 1934. BU merged with Western in 1963 to become the Bowling Green College of Business Administration.
He has numerous ties with education, including giving 10 or more scholarships a year for worthy students at Western since 1992. He was one of the founders of Kentucky Southern College, served as a trustee at Bellarmine College and the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville.
A native of Greenville, Ky., Ford was a founding partner in the accounting firm of Yeager, Ford and Warren in Louisville. That firm merged with the firm of Coopers & Lybrand, which recently merged with Price Waterhouse.
Tom Hiles, vice president for Development and Alumni Relations, said Ford's gift will "impact the faculty and students of the Ford College for generations to come. His support will also be the cornerstone of our advancement efforts by inspiring others considering leadership support."