Louisville business executive Mary Nixon pledged $500,000 to Western Kentucky University to create an accounting professorship.
The gift will be matched with funds from the Kentucky Regional University Excellence Trust Fund to create the Mary R. Nixon Professor of Accounting in the Gordon Ford College of Business.
"The Mary R. Nixon Professorship exemplifies many characteristics we seek in accounting and business graduates," said Dr. Robert Jefferson, dean of the Gordon Ford College of Business. "We expect from our graduates high academic achievement, initiative, creative ideas, leadership and values."
WKU President Gary Ransdell said the gift is "a tribute to her dedication to Western and the respect she has for the faculty who prepared her for a successful career. Western is grateful for her vision and leadership."
Nixon, vice president of accounting services with Tricon Global Restaurants and a 1977 WKU accounting graduate, said two factors influenced her five-year financial commitment: the leadership at the University and the state's matching program.
"I believe in Dr. Ransdell's leadership and I was a student working in the Accounting Department and worked with the department head, Dr. Jack Hall," the Lexington native said. "I want this gift to benefit the University while they are driving the University and department forward."
Nixon also said the 100 percent match from the state "would be a huge opportunity lost if Western could not take advantage of it. I hope this will demonstrate to the Legislature how powerful this program is and continue it in the future."
Nixon's gift marks the fourth $1 million professorship announced at Western since the Kentucky General Assembly created the Regional University Excellence Trust Fund, Dr. Ransdell said.
"The state has now put $2 million into four faculty positions created by four benefactors who have pledged a collective $2 million," he said. "With new endowed professorships in engineering technology, business entrepreneuralism, music and accounting, we are beginning to create significant enhancements to our faculty, to the value of the Western experience, and to the quality of life in Kentucky."
"Through this gift, Mary once again demonstrates her commitment to her alma mater," said Tom Hiles, vice president for Development and Alumni Relations. "She is a role model as a corporate executive, as a civic leader and now as a generous benefactor. We are so appreciative of Mary's continued volunteer and financial support."
Dr. Jefferson echoed Hiles' appreciation.
"We're grateful that Mary Nixon, as a Western accounting and business graduate, has made this major gift commitment for a professorship which will provide continuing quality improvements in our accounting program," he said. "Such a commitment assures students and future graduates that they are receiving the best possible education for accounting and business during the years ahead."
Nixon said she is an example of how students can benefit from their experiences at Western.
"I had a wonderful experience at Western," she said. "My student job in the Accounting Department enabled me to stay in school. And Dr. Hall believed in me, which was a huge encouragement. Most of my confidence came from my time at Western."
"All of the good things that have happened to me -- including my success and ability to make this pledge -- are in large part due to the experiences I had at Western."