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Dr. Gary A. Ransdell

Dr. Gary A. Ransdell

President of WKU


Dr. Gary A. Ransdell was named the ninth president of Western Kentucky University on September 12, 1997.

Dr. Ransdell received his Bachelor of Arts degree from WKU in 1973 in Mass Communications, a Master of Public Service degree in Public Administration in 1974, and a Doctor of Education degree from Indiana University in 1978.

He re-joined WKU as President after serving four years as Vice President for Administration and Advancement and seven years as Vice President for Institutional Advancement at Clemson University in Clemson, South Carolina.

His previous professional experiences at WKU also include service as a field representative in the Office of University School Relations from 1974 to 1976 and as Associate Director of Alumni Affairs from 1978 to 1981.

Dr. Ransdell became Director of Alumni Relations at Southern Methodist University in 1981, a position he held until 1987 when he was named as a Vice President at Clemson.

He and the WKU Board of Regents are leading the campus through a dramatic transformation from a university of regional importance to a leading American university with international reach. WKU has grown its enrollment to 21,000 and improved its retention of students to 75%.

A key element in the transformation of WKU is growth in private support. WKU completed its first capital campaign on June 30, 2003, with $102 million in gifts and pledges. A second campaign was completed on June 30, 2012 with $202 million in new gifts and pledges.

Another priority is a complete rebuilding of the WKU campus. Some $600 million in campus construction has been completed since 1998, with $100 million more under way in 2013, and $200 million on the drawing board.

Other measures of progress include a dramatic push in sponsored research, the growth of critical degree programs in electrical, mechanical, and civil engineering; three new doctoral degree programs in education, nursing, and physical therapy; a new emphasis on the commercialization of intellectual property and the transfer of WKU technology to the Kentucky workplace; growth of the three WKU regional campuses in Glasgow, Owensboro, and Elizabethtown/Ft. Knox; the creation of the Gatton Academy of Math and Science, which has been ranked by Newsweek as the No. 1 high school in America two years in a row; Kentucky's only independent Honors College with enrollment of 1,200 high achieving students; expanded study abroad programs; and the state's first Confucius Institute and only Chinese flagship program. True to its plan, WKU has the largest number of distance-learning courses and the largest distance-learning enrollment among Kentucky's eight universities.

During Dr. Ransdell's tenure, WKU's athletic programs have won over 100 Conference championships, and have led the Sun Belt Conference in academic performance.  He served as President of the Sun Belt Conference in 2000, and completed in 2013 a four-year term on the BCS Presidents' Oversight Committee. Dr. Ransdell successfully negotiated a move to Conference USA which occurs in 2014.

Dr. Ransdell has served on the Board of Directors of the Bowling Green Area Chamber of Commerce, the Board for the Inter-model Transportation Authority of South Central Kentucky, and has chaired the Warren County United Way Campaign. In 2004, Dr. Ransdell completed a four-year appointment on the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB). In 2012, Dr. Ransdell completed a six-year appointment on the Board for the Louisville Branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.  Dr. Ransdell currently serves on the Board of Trustees for the Institute for Shipboard Education (ISE) which operates the global Semester at Sea (SAS) program.

Dr. Ransdell and his wife, Julie, met, dated, and were married while at WKU pursuing their undergraduate degrees. They have two sons—Patrick, who graduated from WKU in 2002, and earned MBA/Sports Administration degrees from Ohio University in 2005; and Matthew, who graduated from WKU in 2006 and is a 2009 graduate of Stetson University School of Law. Both Patrick and Matthew were lettermen with the WKU baseball team.

His son Patrick and daughter-in-law Brooke (WKU '04) were married in August 2004, and are the parents of Walker and Collins Ransdell, WKU classes of 2029 and 2033!  Matthew and Sandra will be married in April 2014, and both practice law in St. Petersburg, Florida.

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 Last Modified 9/25/14