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The “Western Spirit”
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Western Kentucky University!
At Western Kentucky University, we talk about the transformation of a university, traditionally characterized as regional, to a university of national prominence. Western’s vision is to be the best comprehensive public institution in Kentucky and among the best in the nation.

Located atop one of the highest points in Southcentral Kentucky, Western boasts one of the most beautiful campuses in the nation. But there is more to Western than its park-like campus. There’s a special sense of belonging-the “Western Spirit”-that is well known to students, alumni and fans.

That spirit is at the heart of the transformation.
Some of the changes over the past five years are easy to see: enrollment is at a record high (the fastest growing university in Kentucky); physical improvements are evident all across the campus ($136 million in public/private funded construction projects); and a highly successful capital campaign which, at nearly $100 million, will be the third largest fund-raising effort in the history of higher education in Kentucky. Our students, faculty, staff and graduates are gaining national and international attention for their accomplishments.

Many of the campus’ needs are being met at a time when conventional support is not available. Physical enhancements across campus are being funded in creative ways as to not be a burden on state taxpayers or at the expense of academic programs.

Western has created a national model for residence hall improvement by transferring ownership of 17 halls to the Student Life Foundation. The SLF is investing $40 million into eight complete building renovations and quality of life enhancements in nine others.

A $3.5 million renovation of campus dining halls and a $10 million renovation of the Downing University Center are being financed through new contracts for dining services and soft drink rights.

A $32 million complete renovation of Diddle Arena is being funded in an unprecedented manner through municipal general obligation bonds with the City of Bowling Green. A student fee is making the City whole in its debt. When completed, the arena will impact not only Western’s basketball and volleyball programs, but provide an important economic stimulus to Southcentral Kentucky.

The physical improvements, when combined with a quality faculty and a caring staff, have established Western as a university of choice for students. Western has experienced a 22 percent increase in enrollment over five years, including a record 17,818 in the fall of 2002. In addition, the number of applications for enrollment at Western continues to grow at a record-setting pace, doubling from 5,000 to 10,000 in the last five years.

Recent highlights at Western include:

  • The School of Journalism and Broadcasting won the William Randolph Hearst National Journalism Awards Program in 2000 and 2001 and has finished in the top three for the past five years, including third in 2003.
  • The William E. Bivin Forensic Society made history in 2002-03 by completing an unprecedented sweep of major speech and debate championships. It was the first team to win the National Forensic Association, the American Forensic Association National Individual Events Tournament, the International Forensic Association tournament and the Delta Sigma Rho-Tau Kappa Alpha National Tournament in the same year.
  • A successful on-line business begun by two former Bowling Green High School students will continue thanks to two entrepreneurial scholarships and the Kentucky New Economy initiative. The brothers, now WKU students, have located their business in the Center for Research and Development.
  • NASA astronaut and WKU alumnus Terry Wilcutt received the Outstanding Alumnus of Kentucky Award from the Advocates for Higher Education.
  • Dr. Erika Brady received the Acorn Award, which recognizes an outstanding faculty member.
  • Sponsored program funding reached a record $24.46 million in 2001-02 mainly due to an emphasis on applied research.
  • Western has partnered with the Kentucky Community and Technical College System to open the state’s first two regional postsecondary education centers in Glasgow and Elizabethtown. The centers are practical applications of the idea of seamless education by housing together two- and four-year programs and increasing the cooperation between WKU and KCTCS.
  • Western’s concrete canoe team remains among the best in the nation with a sixth-place finish in national competition in Philadelphia. “Illusion,” built by WKU civil engineering students, won the Ohio Valley regional competition and advanced to the 2003 National Concrete Canoe Competition at Drexel University. The canoe won best-finished product and was selected by the competition sponsor, Master Builders Inc., for display at its world headquarters in Cleveland.
  • Western Kentucky University agriculture students finished second in the 2003 North American Intercollegiate Dairy Challenge at Michigan State University.
  • The $18.5 million Mass Media and Technology Hall became the home of the School of Journalism and Broadcasting and the Division of Information Technology this fall. Construction continues on the Center for Engineering and Biological Sciences.
Western’s goal is to produce nationally and globally competitive graduates and provide optimum service and lifelong learning opportunities for its constituents — from students to alumni to the residents of Southcentral Kentucky. For more information about WKU, visit www.wku.edu or call 1-800-4-WKU-INF.