Glasgow Daily Times
Western Kentucky University President Dr. Gary Ransdell has expressed his vision for the future of the university’s Glasgow campus.
“In 10 years, I can see 5,000 students on the Glasgow campus, and in 25 years, 7,000 to 8,000 with three to four buildings,” he told Daily Times reporter Melinda J. Overstreet for a story on the future of the local campus published in a Feb. 1, special section dedicated to the 25th anniversary of the campus.
Before moving forward, let’s review in brief the history of the relationship between WKU and Glasgow.
In 1875, A.W. Mell needed a boost in his personal income, so he started a teaching college named Glasgow Normal School on Feb. 9. A few years later, with enrollment and curriculum growing, Mell, with partner J. Tom Williams, asked the community for help to expand facilities, but the $3,000 dollars needed was not found.
Instead, 30 miles down the Barren River, Bowling Green scraped up some investors and off went Mell and Williams in 1884 with most of their school’s students. While the school’s board, being technically the school, tried to keep the teaching college going locally, it eventually met its demise in 1899.
Most people know that Mell’s school was the foundation for what is now Western Kentucky University.
Dr. Lowell H. Harrison, 104 years after Mell’s plea, stood before the Glasgow Rotary Club and gave a speech recounting the history above of WKU and its germination in Glasgow. He was there to tell them the university would be coming home by moving into what had been a campus on Liberty Street for Glasgow Elementary School. WKU had already, for two years, offered classes at various locations in town and had an office with one employee in a shopping center, but there was no dedicated classroom space.
In order for the curriculum to grow, WKU-Glasgow needed a home of its own. Many prominent community members got behind finding that home and made it happen. They made an investment in the future educational opportunities for the citizens of our community.
Ransdell also gave Overstreet his near-term vision of what WKU-Glasgow needs for its next phase: “... we want to get a second building built that would allow us to grow the student services functions and classroom capacity. That will likely require a WKU-local partnership.”
The university’s president mentioned partnering with city government, county government and/or the Industrial Development Economic Authority.
It is doubtful any money will come from state government for an expansion project, which means it is in the hands of our local leaders to devise a method for raising the money. Let’s not get stuck again in 1884. The future of our community rides on ever improving educational opportunities for our citizens, and in 25 years of WKU-Glasgow, we’ve seen what powerful impact that has our community.