WKU President Ransdell shares memories as he prepares for last week in office

Published: Jun. 27, 2017 at 4:29 PM CDT
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Western Kentucky University's ninth president ends his term in office on Friday, June 30th.

"The last couple of months have been very emotional, and people have been great. They've been so gracious and said and done a lot of very nice things with both Julie and me, and so it's just reinforced the passions with which we pursued our work for the last 20 years," says President Ransdell.

From the red tie, to the WKU watch, the 1974 class ring, to the red and black socks, Dr. Gary Ransdell sat in the President's Office Tuesday morning, talking about the boxes he'd been packing up.

"You know, there's a couple of ways that a transition in leadership can go at a university, and one of them is good, and one of them is not so good, and this one's been a good one," he says.

But that doesn't mean it's easy to start a new chapter after so many years.

"I will miss walking across campus and high-fiving students and a student yelling your name and running across campus to give you a hug, and selfies, and all the things that we've so enjoyed with students. And Julie and I acknowledged that over the course of this past year. She looked at me one time, she said, 'you're going to miss this', we both will," he adds.

Although some things may be hard to get used to, Dr. Ransdell says he feels like he's made the most of his time leading the Hilltoppers.

"I love everything at the top of the hill, some of the gardens that we've created over the -- in recent years -- are very special, I love the outdoor sculpture and where we've placed it around campus. I made it a priority to have fun in this job," he says.

"We've loved our study abroad experience, some of the adventures like skydiving into the football stadium for the Army game a few years ago -- that was a pretty cool experience, being Big Red at a home basketball game that nobody in the arena knew expect Julie. So we tried to have fun, we tried to be engaged, and I think we've been able to do just that," says Ransdell, smiling.

"I mean our traditions are unlike any other university," he says, "I mean Big Red, the red towel, the Hill itself, our architecture, white squirrels -- things that make this experience rich and meaningful and that's what students come here to experience."

Dr. Ransdell even met with some future students on Tuesday morning, even though his Presidency will be finished by the time they begin school in August.

"Of course a high academic value and what our faculty provide our students in the classrooms, but students get other things here too that makes this experience one of a kind," he says. "And it makes for emotions and it makes for passions -- and those things never die."

"I don't ever want WKU to become ordinary," says Ransdell.

Dr. Timothy Caboni starts his term as WKU's 10th President on July 1st, 2017.