Kevin Willis

The Carol Martin Gatton Academy of Math and Science at WKU is preparing to undergo a transformation that will sharply increase its population.

The academy has been given a financial gift from businessman Bill Gatton to expand the residence hall that houses the academy’s students. The renovation is needed because the academy is expanding its class size from 120 to 200 students this fall.

The academy is home to some of the top high school juniors and seniors in the state who take college courses for two years at WKU, and has been repeatedly ranked as the top high school in the nation.

Speaking at a ceremony Wednesday at WKU announcing the gift from Gatton, Governor Steve Beshear said the academy is a point of pride for the state.

“The Gatton Academy is a shining example of how our educators are preparing the next generation of highly-trained graduates. I’m proud that my last budget will allow another 80 students the opportunity to study in the nation’s best high school.”

It took nearly six grueling hours and a sleepless night for Indu Bhattari to find out her family was safe following the massive earthquake that devastated the country. 

She was able to talk to her brother in Nepal just minutes after the quake hit, and learned that he and their parents had survived.

"That was a very hard moment for me," the 24-year-old WKU grad student said. "But everybody is fine."

For most of us the news of the Nepal earthquake was riveting, for Indu, it was personal. Her parents live in Kathmandu, Nepal's largest city and a place devastated by unspeakable damage and thousands of deaths. Her brother lives in another part of the country that was spared the brunt of the quake. He was able to get a call through almost immediately.

SKY Science Festival

A three-day festival kicking off Thursday in Bowling Green hopes to make science accessible to people of all ages and backgrounds. The Sky Science Festival will feature events ranging from a movie aimed at interesting young children in science, to a lecture related to the science of beer brewing and tasting.

Festival activities begin Thursday at WKU, where Colorado author and astrophysicist Jeffrey Bennett who will deliver a talk aimed at explaining how Einstein’s theory of relativity impacts our everyday lives.

“It’s his attempt to make the general theory of relativity palatable to the average layperson who maybe didn’t study astrophysics,” says WKU Planetarium Coordinator Ronn Kistler.

The festival ends Saturday with an expo at Circus Square Park in downtown Bowling Green, including hands-on demonstrations and activity booths where visitors can learn more about science.

You can find more information on the Sky Science Festival here.


Three of Kentucky’s four GOP gubernatorial candidates are in Bowling Green Tuesday night for a debate at WKU.

Matt Bevin, James Comer, and Hal Heiner are scheduled to attend the event, which will focus on economic issues such as healthcare, taxes and spending, and job creation. Will T. Scott was also invited to attend, but has a scheduling conflict.

The debate at WKU is sponsored by the group Americans for Prosperity, which was founded by the conservative industrialists David and Charles Koch, as is co-sponsored by the WKU Political Science Department and National Review.

The debate begins at 7 pm Tuesday. The website handling the free tickets for the debate says they have all been given away.

WKU is reaching out to team members and recruits following this week's announcement that the school is suspending its men's and women's swimming and diving teams for five years due to hazing violations.

The Bowling Green Daily News is reporting that president Gary Ransdell and athletic director Todd Stewart have sent personalized letters to swim team alumni saying WKU is “directly assisting” recruits who have committed to the team for the upcoming season.

Part of the letter also states “our athletic academic advising staff will continue to work with team members who choose to stay at WKU and support their progression toward their degree.”

Some recruits were set to sign with WKU as soon as Wednesday.

WKU Athletics

Bill Powell retired in 2005 after 36 years at the helm of the WKU men's swimming and diving program. During that time period, his teams won 15 conference titles and the Natatorium at WKU is named after him.

Powell posted a response on his Facebook page this week after Tuesday's announcement that WKU is suspending the men's and women's swimming and diving programs following an investigation that uncovered underage drinking, hazing, and other abuses within the program.

Here is his response in full from his Facebook page:

Dear WKU Swimmers, Divers, Friends, and Supporters,

I am devastated at the loss of WKU Swimming and Diving—an athletic program that has graduated virtually all of its team members over a 45-year period. As Dr. Ransdell himself admits, the team has collected too many academic honors to list and its student-athletes have “represented WKU with distinction in the classroom and in competition.” I am certainly proud of what you all have accomplished.

I have been retired from the WKU swim program for a while, so my knowledge of the alleged incidents is no more than what everyone else has seen in the papers. It appears that the transgressions were perpetrated primarily by one or two team members, and no criminal charges have been filed.


WKU is suspending its Swimming and Diving program for five years, effective immediately. The university informed the team members and coaching staff of the decision Tuesday morning.

The move comes after investigations by the Bowling Green Police Department and university uncovered evidence of violations of WKU’s Student Code of Conduct, Discrimination and Harassment Policy, and Title IX Sexual Misconduct/Assault Policy.

In an email sent to school faculty and staff Tuesday, President Ransdell said those violations included hazing and underage alcohol consumption involving team members and recruits. Ransdell said coaches were aware of the “pervasive culture” of abuse with the program and failed to prevent it.

"This University simply will not tolerate indecent, immoral, physical, or mental acts of disrespect or abuse among our students. We must all embrace a culture where every student is as important as any student," Dr. Ransdell said in his email. "When this culture is not embraced, we will act swiftly and firmly to ensure that the dignity and integrity of the institution is sustained. It is our hope that over the next five years, the pervasive culture of misconduct and lack of sufficient oversight in this program will be flushed from our campus life."

The investigations into the Swimming and Diving programs at WKU began when a former swim team member filed a report with city police claiming he was assaulted by teammates and forced to drink alcohol during several hazing incidents.

Current swimming and diving team members will be able to transfer immediately to other schools. Those choosing to remain at WKU will have their scholarships honored through their senior years.

The positions currently held by Head Swimming Coach Bruce Marchionda, Associate Head Coach Brian Thomas, and Head Diving Coach Chelsea Ale will be eliminated June 30.

Abbey Oldham / WKU Public Radio

An all-day speaker series in Bowling Green this week is dedicated to encouraging participants to make their innovative ideas a reality.

IdeaFestival Bowling Green is being held this Friday at the Downing Student Union Auditorium on WKU’s campus.  The school’s Innovate Kentucky Executive Administrator, Josh Raymer, says some of the topics discussed at this year’s event will include cancer research, branding and imaging, and making online content more social.

“And what we love is that these speakers all come from Kentucky, or neighboring states. So it truly is an example for everyone that these big ideas that you see in New York, or Los Angeles, or Chicago—they’re also happening right here in Kentucky.”

Another topic that will be addressed by several speakers is the future of the automotive industry.

“A lot of Corvette tie-ins, which is appropriate, given that it’s IdeaFestival Bowling Green,” said Raymer. “But once again, that’s about how important it is to stay on the cutting edge of innovation, especially in a hyper-competitive field like the automotive industry.”

The Bowling Green event is an off-shoot of the IdeaFestival held in Louisville each fall since 2000.

More information about this year’s IdeaFestival Bowling Green can be found here.

Kevin Willis

WKU is enhancing its commitment to offer fresh, locally-sourced food products at its campus dining facilities.

The school announced Monday that it had been named Kentucky’s tenth member of  the Farm to Campus program. The state Department of Agriculture will assist WKU in locating and procuring products sold under the Kentucky Proud label.

Edmonson County farmer Alan Davis says the effort will allow him to expand sales of his hydroponic lettuces and salad greens to the university.

“We think it will let us increase our new production and hire a few more employees. We’re really excited about having a place to bring our fresh produce to.”

WKU Sustainability Coordinator Christian Ryan says an increasing number of students are interested in having more local, sustainably-grown food choices on campus.

“Each year, I have more and more students make their way to me and say they want to see more local food here. And even more importantly, they want to know what they can do to help get local food on campus, and I love that.”


What looked like a WKU Lady Hilltopper blowout turned into a nail biter Friday afternoon in Birmingham.

WKU led Old Dominion by 18 points at the half in their Conference USA semifinal, but had to withstand afurious second-half rally by the Monarchs to win by only two.

WKU senior Alexis Govan hit two free throws with six seconds left to give the Lady Toppers a 61-59 win, and send the team into Saturday's Conference USA championship game against Southern Miss, which defeated Middle Tennessee in the other semifinal.

The winner of Saturday's title game gets an automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament.