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The WKU women’s basketball is heading into their postseason conference tournament with some major individual awards to go along with their number-one seeding.

Conference USA announced Monday that WKU senior Chastity Gooch was named Player of the Year, after averaging over 17 points and 7 rebounds a game.

Sophomore Kendall Noble was named conference Defensive Player of the Year after setting a WKU record for steals in a season.

Michelle Clark-Heard was named conference Coach of the Year for leading the Lady Hilltoppers to a 27-4 record.

The awards were voted on by the league’s head coaches, a media member representing each school, and each school’s sports information director.

WKU plays Thursday in the quarterfinals of the Conference USA tournament, against the winner of Wednesday’s game between Charlotte and Marshall.

Rick Toomey, National Park Service

Researchers say the discovery of a deadly fungal disease in a Warren County cave spells more trouble for the region’s bat populations.

A team of National Park Service scientists found evidence of White Nose Syndrome in Crumps Cave in northern Warren County, near the town of Smiths Grove. WKU owns several acres of land around the cave and operates a research and education preserve there.

White Nose Syndrome, for which there is no known cure, is blamed for the deaths of millions of bats in North America since its discovery in 2006.

The team of NPS researchers observed 53 Tri-colored bats inside Crumps Cave on Feb. 10, with a dozen of them displaying signs of White Nose Syndrome. The disease causes bats to prematurely awaken from their hibernation and leave the cave, which exposes them to freezing conditions. Affected bats use up vital energy and nutrients that are necessary for their survival.

The syndrome was discovered in 2013 in Mammoth Cave National Park, and has led to an 80 percent decline in some bat species found there.

Watch a video about efforts to combat White Nose Syndrome in Mammoth Cave National Park.

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WKU is hosting a debate featuring Kentucky’s four Republican gubernatorial candidates.

The event is being sponsored by the Kentucky chapter of the conservative political advocacy group Americans for Prosperity, which was founded by the billionaire businessmen David and Charles Koch.

Other sponsors are the conservative political publication National Review, and the WKU Department of Political Science.

The event is being held at the Downing Student Union auditorium on the school’s campus April 28, and will focus on health care; taxes and spending; and jobs and the economy.

Matt Bevin, James Comer, Hal Heiner, and Will T. Scott have confirmed they will attend the event.

Tickets to the debate are free and will be made available to the public beginning April 3.

WKU is mourning the loss of a man who spent nearly five decades teaching economics at the school.

Dick Cantrell passed away this week after a battle with cancer. He was a WKU Professor Emeritus of Economics and taught 47 years.

Arrangements for Mr. Cantrell are pending.

A WKU graduate believed to have been held as a prisoner of war longer than any other Kentuckian has died at the age of 85.

The Courier-Journal reports Col. Dewey Lee Smith of Louisville passed away this week while on vacation in Alabama.

Smith served in the Air Force during the Vietnam War. The plane he was flying was shot down June 2, 1967, over North Vietnam.  Smith was captured and held as a P.O.W. for nearly six years until his release on March 4, 1973.

He was awarded the Silver Star, the Distinguished Flying Cross, and the Purple Heart.

Smith was commissioned a second lieutenant through the WKU Air Force ROTC program in 1953, and joined active duty later that year. He also played on the WKU football team.

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WKU is receiving praise for the number of Fulbright Scholars it produced last year.

The six grants awarded to WKU students ranks third in the nation among schools offering Master’s degrees, according to a list compiled by the Chronicle of Higher Education. WKU’s six current Fulbright Scholars are teaching English and conducting research in five countries: Costa Rica, England, Germany, Turkey, and Vietnam.

Melinda Grimsley-Smith, with the school’s Office of Scholar Development, says a growing number of students are seeing the value of scholarships that offer an international component “where they’re taking a year off, or a year in between here and grad school, or between here and a job to go out into the world for a year and live in another culture and be a cultural ambassador for the United States.”

She also believes part of the school’s recent success stems from its efforts at convincing more students that they have a shot at landing prestigious grants, like the Fulbright.

“Students are more and more willing to take the risk of applying, I think. They’re more willing to think of themselves as compelling and competitive candidates for national scholarships.”

WKU’s 2014-15 Fulbright Award recipients are:

U.S. Dept. of Agriculture (Flickr Creative Commons)

A new partnership between WKU and EKU will make it easier for workers in the Bowling Green and Owensboro areas to receive OSHA certification.

EKU houses the only OSHA Training Institute Education Center in Kentucky. But under an agreement between the two schools, EKU personnel will lead OSHA training courses at the Knicely Conference Center in Bowling Green, and at the WKU-Owensboro campus.

Dr. Sue Parrigin, with WKU’s Career and Workforce Development office, says the idea is to expand the number of individuals in the region who can lead OSHA training classes.

“OSHA has what’s called a 10-hour and a 30-hour card, and these trainers will be prepared to go into business and industry and train employees in order to receive their 10 and 30-hour certification with OSHA.”

During 2013-14, EKU’s OSHA Training Center enrolled more than 1,800 students in classes taught in Richmond and Louisville. EKU authorized outreach trainers led 820 classes for more than 9,000 10 and 30-hour OSHA certification.

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WKU’s upcoming football season features road trips to Vanderbilt, Indiana, and LSU.

The Hilltoppers’ 2015 schedule includes eight Conference USA games, with five of those contests at home. WKU kicks off the season September 5 in Nashville, against the Vanderbilt Commodores. The team’s home and league opener is the following week against Louisiana Tech.

See the entire WKU 2015 football schedule here.

WKU returns 17 starters from last season’s team that finished 8-5, including a win in the Bahamas Bowl.

One of those returnees is quarterback Brandon Doughty, who led the nation in passing yards and touchdown passes last season.

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WKU President Gary Ransdell believes a White House plan to make community college free has little chance of becoming reality.

In his State of the Union speech Tuesday, President Obama announced a plan to offer two years of tuition-free community college to students who maintained certain academic standards.

The effort would cost about $60 billion over ten years, with the federal government picking up three-quarters of the cost, and states paying for the rest.

Speaking to WKU Public Radio during a break in Friday's Board of Regents meeting, Ransdell said that’s an unsustainable model. 

“There’s no way I can be advocate for Kentucky putting money into that and continuing to cut higher education for the public universities."

Ransdell said he understands that the technical and associate’s degrees that many community college graduates earn help drive the manufacturing sector. 

“But the reality is, it’s bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees that drive the economy, and those are the people who are the decision-makers with the intellectual skills that go into driving the economy.”

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The WKU Lady Hilltopper basketball team has been playing a prominent role in area elementary and middle schools over the past several weeks. Thursday’s game between the WKU Lady  Toppers and Florida Atlantic is the fourth annual “Spread the Red Education Game”, and will be attended by all third-through-eighth graders in Bowling Green city schools, and seventh grade students from Warren County public schools.

For the past month, teachers have been incorporating statistics and biographical information about the players and teams into math, geography, reading, and history lessons. 

“And  bigger picture, there’s a learning component in terms of the career opportunities, and just the overall experience of being able to come up to the university and hopefully inspire our kids to want to aim high,” said Warren County Schools Superintendent Rob Clayton.

Bowling Green Schools Superintendent Joe Tinius embraces any opportunity to get young students on a college campus. He says it will be many students’ first time attending an event at WKU.

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