WKU

Photo Gallery: WKU's 175th Commencement Ceremonies

May 19, 2014
Abbey Oldham

About 2,000 undergraduate, master's and doctoral students at WKU were honored at commencement ceremonies in front of a packed E.A. Diddle Arena this weekend. Graduate candidates donned lavishly decorated hats, listened to a speech by President Gary Ransdell, had their names read as they walked across the red carpet, and posed for photos in their caps and gowns.

This weekend marked WKU's 175th commencement ceremony. Photojournalist Abbey Oldham gathered these images of the weekend's events.

Abbey Oldham

A WKU professor who served on the panel behind the recently released national climate change report says Kentucky hasn’t been as impacted by climate change as several other states.

But Dr. Rezaul Mahmood says that could change in the coming years.

The WKU Geography and Geology Professor is one of about 60 members of the National Climate Assessment Development and Advisory Committee. The group’s 1,100 page report, released Tuesday, says the impacts of climate change are being seen across the country.

While Kentucky hasn’t seen the degree of temperature change that some western and east-coast states have experienced, the WKU Professor says policy makers and residents in the commonwealth shouldn’t be complacent.

“If changes in other regions happen, that will eventually impact Kentucky, Dr. Mahmood said. "For example, if watersheds in other states are getting lots of rain, or not enough rain, eventually our water supply is going to be affected."

Dr. Mahmood says one way Kentucky has been proactive about climate change has been the creation of a comprehensive drought plan that coordinates efforts at the state and local levels.

Warren County Regional Jail

A WKU freshman was arrested after pulling an unloaded gun on campus.

Michael Dearborn of Goodlettsville, Tennessee, was taken into custody late Wednesday morning by WKU Police and faces charges of menacing, terroristic threatening, and wanton endangerment.

WKU Director of Media Relations Bob Skipper says the incident began when university police received a call about a verbal altercation at Centennial Mall, near the center of campus.

“As the police were en route, they got a 911 call saying there was somebody brandishing a gun," Skipper told WKU Public Radio. "Officers were on the scene quickly, found the person who matched the description, and then several students pointed him out, as well.”

Skipper says that Dearborn ran after being approached by police, and was apprehended along the steps near the Downing Student Union and Academic Complex.

The College Heights Herald quoted a student eyewitness as saying Dearborn didn't run very fast, as it appeared he was trying to hold his pants up.

Police found an unloaded gun on Dearborn and placed him under arrest. He was taken to the Warren County Regional Jail.

WKU

WKU is part of a collaborative effort to increase the number of minority students pursuing degrees in the so-called “STEM” fields.

WKU and eight other higher education institutions in the commonwealth and West Virginia have been awarded a five-year, $ 2.5 million National Science Foundation grant that will primarily focus on undergraduates seeking diplomas in the areas of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

WKU’s Associate Vice President for Retention and Student Services, Joelle Davis Carter, says she hopes some of the school’s grant money will be used to create a “summer bridge” program.

“This would be an opportunity for prospective college students to come to campus a little earlier, maybe five weeks earlier, stay on campus, and participate in reiterations of math and science,” she told WKU Public Radio.

Southern Kentucky Book Fest

An organizer of an upcoming book festival in Bowling Green says it’s becoming more of a challenge to get authors at larger publishers to appear at events for free.

Kristie Lowry is literary outreach coordinator with WKU Libraries, and an organizer with the Southern Kentucky Book Festival. She says book companies have cut their budgets related to book tours and marketing campaigns.

“So getting the authors to come to an event like ours for free, which would have been a little easier back in the day, is harder to do now,” Lowry told WKU Public Radio. “And Penguin and Random House have their own speaker bureaus now, so they market their authors, but you have to pay a fee in order to have them come into town.”

Lowry says another growing trend in the literary world is the rising number of self-published authors. She says many self-published writers in the southern Kentucky region, like Allison Jewell and Jennie Brown, have loyal followings and are well-received when they appear on panels at local book festivals.

Abbey Oldham

Bowling Green’s new mobile farmer’s market is offering fresh food on wheels to areas of the city where fresh produce may be hard to find. 

The market was introduced to the public at an Earth Day event at WKU. 

When Jackson Rolett started up the old, retro-fitted school bus Tuesday, it was a proud moment.  He’s been working since last spring on a traveling farmer’s market that will deliver fresh, locally grown produce to under-served areas of the city. 

"We're seeking to address accessibility," said Rolett.  "Transportation is a big issue with food access, especially in certain areas of Bowling Green, so we thought 'Why not bring the food to those people?'"

Funded with a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the market also accepts forms of government assistance. 

Kentucky’s Agriculture Commissioner James Comer has praised the effort and hopes similar markets can launch statewide. 

Bowling Green’s mobile market will travel Wednesday to the Barren River District Health Department and the Boys and Girls Club.

WKU

WKU President Gary Ransdell is confident the school will be able to grow its international student body over the next several decades.

But he admits it will become more difficult to do so as countries such as China and India become wealthier and begin to build more of their own universities.

“There are not enough colleges and universities to meet the needs in an awful lot of the countries that have growing economies and growing populations. Therefore, we’re a solution," the WKU President said. "Now, in another generation—in another 25 or 30 years—they may have built enough universities to meet their needs.”

Dr. Ransdell says WKU is actively recruiting in several countries where the school has previously not had a presence.

“South America is really an emerging market for higher education," Ransdell said during a break in Friday's Board of Regents meeting. "We’re looking at as many as 90 students from Brazil next year. We’re always looking for new markets. Turkey is an emerging market for us. Their economy is doing great, and their families are looking for a place to send their sons and daughters.”

Mid-Continent University

WKU is working to recruit students from a school in far western Kentucky that is closing at the end of June.  

Mid-Continent University in Mayfield announced this week that it will shutter due to financial struggles. All employees have been laid off, though many faculty members have volunteered to continue helping students who are set to graduate this semester.

WKU Provost Gordon Emslie says the school has been working since the announcement to reach out to Mid-Continent students.

“We’re offering students the ability to transfer here, we’ll waive the application fee, we’ll match their courses in their catalogue to our courses in our catalogue, to try to facilitate that transfer as much as possible," Emslie told WKU Public Radio Friday. "We’ll work with them on tuition and scholarships, and financial aid. And we’re going to go out to Mayfield someday next week.”

Emslie said a website has also been set up to help Mid-Continent students learn more about transferring to WKU.

Mid-Continent is a non-profit university with about two-thousand students. Most are non-traditional and take online courses.

The Office of the Kentucky Attorney General has also set up a website dedicated to helping Mid-Continent students. In addition, the AG’s office sent letters to Mid-Continent administrators reminding them of their obligation to maintain all records as the school prepares to close.

Abbey Oldham/WKU Public Radio

A year ago Tuesday, Cort Basham had just finished his third Boston Marathon and was looking for a place to eat with his mother, who was also on the trip, when he heard an explosion.

“My mind immediately went to the worst, but even someone standing next to us said ‘that sounds like dynamite on a job site’.  But it was within seconds that the second one happened,” Basham told WKU Public Radio’s Kevin Willis just days after last year’s race. 

“Just seconds later, people start pouring around the corner from Boylston – again we were one block from Boylston. Then you knew, even though we didn’t have line-of-sight, that something terrible was happening and we just tried to move away as quickly as we could,” said Basham.

Three spectators died as a result of the bombings; hundreds were injured.

Basham and his mother were uninjured.  As he prepares to return to Boston, we caught up with Basham, a WKU instructor,  to ask him about his training for this year’s race and inquire about what he expects the atmosphere to be like for the marathon.

The WKU Counseling and Testing Center hosted several events in March for Sexual Assault Awareness month.

Although some events were canceled or cut short due to inclement weather, supporters still came out for events like Walk a Mile in Her Shoes, The Vagina Monologues, and Take Back the Night. On March 18, dozens of collegiate and faculty men donned high heels as they took a mile-long stroll around the WKU campus to bring awareness to sexual assault. On March 27, hundreds of supporters from WKU and the Bowling Green community gathered at the Warren County Justice Center to sing and chant and march around downtown to promote safety on the streets of Bowling Green for women, and everyone, especially at night.

Photojournalist Abbey Oldham documented some of the events, and you see those images in the photo slideshow above.

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