A gift from former Kentucky Commerce Secretary Carroll Knicely and his wife, Evelyn, and state match will benefit leadership studies and the Institute for Economic Development and Public Service at Western Kentucky University.
The gift includes three components: $250,000 to renovate additional space at the Institute for Economic Development; $250,000 to create the Knicely Endowment, a permanent support fund to maintain and upgrade the Institute; and $500,000, matched by the state, to establish the Knicely Professorship in Leadership Studies. The $1.5 million gift commitment reflects Carroll Knicely's interest in economic development and leadership.
"The most important things in economic development are education and leadership," Knicely said. "My interest in Western and the Institute for Economic Development is spirited forward because education is the basis for economic growth opportunities. Tying higher education to the economic development factor enhances job opportunities for Kentuckians."
Steve House, executive director of the Institute, said the gift will have a transformational impact.
"We will be able to renovate a large shell space adjacent to the conference center," Dr. House said. "This portion of his gift will provide additional seminar and training facilities in order to expand our program offerings."
Provost Barbara Burch said the Knicely Professorship "will attract professionals and scholars who will develop multi-disciplinary and multi-departmental academic and student life experiences that assist students with developing personal leadership philosophies and skills."
This is the 15th professorship created at Western.
"Leadership Studies is a growing field in American higher education today," Dr. Burch said. "Such programs are a defining part of the liberal arts education, and they teach students skills necessary to lead in a global economy and complex social and political environment."
Former WKU President Gary Ransdell said he is excited about the possibilities that exist through this leadership program.
"Leadership cuts across many academic disciplines and manifests itself in a variety of ways in education, business, humanities and social sciences," he said. "As a formal field of study, leadership studies seeks to improve students' critical capacities. Thanks to Mr. Knicely's generosity, Western will soon play a leadership role in this area."
In recognition of the gift, the Institute will be named the Carroll F. Knicely Institute for Economic Development and Conference Center, said Tom Hiles, WKU's vice president for Development and Alumni Relations.
"Carroll Knicely's gift will have a lasting impact in tying the university sector into the economic equation," Hiles said. "This also positions Western to play a leadership role in promoting that equation. Most importantly, the gift is a fitting legacy to a man who arguably has done as much as anyone for economic development in the Commonwealth."
Knicely headed the state's economic development activities as secretary of commerce and commissioner of commerce under three governors. He is credited with helping bring Corvette and Toyota to Kentucky and opening the door to Japanese manufacturing firms. He is also a former newspaper publisher and his newspaper group,
Associated Publications, published more than 20 daily and weekly newspapers in Kentucky and Tennessee.
Don Vitale, co-chair of the "Investing in the Spirit" campaign for Western, said: "Carroll Knicely has a long history of being a leader and visionary for economic development in Kentucky. This major gift to Western reflects his continuing strong commitment to higher education and economic development."
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