WKU Holds Ceremony to Honor Colleen B. Mendel
- Tuesday, October 27th, 2015
Several of our T/TAS and WKU Child Care Center staff gathered with Western Kentucky University representatives during a renaming ceremony on October 20, 2015 outside the entrance to the Center. WKU held the event to officially rename the program to the Colleen B. Mendel Child Care Center to honor the memory and contributions of T/TAS’ founder, Colleen Mendel. (View photos from the event at http://orgs.wku.edu/ttas/mendel-ceremony.php)
Dr. Sam Evans, Dean of the College of Education, and close friend of Colleen, opened the ceremony and introduced WKU President Gary Ransdell. President Ransdell gave a moving speech as he told of his friendship with and admiration for Colleen. He spoke of meeting Colleen for the first time, and conveyed how quickly he recognized her talent for leadership and management. Over the years, he and Colleen worked together as she proved her innate ability to secure grant funding, which she so proficiently used to provide outstanding training and assistance services to Head Start and Early Head Start programs. President Ransdell emphasized Colleen’s compassion and kindness, and her ability to connect with those she worked with.
Also speaking at the ceremony was Colleen’s husband, Dr. Ray Mendel, retired WKU Professor and former Faculty Regent. Dr. Mendel shared several personal and heartfelt memories of Colleen. He spoke of her passion for helping underprivileged children through the Head Start program, and of how she oversaw the establishment and continuation of the program here at WKU. He told of her successful career and her founding of T/TAS, which she so highly regarded. Dr. Mendel highlighted how, under Colleen’s leadership, T/TAS grew from providing services regionally to eventually providing services nationwide.
Our new Executive Director, J. Christopher Watkins, followed Dr. Mendel in speaking of Colleen and sharing some lighthearted memories of working with Colleen throughout the years. Chris spoke of Colleen's dedication to helping others and her pride in the success of T/TAS, and he shared his commitment in ensuring T/TAS continues the legacy of Colleen’s passion for helping today's children.
A group of children from the Child Care Center gathered to participate in the ceremony. The ceremony concluded with the children unveiling the new WKU designation sign. (View video of the children unveiling the sign at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9GnTczuWZHA.) We are all proud of this symbol of recognition from the University acknowledging Colleen’s many accomplishments and leadership.