3 to join WKU's Hall of Distinguished Alumni during Homecoming 2018
- Author: WKU Alumni Association
- Author: Wednesday, July 18th, 2018
From left: Becky Ann Gelke Baker, Nettie Bayless Courts Depp and Dr. Richard C. Rink will be inducted into WKU's Hall of Distinguished Alumni on Oct. 26.
An award-winning actress of the stage and screen, a pioneer in Kentucky education reform and a nationally and internationally recognized pediatric surgeon will join WKU’s Hall of Distinguished Alumni this fall.
Becky Ann Gelke Baker, Nettie Bayless Courts Depp and Dr. Richard C. Rink will be inducted during WKU’s 2018 Homecoming Celebration. The 27th class of noted alumni will be recognized during a luncheon at 11 a.m. Oct. 26 at Sloan Convention Center.
The Hall of Distinguished Alumni is presented by Franklin Bank & Trust, a longtime supporter of WKU. For information, contact the WKU Alumni Association at (270) 745-2586 or visit alumni.wku.edu/hoda18.
Becky Ann Gelke Baker
Becky Ann Baker (’75) is a successful Broadway, film and television character actress who is most recognized for her mothering skills, or lack thereof, in two popular Judd Apatow series, Freaks and Geeks and Girls, where she plays creator Lena Dunham’s mom and for which she received a 2017 Emmy nomination and two Critics Choice nominations.
In the early 1970s, Baker came to WKU as a freshman, majored in Theatre and minored in Dance. In addition to her most recent television achievements, she has also appeared on Broadway in both musicals and plays, including Good People, All My Sons, Assassins, Titanic, A Streetcar Named Desire and The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas. Her Off-Broadway credits include Cardinal, Comedy of Errors, Othello, Two Gentlemen of Verona, Wonderful Town, The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told, Shanghai Moon, To Whom It May Concern, Laura Dennis, The Vagina Monologues and more. In addition, she has performed for many regional companies, including the Williamstown Theatre Festival, where she is an artistic associate.
Baker has also appeared in 25 big-screen productions, including Starbright, A Simple Plan, Hope Springs, Death of a President, 23 Blast, War of the Worlds, Men in Black, Nights in Rodanthe and White Squall. Her television credits are numerous. In addition to Freaks and Geeks and the HBO blockbuster Girls, she has also appeared in 30 series that include NCIS: New Orleans, Madam Secretary, Gotham, Law and Order: SVU, Person of Interest, L.A. Law, The Good Wife, Law and Order, Frasier, Sex and the City and Star Trek: Voyager. Her career accolades also include a Drama-logue Award and nominations for an Online Film and Television Award, a Gold Derby TV Award and a Blockbuster Entertainment Award. She is a member of Actor’s Studio and Usual Suspects.
Baker has remained close to WKU, returning to campus for Theatre and Dance reunions and workshops and to star in the 1991 production of The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, sharing career wisdom and amazing teachable moments. Even today, after the success she has enjoyed, Baker is always quick to host student groups at her home in New York, encouraging them and opening doors for their own budding careers.
She considers her best and favorite production to be her daughter, Willa, whom she co-produced with her husband, actor and director Dylan Baker.
Nettie Bayless Courts Depp
A pioneer in Kentucky education reform, Nettie Bayless Courts Depp (1910) was a teacher, principal and superintendent in Barren and Allen counties.
Born on Nov. 21, 1874, Depp attended Southern Normal School, the forerunner of WKU, studying directly with WKU founder and first President Henry Hardin Cherry and his brother, T.C. Cherry, and earning a Life Certificate in 1910.
Depp taught at several rural schools before serving as Barren County Schools Superintendent from 1914-1917. Having taught for several years, she ran on the Democratic ticket for County School Superintendent in 1913 and was the first female public official in Barren County—seven years before women earned the right to vote. She was also the first WKU graduate to be elected as a County Superintendent of Schools.
During her tenure as Superintendent, she was instrumental in unifying local schools to create the county’s first four-year high school at a time when high schools were not common in Kentucky. Managing a rural district presented challenges that included impassable and frequently flooded roads. Despite these obstacles, Depp served a broad geographic area, built 13 new and repaired 50 existing schoolhouses, and added water wells and outhouses.
Her term as Superintendent was focused on working toward the future. Depp introduced and implemented a uniform curriculum to all county schools and added music, art and business courses. Several schools added libraries, and others utilized a traveling library service. She also strived to enforce the compulsory school law. During her tenure, county school attendance tripled.
After serving as Superintendent, Depp became Principal at Cave City School until 1923. That same year, the Republican Party asked Depp to run for re-election as Superintendent, but she declined, stating that she would only run in the name of education, not a political party. She completed her career as a teacher in Scottsville from 1923-1931.
A true visionary, Depp has been honored with a bronze marker in Barren County, has been inducted into the Kentucky Women’s History Project and was featured in the award-winning documentary, Dreamers and Doers: Voices of Kentucky Women. She is also being honored with a life-size bronze statue inside the entrance of the Kentucky State Capitol. She passed away on Aug. 3, 1932, and her funeral was moved outdoors to accommodate a crowd of mourners estimated at more than 1,500.
Dr. Richard C. Rink
Richard C. Rink, M.D., (’74) is a renowned pediatric urologist and surgeon and is Emeritus Professor at Indiana University (IU) Medical Center’s Riley Hospital for Children.
He earned a Bachelor of Arts at WKU and was a 1978 graduate of IU’s School of Medicine. He completed his general surgical training at Emory University and returned to IU for his urology residency before completing a Pediatric Urology Fellowship at The Children’s Hospital, Boston, Harvard Medical School. Dr. Rink served as Chief of Pediatric Urology at Riley Hospital for Children from 1989 to 2014, and he is currently the Surgical Director for the CARES Foundation Comprehensive Care Center for Children and Adolescents with CAH (Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia) at Riley Children’s Hospital, one of only three designated centers of excellence for CAH in the USA.
Dr. Rink is recognized as one of the top pediatric urologists in the world. An innovative and groundbreaking professional, his contributions to the field of pediatric urology over the past 30+ years have been immense, particularly related to children who are born with atypical genitourinary systems. In fact, he and his associates have built one of the premier reconstructive pediatric urology surgical training programs, commonly recognized as the international epicenter for major reconstruction in the field. Under his leadership, the pediatric urology program at Riley Hospital for Children was ranked in the top five nationally by the U.S. News and World Report.
Dr. Rink is a member of nearly every prestigious national and international urologic society. In addition, he has shared his knowledge and skills as a visiting professor at most major pediatric urologic institutions within the United States and many institutions across the globe. In 2016, the CARES Foundation presented him with its prestigious Pioneer Award in honor of his career achievements. He has authored or co-authored 264 journal publications, over 50 book chapters, and he is the co-editor of a major pediatric urologic textbook.
Dr. Rink has also received dozens of other awards and honors including, “America’s Most Honored Professionals Award” and has been repeatedly named by his peers to “America’s Best Doctors,” “America’s Top-Rated Physicians,” “Who’s Who in America” and “America’s Registry of Outstanding Professionals.” Golf Digest magazine also noted Dr. Rink to be one of the top 26 Doctor Golfers in America.
Dr. Rink is married to his college sweetheart, the former Kanda Lyle (’74), and they have adult twins, Andy and Stephanie (’05, ’12), and four grandchildren.
- More: For more Alumni news, visit the WKU Alumni Association news page.
Contact: WKU Alumni Association, (270) 745-2586