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Dr. Hugh and Debby Wilhite establish scholarship at WKU to benefit students in healthcare disciplines

Dr. Hugh H. and Debby G. Wilhite of Calhoun, Ky., have made a gift of $225,000 to establish a scholarship at Western Kentucky University to benefit students in healthcare-related disciplines.
Dr. Wilhite came to WKU in the fall of 1958. Because he took 18 hours of classes each semester in the pre-med program and played on the Men’s Basketball team for Coach E. A. Diddle, he said he could most often be found in the gym, the library or his room during his time on the Hill.


“So many of the people I met, especially on the basketball team, became lifelong friends,” said Dr. Wilhite. “It was a wonderful time. I had an experience that I wouldn’t take a million dollars for. Being associated with Mr. Diddle was an education in itself.”

He often says that his fondest memories of WKU are from sitting on the end of Coach E.A. Diddle’s bench.
“I had one of the best seats in the house,” Dr. Wilhite said. “It was as close to the action as you could get.”
Dr. Wilhite received a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology and Chemistry from WKU in 1962. He credits his educational experience at WKU for preparing him for medical school at the University of Louisville and instilling a sense of confidence in himself. He graduated from the University of Louisville in 1966.
“I always wanted to do something for the school because Western did a lot for me, and I really appreciate that,” said Dr. Wilhite. “Debby and I talked about it and decided now was a good time.”
Dr. Wilhite’s wife, Debby G. Wilhite, attended WKU from 1970 to 1973, earning her degree in Nursing in 1973.
“I told them I’d like to donate the cost of a new gymnasium and they were a little taken aback by this because they were thinking in today’s terms,” laughed Dr. Wilhite. “I was referring to the Old Red Barn at Western, which was completed in 1931 at a cost of $225,000.”
First preference for the Dr. Hugh H. and Debby G. Wilhite Scholarship Fund will be given to graduates or residents of McLean, Muhlenberg, Ohio or Webster counties, the counties surrounding Calhoun, Ky., where Dr. Wilhite has practiced medicine for 44 years. The scholarship supports students pursuing degrees in a healthcare-related profession.
Dr. Wilhite retired on July 1, 2018, after 52 years in family medicine. In addition to his family practice, he served as Medical Director at Riverside Care and Rehabilitation Center in Calhoun for more than 30 years. Dr. Wilhite served two years at the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in Pine Ridge, S. D. He was also in private practice in Red Lodge, Mont., for five and a half years.

“Critical donors like Dr. Hugh and Debby Wilhite enable WKU to remain an institution of opportunity and access,” said WKU President Timothy C. Caboni. “Their generous gift will continue to elevate our students in the healthcare arena, which we know is an area of need in our region.”
“The Wilhites have created a legacy of Hilltoppers through the many WKU graduates in their family and have now made one in perpetuity through their endowment to provide scholarships for countless generations to come to the Hill and begin their healthcare pursuits,” said John Paul Blair, Interim Vice President for Philanthropy and Alumni Engagement.
The Dr. Hugh H. and Debby G. Wilhite Scholarship is part of the WKU Opportunity Fund, a donor-driven fundraising campaign to benefit WKU students through needs-based financial assistance in support of recruitment, retention and educational experiences that might otherwise remain out of students’ reach.

Western Kentucky University

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