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Julie Harris Hinson makes $110,000 commitment to support WKU Opportunity Fund and additional areas

Julie Harris Hinson, a member of Western Kentucky University’s Board of Regents, has made a $60,000 commitment to establish two new funds to support student success initiatives within the Cynthia and George Nichols III Intercultural Student Engagement Center (ISEC) and Student Publications as part of the WKU Opportunity Fund.

Hinson has also made a pledge of $50,000 over five years to benefit more than 10 areas at WKU. Hinson’s gift will provide immediate support that can be used to address the most important needs of these programs and supplement several scholarship funds.

A third-generation WKU alumna, Hinson credits her time on the Hill for influencing her personally and professionally. She says she finds great gratification in supporting others and “paying it forward.”

“I was made aware of a young person who had a campus job, set a budget, used Christmas gift money and was still short $127 to attend WKU for the next semester,” said Hinson. “I didn’t bat an eye when I was asked if I could help. Sometimes our students just need a little extra help, and that assistance can help retain a WKU student and keep them on the path to graduation.”

Pictured left to right: Chuck Clark, Julie Harris Hinson, WKU President Timothy C. Caboni, Dr. Martha Sales. (WKU photo)

“WKU is grateful for Julie’s most recent philanthropic commitment, as well as her significant support in years past,” said WKU President Timothy C. Caboni. “As an alumna who has given back to her alma mater for more than 15 years through her strong leadership, fervent engagement and generous philanthropy, Julie demonstrates to us all a clear picture of what the WKU Spirit looks like. Her latest gift will help to shape our university and the lives of countless Hilltoppers by providing them with access and opportunity to the WKU Experience they would otherwise not have.”

Hinson’s gift established the Julie Harris Hinson Opportunity Fund for ISEC and the Julie Harris Hinson Opportunity Fund for Student Publications. Each fund will provide annual support for the programs while also building an endowment to provide funding in perpetuity. The WKU Opportunity Fund is a $50 million 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.

ISEC promotes a culturally inclusive campus environment, cultural awareness and competence, intergroup dialogue, engagement and intercultural interaction, and lifelong learning about self and others. The center serves as a hands-on recruitment, retention and student success resource for cultural, religious/spiritual and identity groups within the WKU community. The Julie Harris Hinson Opportunity Fund for ISEC will support ISEC Academy programming and direct student success initiatives including tuition assistance.

“Julie Hinson has been a friend of ISEC since its inception,” said Dr. Martha Sales, Director of ISEC. “While this may be her first public gift to ISEC, this is certainly not the first time she has supported this program. The program has a limited budget, and, with Julie’s gift, additional students can be served.”

Student Publications is home to the College Heights Herald student newspaper, the Talisman magazine, the WKUHerald.com and WKUTalisman.com digital platforms, Cherry Creative specialty storytelling and Student Publications Advertising. The Julie Harris Hinson Opportunity Fund for Student Publications will address the most pressing needs of students including scholarships to ensure they can stay on track to graduate or microgrants to help them take part in important learning experiences beyond the classroom that will prepare them to enter the workforce.

“This gift is going to make such an important difference for our students,” said Chuck Clark, Director of Student Publications. “The gift from Julie Hinson allows us to open more doors for more students. It gives us the means to help students seize the kind of opportunities that can change their lives. That’s a terrific legacy for her to create.”

“I respect the leadership styles of Chuck and Martha and how they work with students,” said Hinson. “When they shared stories about their students’ needs, it drove my desire to help.”

Appointed to the WKU Board of Regents in 2016, Hinson says her role as a Regent has made her more aware of areas that need additional funding.

“As leaders and decision-makers of the University, the Board of Regents should be the first to step up to the plate and donate,” she said. “This also holds true for all boards and their members across this University. We should all be setting the example for gifts to WKU.”

In addition to serving on the WKU Board of Regents, Hinson also serves on the WKU Foundation Board of Trustees and the College of Health and Human Services Board of Stakeholders, and she is Past President of the WKU Alumni Association Board of Directors. She is a member of the Kentucky Museum Friends, the Greater Louisville Area Chapter of the WKU Alumni Association, a Lifetime Member of the WKU Alumni Association and a Co-Founding Member and current Chair of the WKU Sisterhood.

Hinson’s recent commitments to support student success join three endowed scholarships she previously established and continues to support: the Julie Harris Hinson Endowed Scholarship Fund for Students in the Kelly Autism Program, the Julie Harris Hinson Endowed Scholarship Fund for Students in the Renshaw Early Childhood Center Program and the Julie Harris Hinson Endowed Scholarship Fund for Students in the Doctorate of Physical Therapy Program.

A longtime supporter of the University, Hinson has made gifts to benefit the Suzanne Vitale Clinical Education Complex, Jack and Jackie Harbaugh Stadium Club, Hilltopper Athletic Foundation, U.S. Bank Art Show, James Stewart “Jimbo” DeVries Scholarship Fund, John Asher Scholarship Fund, WKU Alumni Association, WKU Sisterhood and many other initiatives at WKU. A member of the Cupola Society with more than 10 years of consecutive giving, she is also a member of the Henry Hardin Cherry Society at the Cornerstone Level, distinguishing her cumulative giving of more than $100,000.

When asked why others should consider supporting the University, Hinson easily answers, because “current and future students will benefit.”

“Immediate support is always needed, but I also try to look long-term,” shared Hinson. “My goal is to continue to give for a lifetime and encourage others to do the same. The key is you just have to plan for it realistically and make it happen.”

Hinson received the Distinguished Service Medal in 2017 and was the Alumna of the Year in 2015. An active member in all organizations with which she participates, she was recognized as the Volunteer of the Year for the WKU Sisterhood in 2017, the WKU Alumni Association in 2016 and the College of Health and Human Services Board of Stakeholders in 2013.

Hinson is President and CEO of Advanced Lifeline Services, Inc., the leading provider of ventilator care services to long-term care facilities in the United States.

From Western Kentucky University

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