In Memoriam: Dr. Gayle W. Ecton

The WKU College of Education and Behavioral Sciences and the WKU Department of Educational Administration, Leadership, & Research mourn the passing of retired professor and department head, Dr. Gayle Ecton, mentor to a generation of school superintendents.

Gayle W. Ecton, 75, of Bowling Green, passed away on Wednesday, January 18, 2017 at the University of Louisville Hospital in Louisville after suffering a heart attack five weeks earlier. He was born in Winchester and was preceded in death by his father Eugene Ecton, who died in the Pacific Campaign during World War II, his mother Ruth Browne Hays and his stepfather, Robert Peyton Hays.

Upon graduation from the University of Kentucky in 1963, Gayle was a first Lieutenant for the Army and was stationed at Fort Killeen, Texas. Upon discharge from the Army, Ecton began a career in education that stretched for 48 years, including time as a teacher, Assistant Principal and Principal in Junior Highs in Louisville and as Superintendent in Owen County, Elizabethtown and Henderson County Public Schools. Dr. Ecton moved into higher education in 1996, serving as Assistant Dean and Professor at Midway College in Midway and then finished his career at Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green from 1997 until his retirement in 2015 as an Associate Professor in the Department of Educational Administration, Leadership and Research. For four years, from 2001 to 2004, Dr. Ecton was Interim Department Head and then Department Head at WKU in the same Department where he taught.

Besides his Bachelors Degree, Dr. Ecton also earned his Masters and Doctorate Degrees from the University of Kentucky in Lexington.

In 1992, Dr. Ecton was named the Kentucky Superintendent of the Year by the Kentucky School Boards Association and in 1996, was the Kentucky nominee for the National Superintendent of the Year for the American Association of School Administrators.

Source: J.C. Kirby & Son Funeral Chapels 


The WKU Board of Regents has selected Dr. Timothy Caboni, vice chancellor for public affairs at the University of Kansas, as the preferred candidate to be the 10th president of WKU. Dr. Caboni will visit WKU and hold a series of meetings and campus forums Jan. 25 and 26. The Board will consider extending a formal offer to Dr. Caboni at its quarterly meeting on Jan. 27.

Dr. Timothy Caboni

Dr. Timothy Caboni

“Dr. Caboni has impressive academic credentials and brings a wealth of experience in external relations,” said Frederick A. Higdon of Lebanon, chair of the WKU Board of Regents. “He possesses all the attributes the Board was seeking in our next president, including the ability to lead the University’s next capital campaign and guide the creation of a new strategic plan. He has been a member of the faculty and served in academic administration, where he led efforts to increase the number of graduate and professional students in the Peabody College of Education and Human Development at Vanderbilt University. His experience in legislative relations and as a communications professional has resulted in significant enhancements for the University of Kansas. If ultimately selected, Dr. Caboni’s talent, innovation and energy will position WKU well as we embark on our next chapter, following a remarkable transformation during the last 20 years.”

Dr. Caboni has served as vice chancellor for public affairs at the University of Kansas since June 2011. He serves as KU’s principal spokesman, oversees the communications, marketing and advocacy efforts for KU’s five campuses – including KU Medical Center – and is responsible for the operations of Kansas Public Radio. He is also professor of educational leadership and policy in the School of Education.

Prior to his arrival at KU, Dr. Caboni was associate dean of the Peabody College of Education and Human Development at Vanderbilt University from 2005 to 2011. His duties included administration of the college’s 21 professional graduate degree programs; oversight of graduate and professional financial aid; providing support for outreach, partnerships and program development for the college; and leading the college’s communication and admission strategies.

“I am humbled to have been selected as the preferred candidate for the presidency of WKU,” Dr. Caboni said. “The prospect of returning to Bowling Green and my alma mater is an honor. I look forward to continuing WKU’s tremendous growth of the past two decades and leading this remarkable university to even greater national prominence.”

Dr. Caboni is originally from New Orleans and a WKU alumnus. He holds a Ph.D. from Vanderbilt University in higher education leadership and policy, a master’s degree in corporate and organizational communications from WKU and a bachelor’s degree from Louisiana State University. His career in higher education has spanned more than 23 years and includes positions in alumni relations, fundraising, teaching, academic administration, communications, marketing and government relations. He has published nearly 30 articles and one book. His current research is focused on higher education fundraising.

Dr. Caboni is married to Kacy Schmidt Caboni, who has been a development officer with Kansas University Endowment since 2006.

If selected, Dr. Caboni would succeed Dr. Gary A. Ransdell, who is retiring this summer after 20 years as WKU’s president. Dr. Caboni’s duties would begin July 1, 2017.

Mr. Higdon praised the work of the Presidential Search Committee, chaired by Dr. Phillip Bale. “Dr. Bale and the members of the search committee have dedicated countless hours to this process. I want to commend them for their tireless efforts.”

Forums, Jan. 26

  • 9:30 a.m.         Staff forum, Downing Student Union, 3002-3007
  • 1:30 p.m.         Student forum, Downing Student Union, 3002-3007
  • 3 p.m.              Faculty forum, Downing Student Union, 3002-3007
  • 5-6:30 p.m.     Public/community reception, Augenstein Alumni Center, Robertson-Feix Ballroom

Public Announcement/Media Q&A, Jan. 27

  • 2:30 p.m.         Augenstein Alumni Center, Robertson-Feix Ballroom

Contact: Bob Skipper, (270) 745-4295
WKU News

Helping Skills for Working With College Students

Helping Skills for Working With College Students: Applying Counseling Theory to Student Affairs Practice

Dr. Monica Burke, Dr. Jill Duba Sauerheber, Dr. Aaron Hughey (faculty in WKU Department of Counseling and Student Affairs) along with Dr. Karl Laves (Associate Director of WKU Counseling and Testing Center) have recently published a new textbook, Helping Skills for Working with College Students: Applying Counseling Theory to Student Affairs Practice.

A primary role of student affairs professionals is to help college students in dealing with developmental transitions and coping with emotional difficulties. Becoming an effective helping professional requires the complex integration of intrapersonal, interpersonal, professional awareness, and knowledge.

For graduate students preparing to become student affairs practitioners, this textbook provides the skills necessary to facilitate the helping process and understand how to respond to student concerns and crises, including how to make referrals to appropriate campus or community resources.

Focusing on counseling concepts and applications essential for effective student affairs practice, this book develops the conceptual frameworks, basic counseling skills, interventions, and techniques that are necessary for student affairs practitioners to be effective, compliant, and ethical in their helping and advising roles.

Rich in pedagogical features, this textbook includes questions for reflection, theory-to-practice exercises, case studies, and examples from the field.

Link to Purchase on Amazon