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Ron and Sherrie Lou Noel, of Union, Kentucky, whose previous donations made possible the Noel Studio for Academic Creativity and the Noel Reading Porch, have generously pledged an additional $1 million to Eastern Kentucky University.

The majority of their gift will help establish the Ron and Sherrie Lou Noel Research Endowment, a $600,000 fund that will support faculty and student research at the University across a variety of academic areas and disciplines. In addition, $400,000 will be used to dramatically expand and renovate the athletics strength and conditioning center, a facility used by all men’s and women’s teams. 

“This gift could have a transformative effect on our efforts to engage students in faculty research,” said Nick Perlick, vice president for development and alumni relations. “In addition, it will dramatically enhance the experience of all of our athletes by creating a premier strength facility. Ron and Sherrie Lou have been titans in the philanthropic history of EKU, and we are humbled by their ongoing leadership and support.”

The Noels, college sweethearts, were married in 1963 while both were students on the Richmond campus. Ron earned a bachelor’s degree in business in 1964 and went on to a highly successful career in industry. Sherrie Lou attended Eastern for three years before embarking on a career as a medical technologist and becoming heavily involved in volunteer and philanthropic projects. She received a bachelor’s degree in general studies from EKU in 2011.

Mr. Noel, a first-generation college graduate who played baseball for three years at Eastern, said his undergraduate experience gave him “an incentive to further my education at the University of Kentucky,” where he earned an MBA degree. “It’s pretty obvious I wouldn’t be where I am at today if not for Eastern. If not for the knowledge we gained, we would not have had successful and rewarding careers. This is why we welcome the chance to share our good fortune.”

A college cheerleader, Ms. Noel remembers “meeting people from all over the state. You could walk through the Ravine (still a popular campus gathering spot) and know everybody, and everybody was real friendly.”

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