W. Bruce Lunsford had an experience at Northern Kentucky University’s Salmon P. Chase College of Law that might surprise current-day students: He graduated in 1974 but never stepped foot on campus—in Highland Heights, that is—until the day he graduated with his degree.
Lunsford, a native of Piner, Kentucky, grew up on an 8-acre farm that he ran from the time he was 13 years old, he says. And It was on the farm that he learned to manage people effectively.
“My dad had a lot of confidence in me,” Lunsford says. “I took the responsibility seriously. We raised cattle, tobacco and raised and cut hay. It was my responsibility to hire the people to help me. As a result of that, it gave me a lot of background that helped me later on in life.”
Lunsford, now chairman and CEO of Lunsford Capital, came to NKU after meeting a Chase student taking night classes at the downtown YMCA on Central Parkway, the law school’s campus before becoming a part of NKU. Lunsford worked in the tax department at Alexandria Grant, and he decided to take night classes himself, which he did for four years.
“As I look back, that was a tremendous character-building time for me,” he says. “I don’t think I’ve ever worked harder. It prepared me for a life of work. I’ll never retire. Coming from a farmer’s family, they never really die. They fade away, and that’s how I expect my life to be.”
While a student at Chase, Lunsford also served in the Army Reserves. He worked 60 hours a week, went to law school at night and spent one weekend a month at the Ft. Thomas Army Reserve. Needless to say, he didn’t have a lot of spare time.
And he stays just as busy today. His political career includes service as treasurer of the Kentucky Democratic Party and Kentucky Secretary of Commerce, as well as a run for the United States Senate in 2008.
Lunsford has been involved as an investor, director and adviser to many local start-ups through Lunsford Capital, as he did even before founding the company. Chase’s W. Bruce Lunsford Academy for Law, Business + Technology was named after him following a $1 million gift to the college.
“I’ve done a lot of philanthropic things in my life, but I’ve never really put my name on anything. But this one was one I took a lot of pride in. I’m proud my name is on it.”
As Lunsford thinks back on his time at NKU, he’s thankful he made the jump to take those night classes.
“As I went into business, I realized how much law school meant to me. There are terrific amounts of legislation and regulations that affect starting a business, but I had the education to understand it, read it and know what I was doing,” he says. “The best years of my life were my years in college. I’ve done many different, diverse things as a result of my education at NKU. That’s why I’m so thankful I went here.”