Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Morris Scherago, September 16, 1976

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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00:00:08 - Decision to come to the University of Kentucky and first impressions

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Partial Transcript: Dr. Scherago would you recount the circumstances whereby you first came to the University of Kentucky in 1919?

Segment Synopsis: Dr. Morris Scherago is introduced. He talks about why he decided to come work for the University of Kentucky in 1919 in the Department of Bacteriology. He talks about his first impressions of the university and compares the students at UK to the students he had encountered at Cornell. He talks about the students' lack of grammar skills.

Keywords: Bacteriology department; Cornell University; Dean Paul P. Boyd; Dr. Lehre Dantzler; Dr. Wadsworth; English; Exams; Expressions; Grammar; Impressions; New York State Department of Health; Professors

Subjects: College environment; College students--Attitudes.; College teachers--Selection and appointment.; College teachers--Workload; College teaching.; Educators; Universities and colleges--Departments; Universities and colleges--Faculty.; University of Kentucky. College of Arts and Sciences

00:08:59 - President McVey

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Partial Transcript: Doctor Frank McVey was president of the university--

Segment Synopsis: Scherago describes Dr. Frank McVey's personality and his abilities as president of the university. He talks about McVey's relationships with students, faculty, and retired president Patterson. He talks about the poor facilities available for the bacteriology department when he first arrived at UK.

Keywords: Bacteriology department; Busy; Desk calendars; Dr. Frank McVey; Henry S. Barker; James K. Patterson; Laboratory; Mary Frances Jewell McVey; Neville Hall; Personality; Physiology; Popularity; Professor Enoch Grehan; Quality; Relationships; Shelves

Subjects: College administrators--Rating of; College administrators--Selection and appointment.; College environment; College facilities.; College presidents; College presidents' spouses; College teachers--Salaries, etc.; College teachers--Social conditions; Educators; Universities and colleges--Administration.; Universities and colleges--Faculty.; Universities and colleges--Finance

00:15:49 - Former students

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Partial Transcript: There was only one course when I came.

Segment Synopsis: Scherago discusses the abilities of his students, including one of his students that went on to be renowned in his field, Dr. Phillip Rarick Edwards. He talks about whether he encountered any conflict over teaching evolution at the university.

Keywords: Bacteriologists; Center for Disease Control (CDC); Chickens; College classes; College courses; Controversy; Dr. Philip Edwards; Dr. Ralph Weaver; Evolution; Former students; Graduate students; Renown

Subjects: College graduates; College students--Conduct of life.; College teachers--Social conditions; College teaching.; Educators; Universities and colleges--Alumni and alumnae.; Universities and colleges--Faculty.; Universities and colleges--Research

00:22:46 - Effects of the Great Depression

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Partial Transcript: The time just before and, and even the early years of the Depression saw a considerable expansion of the university.

Segment Synopsis: Scherago discusses how the university was affected by the Great Depression. He talks about how the faculty felt about the salary cuts that occurred.

Keywords: Deans; Expansion; Family; Funds; Hardships

Subjects: Campus size; College administrators; College buildings.; College campuses.; College environment; College presidents; College teachers--Salaries, etc.; Depressions--1929--Kentucky; Educators; Universities and colleges--Faculty.; Universities and colleges--Finance

00:26:41 - President Donovan

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Partial Transcript: In 1941, Herman Donovan was named president of the university--

Segment Synopsis: Scherago discusses Dr. Herman Donovan's selection as president of the university. He describes Donovan's personality and gives his opinion of the president. He talks about his own interactions with Donovan.

Keywords: Academic freedom; Activists; Complaints; Dean Thomas Cooper; Distinguished professorship; Dr. Herman Donovan; Eastern Kentucky State Normal School; Head of department; Leadership styles; Politicians; Reports; Wife

Subjects: College administrators--Rating of; College administrators--Selection and appointment.; College department heads; College environment; College presidents; College teachers--Job satisfaction; College teachers--Political activity; College teachers--Social conditions; Educators; Universities and colleges--Administration.; Universities and colleges--Faculty.

00:33:29 - Leaves of absence

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Partial Transcript: Now--(coughs)--there's another thing.

Segment Synopsis: Scherago talks about the policies surrounding sabbaticals and leaves of absences and discusses why his request for a sabbatical was denied by President Donovan. He talks about being offered the opportunity to travel to Bangkok for the Washington University School of Medicine.

Keywords: Bangkok; Dean Martin White; Distinguished professorship; Dr. Herman Donovan; Former students; Fulbright Scholarship; Sabbatical; Washington University School of Medicine; Washington University in St. Louis

Subjects: College administrators; College environment; College presidents; College teachers--Leaves of absence; College teachers--Social conditions; Educators; Universities and colleges--Administration.; Universities and colleges--Faculty.; Universities and colleges--Research; Washington University (Saint Louis, Mo.)

00:40:11 - State control and funding for the university

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Partial Transcript: Uh, do you recall any instances where the governor of the state attempted to exercise what the faculty or administration may have felt was undue control over the university?

Segment Synopsis: Scherago discusses whether the governor ever exerted control over the university. He talks about the lack of funding for the university which lead to poor facilities and equipment for his department. He talks about librarian Margaret King.

Keywords: Affection; American Association of University Professors (AAUP); Bacteriology department; Control; Department library; Dr. Ralph Weaver; Dr. Weaver; Governor Bert T. Combs; Governors; Growth; Journals; Kastle Hall; Margaret I. King; Personal books; Seminars; State funding

Subjects: Academic librarians; Academic libraries.; College buildings.; College environment; College facilities.; College students--Books and reading.; College teachers--Social conditions; Educators; Universities and colleges--Administration.; Universities and colleges--Departments; Universities and colleges--Faculty.; Universities and colleges--Finance; University of Kentucky. Libraries

00:49:01 - More on university presidents

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Partial Transcript: Oh, this is what I wanted to tell you about.

Segment Synopsis: Scherago talks more about university presidents Donovan, Cooper, McVey, and Dickey and their appointments to the position.

Keywords: Apprehension; Dean Sarah Blanding; Dean Thomas Cooper; Distinguished professorship; Dr. Frank Dickey; Dr. Frank McVey; Dr. Herman Donovan

Subjects: College administrators--Rating of; College administrators--Selection and appointment.; College environment; College presidents; College teachers--Social conditions; Educators; Universities and colleges--Administration.; Universities and colleges--Faculty.

00:53:22 - Athletics

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Partial Transcript: What about the emphasis on athletics?

Segment Synopsis: Scherago discusses the claim that too much emphasis is put on athletics at the university. He talks about some of the coaches, and whether athletes received preferential treatment.

Keywords: Adoration; Athletics; Bear Bryant; Coaches; Donations; Dr. Frank McVey; Dr. Herman Donovan; Emphasis; Special treatment

Subjects: College administrators--Rating of; College athletes; College environment; College presidents; College sports--Coaching; College teachers--Social conditions; Educators; Universities and colleges--Administration.; Universities and colleges--Faculty.

00:57:48 - Effects of World War II

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Partial Transcript: The most obvious change in the university in the years following World War II was probably the increasing enrollment which climbed to about--

Segment Synopsis: Scherago discusses the strains put on the university by the increased enrollment that occurred after World War II. He talks about the salary limitations imposed on the faculty and discusses why he chose not to leave the university.

Keywords: Annual reports; Enrollment; Keeneland Foundation; Leaving; Salary limitations; Salary supplementation; Strains; WWII; World War II

Subjects: College environment; College teachers--Job satisfaction; College teachers--Salaries, etc.; College teachers--Social conditions; Educators; Universities and colleges--Administration.; Universities and colleges--Departments; Universities and colleges--Faculty.; World War, 1939-1945

01:02:34 - Racial diversity at the University of Kentucky

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Partial Transcript: In 1949 black students were first admitted to the university--

Segment Synopsis: Scherago discusses the reactions of the faculty when African American students were admitted to the university. He tells a story about what occurred when a Jewish person applied to work in his department.

Keywords: Acceptance; American Association of University Professors (AAUP); Dr. Herman Donovan; Jewish; Job interviews; Precautions; Prejudice; Professor Herbert Riley; Reactions

Subjects: African American college students--Social conditions; African American college students.; African Americans--Education--Kentucky--Lexington; College administrators; College environment; College presidents; College students, Black; College students--Social conditions; College teachers--Social conditions; Discrimination in higher education; Educators; Minorities in higher education; Universities and colleges--Administration.; Universities and colleges--Faculty.

01:05:58 - President Dickey / conflict in the bacteriology department

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Partial Transcript: In 1956 Frank Dickey became president of the university.

Segment Synopsis: Scherago discusses his opinions of Dr. Frank Dickey, his abilities as university president, and why he was appointed to the position. He talks about having a conflict with another faculty member in his department over whether the department should be split into two parts.

Keywords: Alben Barkley; Bacteriology department; College classes; College courses; Conflicts; Controversy; Division; Dr. Frank Dickey; Dr. William Willard; Elvis Stahr; Governor Happy Chandler; Herman Lichstein; Split; Success; University of Kentucky Medical Center

Subjects: College administrators--Rating of; College administrators--Selection and appointment.; College environment; College presidents; College teachers--Social conditions; Universities and colleges--Administration.; Universities and colleges--Departments; Universities and colleges--Faculty.; University of Kentucky. College of Arts and Sciences

01:17:55 - President Oswald

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Partial Transcript: --(coughs)--What about the administration of President Oswald?

Segment Synopsis: Scherago describes Dr. John Oswald, and discusses why he was appointed and why he was replaced. He talks about the faculty's opinions of Oswald's policies, including the mandatory rotation of department heads which some saw as a demotion.

Keywords: Demotion; Dissatisfaction; Dr. Albert Kirwan; Dr. John Oswald; Dr. Thomas D. Clark; Excuses; Governor Happy Chandler; Politics; Reputations; Rotating chairmanship; Rotating department heads

Subjects: College administrators--Rating of; College administrators--Selection and appointment.; College department heads; College environment; College presidents; College teachers--Salaries, etc.; College teachers--Selection and appointment.; College teachers--Social conditions; Educators; Universities and colleges--Administration.; Universities and colleges--Faculty.

01:26:56 - Emphasis on publication / reorganization of the university

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Partial Transcript: --(coughs)--Many believe that too much emphasis is placed upon research and publication as a major criteria for promotion and tenure at the university.

Segment Synopsis: Scherago discusses the claim that too much emphasis is put on publication at the expense of teaching. He talks about the creation of the microbiology doctoral program. He talks about the dissolution of the University Senate by the board of trustees.

Keywords: Board of trustees; Credentials; Emphasis; Faculty of the University; Issues; Jealousy; PhD programs; Promotions; Publication; Reorganization plans; Scholars; Thomson Bryant; University Senate; William Funkhouser; Years of service

Subjects: College environment; College teachers--Social conditions; College teachers--Tenure.; College teachers--Workload; College teaching.; Educators; Universities and colleges--Administration.; Universities and colleges--Faculty.; Universities and colleges--Research

01:33:36 - Reputation of the University of Kentucky

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Partial Transcript: You were quite active in community, uh, organizations--service organizations.

Segment Synopsis: Scherago discusses the relationship between the university and the Lexington community. He talks about what he heard of the university's reputation while attending meetings with professionals from other organizations.

Keywords: Community; Community service organizations; Henderson (Ky.); Lions Club; Microbiology department; Professional meetings; Reputations; Speaking engagements; Standards; Talks

Subjects: College environment; College publicity; College teachers--Social conditions; Lexington (Ky.); Universities and colleges--Departments; Universities and colleges--Faculty.; Universities and colleges--Public relations; Universities and colleges--Ratings and rankings.; University towns

01:40:10 - Colleagues

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Partial Transcript: What about the, the status of women on campus?

Segment Synopsis: Scherago discusses the role of women in his department at the university. He talks about an annual Christmas letter that was sent to the students in his department. He discusses some of the faculty members that left when Dr. Herman Donovan became president of the university. He talks about the awards he has received during his career, including the Distinguished Professorship which was awarded by his colleagues.

Keywords: Annual Christmas letters; Awards; Colleagues; Distinguished professorship; Dr. Herman Donovan; Dr. Wright; Former students; Honorary doctorate; Honors; Leaving; Quitting; Role of women; Society of American Bacteriologists; Valuable

Subjects: College administrators--Rating of; College environment; College presidents; College students--Social conditions; College teachers--Job satisfaction; College teachers--Salaries, etc.; College teachers--Social conditions; Educators; Universities and colleges--Administration.; Universities and colleges--Faculty.; Women in education--Kentucky--Lexington; Women in higher education.; Women--Education (Higher)

01:48:00 - Life after retirement

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Partial Transcript: What has been your relationship with UK since your retirement in 1966?

Segment Synopsis: Scherago talks about his relationship with UK after his retirement. He talks about teaching in Atlanta, and continuing to write and conduct research after retiring from the University of Kentucky. The interview is concluded.

Keywords: Atlanta (Ga.); Biological sciences building; College classes; College courses; Grants; Publishing; Relationships; Retirement; Writing

Subjects: College teachers.; College teaching.; Educators; Universities and colleges--Faculty.; Universities and colleges--Research