Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Rhea Taylor, November 12, 1976

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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00:00:03 - Coming to teach at the University of Kentucky

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Partial Transcript: This is an unrehearsed interview with Dr. Rhea Taylor, a retired history professor at the University of Kentucky, for the Alumni/Faculty Oral History Project.

Segment Synopsis: Dr. Rhea Taylor is introduced. He talks about why he wanted to teach at the University of Kentucky and describes his educational and career background that led to his position at the university. He talks about his impressions of the faculty and administrators of the UK history department.

Keywords: American history; Department chairman; Dr. Albert Kirwan; Dr. Thomas D. Clark; Emory and Henry University; Head of department; High school principals; History department; Impressions; Married; Ohio State University; Professor Enno Kraehe; Professor George Carson; Professor Holman Hamilton; Professor James Hopkins; Professor Robert Lunde; Professor Shelby McCloy; Professor W. Clement Eaton; Quality; Streetcars; Transylvania University

Subjects: College administrators; College department heads; College teachers--Rating of.; College teachers--Selection and appointment.; College teaching.; Educators; Lexington (Ky.).; Universities and colleges--Administration.; Universities and colleges--Faculty.; University of Kentucky

00:05:16 - African American students at the University of Kentucky / winning Most Popular Professor

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Partial Transcript: Um, moving up in time a little bit. What was the campus reaction in, in the history department particularly when the first negro was admitted to graduate school in 1948?

Segment Synopsis: Taylor talks about the reactions on campus when Lyman Johnson became the first African American accepted into the UK Graduate School. He talks about his feelings on winning an award for being the most popular professor.

Keywords: Engineering; Fairness; Graduate students; Lyman T. Johnson; Popularity; Standards; Student Union Building; Student Union cafeteria; Undergraduates

Subjects: African American college students--Social conditions; African American college students.; African Americans--Education--Kentucky--Lexington; College environment; College integration; College students, Black; College students--Attitudes.; College students--Conduct of life.; College students--Social conditions; College teachers--Rating of.; Discrimination in higher education; Educators; Minorities in higher education; Universities and colleges--Faculty.

00:08:47 - Academic freedom

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Partial Transcript: What, um, impact did the rise of McCarthyism in the 1950s have on, uh, the faculty's academic freedom at the University of Kentucky?

Segment Synopsis: Taylor discusses the effects of McCarthyism on academic freedom at the university. He talks about whether he ever felt political pressure regarding what he taught in class, and discusses how the policy of rotating heads of departments affected the outside pressure on faculty.

Keywords: Academic freedom; Advancements; Encouragement; Fired; Head of department; McCarthyism; Perfection; Political pressure; Rigid; Rotating chairmanship; Rotating department heads

Subjects: College administrators; College department heads; College environment; College teachers--Social conditions; College teaching.; Educators; Universities and colleges--Administration.; Universities and colleges--Faculty.

00:12:35 - Blazer Lecture Series

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Partial Transcript: In 1951 at one of the Blazer Lectures you presided at the lecture given to Charles Sackett Sydnor.

Segment Synopsis: Taylor talks about his role as chairman of the Blazer Lecture Series, which brought distinguished speakers to the university.

Keywords: Chairman; Charles Sackett Sydnor; Dean Martin White; Dr. Thomas D. Clark; Fine Arts Building; Lectures

Subjects: College environment; College students--Social conditions; College teachers--Social conditions

00:14:37 - University presidents and their policies

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Partial Transcript: What are your, uh, impressions of the various UK presidents that you worked under?

Segment Synopsis: Taylor compares and contrasts the presidents of the university that presided over the university during his time on the faculty. He talks about their personalities, his relationships with them, and discusses his opinions on the policies they implemented.

Keywords: Acting head of department; Changes; Controversy; Dr. Albert Kirwan; Dr. Frank Dickey; Dr. Frank McVey; Dr. Herman Donovan; Dr. John Oswald; Dr. Otis A. Singletary; London (England); Mandatory retirement; Meetings; National movement; Personality; Policies; Reactions; Relationships; Rotary Club; Rotating chairmanship; Rotating department heads

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

00:21:28 - University of Kentucky history department

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Partial Transcript: What type of working relationship did you have with your colleagues in the history department?

Segment Synopsis: Taylor talks about the faculty and administration of the history department of the University of Kentucky. He talks about the working relationships between his colleagues, the expectations of the department heads, and whether there were any conflicts within the department.

Keywords: Chairmanship; Cliques; Colleagues; Conflicts; Conservatism; Dr. Carl Cone; George Herring; History department; Joe Thompson; Jokes; Professor James Hopkins; Promotions; Voting; Working relationships

Subjects: College administrators; College environment; College teachers--Job satisfaction; College teachers--Social conditions; Educators; Universities and colleges--Administration.; Universities and colleges--Departments; Universities and colleges--Faculty.

00:26:54 - Committee work

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Partial Transcript: What responsibilities did you have in the way of committee work and administrative responsibilities in the, in the--

Segment Synopsis: Taylor talks about his involvement with various professional committees, and talks about his administrative responsibilities within the history department.

Keywords: Abraham Lincoln Sesquicentennial; Acting head of department; Blazer Lecture Series; Committees; Extracurricular activities; Fraternities; Publicity; Registering; Responsibilities; Scheduling classes

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

00:29:52 - History department decisions and policies

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Partial Transcript: Were departmental decisions made democratically do you feel, in, in, uh, making, uh, policy decisions and other--

Segment Synopsis: Taylor talks about how decisions in the history department were made. He discusses his opinions on the emphasis upon research and publication in regard to receiving promotions and tenure.

Keywords: Decisions; Democratic; Discussions; Disputes; Emphasis; Extracurricular activities; Full professors; History department; Issues; Policies; Promotions; Publishing

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

00:33:21 - Faculty organizations and committees

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Partial Transcript: How effective do you feel that uh, uh, the A.A.U.P. as a representative of faculty concerns, uh, on this campus is?

Segment Synopsis: Taylor talks about his involvement with, and opinion of the American Association of University Professors. He talks about working on various faculty committees during his time at the university.

Keywords: American Association of University Professors (AAUP); Apprehension; Attitudes; Effectiveness; Faculty committees; Friends; Organizations; Representative; University Senate

Subjects: College administrators; College teachers--Social conditions; Educators; Universities and colleges--Administration.; Universities and colleges--Faculty.

00:35:53 - Relationship with the Lexington community

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Partial Transcript: Did you ever get involved with local community, state issues?

Segment Synopsis: Taylor talks about his involvement with local issues and organizations during his time on the faculty of the University of Kentucky. He talks about the relationship between the Lexington community and the university.

Keywords: Acceptance; Active; Bluegrass Executives Club; Cumberland Lake; Driving; Friends; Girl Scout Board; Local politics; Rotary Club

Subjects: College teachers--Social conditions; Educators; Lexington (Ky.); Universities and colleges--Faculty.; Universities and colleges--Public relations; University towns

00:38:48 - Athletics / university library / more on professional organizations

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Partial Transcript: Dr. Donovan in his book about UK states that the Kentucky legislature and certain interests in the state were more concerned with a winning football team and a new basketball arena rather than spending money for academic programs or new buildings.

Segment Synopsis: Taylor discusses whether too much emphasis was placed upon athletics at the university at the expense of academics. He discusses how the university library improved during his time at the university. He talks about the subjects he specialized in. He talks about the reputation of the UK history department among other institutions. He discusses more of the professional organizations he belonged to.

Keywords: Academics; American Historical Society; American History Society; American Revolution; Associations; Athletics; Dr. Bennett Wall; Dr. Carl Cone; Dr. Thomas D. Clark; Dr. William Eaton; Emphasis; Filson Club; Funding; History department; History of Kentucky; History of the Old South; Impressions; Improvements; Legislation; Library collections; Library of Congress; Meetings; Mississippi Valley Historical Society; Professor Charles Talbert; Professor Shelby McCloy; Quality; Reputations; Resources; Size; Southern Historical Society; Spending; State Historical Society; Usefulness; Winning

Subjects: Academic libraries.; College environment; College sports--Economic aspects--United States.; College sports.; College teachers--Social conditions; College teachers--Workload; Educators; Universities and colleges--Faculty.; Universities and colleges--Finance; Universities and colleges--Research; University of Kentucky. Libraries

00:45:39 - How students changed over time

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Partial Transcript: During your years at, uh, Kentucky, have you noticed a change in the work habits, attitudes, and, uh, goals of students?

Segment Synopsis: Taylor discusses the changes in students' work habits and attitudes since he first began teaching at the university. He talks about how the role of women has changed and gives his opinion on why the change occurred.

Keywords: Changes; Distractions; Enrollment; Results; Role of women; Studying; Swearing; Work ethic; Work habits

Subjects: College environment; College students--Attitudes.; College students--Conduct of life.; College students--Social conditions; Sex discrimination in higher education.; Sexism in higher education; Women in education--Kentucky--Lexington; Women in higher education.; Women--Education (Higher)

00:49:01 - Favorite roles at the university / more on athletics

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Partial Transcript: Did you have any particular role that you enjoyed in the life of the university more than any other?

Segment Synopsis: Taylor discusses some of his favorite roles at the university, including being head of several fraternities, the YMCA, and SuKy. He tells a story about taking the SuKy students to a football game in Tennessee and not being able to get back due to a snowstorm. He talks about his experiences with athletes in his classes, and talks about Adolph Rupp's attitude toward academics.

Keywords: Adolph Rupp; Athletics department; Basketball players; Contact; Correspondence; Fairness; Football games; Former students; Fraternities; Knoxville (Tenn.); Organizations; Relationship with students; SuKy; Term papers; Trains; Tutors; YMCA

Subjects: College athletes; College discipline; College environment; College sports--Coaching; College sports.; College teachers--Social conditions; College teachers--Workload; College teaching.; Educators; Greek letter societies.; Universities and colleges--Faculty.

00:57:00 - More on the University of Kentucky history department

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Partial Transcript: Do you recall any interesting stories about the university? As we're coming now to the end of this, uh, do you have anything that's particularly interesting that you'd like to share?

Segment Synopsis: Taylor talks more about the history department of the University of Kentucky and the relationships among his colleagues. He talks about some of the pranks they pulled on one another. The interviewer asks him about donating his personal papers to the university archive. The interview is concluded.

Keywords: Dr. Thomas D. Clark; Emory and Henry University; Head of department; History department; Jokes; Ohio State University; Personal papers; Pranks; Professor Robert Lunde; Professor W. Clement Eaton; Registering; Southern Historical Society meeting; Speeches; University archives; University of Chicago

Subjects: Academic libraries.; College administrators; College department heads; College environment; College teachers--Social conditions; College teachers--Workload; Educators; Universities and colleges--Administration.; Universities and colleges--Faculty.; University of Kentucky. Libraries