Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Robert T. McCowan, December 2, 1976

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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00:00:02 - Winter weather

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Partial Transcript: Okay, this is, uh, I think it's Thursday, isn't it Bob? December second.

Segment Synopsis: Robert McCowan is introduced. He discusses the effects of the winter weather on the oil industry.

Keywords: Oil business; President of Ashland Petroleum Company; Weather; Winter

Subjects: Ashland Oil & Refining Company; Ashland, Inc.

00:01:57 - Educational background

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Partial Transcript: Now I gather from what you say that you have a good technical knowledge, and that perhaps, uh, suggests some education in your background.

Segment Synopsis: McCowan talks about growing up in Lexington, Kentucky and lists the schools he attended. He talks about attending the University of Kentucky and majoring in commerce. He talks about what he learned about business at UK.

Keywords: Changes; College of Commerce; Facilities; Maxwell School; Morton Junior High School; Philosophy; Professors; Progress; Quality of education

Subjects: College teachers.; Education, Higher--Kentucky; Education--Kentucky--Lexington; Educators; Universities and colleges--Faculty.; University of Kentucky. College of Business and Economics

00:04:18 - University of Kentucky football

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Partial Transcript: So Bob, uh, you graduated in 1951. And that was the year of Bear Bryant and I think one of the Bowls, I forget which one.

Segment Synopsis: McCowan talks about UK football during his time as a student, including the year the team went to the Sugar Bowl.

Keywords: Bear Bryant; Football games; Sugar Bowl; Trains; University of Oklahoma; University of Tennessee

Subjects: College environment; College sports--Coaching; College sports.

00:05:48 - Family

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Partial Transcript: Okay Bob tell me about your family now.

Segment Synopsis: McCowan describes his family, including his wife and children. He talks about his wife's name, and talks about his children attending the University of Kentucky.

Keywords: Ashland (Ky.); Atlanta (Ga.); Children; Daughters; Jobs; Nyle Yates; Sons; Wife

Subjects: Ashland Oil & Refining Company; Ashland, Inc.; College student parents; Families.; University of Kentucky

00:07:43 - Career path

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Partial Transcript: Okay, so, uh, you've worked, uh, at Ashland, this company for some, uh, twenty, twenty five years.

Segment Synopsis: McCowan discusses his career path at Ashland Oil Company (now called Ashland, Inc.). He talks about how he found his first job, where he has been transferred throughout his career, and how he worked his way up to being the Executive Assistant to the Chairman.

Keywords: Ashland (Ky.); Ashland Oil Company; Ashland Petroleum Company; Chicago (Ill.); Cincinnati (Ohio); Commerce building; Division managers; Everett Wells; Executive assistant to the chairman; Investors; Job positions; Opportunities; Recruiters; Research laboratory; Rex Blazer; Sales department; Salesman; Whitehall building; Wife; Young people

Subjects: Ashland Oil & Refining Company; Ashland, Inc.; College graduates

GPS: Ashland (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 38.463889, -82.641667
00:13:14 - Origin and growth of Ashland Oil

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Partial Transcript: Well it's one of the remarkable success stories of this century because, uh, here you started as, uh, almost a little community oil company--

Segment Synopsis: McCowan discusses how the Ashland Oil Company (now called Ashland, Inc.) was created, and talks about its growth and expansion into other states.

Keywords: Ashland Oil Company; Ashland Petroleum Company; Crude oil; Expansion; Growth; Kentucky; Paul Blazer; Refineries; Success; Swiss Oil Company

Subjects: Ashland Oil & Refining Company; Ashland, Inc.; Business enterprises--Kentucky; Lexington (Ky.)

00:17:48 - Business philosophies

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Partial Transcript: Well it gives a good image, uh, uh, I think, uh, that, uh, it's a, it's a company that still has a persona--personality as--you know, like it's, it's Kentucky. It's hospitable.

Segment Synopsis: McCowan discusses how the Ashland Oil Company operates, and talks about their views on "freedom of enterprise".

Keywords: Ashland Oil Company; Ashland Petroleum Company; Dividends; Expansion; Freedom of enterprise; Generations; Personality; Philosophy; Profits; Supply and demand

Subjects: Ashland Oil & Refining Company; Ashland, Inc.; Business enterprises--Kentucky

00:21:47 - Annual Giving Fund

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Partial Transcript: Now, Bob you're chairman of the, uh, '76-'77 Annual Giving Fund. Let's talk about that a little bit.

Segment Synopsis: McCowan talks about his role as chairman of the University of Kentucky Annual Giving Fund and how he came to be associated with the group. He talks about the purpose of the group and how they are raising money for the university.

Keywords: "Gift clubs"; Annual Giving Fund; Benefits; Chairman; Contributions; Donations; Dr. Otis A. Singletary; Giving; Money; Obligations; Ray Hornback; Telephone campaigns

Subjects: College administrators; College benefactors; College graduates; College presidents; Universities and colleges--Alumni and alumnae.; Universities and colleges--Finance; University of Kentucky; University of Kentucky Alumni Association

00:27:03 - Community service

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Partial Transcript: Alright Bob, just, uh, one other thing here. Give me a little background on some of the other community service areas in which, uh, you've given leadership, participated, uh...

Segment Synopsis: McCowan talks about his involvement in other community service efforts in addition to his work with the Annual Giving Fund. He talks about the importance of participating in activities.

Keywords: Active; Advice; American Petroleum Institute; Chamber of Commerce; Community service; Joining; Parents; YMCA

Subjects: Volunteers

00:29:26 - More on the Annual Giving Fund

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Partial Transcript: Bob, why should people give to the Annual Giving Fund?

Segment Synopsis: McCowan talks more about his involvement with the UK Annual Giving Fund. He talks about how the contributions benefit the university and why it is important for alumni to make donations. He talks about leadership at the university. The interview is concluded.

Keywords: Academics; Athletics; Chairmanship; Contributions; Donations; Dr. Otis A. Singletary; Funding; Giving; Leadership; Momentum; Pride; Ray Hornback; State funding; Support

Subjects: College administrators; College benefactors; College costs.; College graduates; College presidents; Universities and colleges--Alumni and alumnae.; Universities and colleges--Finance; University of Kentucky; University of Kentucky Alumni Association