Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with William R. Willard, June 22, 1979

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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00:00:01 - Discussion of the University of Kentucky medical school

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Partial Transcript: --the Charles P. Roland of the University of Kentucky history department.

Segment Synopsis: Dr. Willard was brought to UK as the head of the UK Medical Center; he was the first employee of the center. He met Governor Chandler during his second interview for the job. He got a call from Chandler that he got the job. Willard, his wife, and UK president Donovan met Chandler at the governor's mansion in 1956. Willard thinks this conversation influenced his decision to take the job. He thinks Chandler sincerely wanted to help Kentucky, especially Eastern Kentucky where there was limited medical care. The interviewer and Willard discuss Dr. Martin, who was an influential person in the creation of the medical center. Chandler overall supported Willard for the job despite two minor skirmishes related to the architect for the medical center and related to building a dental school. Willard wanted to get the dental school under contract before Chandler left office. Willard left the medical school in 1972. He discusses the attitudes of the general medical profession in Kentucky towards the medical school at UK, with many in Lexington very supportive while others with alliance towards Louisville thought the UK school would hurt Louisville. Some people may have opposed the center because it was connected with Chandler.

Keywords: Albert B. Chandler Hospital; Chandler Hospital; Chandler Medical Center; UK Albert B. Chandler Hospital; UK Chandler Hospital; University of Kentucky Albert B. Chandler Hospital

Subjects: Donovan, Herman Lee, 1887-1964; University of Kentucky; University of Kentucky. Medical Center

00:24:03 - Medical care in Eastern Kentucky

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Partial Transcript: What--you, you made a reference to the need of the people of Eastern Kentucky, the mountain region, for medical services.

Segment Synopsis: Willard discusses Chandler's creation of a commission on the care of the medically indigent. Willard was on this commission whose report blossomed into the Medicaid program. This provided payment for doctors to provide care for people who didn't have insurance, making it feasible for doctors to practice in Eastern Kentucky. Willard was placed on an advisory council for the Hill Burton Hospital which dispersed federal funds. During the course of this, they organized in Eastern Kentucky a series of health planning councils which formed the basis for the receipt of federal money to develop new services. The medical center had a lot to do with the organization and success of that program. Willard thinks Chandler had a genuine concern for the healthcare of the people of Kentucky.

Keywords: Eastern Kentucky; Hill Burton Act; Hill Burton Hospitals; Hill-Burton Act; Hill-Burton Hospitals

Subjects: Appalachian Region; HB health facilities series; Medicaid; Medically underserved areas; Medicare.; Medicine, Rural; Rural health services; Rural health--Kentucky

00:32:52 - Naming the University of Kentucky medical center

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Partial Transcript: Dr. Willard, a few weeks ago, uh, uh, there was held in Lexington a Happy Chandler roast to raise money for the epilepsy--local epilepsy, epilepsy association, and one of the things that was said in that roast was that Chandler was the only man in the world who was named after a medical center.

Segment Synopsis: Willard was concerned that naming the medical center after Chandler could be politically detrimental. Chandler thought that keeping the name of the medical center the University of Kentucky Medical Center might have meant Willard was disowning him. The interviewer and Willard discuss how the name was changed to Chandler, with Willard stating Chandler's name may have been on the building since the beginning, but that he can't remember for sure. The interviewer mentions that Governor Combs thought it would have been better to put support into building up University of Louisville and Willard agrees that Combs may have thought that, adding that people from Louisville did think that it would be better to focus on University of Louisville.

Keywords: Albert B. Chandler Hospital; Chandler Hospital; Chandler Medical Center; UK Albert B. Chandler Hospital; UK Chandler Hospital; University of Kentucky Albert B. Chandler Hospital

Subjects: University of Kentucky; University of Louisville

00:41:58 - Chandler as a political figure

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Partial Transcript: We, we are already, uh, thoroughly agreed that Governor Chandler is a controversial figure.

Segment Synopsis: The interviewer asks Willard about whether money was diverted towards building Chandler's home in Versailles, which he denies any knowledge of. Willard says there were no financial shenanigans in building the medical center except with that related to the architects getting their fees increased above what the original contract called for. Willard was asked by Chandler about dealing with the University of Louisville medical school as well as the University of Kentucky medical school. Willard and the interviewer discuss how Chandler did not necessarily come across as well on TV as he did in person when making speeches.

Keywords: Albert B. Chandler Hospital; Chandler Hospital; Chandler Medical Center; UK Albert B. Chandler Hospital; UK Chandler Hospital; University of Kentucky Albert B. Chandler Hospital

Subjects: Politicians--Kentucky; Politics and government; Politics, Practical; Public speaking.; University of Kentucky; University of Louisville

00:52:31 - Willard's political relationship with Chandler / Willard's time at UK

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Partial Transcript: I'd like to go back to, uh, your original meeting with him, that day when, uh, when President Osborne [ed. note: Donovan] drove you over to, uh, Frankfort.

Segment Synopsis: Willard describes the original meeting he had with Chandler that took place in his office, with UK President Donovan and Willard's wife also present. They later went across to the governor's mansion. They had a candidate for president in mind that they thought Willard would like. He states that the decision to go to UK was the most difficult decision he made because he liked Syracuse. He also discusses the difficulties he had with various bureaucracies, including the difficulty in building a university hospital at Syracuse. This difficulty contrasted with his relationship with Chandler. Willard says Chandler had direct and personal relationships with people in order to get things accomplished. Willard thinks the public health department was not funded as well as it should have been but that it was a satisfactory department when he was there.

Keywords: Albert B. Chandler Hospital; Chandler Hospital; Chandler Medical Center; Howard Bost; Howard L. Bost; Robert Straus; UK Albert B. Chandler Hospital; UK Chandler Hospital; University of Kentucky Albert B. Chandler Hospital

Subjects: Donovan, Herman Lee, 1887-1964; Politicians--Kentucky; University of Kentucky