Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Neil Plummer, July 22, 1981

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
Transcript
Toggle Index/Transcript View Switch.
Index
Search this Index
X
00:00:03 - Job offer with the University of Kentucky School of Journalism

Play segment

Partial Transcript: The following is an unrehearsed interview with Dr. Neil Plummer for the Alumni/Faculty Oral History Project.

Segment Synopsis: Dr. Neil Plummer is introduced. He talks about working for the Lexington Herald Leader newspaper as the city editor, and his desire to become a lawyer before being persuaded to teach journalism at the University of Kentucky by Enoch Grehan, head of the School of Journalism.

Keywords: Adolph Rupp; City editor; Coach Harry Gammage; Death; Debate team; Instructors; Job offers; Journalism conventions; Lawyers; Lexington Herald Leader; Masters degrees; Political science; Professor Enoch Grehan; Publicity; Sabbaticals; Sports editor; University of Wisconsin

Subjects: College teachers--Leaves of absence; College teachers--Selection and appointment.; Educators; Universities and colleges--Administration.; Universities and colleges--Faculty.; University of Kentucky. School of Journalism

00:09:42 - Journalism instruction

Play segment

Partial Transcript: Now, uh, Neil one, one thing that we--I, I want to ask your opinion of, both because you've had so much experience with it and because you've had such lengthy experience with it...

Segment Synopsis: Plummer talks about the debate in the field of journalism over the importance of vocational training versus liberal arts education. He talks about Dean Martin White and Enoch Grehan's opinions on the issue.

Keywords: Balance; Controversy; Dean Martin White; Etymology; Kentucky Kernel newspaper; Liberal arts education; Personality; Professor Enoch Grehan; School newspaper; Student newspaper; Vocational training

Subjects: College administrators; College publications; College student newspapers and periodicals; College teachers--Social conditions; College teaching.; Educators; Journalism, College; Universities and colleges--Administration.; Universities and colleges--Faculty.; University of Kentucky. School of Journalism

00:15:16 - Trouble with the student newspaper the Kentucky Kernel

Play segment

Partial Transcript: I'm going to ask you later about, uh, the, uh, other developments in the School of Journalism but I think that now we might come back and talk about the student newspaper.

Segment Synopsis: Plummer talks about some of the controversial issues that arose during his time as head of the student newspaper the Kentucky Kernel. He tells stories about President Frank McVey and his issue with the school band, along with issues of plagiarism. He talks about some former students that went on to have successful careers in journalism.

Keywords: Baylor University; Boston (Ma.); Censorship; Dr. Frank Dickey; Dr. Frank McVey; Football teams; Jim Hampton; John Ed Pearce; Kentucky Kernel newspaper; Plagiarism; Professor Enoch Grehan; Quality; School band; School newspaper; Student newspaper; Truth; University band

Subjects: College administrators; College discipline; College environment; College presidents; College publications; College student newspapers and periodicals; College students--Conduct of life.; College students--Social conditions; Journalism, College; Universities and colleges--Administration.; University of Kentucky. School of Journalism

00:29:45 - University of Kentucky Board of Trustees and the Kentucky Kernel

Play segment

Partial Transcript: But I think that the working with these students and they trusting me and I trusting them did a wonderful thing for the University of Kentucky.

Segment Synopsis: Plummer talks about conflicts between the university Board of Trustees and the student newspaper, including an accusation of censorship that was taken to the state legislature.

Keywords: Axel Wenner-Gren; Board of trustees; Censorship; Controversy; Editorials; Elgin Davis; Fred Wachs; Freedom of speech; Kentucky Kernel newspaper; Letters; Newspaper editors; Professor Caudill; School newspaper; State legislature; Student newspaper

Subjects: College administrators; College environment; College publications; College student newspapers and periodicals; Journalism, College; Universities and colleges--Administration.; University of Kentucky. School of Journalism

00:38:33 - Kentucky governors and the Kentucky Kernel

Play segment

Partial Transcript: You remember the Happy Chandler declared there should be--

Segment Synopsis: Plummer discusses issues that arose between Kentucky governors and the student newspaper, which led to President Herman Donovan putting pressure on Plummer to be more careful about the contents of the paper.
[An interruption in taping occurs during this segment.]

Keywords: Blame; Censorship; Dr. Frank Dickey; Dr. Herman Donovan; Football games; Governor Earle C. Clements; Governor Happy Chandler; Governors; Holidays; Kentucky Kernel newspaper; Outside pressure; School newspaper; State police; Strict; Student newspaper; University of Tennessee

Subjects: College administrators; College discipline; College environment; College presidents; College publications; College student newspapers and periodicals; Journalism, College; Universities and colleges--Administration.; Universities and colleges--Faculty.; University of Kentucky. School of Journalism

00:45:00 - History of the Kentucky Kernel

Play segment

Partial Transcript: You saw a difference in tone then from McVey to Donovan in attitude toward the Kernel?

Segment Synopsis: Plummer describes the history of the Kentucky Kernel from its beginning as a paper unaffiliated with the university to becoming university-owned.

Keywords: Attitudes; Communism; Dr. Frank McVey; Dwight Bicknel; Free speech; Freedom of speech; Freedom of the press; Journalism Building; Kentucky Kernel newspaper; Kentucky Press Association; Professor Enoch Grehan; School newspaper; Student newspaper; University owned

Subjects: College administrators; College presidents; College student newspapers and periodicals; Journalism, College; Universities and colleges--Administration.; University of Kentucky. Press; University of Kentucky. School of Journalism

00:52:02 - Controversial editorial on Kentucky laws

Play segment

Partial Transcript: And you haven't got around to that last one, the liquor convocation.

Segment Synopsis: Plummer talks about another controversial article written by a student on a Kentucky law about alcohol which led to President Frank Dickey beginning a series of convocations for students on drinking. He talks about the press conference that was held concerning the issue.

Keywords: Alcohol; Bob Strauss; Committees; Controversy; Convocations; Dean Martin White; Dr. Frank Dickey; Editorials; Joe Palmer; Kentucky Kernel newspaper; Kentucky laws; Kentucky statutes; Press conferences; School newspaper; Student newspaper; Trouble

Subjects: College administrators; College discipline; College environment; College presidents; College publicity; College student newspapers and periodicals; College students--Social conditions; College teachers--Social conditions; College teaching.; Educators; Journalism, College; Universities and colleges--Administration.; Universities and colleges--Faculty.; University of Kentucky. School of Journalism

00:57:55 - Reactions to the senior editions of the Kentucky Kernel

Play segment

Partial Transcript: Well, wonderful. Do, do you have any more, uh, illuminating--

Segment Synopsis: Plummer talks about the senior edition of the newspaper that often made fun of professors, and talks about the reactions from faculty members to those issues.

Keywords: Attitudes; Graduate faculty; Kentucky Kernel newspaper; Lottery; Promotions; Publications; Reactions; Recognition; School newspaper; Senior edition; Student newspaper

Subjects: College environment; College student newspapers and periodicals; College students--Attitudes.; College students--Social conditions; College teachers--Social conditions; College teaching.; Educators; Journalism, College; Universities and colleges--Faculty.; University of Kentucky. School of Journalism

01:02:43 - University presidents

Play segment

Partial Transcript: Well, let me ask you then, uh, what--we've talked about "Uncle" Herman Donovan.

Segment Synopsis: Plummer discusses and compares University of Kentucky presidents Herman Donovan, Frank Dickey, and John Oswald. He talks about the integration of the university during Donovan's tenure, and talks about Oswald's policy of rotating department chairmen which resulted in Plummer no longer being chairman of the journalism department.

Keywords: Alumni Gym; Attitudes; Basketball players; Dean Martin White; Deans; Dr. Frank Dickey; Dr. Herman Donovan; Dr. John Oswald; Effects; Fired; Fort Knox (Ky.); Impact; Influence; Kentucky Kernel newspaper; Pennsylvania State University; Replacements; Resignation; Rotating chairmanship; School newspaper; Split; Student newspaper

Subjects: African American college students--Social conditions; African Americans--Education--Kentucky--Lexington; College administrators--Rating of; College environment; College integration; College presidents; College publications; College sports.; College student newspapers and periodicals; College teachers--Social conditions; Discrimination in higher education; Educators; Journalism, College; Minorities in higher education; Universities and colleges--Administration.; Universities and colleges--Faculty.; University of Kentucky. School of Journalism

01:15:58 - Faculty / former students

Play segment

Partial Transcript: Well, Neil, uh, do you have any general comment of any sort to make in the context of this interview?

Segment Synopsis: Plummer talks about the quality of the faculty at the University of Kentucky, and tells a story about Ezra Gillis. He talks about receiving a phone call from some of his former students. The interview is concluded.

Keywords: Ezra Gillis; Former students; Marguerite McLaughlin; Professor Enoch Grehan; Quality; Speeches

Subjects: College graduates; College teachers--Rating of.; Educators; Universities and colleges--Alumni and alumnae.; Universities and colleges--Faculty.; University of Kentucky. School of Journalism