Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Otis A. Singletary, February 10, 1987

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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SMOOT: Dr. Singletary, to begin could you tell me a little bit about yourself, where you were born and raised, and a little bit about your family life and community life?

SINGLETARY: Yeah, yeah. I grew up in a-- what was then a small town on the Mississippi gulf coast, Gulfport, Mississippi. I was born there in 1921 and spent uh, most of my early life there. Went through the public schools there. Later did my undergraduate work at a small liberal arts college in Jackson, Mississippi, called Millsaps College, and then went on to LSU for my graduate work. Growing up in Gulfport was-- had all the pleasures of a resort town life in the depression, (Smoot laughs) and uh, we were, we had, we had-we had a really good relaxed life - a lot of swimming, and a lot of sailing - that kind of stuff; a pleasant 00:01:00climate, pretty much an outdoor crowd, there, our group, and uh--

SMOOT: What did your parents do?

SINGLETARY: Well, my, my mother and father were divorced when I was in, I must of been-- oh, say, twelve or thirteen. And my mother, back in the depression years, was one of the early relief administrators for the uh, for the uh-- for the Franklin D. Roosevelt WPA program, and that kind of stuff in the south. And then, and my grandfather with, with whom I lived, was one of the founders of the port in Gulfport, Mississippi. He was a, he was a agent with steamship company there, so 00:02:00I-- I pretty much grew up on the water.

SMOOT: Did that have a lot of influence on you-- your grandfather?

SINGLETARY: Yeah, I think-- I think my grandfather did. He was a very, very good-- good uh, man, and uh, very kind, considerate, considerate thoughtful. And yeah, I guess, yeah, I would have to rank him as one of the half dozen most, uh, prominent influences, on my life; certainly in my younger days.

SMOOT: Did he try to lead you into any certain profession or vocation?

SINGLETARY: No. No. No, it was just a very warm personal relationship and uh, didn't-- didn't-- matter of fact, there was no--no uh-- no attempt ever to sort of guide my uh, my uh, professional interests. Anybody who knew me in high school or in my early college days, there 00:03:00would of been few to suspect that I would ever have gone an academic, uh, route.

SMOOT: Before you entered college you were in the Navy, were you not? World War II?

SINGLETARY: Well, I-- I was-- I was within a semester of uh, graduating during the war, and uh was called into the Navy. I had been in the-- I had been in the V - 7 program and they-- they called us up while I was in college, and so I had college on both sides of World War II. I very nearly had my degree and then was called in and went to the South Pacific. And then when the war was over, came back and changed my major and finished my-- finished my degree; so I had two undergraduate careers.

SMOOT: About when were you called up? Was that in the--

SINGLETARY: uh, 40-- well, I-- I first went in, went in the Navy in 00:04:001942. And uh, was in the V - 7 program and then in the V - l2 program for a short time. And then I went through the, the Navy's midshipmen school at Harvard, and then went to the Pacific and stayed nearly two years out there in the, so, the Pacific. So I got to-- I got to see that part of the world.

SMOOT: One of the reasons I ask is that I know that you were married in 1944.

SINGLETARY: Yes, that's right.

SMOOT: June 6, 1944.

SINGLETARY: Um-hm. And that was uh-- that was the day that uh-- that they launched the invasion of Europe, as a matter of fact. And so I won't have any trouble remembering my anniversary, it's always in the paper. (Smoot laughs)

SMOOT: So after the war you went back to college and finished your degree at Millsaps--

SINGLETARY: Yeah, and then went to-- then went on to LSU to graduate 00:05:00school and uh, finished that. And then got called back in the navy a second time for the Korean fight, and that time they, the navy compensated for my first career. They--they, they sent me to-- to an instructional position. I ended up teaching the ROTC boys at Princeton.

SMOOT: Oh? (laughs)

SINGLETARY: And I wrote my doctoral dissertation out of the Firestone Library at Princeton, when I was there on duty. So that was a-- that fit very well. Came out of uh-- came out of that and went to begin my teaching career at the University of Texas in 1954; uh, stayed there for, what, seven years or so. Went to North Carolina to become the uh-- the chancellor of the Greensboro campus at the University of North Carolina. And uh, spent a little time in Washington during the LBJ 00:06:00years, and then spent-- went back to Washington after--after a little-- after I returned to campus for awhile and served as vice president of the American Council on Education. Then went back to the University of Texas and then came here. And that's the-- that's the pattern.

SMOOT: Had you majored in history at Millsaps?

SINGLETARY: Yeah, uh-hm.

SMOOT: What-- what drove you to choose history as-- as a major?

SINGLETARY: Well, kind of a curious coincidence. Aboard ship we had a number of sailors who had not gotten their high school diplomas, and our skipper determined that they would take that-- what they call the GED today, I guess. It was a program in the U.S. Armed Forces Institute where you'd literally by correspondence took your-- your-- so the captain called three or four of us up there (coughs) in his cabin 00:07:00and said, "I want these guys made ready to, to pass these examinations. " He turned to the navigator and he said, "I want you to teach them algebra. " He turned to me and he said, "I want you to teach them American History. " (both laugh) So he farmed it out to us, and, and I guess it was a fairly crucial thing in my life because I had barely been interested in history, or much of anything else uh, academic, really. And I guess the important thing is that, that uh, the pressure was on me to learn just enough to stay one day ahead of that group, and we-- we had class every day. And uh, and I began to-- I began to really enjoy that-- I began to really, you know, the old business of becoming aware at long last of your own abysmal ignorance about most things. And then that follows, you know, a-along from that-- there 00:08:00follows the, the desire to do something about it, and for the first time I really began to educate myself and to get an education. I had been sort of horsing around up to that point, never very serious about any, schooling. Nonetheless, it was an interesting thing. Let me tell you that every one of those-- every one of those students got his high school diploma too.


SINGLETARY: We did-- we did what we sat out to do. But more than that, it really did kindle my own interest in history. And I spent a lot of time at sea in those nearly two years, just-- just reading-- you have a lot of time on your hands, uh, you know. In the navy you could-- you could spend it different ways, you could-- you could play poker in the ward room or you can sit around and tell sea stories and drink coffee or whatever. But I-- I set a fairly rigorous reading program for myself and used that time at least to, to my satisfaction. And 00:09:00when I got out I came back and changed my major to history. I had been an economics major up to that point in college, and uh, and got myself ready to go to graduate school. Went on down to LSU to graduate school and never looked back.

SMOOT: Why did you choose LSU?

SINGLETARY: Well, uh, there were several reasons. I was married, as-- as a graduate student, I had to have a teaching assistantship. I-- I couldn't swing it. And uh, Bill Wiley, southern historian, Civil War man of considerable repute was down there, and uh, he was the chairman there. Bill Wiley was-- was-- was big enough man to understand how that war and that experience kind of changed people's lives; it could be a kind of watershed. And I'd put it to you this way, I think 00:10:00he forgave me my-- my pre-war (both laugh) frolics in order to-- to go ahead and-- I think he gambled on me with a--with, with an assistantship. I went down that summer and, and took some courses and showed him that I could do graduate work and was serious about it and had a graduate assistantship all the time I was at LSU.

SMOOT: Did you actually do your work under Dr. Wiley?

SINGLETARY: No, uh, Wiley had gone. He moved I guess in my first year. I worked under a well - known southern historian named Francis Butler Simpkins, and then later my actual dissertation direction was done under T. Harry Willams, also a great uh, great Civil War buff biographer of Huey Long, a prominent historian in that part of the world.

SMOOT: Indeed. So after you finished your-- your doctorate, you went 00:11:00into teaching? At Texas?

SINGLETARY: Well, I got my doctorate while I was-- while I was ostensibly still in the Navy. I was at Princeton and I flew back down to Baton Rouge to take my finals, found out that my dissertation passed, so got that out of the way and then the following-- let's just say that was in the spring. The following September I-I was out of the navy and teaching at the University of Texas.

SMOOT: So in 1954 you went to Austin?


SMOOT: And you stayed there for quite some time?

SINGLETARY: Oh, yeah. Austin's a great place. I enjoyed my years at the University of Texas - very, very special place.

SMOOT: And that's where you first started working in administration, is it not?

SINGLETARY: Yeah. And that came after I'd been there a number of years. Uh, I started working uh, with, with Harry Lanson, who is the dean of arts and sciences there, and later became president and chancellor 00:12:00of that system. He and I had became fairly close friends and I was a great admirer of him. I thought he was the finest dean of the college of arts and sciences that I ever saw; still believe that. Uh, I worked in the arts and sciences office, uh, as an academic advisor for awhile, and then uh, he wanted me to take over what we called the "plan two" program, an honors program, much like ours here, although somewhat more structured; formally structured than ours. (coughs) And then when he became president of the university, he wanted me as, to come in as assistant to the president, and I agreed to do that for one year. I didn't really think I would like that kind of job, but he and I were close enough that I would, I wanted to accommodate him, and I did, and it was a very interesting year. I learned a lot.


SMOOT: Then you went to--(coughs) excuse me, then you went on to Greensboro?

SINGLETARY: Yes. I, I, I was chancellor at the Greensboro campus, University of North Carolina system.

SMOOT: Why did you leave Texas?

SINGLETARY: Well, the opportunity-- it was-- it was a chance, and uh, I always thought well of the North Carolina system. I thought it was one of the best in the country. And Bill Friday, for whom I went to work over there, long time president of the University of North Carolina, also a close personal friend. And it was-- we had a good working relationship.

SMOOT: Did you find that your uh, experience at the University of Texas helped you in Greensboro?

SINGLETARY: Oh, sure; uh, it's all cumulative-- and I had been a full-time, uh, professor at Texas for a number of years and-- you know, I really do think that is the bedrock. I-- I'm very old-fashioned 00:14:00about that belief. I think that probably the best training for the presidency (coughs) is to have some basic hands-on experience at a good university; find out how they work and know a little something about them and the difference in the good ones and the others. And It's a-- it was a very useful experience.

SMOOT: From there you went on to work as the vice president, as you already said, vice president of the American Council on Education, and also with the Job Corp?

SINGLETARY: Well I went to the Job Corp first. I took a leave of absence from North Carolina and went up to--(coughs) to the Job Corp assignment, but once again that was not-- that was an opportunity to do something different, that wasn't a career change. And I agreed to go to that for a short term; I had no interest in that as a career, I did 00:15:00not have the Washington fever.

SMOOT: What did you find that like, working with the Jobs Corp?


SMOOT: (laughs) Wild in what way?

SINGLETARY: Well, they just passed the-- the law-- they just passed the legislation. (coughs) And what Shriver fundamentally said to me, "Well, here's-- here's a copy of the bill, and a desk, and a telephone, and an appropriation for a $150,000,000; go create a program. " And that was-- you don't get many offers like that. (Smoot laughs) So I-- I was taken by that and I-- I spent uh, a little over a year-- my agreement with him was I would come up there and help get that program started and would help him find a permanent, or find a-- someone who might very well turn out to be a permanent replacement. But maybe-- I use to tell him all the time, not only did I have a better job in North 00:16:00Carolina than I had in Washington, I had a better job in North Carolina than he had in Washington. (Smoot laughs) And that, uh, made some kind of a difference in my attitude. But it was a very interesting experience, I got to see-- in fact, both the Washington tours; Job Corp was interesting from a-- from the standpoint of the program itself and the fact that it was, it reported to the White House. Shriver reported directly to Johnson. We did not go through a cabinet of-- of any kind. And the President was pretty interested in-- in the-- in my program, in the Job Corp program. Going back to his days under Roosevelt, and the New Deal when he was pretty close to many of the programs like the NYA and the Civilian Conservation Corp. He thought, and he thought correctly, that-- that CCC was sort of a model for Job Corp, and this was a-- this was a second coming of the, of the CCC. It didn't work 00:17:00out that way, but-- but that thought was certainly in his mind.

SMOOT: Why do you think it didn't work out?

SINGLETARY: Well, CCC was essentially a reforestation kind of physical labor, paramilitary thing. Ours was a, was an educational program with a work component attached, rather than a working arrangement with an educational component attached. Mostly kids who came in Job Corp were- - were in that eighteen-- sixteen, I guess, to twenty-one year old age group - out of school, out of work, and yet, uh, you know, with some other factor in their lives that was complicated. They use-- they had to be in some kind of difficulty at home or with the law, or whatever. It was a-- it was--for what was clearly the toughest population in the United States. And uh, what we did was-- was build a program, and 00:18:00the concept was very simple. We thought that there was a vast pool out there of kids who were out of school, kids who had in effect failed the established system in this country. They weren't making it. (coughs) They weren't all just a bunch of rotten kids, you know, say what you want to about the bleeding hearts and all that, the truth is that a lot of the kids needed some help, and a lot of them responded very favorably when they got it. And uh, we thought that if we could take a program it would do several things. Basically, create work habits. Let them know something about the world of work, which most of them didn't know, or if the way they did, without much direction. Then prepare them for some rudimentary skills, and in some cases, some fairly sophisticated skills. That we could take some of those kids and put them in some of those jobs that were going begging out there, and we did. What we 00:19:00never really did was uh-- was--was uh, to the degree that we proved we could-- we could get them ready, it was a success. The problem is always trying to prove you could do that at a cost that was acceptable to the American taxpayer. And that's always been a problem for any kind of residential training program, it's expensive. I remember one-- once when I was in a congressional committee hearing and got that old question from one of the-- one of the congressman saying, "Well, isn't it true that it costs more to put a boy through Job Corp than it does to send him to Harvard? " And I said, "Yeah, no question about that. " And I said, "I tell you what we'll do, we'll fill that stadium out there on the river with Job Corp applicants, and I will pay Harvard's admissions office way down here to interview them, and this program will pay the tuition for any kids they'll take to Harvard. " And of course, you were fairly safe there; these kids not only couldn't get 00:20:00in Harvard, they couldn't get in anywhere. And so uh, that program was very interesting. It-- it affected-- it's affected my outlook, uh--in, to some degree about the campus experience. Because in the back of my mind--and, and I guess the students here don't appreciate this, in the back of my mind is the, is the certain knowledge that, that any youngster who is on one of these university campuses in a highly subsidized operation, is a very privileged young person. And I think I'll always remember that-- that bunch trying to dig their way out, and some of them did, some of them did.

SMOOT: And, obviously, it gave you a great deal of satisfaction to see that sort of thing.

SINGLETARY: Yeah, sure. Sure.

SMOOT: You said that you didn't really catch the Washington fever, but you stayed on in Washington for a little while?

SINGLETARY: No, I left and went back to North Carolina. And then when I went back to Washington, I went back to the ACE, in a very different role. I was uh-- Logan Wilson had in the meantime become a president 00:21:00of the American Council on Education. He had been president of the University of Texas-- chancellor at the University of Texas system. He had invited me to go up there as his vice president, and I thought that was, once again, something that I wanted to do for a little while. Mainly because the ACE is sort of a nerve center for the higher education effort in Washington. It's-- you don't want to call them lobbyists because you can't be a lobbyist in that thing-- it's against the law. (Smoot laughs) But it is-- it's where the, it's where the-- the effort is mounted to establish the public image of higher education, that kind of thing. It's a, it's a very interesting point and, and I didn't really know much about the educational scene in Washington, so it was a good experience I stayed up there a couple of years. But I always knew, and told him when I went there, that I wanted to go back to campus. That's where I thought the action really was and was the 00:22:00place I always thought I wanted to be.

SMOOT: So following that you moved back to Texas?

SINGLETARY: That's right. Went back to Texas and stayed just well-- first year, then came here.

SMOOT: Executive vice chancellor for academic affairs for the system.

SINGLETARY: Yeah. We had-- we-- at that time, we had several campuses, uh, the main campus in Austin, and then the El Paso campus, and the one up in Arlington. (coughs) And I was "overseer," if that's the word, of the-- of the academic programs in those three campuses. And during that time (coughs) we set the-- we set the, we set the stage for the expansion to San Antonio and out to Midland, and a new medical center and some other things in Texas, so it was a very exciting time.

SMOOT: Had you been very much involved with the setting up of the medical, uh, center in Texas?


SINGLETARY: Well, not-- not in the sense that you would be here, that I had been here. Uh, they had a, a chancellor, or a vice chancellor I should say, for the medical--on the central staff-- and that was, that was basically his job. There was a-- there was much sharper line drawn between the medical centers there than there is here.

SMOOT: Following your experience as executive vice chancellor in Texas, you decided to come to the University of Kentucky I suppose?


SMOOT: What motivated you to come to UK, as president of the University?

SINGLETARY: Several things, you know, some-- some pluses and some minuses. You know, there were certain things at Texas that-- that uh, were troubling me. It was the-- the Texas administration at that time was pretty well dominated by the chairman of the board, a Mr. 00:24:00Frank Irwin. Frank Irwin was a smart, tough, UT alumni who was John Connally's campaign manager, and a lot of other things. And, while Frank was part of the group that recruited me to come to-- to uh, Austin, my understanding and his were clearly not the same, and, and, and that was not going to work out. We were-- we were not going to do too well. Frank-- Frank was doing what I don't think a trustee does. A trustee hires the administration; he hires the administrator. And then the trustees set the policies and the administrator carries them out. If he doesn't, you get rid of him. But what you don't do, is run it yourself. Frank was going down and making the appearances before the budget committees and the legislature and that kind of thing. The chancellor and the president were sitting around out there. I don't, I never was comfortable in that kind of thing. And uh, he was-- he 00:25:00was an able man, I'm not being disrespectful of Frank, I-- I have some personal affection for him. He was just doing the wrong thing and, and it was bound to have a terrible internal impact on the campus, and it did - highly politicized.

SMOOT: Hmm. What other factors? That-- that's the negative side--

SINGLETARY: Well-- well that was the reason I would consider leaving Texas. It was-- I don't think it's-- I don't think it's out of character to say that-- let me put it this way, there were a number of people who were close there who, who thought I would be the next president or chancellor, one or the other, at Texas, if I had chosen to stay. So I was not leaving because I did not think I had promise at that place. Uh, I just didn't think that that job was worth having under those circumstances, even if it had been offered to me. Uh, there was some attraction here. Ab Kirwan, who was the acting 00:26:00president, an old friend of mine. Always a man I had known and liked for a long time. I also, based on my visits here, thought it was-- it was an interesting opportunity. Um, it seems to me that-- that while the place was somewhat divided and torn at that time in the wake of the Oswald years here, that whatever else they say, I think the Oswald years did bring the University to a different plateau, uh, and, and for the, for the better. There were a lot of wounds and a lot of scars that needed to heal around here, but, but a lot of wounds that need to heal and a lot of scars that needed to-- to just be-- be treated. But it-- it was-- it struck me as a-- as an interesting opportunity, and so 00:27:00I did-- did take it.

SMOOT: Who did you talk with initially here at UK?

SINGLETARY: Oh, a search committee. I've forgotten who all was on that search committee, but it was a trustee and students. I met with students here on campus and I met with some faculty here on campus. Went through a full search process.

SMOOT: Um-hm. Did you talk much with Governor Nunn?

SINGLETARY: Um-hm. Yeah, I say much-- I talked with Governor Nunn. I went to see him before I took the job. And uh, yeah, I visited with him. And uh, Nunn never ever injected any political business into-- in fact, I brought it up to him. I said, "I think I should tell you that I've been a registered democrat all my life. " And he said, "Well, just remember, I didn't raise that question. " Which I thought was a proper answer. So, while a lot of people didn't like Louie Nunn, but-- 00:28:00you know, he-- he's tough. He's also smart, and I'll say this, he-- he-- whatever you may think of any particular incident about which you could differ with him about-- I found Louie to be a man of his word.

SMOOT: The reason I brought up the question, of course, not only because of that being-- he being the governor at that time and involved with the University, but there was some, uh, talk that he had actually involved himself in helping Jack Oswald move out.

SINGLETARY: Well, that was common knowledge. Yeah, I-I think it-- if your question is, did-- was he-- was he supportive of Oswald? While I was not here, everything I've ever heard led me to believe that that was not the case.

SMOOT: Um-hm.

SINGLETARY: That he did feel that way, but that's-- let the principals 00:29:00talk about that; I was not a part to any of that.

SMOOT: So you became the eighth president of the University of Kentucky without inauguration, is that right? You were not inag-- I mean, inaugurated?

SINGLETARY: Yeah, that's right. Uh, there is nothing so unusual about that, I think. As I recall, there were really two reasons for not having an inauguration. The first one was, that I-- you know, at, at that time it seemed to me-- we-- we had had some kind of little budget thing. It seemed to me an unwise expenditure of funds to have a, a kind of celebration of something that certainly had not proven out yet. And the second was, that I remember nixing it on the grounds that I might not be there when they-- when they uh, had it. (Smoot laughs) That-- that was-- well, they were thinking about that toward the end of the first year, and that was the-- that was the occasion 00:30:00of the Kent State - Cambodia weekend, and all that followed that. And as I've said publicly, that's the only time I ever seriously considered just quitting the academic life altogether. It had taken on a very different cast; anything I had ever known and anything I had ever wanted. So uh-- yeah, I don't-- I still though-- there are some academic ceremonies that I think ought to be preserved. I'm not sure-- yet, I'm not sure how important that-- that one is.

SMOOT: What were your goals as you set out as the president of the University of Kentucky?

SINGLETARY: Well, it's been a long time and I'm not-- I'm not sure how accurate I can be about that, but I-- I can give you the general outline. Like everybody else, you look at a place and say now, "What do I see here? " and "What do I think needs to be done? " And so the 00:31:00first thing--uh, the first thing that I thought needed to be done was to stabilize this place. It was very nervous and upset. There was an air of uh, impermanence about everything. The nickname for it was "the acting university. " Everybody was acting out here in all their positions; acting this and acting that. Nobody was at-- you know, there was the-- the feeling-- that a lot of-- a lot of wounds out there still. A lot of people were still divided over the last administration, the Oswald administration. There was some strong feelings and-- both for and against, let me say, it wasn't one sided by any means. But it did seem to me that the first thing to do was to provide some stability here. The second thing to do was to, was 00:32:00to-- you didn't need another round of what I would call "tempestuous" administration. But that stability ought to have an element of healing in it. That this place had been ripped apart and it needed a different touch, in my opinion, at least for awhile. Uh, in addition to that, we had the-- it-- it seemed to me we needed to-- to consolidate what we had. From the first time I was here there was a move where, you know, they were gonna take the community colleges away from us, that persistent theme. And beyond that, I guess I would say my fourth ambition was to, other than just to stabilize and to have some healing going on, and to in a sense consolidate what we had, then to move it on as we were able to, and as the resources were made available. To try 00:33:00and improve it some; to leave it a somewhat better place than we found. And I think all that happened--I, you know, to different degrees. And people differ about that; there are a lot of people who don't believe that happened. But uh, you know, I'm in the happy position of telling you that I think about it now. But I think it did get stabilized and I think that the healing, while it was never a hundred percent, a lot of it did take place. And I think we not only have-- have consolidated our physicians pretty well with the community colleges and the Medical Center and the main campus, but also have, have strengthened this place considerably in the last eighteen years; that's my view of it.

SMOOT: The Medical Center had not been here for very long when you-- when you arrived. It only opened its doors in 1960, uh, to its first classes in medicine and nursing, and later-


SMOOT: later opened to other colleges. And William Willard was the dean 00:34:00and vice president--


SMOOT: --at that time, of the old administrative system. Uh, how did you find your relationship developing with Dr. Willard?

SINGLETARY: Well, very cordial. Bill and I got along very well. Bill-- Bill was uh-- my impression of this, and you need to understand that- -that, that Bill was at sort of the end of his career here when I got here; (coughs) Bill had been an instrumental figure in the building and developing of this center over here. A wonderful man who-- who has done, and had done a superb job for Kentucky. (coughs) By the time I got here his health was a very serious problem, and had begun to affect his-- his-- though he had a good-- good administrative group in place, 00:35:00he'd gotten some very-- he brought first-rate people to-- to UK. And I-- I will say this to the degree that there were members of this board who felt that uh-- that some replacement was in order over there. They didn't bother to discuss that with me at the time I was recruited. It was after I came that they began to-- to suggest it; that something had to be done at the Medical Center. I did not feel that kind of uh-- that kind of pressure that something had to be done. I also felt that a man who had done for this place what Bill Willard had done for it, did not deserve to be treated in any summary way. And uh, so for a period of time we worked out an arrangement where Bill could-- could let go gradually, gracefully, and-- so uh, I was-- I think-- I think-- 00:36:00I believe and I think Bill believed that the time had come for him to, to do that-- so-- and we've had him back, as you know, a number of times. I have great admiration for Bill Willard and will be the first to say that-- that he gave-- he gave this Medical Center its uh- its first great thrust. He gave it the-- set the direction and the tone of it. Brought in people of considerable quality and, and I would say the institution and the state are in his debt.

SMOOT: I've talked with other presidents of universities and one of the things they've always pointed to when they have been involved in an institution that has a medical center, is that presidents seem to take one of two basic tracks when it comes to administration of a medical center. They either splay "hands off" because of the complexity, 00:37:00or they become so heavily involved with it that other parts of the university suffer and eventually can even consume them; it's such a complex institution. What has been your uh, particular--?

SINGLETARY: Well, not either one of those. I-- I certainly have not attempted to get too deeply into the operation of the Medical Center. I-- I think that the temptation to do that would be fatal for a layman, and it's too easy an assumption to just say that, "Well, all you need is a little better administration. " Medical Centers are different, and uh, medical folk are different, doctors are different. And uh I-- I think, my-my own private view is that the reason you have a chancellor now, or a vice chancellor and at the time, vice president in its time, is to have someone who has a combination of administrative ability and medical knowledge and experience too. I 00:38:00think ideally that's what you want. And what-- what we do is provide a kind of oversight for that operation from the standpoint of the University's major policies. For example, you have to be careful about what kind of uh, of debt you create in the building and operating of the Medical Center. You can, uh, you c-- in the name of meeting needs you could place the whole university in hock just in building Medical Center space. And given the time we live, the nature of the-- of the health care movement in this country, the great expanse of it, the increasing cost of the highly sophisticated equipment and so forth that it takes to deal with--uh, you could almost make the case that there isn't enough money to have a medical center anywhere. You-- you are never going to be really state-of -the-art. You can only be 00:39:00better or ahead in some ways. Uh, so one of the problems always is the financial problem. The other is the-- the age old problem of providing the physicians the freedom to do what they need to do, and-- and-- and which only they can do, in order for them to function as professionals, And that's-- that's always in any kind of structured institution or arrangement, that presents some problems. And I think it is an open secret that lots of physicians do not lend themselves to bureaucratic structures. (both laugh) I'll let it set right there.

SMOOT: I don't want to get too far astray, but since you brought up the financial problems, I was wondering if you had had any difficulty dealing with uh, the Medical Center in terms of finances? And I-- I'm thinking specifically in terms of the budget that you had to present 00:40:00for the University as a whole, and the Medical Center included in that budget, does that present a problem?

SINGLETARY: Yeah. Sure, of course, of course.

SMOOT: The bargaining--and making a case for the rest of the institution, when-when all other people might see is the bottom line and this huge amount of money is being expended by one part of the institution.

SINGLETARY: Well, the way the budget is built in this-- in this state, it-- it doesn't-- that's not the way it works out. The uh, the uh, the Medical Center-- not many people know this, but the doctors in particular, the physicians generate a substantial portion of their own salaries. They don't, you know, you're not-- but you have to allow them to earn significant incomes or they will not stay in academic medicine in my opinion; some of them- most of them, some of them will. But-- but they are professionals who have the opportunity of going out tomorrow and going into private practice for themselves and doing 00:41:00a lot better financially than they normally would do here. So we begin with that assumption. We let them-- we-- we do not attempt to restrict them to an academic salary, although what we had done here as a matter of policy, we pay a base salary that is very modest, and then they earn the balance of their income through the practice of medicine in that hospital over there. It's uh, the "practice plan" is what we're talking about, and I don't want to get into the details of that mainly because I-- you know, it eludes me as well as lots of other people. But I know enough about it to have that feel for it. And-- and what is missed is that-- that the physicians at the University of Kentucky Medical Center generate a substantial portion. I want to say-- well, I'll stay away from percentages, but I would say quite-- quite common 00:42:00for them to generate more than two thirds of their-- of their income through their practice plan. So you're getting their, their services as teachers and other things given to you for a relatively modest investment; it's a good arrangement for, for, uh, us. In addition to that we operate a hospital over there. The budget of that hospital is now I will say somewhere around ninety million dollars. I don't have the figures in front of me. And you-- nobody gives us money to run that hospital, although there is a small state appropriation. I want to--but, but when-- I want to say the state appropriation for that ninety million dollar operation is something like seven to nine million dollars-- right in there. So the rest of that we have to generate ourselves. And the money the state puts in it is put in it for uh, (coughs) for those things that-- that the hospital does that are related to the training of-- of physicians and health care personnel, 00:43:00rather than just-- just because they like us and would like to, yeah. So you are operating a very substantial medical facility over there, and it has to pretty much pay for itself.

[Pause in recording.]

SMOOT: Dr. Singletary, how involved were you with determining Dr. Willard's successor, Dr. Bosomworth?

SINGLETARY: Well, um, very. You know, that's one of the fundamentally important positions in this structure. In those days it was the vice presidency but-- there were, there were the three, the, the main campus, the Medical Center and the community college vice presidents were the three key appointments here. And uh, even-- 00:44:00even as vice presidents, they were pretty much the-- the on-line academic and administrative officers of those respective units. So they were very important-- very important. And uh, I'm happy to say that Dr. Bosomworth was my candidate and the board did accept that recommendation. And he has presided over a very interesting and difficult time, through a great expansion in growth over there. Um, I think Peter's a great fellow. I think he is a good man, and we are lucky to of-- to of had him, at least I feel that way in my time here.

SMOOT: I suppose that-- it might be obvious, but I'll ask anyway, that you chose Dr. Bosomworth because you found in him many of the same goals and objectives in developing a medical center, that you saw in 00:45:00the type of individual you wanted to have--

SINGLETARY: Well, yeah, basically. I had a lot of confidence in him. He-- he struck me as having a nice blend of the things that I talked about earlier. One, he-- he is himself a professional, he's an, an M.D. and he did have some broader view in some administrative instincts that I thought were very good. And I think it has been fortuitous choice.

SMOOT: The Medical Center has undergone a great deal of expansion during your administration and his administration.

SINGLETARY: That's right.

SMOOT: Um, how important is the expansion of the physical plant? I mean people see that, they don't especially see the other--

SINGLETARY: Well, yeah. There has been a horrendous space problem at the Medical Center for a long time. Research space, patient-care space, office space, every kind of space. The original self-contained 00:46:00building was outgrown relatively rapidly. So I think all you have to do is walk around out there and look and see. You- that whole complex across the street with the-- with the uh, nursing, uh, facility and the--the uh, new Medical Plaza, now the pharmacy building, lined up along there, those are-- those are significant, major additions to the Medical Center. Go back across the street, we put one addition on the Medical Center, we built the, the Markey--(coughs) our cancer patient care facility. The research building is going up now. (coughs) And as you know, we've got a significant renovation and expansion of the Medical Center underway right now. I want to-- I want to say, uh, between forty and fifty million dollars-- I've forgotten that figure. It's a substantial change in the Medical Center. And we also operate 00:47:00the V.A. hospital and their building, as you know, an addition onto it. So it's-- it's changed dramatically in my time here.

SMOOT: How important is this expansion in terms of recruiting and bringing in other faculty members, of this sort, money, and those--?

SINGLETARY: Well, it's--I don't want to-- it has some impact on that, but there are a lot of other reasons for-- for uh, the program. You know that the hospital, in particular, this is hospital renovation we are talking about now. Hospital is twenty plus years of-- or what, thirty, what is it now w--?

SMOOT: When the hospital opened?

SINGLETARY: Yeah, when did they open?

SMOOT: 1962.

SINGLETARY: Okay. So, yeah, so it's uh, what twenty-five, I think, quarter of a century old. It's never had any major things done to its-- its entrails. And uh, uh it-- like everything else, you know, 00:48:00you have to-- it's a heavily, heavily used building and, uh, the wear and tear on it is pretty-- pretty serious. Just something like the elevators, you know; they can give you a lot of grief over there, the way they operate or do not operate. And we've had a number of uh, of lesser projects trying to deal with certain things piecemeal when they got to crisis stage. But uh, this is going to be a very significant change in the hospital. It is going to change the emergency room. Uh, they are going to give us some more operating rooms. Going to give us some more beds. Going to give us a different location for the pathology lab. A num-- number of things in that-- just-- just a whole lot better. And let me make it clear to you that-- that this is not something that the state is appropriating money for. That, that-- the renovation-- the bonds uh, that are being sold, or have been sold to, to pay for that. The, the, that service on those bonds will be 00:49:00paid out of income earned in the Medical Center, in the hospital and not, not-- nobody is giving us that-- you know, they've given us the authority to do it. Many people misunderstand that.

SMOOT: Often times it's not really fair to compare, but it seems that it's done all the time. And benchmark comparisons are often made-- benchmark institutions - like, for example, comparing UK to the University of North Carolina, as, just as an example; to University of Florida. How did the Medical Center here compare with other benchmark institutions, so far as you know, from when you started at the University of Kentucky to today?

SINGLETARY: Well, it depends upon what you are talking about. If you are talking about space, then that-- that fluctuates. If you are talking about salaries or if you are talking about the amount of money generated in research or-- it depends on the category. (coughs) It's very hard to get benchmark institutions on medical centers--b-benchmark 00:50:00figures on medical centers. They have different ways of doing things and different ways of reporting it. But I would-- I would say that-- that Kentucky's-- the University of Kentucky's Medical Center has lagged about the way the University generally has lagged behind most of our benchmark institutions. They-the, the level of support has-- has just not been there compared to many others. And North Carolina is a good example. You can look at North Carolina, Florida, Georgia, Texas; schools like that in the south. Look at the-- look at what Alabama has built in Birmingham, in terms of its medical complex, uh, that kind of thing - you can see-- you can see what's-- what's happened. It's part of the-- part of this continuing problem in Kentucky about what to do 00:51:00about resources for support. Higher education in general, and-- and a particular institution.

SMOOT: Um-hm. Does Kentucky have too many institutions to support?

SINGLETARY: Oh, that's an easy thing-- if you could do it all over again, you might want to do it in very different ways, but it is bootless to talk about that, they're there, and nobody is gonna to-- nobody is gonna, gonna-- it's very hard to kill an institution. And uh-- but that's-- I just think that's hardly worth talking about. They uh, there is a strong sense of regionalization in Kentucky, and in any matters where you run into the question among the institutions, where, where you-- where the matter of quality or excellence runs head on into the matter of equity, equity always wins out in Kentucky. It's the political mindset of the state.

SMOOT: Um-hm. There has been a-- you talked about the persistent-- 00:52:00persistency of-- of the question of running the community college system. Taking the community colleges away from the University of Kentucky administratively. There is another question that has seemed fairly persistent lately, and that's been the question of merger. Merger of the administrations--


SMOOT: -- merger of the universities, especially with the University of Kentucky and the University of Louisville. Uh, and sometimes that question has been more specific. It, "Well, let's merge the medical centers, " that's a nice starting point. What has been your involvement with that question and what has been your uh, response to that?

SINGLETARY: Yeah, there-- there have been two phases of it in my time here. When I first came here that was a live topic, the question of running UK and U of L together. Uh, there had been some conversations and I think some misunderstanding about what went on in those 00:53:00conversations. And when I got here the board instructed me to report to them-- to explore that and report to them where that all was. I talked with U of L officials. I could not find any agreement on anything that existed. There had been some talks, but on the basic matters of-- you know, what you would name it, who would govern it and how, and so, there's no, no agreement of any kind. So that collapsed pretty-- pretty well at that point in time. Apparently the presidents had talked some in general terms about the desirability of merger and there had been some committees who thought it was a good idea, but they had not dealt with any of the substantive issues, or if they had, they hadn't reached any agreement that I could find. And so, uh, that was round one on-- on what I call the question of merger. Round two ended 00:54:00about a year or year and a half ago, and that came as a result of the, the Council on Higher Education's resolution that-- that be looked at. A board committee was appointed and did-- did look at the question both here and with U of L. I don't-- I don't think there was ever, uh, I don't think it was ever given much of a chance. Too many other things got into it - alumni, who just instinctively don't like that idea of-- people who were afraid that we would end up with only one basketball team or other important things like that, (Smoot laughs) you know, all the-- all that kind of stuff uh, gets roused up in it. Uh, it, it was looked at and I think the dimensions of the problem were pretty well outlined. The, the kinds of agreements that would have to be made were identified, though none were made. And, I think-- how I 00:55:00would describe the last go-around is that we just agreed not to pursue it any further-- both boards did. That there did not seem to be any prevailing sentiment. There, there question as to whether that issue is dead, who can say? For the future, who-- who knows? But, the, there is also this side of that-- some of the Council on Higher Education interest in it I think is-- is based on a-- a kind of a pipe dream that there is a big money savings out there if you can merge them. I doubt that. I don't think that's very likely. Most of the places where mergers or consolidations have taken place you don't end up with a great savings, you end up with a greater investment. As you look at-- you look at governing structures around the country and you see some very interesting things.

SMOOT: Hmm. Talking about more recent things, merger being one of those 00:56:00recent things-- and I know this is something that you had to deal with that was very unpleasant. But 1985 seemed to be a rather important year in this--

SINGLETARY: I would say so.

SMOOT: -- not that the other years were not important, but particularly uh, an active year in that we had the coal research contract question come up, the problems with the UK and the U of L dental schools questions came up, and then, of course, you led the fight-- the battle across the state bringing in the alumni to, uh, battle against what you called the most serious assault on the University of Kentucky in modern history and maybe in its existence. Is there any linkage, first of 00:57:00all, to these various questions in terms of the coal contract and the dental school question?

SINGLETARY: No, no linkage that I know of, let me say that. I-- I never thought there was linkage. I think the timing was significant, that they came at essentially the same time chronologically, and people began to see that, that, that what I was saying was not fantasy. That something was amiss, some-- something is going on out there. And I think they were very different. I think that the-- so far as I know, the Council on Higher Education was not involved in any way at all in the coal contract dispute. I've always said, have always believed that that was the-- that was a decision made by one man for reasons of his own, that, uh, had nothing to do with much of anything else. And he was in a position to make that judgment. I thought it was a bad judgment then. I think it's a bad judgment now. But it was his to make and he made it, and in the long run we'll-- we'll just have 00:58:00to see. But that-- that disturbed a lot of people. A lot of people thought, "Oh, what's happening? " That-- that's fundamentally an anti- UK attitude, and it-- it-- it not only shook a lot of people, it angered a lot of people. The way it was done and the result of it-- you know of taking that kind of coal contract away from us after a meeting in which George Evans and I had had a, a conversation that at least led me to believe that-- that he was going to continue that contract. And then putting it at a school that has no history or experience or background in any kind of coal research, uh, of any consequence. So there were-- a lot of people were-- were puzzled and somewhat angered by that. As it turns out, it may of been a favor to us because it did sound a kind of an alarm for people to say, "Well, maybe there is some, maybe he's not just being paranoid out there, maybe-- maybe we 00:59:00ought to look at that. " And about that time, the Council on Higher Education leak took place, the-- the so - called strategic plan leak. And you can hear anything you want to about that now, but nobody ever really meant all that. But somebody was writing that stuff. It's hard to find out who, but somebody was writing that stuff. And it was-- we thought a pretty coherent plan, that-- that whatever its intent, it's result would of been to dismantle some important programs at UK. The dental school was-- was in the vanguard of that, but always hovering in the background was the community college question. The Ag question got brought into it-- all this good stuff, even the law school surfaced towards the last. Though I must say, I never thought there was any serious threat to the law school. Not even in Kentucky can a school that is that much better than the others be in too much trouble.


SMOOT: Um-hm. Seems peculiar because the-- these are two institutions that have always been sighted as outstanding at the University of Kentucky. If we're strong in things, we're strong in coal research and we're strong in our medical centers. We're strong in law. Uh, it seems peculiar that this happened in the same year. That-- that's why I was looking for, if there was--

SINGLETARY: Well, I don't think there was any tie between those things. One came the political route from an individual who for reasons of his own was--was uh, was uh, angered about UK. The other came as a-- as the result of a planning process that, one, we didn't participate in, two, did not like, and three, thought was a disaster potentially for the state and certainly for this University. Happily that got changed in very significant ways.


SMOOT: I know that you've had a long and strong association with the dental school, if for no other reason than that one of your close assistants has been the former dean at College of Dentistry.

SINGLETARY: Yeah, right.

SMOOT: Did you find that the people in the dental school were , uh, supportive of the final result, or were they--?

SINGLETARY: Well, it's hard to know when you are talking about-- I would say that-- that a substantial number of them were. And, the dental school faculty is not unlike any other faculty, particularly in a professional school. There are all kinds of people over there. There were some who never felt threatened in the first place. There were some who thought that was all a joke; that nobody would seriously think of closing the dental school. I thought it was time for them to get their heads out of the sand. I don't think they understood a threat when they saw it. There were others who thought that there was a threat and uh, were-- were willing to listen and support certain kinds 01:02:00of things, try and deal with it. There were-- there were a small group over there who did sense just how serious that was, and who gave a lot of time and effort to a-- to a sensible form of combat to protect it and defend it and keep it.

SMOOT: So do you think that this is-- this arrangement uh, with the University of Kentucky and the University of Louisville's dental schools taking-- stepping back and cutting back, uh, on their programs is, is one that uh, would work out satisfactory for both institutions?

SINGLETARY: You know, I don't know. There is a lot wrong with the cooperative agreement, both of us agree to that. We, we both know that there are things--with the shared chairmanships, you share department chairmanships. You know, depends a lot on the person and the other circumstances. Some of them have worked reasonably well, some of them haven't. (coughs) So it was all an experiment, and it's not finely 01:03:00determined how successful that will, will be. I don't think that the judgment to keep both dental schools was made on educational grounds. I think it was perfectly clear that there was going to be a blood bath in this state over that issue if we didn't find some way to reconcile it. And uh, and, and I think quite wisely, at least for the time being, they decided to find some way to compromise it. An-and in the process we committed ourselves to some reduction in the expenditures that had to be made, and uh, some allocation of function between the two schools that had to be made. And there is still some unhappiness about that. On the other hand, I-- I feel about the dental school sort of like Teddy Roosevelt felt about the canal while he said, "The debate goes on and the canal goes on also. " (Smoot laughs) Well the dental school is still that-- my objective was very simple; I knew it was a good dental school. I feel it's the best around, and I thought it was an insane proposal to try and do that dental school in under some kind 01:04:00of fake ground. Uh, I meant for us to do everything we could to make the people of the state understand how good that dental school was. And it's interesting, as it turned out it was not the excellence or the quality of it, which has been real, it was the service component that I think the people rallied around. Because this is the one dental school that does have an outreach program in this state. We've been out there doing some things for some people, and they rallied when they-- people in the mountains were ready to fight you about that issue. So I think, uh-- I think it was an important victory for us to win. And uh, it-- it-- it suffered on the merits of it. The dental school deserved better than it was getting. It really has been a very fine, small, very good dental school. People had given their 01:05:00lives to that thing over there and-- and have-- have helped build it-- build it. And they were--they, they didn't believe or understand how anybody could seriously advocate doing them in. And I think it-- it was something of a shock to them. I shared that view-- I thought-- I thought that that was a terrible mistake. And to the-- to the degree that we had disagreement, I think it was disagreement over how serious the threat was and what we ought to do about it. But uh, I say again, there were-- there were a core of really good people in that dental school who rallied and, and helped put the kind of information in my hands that we could use to make a good, strong case for-- for--that dent-- and the public responded to that case.

SMOOT: Let me step back and ask you about something that had happened earlier. I'm not being very good on my chronology here, but, uh, you 01:06:00also had worked with the Tobacco and Health Institute?


SMOOT: And there were some problems there in, in, the early eighties.

SINGLETARY: Right. Was it-- was it in the eighties or was it in the late seventies?

SMOOT: Well, I have, uh, 1981.

SINGLETARY: Yeah, okay. I don't have that--

SMOOT: Having issues with, am I pronouncing his name correctly, Mr. Hoober, or is it?


SMOOT: Huber? Okay. First of all I guess I should ask you, how close do you see the links between the Tobacco and Health Institute health, and the Medical Center itself?

SINGLETARY: I've never thought there were any particular close links, at the, at least in the legislation that created it was not envisioned. Although, the cooperative principle of-- of, you know, if you're talking about tobacco and health, then quite-- quite obviously there would be some medical-- but then I think that has strengthened rather than weakened over the years. Some of the people who are-- who have in recent years been working over there, their testimony to that. It's a 01:07:00(coughs) legitimate field of research for them.

SMOOT: I don't know then that there would be really anything that you would link together with the dismissal of that particular individual who was directing the institute at that time.

SINGLETARY: No. No, it had nothing to do with the Medical Center, per say.

SMOOT: Okay. Let me ask you a question then about, uh, financial-- finances once again. When the Medical Center was first under consideration, many people on the main campus in arts and sciences and so forth, were actually not supportive of developing such an institution, because they felt that it would adversely the affect of the finances for their programs. People in the medical schools, and the Medical Center generally, argued that, in fact, uh if anything it 01:08:00would help (Singletary coughs) in bringing money into the institution and research and recognition, et cetera, partic-- particularly salaries. Have you found that the Medical Center here has helped in salaries and support for faculty on the other side of campus?

SINGLETARY: I--I, I wouldn't want to make that argument. I think what you described though when you talked about the two positions, those are predictable positions on most campuses, where you have a, a, a general undergraduate arts and science kind of campus and faculty. (coughs) And the Medical Center with all its highly professionalized people, mostly of whom command incomes and salaries much larger than the academic profession would normally pay. There's a good-- good 01:09:00bit-- good bit of resentment and hostility and fear about--(coughs) about that question. I don't believe anybody can make much of it-- you, you can make the case clearly that-- that a substantial number of research dollars have come to UK because of the Medical Center. It's hard for a professor of English to equate that as having any relationship to him or her, uh, any more than-- than-- than uh, a grant over here to somebody in sociology would necessarily have much to do with the Medical Center, though it might. (coughs) So I don't-- I don't, to say-- I think you've got to face the fact that you are talking about an institutional structural problem. You have a number of things-- we had three very different enterprises going on here, uh, structurally. The main campus is different from the Medical Center, and both of them are different from the community colleges. And, and, 01:10:00and our efforts to have a certain kind of tidiness-- you know, we want always have one policy and one regulation. And, in fact, the secret for this kind of administration where you have this many different animals under the same tent, is to have a set of regulations that give you some ability to do things differently with one and the other. The community college system, for example, is basically a teaching unit. Their primary obligation is teaching undergraduate first year, second year students and, and terminal degree people. They teach and that-- they carry heavier teaching loads than people on this campus. You-- you come over here and you have a faculty that's very different from the faculty in the Medical Center in a number of ways. Even-- even in attitudes, even in attitudes the-- the-- the doctors tend to be much hierarchical structure; in some cases, even arbitrary in their dealings 01:11:00with one another. Than-- so there is a constant tension. Particularly all sitting there in one senate, see-- and-- but they see almost every problem a different way. So, you have to keep some free play in there for this thing to work very well. And, uh, that's-- that's part of the administrative trick I think is to-- is to see to it that these three-- and not only is it-- not only is it complicated structurally by the three units. Each of those three units does a number of things, and sometimes they conflict with one another, and sometimes they compliment the research function, the teaching function, the patient-care and the service function are, are going on to some degree in all of them. So it's a pretty interesting complex and you got to keep stirring, and keep stirring, and keep stirring and hope in- hoping that something good comes out; we think it does.


SMOOT: What would you sight as the most important accomplishments that have taken place at the Medical Center while you have been president of the University of Kentucky?

SINGLETARY: Well, the same things that I think happened in the University in general. I-- I don't think there is any question, for example, that-- that the physical facilities have been built. And, you know, you can't miss that, everybody has got to see that because it's there. So it, the building program has been eminently successful. Uh, I think the people problem-- now everybody likes to talk about the people that we've lost; go back to those early names where the great giants were-- were here, and there's no question, they were good. Uh, I think we're still attracting and holding some-- some very good people. You look at, uh-- you look at what Bill Markesbery is doing over in aging, for example. And look at uh-- look at Tony Demaria, and look at Ed Todd, and folks like that over there in the--(coughs) 01:13:00in the, heart, heart area; you can go on and on with that. There are some really superb people over there. Nobody ever-- well, Byron Young, is, to name the first of that endowed professorship; professors of surgery. Somebody tells me a story about a very prominent Lexingtonian who went up to New York for a particular kind of operation and the doctor laughed and said, "What are you doing here? " He said, "The best surg-- or best doctor in the United States for this operation is in your hometown, his name is Byron Young. " (Smoot laughs) So, you know, that-- that pleases me to hear somebody at some cocktail party here in town tell me about that experience-- that-- that delights me. So we have some very, very good people. We are continuing to be competitive in areas. Our problem is that we don't have the overall, uh, level of support for that, but at-- in certain peaks we have-- we have great people. I think we continued to attract and to hold some-- some really 01:14:00good ones. So the buildings, the people, uh, I think-- I think you've seen the Medical Center involved in raising a good bit more private money. For example, the whole-- the whole cancer--uh, uh, th-the Markey Center has been done with private money, and the, the foundation that was set up here, Ben Roach played a very active in getting that set up and in raising money for that. Has--has, has been a great example of what can happen when-- when folks go out into the community and say, "This is something that we need, and you've got to help do it. " And they've come, and we've got about a twenty million dollar cancer center with no state money; that's super! That's-- that's impressive 01:15:00for a place the size of this. So, uh, you know, the buildings, the people, the private, uh, funds that have come in, all-- all of that. We have-- lots of honors have been earned by some of our people over there--and been recognized nationally.

Uh, then if you just look at it from a purely service aspects; if you don't believe that is a working hospital, go sit in that lobby over there for awhile and watch what happens. If you look at the- what's happened to the number of patient visits, and the number of babies born, and all those vital statistics that are going on over there every day, it--it, it becomes easily and readily apparent to you. But it's a great health care resource for the state of Kentucky. So in all those things-- some of our researchers have been-- have been recognized 01:16:00nationally for-- for their work. They bring in a pretty good amount of research dollars into the place. Uh, I just-- I just think there is an awful lot to say about the quality of it, and, uh, I think that's-- that's what it all adds up to. So I think-- I think that's the medical center's version of what's also happened on this side of the campus. I think we built this campus. I think we've kept some good people and brought in some good ones; we've lost some good ones as well. The easiest thing in the world is for somebody who really wants one of your people to put together a package and lure him away. And it takes uh-- it takes some of-- some resources and something else, normally some-- some personal characteristic. A lot of them want to stay. Bill Markesbery could of gone from here many times. He's still here and he's here because he wants to be. And we have not-- we have not ever, to my 01:17:00know ledge, really matched his offers, but we have been able to keep it within reach competitively, and, and he likes it here. He-- you know, he graduated, as I recall, in the first class of this medical school.

SMOOT: That's right.

SINGLETARY: So he has a deep tie here. Sometimes you keep people, good people for the wrong reasons. And I-- I'm willing to do that too. (Smoot laughs)

SMOOT: Could you summarize for me the impact of the Medical Center on the community itself and on the state of Kentucky generally?

SINGLETARY: Oh yeah, well-- yeah, it would be hard, I can-- I can-- I could get emotional, I can't top Happy on this, but uh-- but I think that's-- that's the great fringe benefit to Kentucky - having the Medical Center over there for training doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and uh, dentists, and paramedics. That's all fine, that's why it 01:18:00was created ostensibly. But in order to do that, you operate an institution over there that in fact has an impact all over the state. Not just in the community, though it is-- it is very profound here in the community. It's also profound in the eastern part of the state and it still has some significant representation from the western part of the state as well. But the uh--the, the people who are being treated in this state today who simply would not be treated if this place did not exist, are too numerous to count. So, at the same time, we-we don't-- we don't have any substantial grant to operate it as a charity hospital. We have to earn-- but what's really happening over there is that their-- what is-- what is normally made in the way of profit or reserve or something in the hospital, is being plowed back in over there. And, and it's a-- one of the problems is that-- that you have-- 01:19:00we have-- I want to say something-- last time I looked at it, it seemed to me it was about a fifteen to twenty million dollar a year bill that nobody was paying. We were earning it and paying it ourselves in order to treat those people.

SMOOT: Well, that was a problem, was it not, that uh, Dr. Bosomworth had to deal with not so long ago really? The problem of indigent care in the University of Kentucky hospital--

SINGLETARY: Sure, and that problem is not solved. It will never be solved. You have the age old problem of that institution being there and historically there has been a lot of dumping of patients on UK-- And historically, uh, they found a way to deal with that to a remarkable degree. Uh, nobody is-- nobody is paying us to do that. Nobody is providing the state appropriation or anything else for us to do that. We have to generate it over there, and uh, it's-- it's tough.


SMOOT: Do you think that there was ever any, uh, perception in the state of Kentucky, and perhaps you may see it (Singletary coughs) as one that not only was, but still is, that the University of Kentucky was the indigent hospital for the people, particularly from eastern Kentucky? Something akin to what you had long had done in Louisiana, "Happy" Chandler had done for Kentucky?

SINGLETARY: Well, if-- if in fact that's true, it's a perception that grew out of practice rather than appropriation.

SMOOT: Okay. If the University of Kentucky Medical Center was to be improved and you were the one to be making those improvements, as President of the University, or in other capacity, what do you think needs to be done to make that a better medical center?

SINGLETARY: Well, the obvious things are, you got to continue to provide the kind of state-of-the-art facilities and equipment and that kind of 01:21:00stuff that costs a lot of money. We have been woefully inadequate in some ways in doing that. We do the best we can with the resources we have and we plow a lot of money back in to do that. Uh, I think the, uh-- I think the renovation and expansion project that's underway in the University Hospital now is going to go a long way toward making that a viable thing for the foreseeable future. The uh-- when we complete the uh, research program for the Markey Center- the Combs building, that will give us a focal point for our cancer research effort. That will be a-- we have had to decompress the old central hospital building, because we've moved things out of there so that we can-- the greatest 01:22:00problem I think we've had over there, has been research space. Been really serious, the shortage of research space, and uh, little by little we are gaining on that. But we were in a deep hole, and uh, while it's getting better, it's-- then the age - old problem of-- of the level of support for your non- clinical, uh, folk who do not have the, the power to generate their own income, so to speak. That's a-- that's a recurring and continuing problem and it needs more money, that's what it needs. You know, I said before, I don't, people get tired of hearing presidents talk about money, and one of the great cliches of the trade is, "Well, just throwing money at the problem won't solve it. " That's all true. I turn that around and say to you that there is not much, in my opinion, wrong with this place that money couldn't do a great deal about. And while you may not solve all your 01:23:00problems, you may not have a great university by having a lot of money. You will not have a great university without a lot of money. You will not have it. You have got to put the money there or you won't have it.

SMOOT: Now I'm going to be a little bit broader here than I have been, but I would ask-- like to ask you to sight the accomplishments that you are most fond of sighting that have-- that have occurred while you have been president of the University, not only at the Medical Center, but the University as a whole.

SINGLETARY: Yeah well, the Medical Center is clearly a, a part of that, but I-- I-- same things I just ticked off about the Medical Center, you cannot lie. Anybody can-- can remember what this campus looked like eighteen years ago. You just walk across it now, it's just-- there is a new University of Kentucky campus right across here. Which is to say, that one of the things we've done, and I really intended to 01:24:00do, was that we-- we built a campus that will be pretty much intact and serve the needs, except for some specialized space, for the rest of this century. The instructional space is in pretty good shape. We need some more research space, some specialized space, (coughs) but the big building boom is-- is behind us, and the, the physical facilities are here. So I-- I indeed-- I am, for whatever it's worth in comparing these things, I'm told that--uh, that we have built more buildings-- dollar value buildings in my time, not just than any other president, but all the other presidents put together in the history of UK, so that-- that gives you-- same way that you talk about growth and, and most people just say, "Well, you just brag because it's bigger. " No, I've got enough sense to know that bigger is not necessarily better, but 01:25:00people do need to understand what happens in an era in which you have the kind of acceleration and growth and change that has taken place. For example, we have a commencement over here in May on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon; we give-- we give five thousand degrees that year. It took this institution sixty years in its cumulative history to get its first five thousand degrees. So you are doing in one year now, what it took you sixty to do, uh, added together. Another figure that I've been told, which-- which it serves to stimulate the growth and change. Somebody tells me that just more than half of all UK degrees have been given in my term, as president. Half of all of them from the time this place opened. Well, that-- that staggers me to-- to hear that figure and yet I guess that's true because of the growth and size. 01:26:00And, and the same is true in some other ways. I-- I think, uh, if you look at-- if you look at this business of raising private money. I think UK has finally gotten into the act of, of raising private money. When-- when I first got here, I think we were raising a little over half million dollars a year. And, you know, our best year we raised twenty three million dollars- I guess last year, not this year. We are back down to between eighteen and twenty this year, but we had a couple of very big gifts the year before. But the development program has come on, and, and UK is-- is at least now playing in the league with-- with a number of other institutions like us, when we were not even in it before. I-- I think that uh, that our ability to hold and to continue to attract good people is a, goes largely unnoticed. But uh, 01:27:00not many people in Kentucky know what a kind of treasure you have in a Guy Davenport in the English department; they don't know about him. Uh, they know about Tom Clark in the past because Tom was a Kentucky historian, and a local, uh, figure, widely known in the state. Guy Davenport is a, is a world figure, and, in, in some ways, that a lot of people in Kentucky probably don't know anything about. He just happens to be superb, that's the word for it; a first-rate academic man. And uh, you-you have, you have lots of people like that. So- and then you look at the, you look the other qualitative things that nobody seems to want to, to face up to. Selective admissions; we moved to selective admissions, changed the profile of the freshman class at UK. And the, the, the truth is, that while there's nothing dramatic about that, it's a fundamental change and what's really going on there is, this is, this 01:28:00is public institution, only one in the state that has a freshman class profile that's higher than the national average.

[Pause in Recording.]


SMOOT: Dr. Singletary, are there any other subjects regarding the Medical Center in particular, or the University in general, that you would like to bring up that I have not touched upon?

SINGLETARY: Oh, no. I-- I'm, I'm so close to this that I-- I'm-- 01:29:00I; I believe though that the University of Kentucky is a far better institution than most Kentuckians know it is. That is part of my-- part of my sadness about the place. But I think that's part of Kentucky's way of viewing the universe. I-- I think uh, that as a people, we-- we frequently are too willing to settle for too little, too soon. I don't think we set our sights-- I don't think we really understand what we can do and be. And I don't think there is any real understanding, outside of a small group of people in Kentucky, about the importance of a really modern, contemporary, comprehensive research university; the importance of that in the life of the state. Uh, we've--we've carried 01:30:00that message far and as well as we can, but there does not seem to be much, uh-- much acceptance or much enthusiasm for that view. As I say it's a regionalized state, and there-- too many people-- maybe it's because so few of our people have historically gone to college, I don't know. They just don't seem very interested in-- in that. They sort of see all colleges and universities as just alike. No, uh-- no real understanding of the differences and mission and functions and, and the appropriateness of that. And certainly not-- not any broad base of support for the concept of--of, of an institution, that because of its-- its specialness, it does have to have in a sense, uh, decisions 01:31:00made about it in terms of programs and resources that are different. That's-- that's very hard to-- very hard to sell in Kentucky. And I've tried to make that point around the state and in, in the Council on Higher Education and other places, alumni meetings, and the rest of it. Uh, I-- I hope that-- I hope that seed is planted out there. I've seen some good things happen. I was really pleased in this last session of the legislature to see the creation of the advocates for higher education. I had been saying for years, and this is the first real manifestation of it, that one of the things missing in this state was a, a group of articulate and influential laypersons, who could help raise the image of the state about the importance of higher education, and particularly of the need for a truly national university in Kentucky. And I thought I saw a glimmer of that in this 01:32:00and I'm, I'm going to continue to support it and uh, in my retirement continue to work for it in Kentucky. And I think it's-- I think that's a good sign. I would say one other thing, I've had a very, uh, good working relationship over an eighteen year period now with the board of trustees of the University. We had a pretty good understanding when I came, that, that the president is the administrative officer of the University, and the board is the policy making. And it's-- it's gone very well in, in my view, and while there are issues over which they and I have disagreed, I understand their role very well and uh, what their authority is. And I think they have been fairly considerate of my view about the importance of the internal administration's 01:33:00obligations and responsibilities. So it's been a good-- in fact, I don't know of any, any-- anywhere in the country it's been any better.

SMOOT: Are there any other subjects that you would like to discuss or any personal anecdotes you would like to add?

SINGLETARY: I don't think so. Uh, if I get started on that you'll be here for the rest of the week.

SMOOT: (laughs) Well, I wouldn't mind, Dr. Singletary, because it's been a real pleasure and I've learned a great deal from talking with you, and I appreciate you taking the time out of your schedule.

SINGLETARY: Thank you. I've enjoyed it.

SMOOT: Thank you, sir.

[End of interview]