Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Albert B. "Happy" Chandler, December 6, 1976

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

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Partial Transcript: The following is an unrehearsed interview with Albert B. Chandler, retired governor of the state of Kentucky.

Segment Synopsis: The interviewer, a graduate student of Eastern Kentucky University named Barry Peel, is interviewing former Kentucky Governor Albert B. Chandler. The topic of the interview is Robert R. Martin, a former president of Eastern Kentucky University.

Keywords: Interviews; Oral histories; Oral history collections

Subjects: Chandler, Happy, 1898-1991--Interviews; College presidents.; Eastern Kentucky University

00:00:33 - Meeting Robert R. Martin

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Partial Transcript: Governor Chandler, when did you first meet Robert Martin, that you remember?

Segment Synopsis: Chandler recalls meeting Robert Martin during the 1955 election, when Martin ran on the opposing ticket for the public education cabinet seat. He recalls Martin being overweight and Martin's opponents calling him "hog." Chandler remembers Martin's political reputation proceeded him. He also remembers Martin being in support of his second administration's education budget and Martin also being in favor of public school integration.

Keywords: 1955 gubernatorial elections; Education budgets; Kentucky school integration; Martin, Robert R.; Political opposition; Political reputations; Political support

Subjects: Chandler, Happy, 1898-1991--Interviews; Education and state; Education--Finance--Kentucky; Education--Kentucky; Elections; Nicknames; Politicians--Kentucky; School integration

00:05:47 - Financial agreements and disagreements

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Partial Transcript: In the, uh, preparation of the second--(clears throat)--biannual budget, in the second session of the legislature during your term, uh, there was the matter of the free textbook fund.

Segment Synopsis: Chandler discusses the various agreements and disagreements he had with Martin over education finances during his second administration as governor. He discusses the Minimum Foundation Program and taxation of Kentucky, particularly how Martin and he disagreed about Kentucky taxes. He also talks about his disagreement with the funding of Kentucky public schools and believes the federal government should have given Kentucky tax concessions to pay for the schools, as Kentucky is a large contributor to tax income in the United States, according to Chandler.

Keywords: Budget bills; Education funding; Free tax book fund; Martin, Robert R.; Minimum foundation programs; Political agreements; Political disagreements; Public education; Public funding; Tax book fund; Tax funding

Subjects: Chandler, Happy, 1898-1991--Interviews; Education--Finance--Kentucky; Education--Kentucky; Governors--Kentucky--Interviews; Local budgets; School budgets; Taxation--Law and legislation--Kentucky

00:14:01 - Public school integration in Kentucky

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Partial Transcript: Governor, one of the big things you had to contend with during those years, you and Dr. Martin both, uh, he in education and you in the governor's chair, was implementing the Supreme Court's '54 integration ruling.

Segment Synopsis: Chandler discusses how he handled school integration while in his second term as governor. He recalls sending tanks and thousands of troops to places in Kentucky where integration was met with opposition, like Sturgis, Kentucky. He remembers dealing with minimum opposition, due to strong leadership in the various parts of the state. Chandler says any opposition was met quickly and forcefully, but without violence.

Keywords: Anti-integration; Desegregation; Kentucky integration; Military force; Opposition; Political opposition; Segregationists; Supreme Court rulings

Subjects: African Americans--Education; African Americans--Segregation; African Americans--Social conditions; Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka; Chandler, Happy, 1898-1991--Interviews; Governors--Kentucky; Racism; School integration; School integration--United States; Sturgis (Ky.)

00:21:13 - Martin as Bert T. Combs's campaign manager / Martin involving politics in education

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Partial Transcript: Back in, uh, the late 1950s, when, uh, your term was coming to an end--

Segment Synopsis: Chandler discusses his disapproval of Martin being Combs's campaign manager while still in office in the 1959 gubernatorial election. Chandler talks about his personal dislike of Combs, who implemented the sales tax and overspent during his administration. He recalls the animosity and political factions which occurred after Combs was elected. He also talks about the controversy over building the Chandler Medical Center at the University of Kentucky. He expresses his disapproval of a cabinet member being involved in a political campaign and how Martin brought politics into education during his time in the government.

Keywords: Cabinet members; Campaign managers; Democrats; Kentucky democrats; Kentucky sales tax; Political ambitions; Political beliefs; Political opinions; Politics in education; Southern democrats; State debts

Subjects: Chandler, Happy, 1898-1991--Interviews; Combs, Bert T., 1911-1991; Education and state; Education--Kentucky.; Education--Political aspects; Governors--Election; Governors--Kentucky; Kentucky. Governor (1959-1963 : Combs); Political campaigns--Kentucky; Politicians--Kentucky; Sales tax--Law and legislation--Kentucky; University of Kentucky. Medical Center

00:28:13 - Martin at Eastern Kentucky University / University of Kentucky

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Partial Transcript: There's a story that has been told and I wanna see if it's basically accurate.

Segment Synopsis: Chandler discusses a comment about the burning of a building at the University of Kentucky during the 1970s, where he made a comment about Robert R. Martin to Governor Louie B. Nunn. He tells a story about punching a UK student who grabbed him by the tie during Vietnam War protests. He talks about his impression of Martin as a no-nonsense person and his approval of Martin’s time as president of Eastern Kentucky University. Chandler discusses how the University of Kentucky has no buildings named for him, despite his contributions to the school.

Keywords: Coldstream Farm; College protests; Martin, Robert R.; Personal contributions; Strength; University of Kentucky Board of Trustees

Subjects: Chandler, Happy, 1898-1991.; Eastern Kentucky University; Leadership; Nunn, Louie Broady, 1924-2004; Protest and social movements; Spindletop Farm (Ky.); University of Kentucky

00:33:02 - Involvement in selecting presidents for Kentucky public universities

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Partial Transcript: When, uh, Dr. Martin was in office, and, and, uh, you were governor, uh, there was one little incident that was played up in the Courier-Journal and various other papers.

Segment Synopsis: Chandler discusses an incident in which Kentucky newspapers wrote he offered Martin the presidency of Eastern Kentucky University. Chandler describes various jobs and positions he got for other Kentucky politicians during his career, including jobs in baseball and various Kentucky universities. He talks about how, in spite of this, he had little to no involvement in getting certain people to be president of certain Kentucky public universities while governor. Chandler then talks about Martin’s political career, or as he believes it, a lack thereof.

Keywords: EKU; Kentucky politics; Kentucky universities; Kentucky university presidents; Martin, Robert R.; University presidents

Subjects: Chandler, Happy, 1898-1991--Interviews; Clements, Earle C. (Earle Chester), 1896-1985; College presidents.; Eastern Kentucky University; Public universities and colleges.; University of Kentucky

00:38:07 - Martin as president of Eastern Kentucky University

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Partial Transcript: As you look at his years, uh, sixteen of them in fact, from '60 to '76--

Segment Synopsis: Chandler believes Martin was a strong leader, which made him an ideal university president for Eastern Kentucky University (EKU). He also believes Martin’s greatest time in his career was when he was the president of EKU. Chandler also talks about how the money Martin got for EKU came through Earle Clements, who was in the U.S. Senate at the time Martin was president of EKU. Chandler discusses the disapproval of former Kentucky Governor Bert T. Combs, who a vast majority of politicians in Chandler’s circle disliked. Chandler believes Martin handled EKU’s finances well during his time as president and discusses the various reasons for his admiration of Martin’s presidency.

Keywords: Chief lobbyists; Discipline; Friendships; Kentucky lobbyists; Lobbyists; Martin, Robert R.; Old age; Political relationships; Tobacco; University presidents

Subjects: Chandler, Happy 1898-1991--Interviews; Clements, Earle C. (Earle Chester), 1896-1985; College discipline; Combs, Bert T., 1911-1991; Eastern Kentucky University; Leadership; Older people; Public universities and colleges

00:45:43 - Getting university finances from the state legislature

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Partial Transcript: Well they say that, uh, in any of the state colleges and universities, and the University of Kentucky, uh, part of the job of being president is getting money out of that legislature.

Segment Synopsis: Chandler debates the importance and difficulty of getting university funds from the state legislature. He discusses how he provided funding for universities during his governorship and how funding for higher education has evolved over the years. Chandler talks about his vehement disapproval of Edward F. Prichard.

Keywords: Ballot stuffing: Accusations; Election corruption; Political corruption; Prichard, Edward F.; University funding

Subjects: Chandler, Happy, 1898-1991--Interviews; Eastern Kentucky University; Education, Higher.; Educational law and legislation -- Kentucky; Elections--Corrupt practices.; University of Kentucky

00:48:17 - Public universities competing with the University of Kentucky

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Partial Transcript: Do you think, for example, Eastern and some of the other state colleges, did they compete unnecessarily with University of Kentucky?

Segment Synopsis: Chandler talks about the futility of public universities in Kentucky attempting to compete with the University of Kentucky. The state could not fund other colleges to be able to compete with the University of Kentucky. Chandler discusses how he forbid other schools besides the University of Kentucky to provide graduate studies to their students. Chandler cites the lack of name value and lack of funding as reasons for not opening graduate schools in other public universities besides the University of Kentucky.

Keywords: Dentists; Graduate school funding; Graduate studies; Kentucky dental schools; Kentucky pharmacy schools; Pharmacists; Public colleges; University funding; University of Kentucky graduate studies; University politics

Subjects: Chandler, Happy 1898-1991--Interviews; Eastern Kentucky University; Education, Higher; Education--Political aspects; Educational law and legislation--Kentucky; Public universities and colleges; University of Kentucky; University of Kentucky. Graduate School

00:52:36 - Comparing Robert Martin to other college presidents

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Partial Transcript: Of the college--state, uh, college presidents that you've known during this time, how would you rank Bob Martin with the rest of them?

Segment Synopsis: Chandler calls Paul Garrett, from Western Kentucky, the best college president he knew. He cites Garrett’s avoidance of politics and discipline as reasons for this opinion. Chandler talks about how Martin’s political beliefs and involvement hindered his reputation as a college president. Chandler then discusses other various Kentucky college presidents and their political aspirations. He also discusses the various roads built during his administration.

Keywords: Garrett, Paul; Kentucky college presidents; Kentucky colleges; Martin, Robert R.; Opinions; Political agendas; Political beliefs; Political involvement; Public university presidents; University presidents

Subjects: Chandler, Happy, 1898-1991--Interviews; College presidents.; Combs, Bert T., 1911-1991; Eastern Kentucky University; Public universities and colleges.; Rural roads; University of Kentucky; Western Kentucky University

00:57:04 - Martin’s political activity / Personal relationship with Martin

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Partial Transcript: When, uh, you say he was, uh, Bob Martin was the most political, uh, college presidents...

Segment Synopsis: Chandler talks about Martin’s possible involvement in politics during his time as president of Eastern Kentucky University. He discusses the discipline of various presidents of Kentucky universities, including Martin and Paul Garrett. Chandler talks about his friendly relationship with Martin, despite their political differences.

Keywords: Disciplinarians; Education budgets; Friendships; Kentucky college presidents; Martin, Robert R.; Political differences; Relationships

Subjects: Chandler, Happy, 1898-1991--Interviews; College presidents.; Eastern Kentucky University; Education--Finance.; Kentucky; Public universities and colleges; University of Kentucky; Western Kentucky University