Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Howard W. Beers, June 21, 1972

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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00:00:13 - Coming to the University of Kentucky

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Partial Transcript: Interview with Dr. Howard Beers, professor of sociology, June 21st, 1972.

Segment Synopsis: Dr. Howard Beers says he came to work at the University of Kentucky in February of 1939 after visiting the campus during a meeting of the American Country Life Association in 1938. He talks about the increasing interest at the time in rural sociology.

Keywords: American Country Life Association; Dean Thomas Cooper; Dr. Frank McVey; General Education Board; Job offers; Rural sociology; Rutgers University; W. D. Nicholls

Subjects: College administrators; College presidents; College teachers--Selection and appointment.; College teachers--Social conditions; Educators; Universities and colleges--Administration.; Universities and colleges--Faculty.

00:03:30 - University President Frank McVey--Support of rural sociology

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Partial Transcript: And I find that, uh, when I try to recall specific, uh, memories that involve Dr. McVey I, I don't have very much...

Segment Synopsis: Beers talks about the support he felt from UK President Frank McVey in regard to his field of rural sociology, and says he was initially unsure of receiving support from the head of his department. He talks about how the Great Depression led to greater interest in rural sociology and social work.

Keywords: "Soft" sciences; Apprehension; Departments; Dr. Frank McVey; Fields; Great Depression; Head of department; Impressions; Professionalization; Respect; Rural sociology; Social workers; Support; Training programs

Subjects: College administrators; College environment; College presidents; College teachers--Social conditions; Educators; Universities and colleges--Administration.; Universities and colleges--Faculty.; University of Kentucky. College of Agriculture

00:09:26 - University President Frank McVey--Entertaining

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Partial Transcript: Uh, there were very pleasant occasional reception-type gatherings at the, uh, at Maxwell Place.

Segment Synopsis: Beers talks about the parties held at the McVey's home, Maxwell Place. He talks about Frank McVey's personality.

Keywords: Dr. Frank McVey; Entertaining; Graduation breakfasts; Maxwell Place; Personality; Receptions; Retirement; Rotary Club; Sense of humor

Subjects: College administrators; College presidents; College presidents--Dwellings; Universities and colleges--Administration.

00:12:17 - University President Frank McVey--Defense of intellectual freedom

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Partial Transcript: Let me see, one of the first, uh, episodes that disturbed me a little bit was almost immediately upon my arrival in, uh, February '39.

Segment Synopsis: Beers says he was initially concerned about living in the "Bible Belt" and the possibility of threats against academic freedom. He talks about how McVey handled two situations regarding protests of teaching material at UK, including the debate over anti-evolution laws.

Keywords: Academic freedom; Anti-evolution laws; Ashland Avenue Baptist Church; Clarence Walker; Community; Controversy; Dr. Frank McVey; Evolution debate; Leadership; Literature; Outside pressure; Protests

Subjects: College administrators; College environment; College presidents; College teachers--Social conditions; College teaching.; College textbooks; Educators; Universities and colleges--Administration.; Universities and colleges--Curricula.; Universities and colleges--Faculty.; Universities and colleges--Public relations

00:17:28 - University President Frank McVey--Leadership of the College of Agriculture

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Partial Transcript: One of the, uh, aspects of Dr. McVey's leadership that interested me was the relationship between the presidency of the university and the deanship of the College of Agriculture.

Segment Synopsis: Beers says that the head of the College of Agriculture in land grant colleges is often powerful and can sometimes control the university president. He talks about the relationship between McVey and the head of the UK College of Agriculture, Thomas Cooper.

Keywords: Dean Thomas Cooper; Deans; Dr. Frank McVey; Experiment stations; Extension service; Ezra Gillis; James K. Patterson; Land grant colleges; Leadership; Power; Research; Teaching

Subjects: College administrators; College department heads; College environment; College presidents; College publicity; Universities and colleges--Administration.; Universities and colleges--Public relations; University of Kentucky. College of Agriculture

00:24:32 - University faculty

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Partial Transcript: It was interesting also for me in the first year to, uh, feel out the relationship that existed between the, uh, administration of the president and the, uh, faculty.

Segment Synopsis: Beers talks about working with the head of the Sociology Department, Vivian Palmer, to coordinate their curriculum in order to get it passed by a curriculum committee. He talks about Palmer's successor, Harold Wetzel.

Keywords: Curriculum committee; Dr. Frank McVey; Faculty Senate; Harold Wetzel; PhD; Problems; Relationships; Rural sociology; Social work; Training; Vivian Palmer

Subjects: College administrators; College department heads; College environment; College presidents; College teachers--Social conditions; College teaching.; Educators; Universities and colleges--Administration.; Universities and colleges--Curricula.; Universities and colleges--Faculty.

00:30:22 - Selection of McVey's successor

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Partial Transcript: Well I'm grasping around for other memories of Dr. McVey and, uh...

Segment Synopsis: Beers talks about McVey's retirement, Thomas Cooper's position as acting president, and the selection of Herman Donovan as the next president. He talks about why many faculty members felt negatively about Donovan's selection or the way he was chosen. He talks about how his opinion of Donovan changed, and Donovan's respect for McVey. The interview is concluded.

Keywords: Advice; Announcements; Dean Sarah Blanding; Dean Thomas Cooper; Dr. Frank McVey; Dr. Herman Donovan; Faculty Senate; Leaving; Opinions; Resignation; Retirement; Successors; respect

Subjects: College administrators--Selection and appointment.; College presidents; College teachers--Social conditions; Universities and colleges--Administration.; Universities and colleges--Faculty.