Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Kimberly A. Miller-Spillman, April 10, 1992

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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00:00:04 - University of Kentucky’s greatest achievements and flaws

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Partial Transcript: Okay this is the second interview, Dr. Kimberly Miller and ACS.

Segment Synopsis: Miller-Spillman admits that the lack of parking and the constant construction causes her to feel a disconnect from the rest of campus. She also explains how the lack of diversity makes it difficult to succeed in the university's environment. Miller-Spillman says that she feels her area of environmental science (textiles and design) are not very well understood by the university, which leads to bias.

Keywords: Bias; Classrooms; Connection; Construction; Home economics; Human environmental science; Isolated; Minorities; Money; Parking; Policy; Textiles; Women

Subjects: Campus size; College campuses.; College teachers.; College teaching.; Educators; Universities and colleges--Faculty.; University of Kentucky; University of Kentucky. College of Human Environmental Sciences

00:06:26 - Academic career opportunities for women versus men

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Partial Transcript: Do you think gender influences academic career possibilities at this university?

Segment Synopsis: Miller-Spillman describes University of Kentucky as worse by comparison to other southern schools regarding their sexism. She says that she is treated differently more due to her age rather than her gender. She says that the gender bias that she has witnessed has been very subtle, but she feels there is a possibility it is happening behind closed doors.

Keywords: Age; Appearance; Departments; Faculty; Feminists; Gender; Gender bias; Opportunities; South; Subtle; Traditional; Woman; Young

Subjects: College teachers--Social conditions; College teaching.; Discrimination in employment.; Educators; Sex discrimination in higher education.; Sexism in higher education; Universities and colleges--Faculty.; University of Kentucky; Women in education.; Women in higher education.; Women--Education (Higher)

00:09:25 - Racial bias at the University of Kentucky

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Partial Transcript: And same question for race.

Segment Synopsis: Miller-Spillman explains that the college has made such an effort to bring in minority representation. She says that despite this, she still thinks there is subtle racial bias when it comes to career possibilities at the university. She admits that the university will over-promote because of someone’s race alone, because they need more representation. She is torn between her fear of being promoted simply because she is a woman, and her dissatisfaction with the amount of white men in high paying positions. Miller-Spillman thinks that nationality affects one's career prospects similarly to race and gender. She thinks that age may not matter as much in some respects, as long as you have the credentials. She thinks it matters to some extent, but not as much as race or gender.

Keywords: Affirmative Action; Age; Background; Career possibilities; Colleagues; Credentials; Effort; Experience; Faculty; Minority; Nationality; Over-promoting; People of color; PhDs; Race; Research; Reverse discrimination; Textiles; White; Younger

Subjects: College teachers--Selection and appointment.; College teachers--Social conditions; College teaching.; Discrimination in employment.; Discrimination in higher education; Educators; Ethnicity; Minorities in higher education; Race discrimination; Sex discrimination in higher education.; Sexism in higher education; Universities and colleges--Accreditation.; Universities and colleges--Faculty.; University of Kentucky; Women in higher education.; Women--Education (Higher)

00:14:03 - Working at a university versus working in the private sector

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Partial Transcript: Um, what distinguishes working at a university from working in the non-academic private sector?

Segment Synopsis: Miller-Spillman describes working at the college as being more flexible and coming with more freedom regarding decision-making than other, non-academic, entry level jobs.

Keywords: Assistant professors; Autonomy; Classes; Flexibility; Independent; Schedules; Syllabus; Teaching

Subjects: College department heads; College teachers--Social conditions; College teachers.; College teaching.; Educators; Teaching; Universities and colleges--Faculty.; University of Kentucky

00:15:10 - Racial tensions at the University of Kentucky in 1992

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Partial Transcript: Do you perceive any racial tensions on campus?

Segment Synopsis: Miller-Spillman says she does not view any racial tensions at the University of Kentucky but is inexperienced with working all over campus. She wants funding for the university to continue, but more through the university, not the government. She explains that there is more that goes into being a professor than what is displayed to the public.

Keywords: Accountable; Classrooms; Conveyed; Few; Funding; Grading; Inexperienced; Lectures; Males; Minority; Preparation; Racial; Teachers; Tensions

Subjects: College integration; College teachers--Social conditions; College teaching.; Discrimination in employment.; Discrimination in higher education; Educators; Ethnicity; Minorities in higher education; Race discrimination; Universities and colleges--Faculty.; University of Kentucky

00:17:34 - Thoughts on her career at the University of Kentucky

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Partial Transcript: And, uh, your favorite question from every section: do you have any other thoughts about the conditions of this university?

Segment Synopsis: Miller-Spillman says that she thinks the conditions at UK are wonderful and she gets pretty much everything she asks for. It is her first tenured position, she has not been promoted, and she does 25% research and 75% teaching at the university. She believes there is a healthy and friendly work environment, but wishes she was closer with the colleagues in her department.

Keywords: Complaints; Design; Fortunate; Friendly; Healthy; Opinions; Polite; Promoted; Research; Roles; Social; Tenure; Tenure track; Work; Work environment

Subjects: College teachers--Social conditions; College teachers--Workload; College teaching.; Education--Study and teaching; Educators; Teaching; Universities and colleges--Faculty.; University of Kentucky

00:20:20 - Work culture at the University of Kentucky

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Partial Transcript: How would you describe the work culture here at your place of work?

Segment Synopsis: Miller-Spillman thinks there is an unwritten expectation of being a workaholic the first five years of working, because of bragging about lack of sleep and other things. She says she will still work hard and do what needs to be done, but she wants a social life as well. She is content with her office, but wants the library to be improved, and needs upgrades in the laboratories and equipment.

Keywords: Adequate; Equipment; Expectations; Friends; Full; Improvements; Laboratories; Loans; Materials; Office; Research; Resources; Sleep; Work; Work culture; Work-life balance; Workaholic

Subjects: College teachers--Social conditions; College teachers--Workload; College teaching.; Education--Study and teaching; Educators; Teaching; Universities and colleges--Faculty.; University of Kentucky; University of Kentucky. Libraries

00:24:04 - Relationship with her students / Benefits at the University of Kentucky

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Partial Transcript: Um, do your students have sufficient or too much access to you?

Segment Synopsis: Miller-Spillman talks about her office hours, and how students do not take advantage of them like she wishes they would because she wants to get to know them and help them out. She mentions that her salary and earnings were very competitive when first coming in, but currently are adequate. She talks about how good the benefits are, besides wanting an eye care plan added.

Keywords: Access; Adequately; Advantage; Benefits; Careers; Compensation; Competitive; Dental benefits; Expected; Eye insurance; Health plans; Home; Insurance; Office hours; Retirement; Separate; Students; Work

Subjects: College students.; College teachers--Job satisfaction; College teachers--Salaries, etc.; College teachers--Selection and appointment.; College teachers--Social conditions; College teaching.; Educators; Universities and colleges--Faculty.; University of Kentucky

00:28:31 - Security in her career

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Partial Transcript: Do you feel that your job is secure?

Segment Synopsis: Miller-Spillman talks about recent budget cuts, but fortunately they are understaffed in the textiles department so she feels more secure in her position. She discusses her consulting work, like police uniform shirts and another local business dealing with toddlers, which she enjoys doing because of the hand-on qualities it has. She has not had a sabbatical yet because she is too young.

Keywords: Benefits; Breaks; Budget cuts; Budgets; Burn out; Careers; Compare; Consulting; Hands-on; Ideas; Kentucky; Paid; Police; Privilege; Qualify; Research; Sabbaticals; Secure; Semester salary; Side jobs; Specifications; Successful; Tenure; Travel; Understaffed; Vice chancellors

Subjects: College students.; College teachers--Leaves of absence; College teachers--Social conditions; College teaching.; Educators; Kentucky; Universities and colleges--Faculty.; University of Kentucky; University of Kentucky. College of Home Economics; University of Kentucky. College of Human Environmental Sciences

00:33:06 - Influence of gender, age, nationality and race on her career

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Partial Transcript: Has your gender had an influence on your career?

Segment Synopsis: When asked if her gender has influenced her career, Miller-Spillman says that home economics tends to be a field dominated by women. She talks about how she is surprised with how often women are rude to other women. She is surprised how women don’t help out other women in their field. She says that her age has not had an influence on her career; as long as one has the degree it doesn’t matter. Age does help connect you to the students in your classroom. Being younger has more of a disadvantage when teaching because kids think they will be more laid back in teaching and grading will be less strict. She says her nationality and race have not affected her career in education.

Keywords: Age; Careers; Disadvantages; Gender; Home economics; Influence; Nationality; Race; Students; Teaching; Women

Subjects: College students.; College teachers--Leaves of absence; College teachers--Social conditions; College teaching.; Discrimination in employment.; Educators; Kentucky; Sex discrimination in higher education.; Sexism in higher education; Universities and colleges--Faculty.; University of Kentucky; University of Kentucky. College of Home Economics; University of Kentucky. College of Human Environmental Sciences; Women in education.; Women in higher education.; Women--Education (Higher)

00:35:27 - Meeting with students socially

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Partial Transcript: Do you ever meet your students socially?

Segment Synopsis: Miller-Spillman says she has met with graduate students occasionally but has not met with her undergraduate students socially. She does not feel that this is super important and would make her feel like she is taking her work home with her. She thinks students may get the wrong idea if they met socially, and it's hard for her to switch back and forth with authority in the classwork and outside. With age and experience she may get better with this.

Keywords: Age; Authority; Classrooms; Experience; Graduate students; Undergraduate students; Work; Wrong idea

Subjects: College students--Social conditions; College students.; College teachers--Social conditions; College teaching.; Educators; Universities and colleges--Faculty.; University of Kentucky

00:37:12 - Rewards of working at the University of Kentucky

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Partial Transcript: What are the rewards coming with your work?

Segment Synopsis: Miller-Spillman says that if you enjoy what you do, it’s rewarding to do your job and work with students. Last year she got a raise. She gets frustrated with the lack equipment and facilities. She wants to do more but can’t because of what is available, but it allows her to become more creative. It makes it difficult when people in higher positions have different views.

Keywords: Budget cuts; Classes; Creative; Enjoyment; Equipment; Facilities; Finances; Frustrations; Hindered; Limitations; Opposite; Pay raises; Resources; Restraints; Rewards; Working conditions; Years

Subjects: College environment; College teachers--Job satisfaction; College teachers--Salaries, etc.; College teachers.; College teaching.; Educators; Universities and colleges--Faculty.; University of Kentucky

00:40:21 - The importance of communication in a teaching career

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Partial Transcript: How important is communication at your place of work?

Segment Synopsis: Miller-Spillman says that communication is what teachers do; it's their business. You can’t have a class without communicating. She talks about how she wants to learn more and how it would not be accessible with the lack of communication. There is lack of communication within her department. She believes that the longer she is there she will be more comfortable with confronting this problem; it will not change overnight.

Keywords: Classes; Communication; Departments; Lack of communication; Learning; Problems; Teachers

Subjects: College teachers--Social conditions; College teachers.; College teaching.; Educators; Universities and colleges--Faculty.; University of Kentucky

00:44:43 - The organizational structure of her department

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Partial Transcript: Could you describe the organizational structure, uh, of your unit?

Segment Synopsis: Miller-Spillman talks about the different department chairs within her department, the roles they have, and their power. She talks about how she knows some information through gossip, etc. There is always someone supervising what she is doing. She had a research assistant. She doesn't keep up with others' work because she has so much on her plate. Her department is all white and female except for the department chair who is male.

Keywords: Department chairs; Departments; Females; Head of department; Information through gossip; Males; On task; Power; Research assistants; Roles; Supervising; White

Subjects: College department heads; College teachers--Social conditions; College teaching.; Discrimination in employment.; Discrimination in higher education; Education--Political aspects; Educators; Minorities in higher education; Sex discrimination in higher education.; Sexism in higher education; Universities and colleges--Faculty.; University of Kentucky; Women in education.; Women in higher education.; Women--Education (Higher)

00:50:40 - Personal life

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Partial Transcript: Is being a single person advantageous in pursuing your career?

Segment Synopsis: Miller-Spillman says that since she does not have a husband or a family, people in her career expect her to be there twice as much. She talks about how not having a spouse is hard because she does all the work. Her family is supportive, but from a distance. They do not share everything with each other. She is able to travel on the holidays to see her family. Miller-Spillman spends her spare time eating out with groups of friends and arranges dinners with friends. She jogs and is in many road races. She loves exercise and movies. She goes to church and is involved in committees through the church. She started a singles group in her church. She believes you have to have the same values within your personal life and your professional life. She says your values need to stay consistent across the two but you deserve to have a personal life outside of professional life. There’s a stereotype around inappropriate teacher/student relationships. She talks about how she spent her Spring Break.

Keywords: Breaks; Brothers; Careers; Churches; Committees; Consistent; Dinners; Disadvantages; Eating; Exercises; Family; Family life; Friends; Hardships; Hobbies; Holidays; Involvement; Jogging; Leisure time; Marriage; Movies; Personal life; Relationships; Relaxation; Religious life; Road races; Shopping; Single women; Singles groups; Social life; Spring break; Stereotypes; Trips; Values; Work-life balance; Worth

Subjects: College teachers--Social conditions; College teachers--Workload; College teaching.; Discrimination in employment.; Educators; Families.; Sex discrimination in higher education.; Sexism in higher education; Universities and colleges--Faculty.; University of Kentucky; Women in education.; Women in higher education.; Women--Education (Higher)

00:58:25 - What is important to Miller-Spillman / Future plans

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Partial Transcript: What makes, um, what makes you work?

Segment Synopsis: Miller-Spillman hopes to apply for an administrative position at a university someday. She talks about how if she did get that role that she would teach one class per semester because she would never want to lose touch with the students. She finds not managing her time and all that she has to do with little time the most stressful. She used to get stressed when her classes would change last minute and not a semester in advance. Teaching a class for the first time is also stressful to her. She finds working with the students and getting through to them the most rewarding. Her greatest professional achievement is finishing her PhD and having her work published.

Keywords: Accomplishments; Positions; Professions; Relationships; Roles; Stress; Students; Time; Worth

Subjects: College administrators; College students--Social conditions; College teachers--Social conditions; College teachers--Workload; College teachers.; College teaching.; Educators; Teaching; Universities and colleges--Administration.; Universities and colleges--Faculty.; University of Kentucky