Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Frank G. Dickey, July 15, 2004

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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O'HARA: This is an unrehearsed interview with the Dr Frank Dickey at his home in Lexington, Kentucky, conducted on July 15, 2004 by Adina O'Hara. Dr Dickey, in the 1962 legislative session there was a community college act passed authorizing the UK Board of Trustees to establish a system of community colleges in Kentucky. What was your role in the creation of public two-year colleges in Kentucky?

DICKEY: I'll have to go back several months before the legislative session took place. Um, at that particular time, and actually until 00:01:00Governor Ford's, um, term of office, uh, the governor of Kentucky was the chairman of the board of trustees. So, Governor Bert Combs, at that time, in 1962, was the governor and therefore the chairman of the board of trustees. And I can't remember whether it was at the September or October, 1961 meeting of the board of trustees. He stayed after me, as was his habit, uh, just to visit, and, uh, he said that was the only time that he could figure out if we could ever have any time in private, uh, even when I came to his office, there was always so-, somebody there, an assistant or a secretary, so he always stayed sometimes half an hour, sometimes an hour after a board meeting, 00:02:00uh, discussing anything that came into his mind. Sometimes it was educational matters, sometimes it was, uh, athletics, sometimes it was, uh, completely outside the realm of, uh, the university. But anyway, on this occasion Bert said, "When the legislature meets in 1962", he said, "we're going to be able to have a budget", and in those days the governor made up, pretty well made up the budget and presented it to the legislature and the legislature usually just passed the budget. And, uh, it's a little bit different now, when the legislature has to submit the budget to the governor and so forth; but anyway, he said, "We have made up the budget and, uh, the University of Kentucky 00:03:00will be able to give about 5 or 6 percent increases in salaries", and he said, "In, and in addition to that", he said, "we've set aside a considerable sum of money to help expand the, uh, centers that have been established, uh, by the university, uh, over the state." He said, "We need more to make education more available to the young people and particularly in communities that are some distance from university campus." And I said, "Well that's wonderful, but there's one thing that I'd like to suggest that we do, and that is that since all other states at that time were talking about community colleges instead of centers, 00:04:00that we call this the, uh, Community College Act." And he said, "That's fine with me." So it became known at that time as a Community College Act. And he said, "There will be several things that would go into it", and said "maybe not even into the act itself, but", said one of them would be that the, uh, localities in which we decide to establish community colleges would have an obligation to assist in the, um, establishment through furnishing land, if possible, and other, other contributions of that kind." And so we talked for quite a while about it, and I can't remember the name of the individual in the legislature; you probably have this information some place, but he said he was going 00:05:00to get the sponsor of the bill. Do you recall the, uh, name of the person that, uh, was, or the names of the persons that were sponsors of this bill? Anyway--

O'HARA: I will look it up. I, I know I've got it someplace.

DICKEY: Okay. And he said, "I'm going to get them to sponsor the bill." He had not yet talked to them; he said, "I wanted to talk to you first." And, uh, so then he said, "At the next meeting of the board of trustees, uh, we'll talk a little bit about this, and, uh, we'll try to, uh, that, be sure it has full support." And it did. It did (??). For all were (??) unanimously in favor of it. So that was the part that was played in the establishment of the, uh, 1962 legislation that, the way it started, and then, of course, it did pass the legislature 00:06:00and, uh, became law, I think, uh, in, uh, July, uh, 1st of, uh, 1962. So, it, uh, enabled us to start, uh, expanding and I believe, well you, you have all this information that, uh, that I recall, Henderson and, uh, Hazard, uh, Cumberland, uh, I can't think of all the rest of them, Somerset probably--

O'HARA: Somerset was------------(??), Elizabethtown--

DICKEY:--Elizabethtown, were all in the planning stages then. They came along at varying degrees of speed; I think, uh, probably, uh, Hazard and Henderson came along more rapidly than the others and, uh, were, uh, established, opened more quickly. But, anyway, um, most of the 00:07:00time they, they did, uh, furnish the land on which the buildings were built, and, uh, the, uh, only real hitch in the whole thing was that there was a hard decision to make between establishing a center in, uh, H-, Harlan or in Cumberland, and, uh, it was finally decided to Cumberland because it would, uh, serve a larger portion of the state, and even beyond Harlan. And, uh, but those, those were some of the things that I do recall from that period of time.

O'HARA: Going back to your conversation with Governor Combs--

DICKEY: Um-hm.

O'HARA: --af-, after the board of trustees meeting, um, when he came to 00:08:00you, did he still call them extension centers when (??) you introduced the terminology of community college?

DICKEY: Uh, as I recall, he, he just said we want to expand the idea of the centers, because at that time we had the Northern Center and, uh, Ashland and, uh, Paducah. Uh, I guess Paducah was in at that time, I'm not, I'm not sure about the year that it came in.

O'HARA: They were negotiating that, but--

DICKEY: I think that's, that's right.

O'HARA: --that--

DICKEY: I remember--

O'HARA: Mr.Adkisson.

DICKEY: --Mr. Adkisson, I believe, was his name, who was the head of Paducah, uh, coming up and talking to us about taking over the college, really it was going into bankruptcy at, uh, at that point. But anyway, um, as far as I know, uh, you've heard, of course, the name, uh, the 00:09:00term community colleges, but I don't know that it was actually attached to it prior to the time that we had our, our meeting ----------(??).

O'HARA: That's interesting. I was trying to determine at what point that transition--

DICKEY: Um-hm.

O'HARA: --sort of took place.

DICKEY: Um, and this, of course, is a little off subject, is, it, it still rankles me a little bit that, uh, Dr. Oswald, with all these things he, the distinction of having established a community college system, and it was actually Governor Combs that established the community college system, and, uh, saw it, uh, and it was already, the term was already used in the legislation before Oswald came.

O'HARA: Um-hm.

DICKEY: But anyway, that, that's beside the point.

O'HARA: Oh, it's, it's a good point to make. I think it's something that, uh, that most people don't realize, and, and like you've told me 00:10:00in the other visit, um, even the first extension center started under President Donavan.

DICKEY: That's right.

O'HARA: So there's a much, you know, a history--


O'HARA: --Oswald really built them up, but, uh, they started a lot, lot earlier.

DICKEY: Yeah, um, yeah the Northern Center was started, the Northern extension center, it was first called, started in 1948, I believe--

O'HARA: That's correct.

DICKEY: --and, uh, I remember the first director of it was Bill Wesley, who, uh, was a, uh, he, he and I got our doctorate degrees at the same time, uh,--

O'HARA: Oh, wow.

DICKEY: --from the University, and then, of course, Dr Hankins, Tom Hankins became the director after Bill Wesley at the center, Northern Center. But he used the term extension center for quite a while, but, uh, then I think it was Dr. Albright when he became director of 00:11:00extended programs, said, "Let's drop the term 'extension center'." I'm not sure if it was during his time, but, uh, he decided just to call it the Northern Center instead of the Northern Extension Center because, as people pointed it out, uh, there was a misunderstanding on the part of other institutions when they would see that this credit came from Northern Extension Center. They thought they were extension credits--


DICKEY: --it would mean by taking, by extension courses; and, in reality, they were, uh, actual, uh, on-campus credits.

O'HARA: Resident--

DICKEY: Resident credits.

O'HARA: --credits.

DICKEY: Right. Um-hm.

O'HARA: Which is a very important distinction.

DICKEY: So, uh, those were some of the other things that, uh, were changes that took place gradually over the years.


O'HARA: Following up on that, um, discussion, um, by 1962, UK had already developed a system of the university and I just, extension centers--

DICKEY: Um-hm.

O'HARA: --but, as you said, you changed the terminology to--

DICKEY: I'm not sure what year it was that the change in, uh, was made in, in, uh, extension centers, the centers with, seems to me it was just about that time because Dr Albright became the--

O'HARA: I believe he became the, um, dean of extended programs in 1957?

DICKEY: Fifty-seven--

O'HARA: --and then I think he was in (??)--

DICKEY: --and served until '60--

O'HARA: In '60 he became provost.

DICKEY: Um-hm.

O'HARA: --for, and then, for--


O'HARA: ------------(??)

DICKEY: Then the vice president.


O'HARA: As vice president.

DICKEY: Um-hm. But, uh, when Dr. Chamberlain retired in 1961 or '62, he became vice president of Academic Affairs, so, but, anyway, that's, your, your information is absolutely on the, on the ball on that.

O'HARA: Good, it's good to be on the same page. (Dickey laughs) I, I'm double checking myself here. Um, and those, those extension centers primarily offered the first two years of undergraduate instruction, correct?

DICKEY: Correct.

O'HARA: While guiding, while guiding principles were being developed, um, at the University of Kentucky by a subcommittee, uh, the committee of fifteen--

DICKEY: Um-hm.

O'HARA: --there was a subcommittee on adult and extension education--

DICKEY: Um-hm.

O'HARA: --and that was around 1957.

DICKEY: That's correct.

O'HARA: Um, and the subcommittee was determining the location of new extension centers--

DICKEY: Um-hm.

O'HARA: --and the need for new extension centers.

DICKEY: Right.

O'HARA: Did you anticipate the transformation of these branch centers 00:14:00into community colleges in the late 1950's?

DICKEY: Um, anticipate, now what? Anticipate the--

O'HARA: The transformation that, did you anticipate that they would become community colleges at some point?


O'HARA: Or did you see always see them as extension centers?

DICKEY: No, not, not really. Uh, I think it was not until just about 1961 that, uh, we had made enough, uh, reviews of what was going on elsewhere that, uh, we decided that the terminology should be community colleges; and, uh, of course, California was a, uh, really a leader in development of community, community colleges. And, uh, there were other states, though, that also were doing some things at that time, too.


O'HARA: Speaking of studies, um, Governor Combs established a commission on the study of public higher education in 1960 to study the needs--

DICKEY: Um-hm.

O'HARA: --of all of higher education--

DICKEY: Um-hm.

O'HARA: --in Kentucky. And, um, he brought in out of state consultants--

DICKEY: Um-hm.

O'HARA: --um, primarily from the South, from George Peabody--

DICKEY: Um-hm.

O'HARA: --from, um, the Southern Regional Education Board--

DICKEY: Um-hm.

O'HARA: --and there was a gentleman from North Carolina that, I think he had been at George Peabody, um, Eric ------------(??), I believe. And then also from Florida, and, um, Dr Charles Haywood came from the University of Mississippi--

DICKEY: Um-hm.

O'HARA: --he was the provost.

DICKEY: Um-hm.

O'HARA: And along with those, um, individuals from out of state, um, there was also the university in, or the university president, yourself, and the state college presidents. Uh, so, there was a lot of 00:16:00people contributing to this research endeavor--

DICKEY: Um-hm.

O'HARA: --as well as the Legislative Research Commission; and in, in November of 1961 the Commission gave the recommendations to Governor Combs in a report--

DICKEY: Um-hm.

O'HARA: --and, the two primary recommendations that I found in the report were for the creation of a super board, um, to pretty much replace the council on public higher education.

DICKEY: Um-hm.

O'HARA: And secondly, to create an independent governance for, for, to govern the community colleges in Kentucky; and I was surprised at these recommendations, um, when I read the report because, of course you know, neither of them were adopted--

DICKEY: Um-hm.

O'HARA: --for various reasons.

DICKEY: Um-hm.

O'HARA: Um, while the recommendation for a super board was adamantly rejected, at least in the press, it showed that the state colleges and 00:17:00the university were opposed to it. The independent community college governance idea really didn't get a lot of press. Can you explain what was occurring, um, at that time and what was the reaction to that recommendation?

DICKEY: I submit that I do not really remember enough about the reaction to it, uh, it just did not, uh, receive (??) much discussion or attention at all. And for what reason I can't, I can't, uh, tell you. But, um, it, uh, it was a recommendation that, uh, obviously was a very sound recommendation, but, uh, as I recall, uh, probably was put 00:18:00aside largely because of the objections of, um, uh, the state colleges, um, Eastern, Western, Morehead, particularly, uh, because they felt that it would lead (??) only toward, uh, some overall board for them. And, uh, if it, and they were so violently opposed to that that, uh, they, uh, decided to oppose the whole, whole thing. And that's, that's the, uh, recollection that I have on it, but--

O'HARA: I thought perhaps it had got thrown out with, uh, with the rest of the rest of the super board, that whole thing--

DICKEY: I think, think that--(O'Hara laughs)--that's the only exp-, explanation I can give because, as I say, I don't really recall that there was ever any, uh, great discussion of the, uh, um, board for the, 00:19:00uh, community colleges, uh, that sort of thing.

O'HARA: Knowing as we know what happened and how it happened, we need to consider why it happened. Would you recount the reasons why the UK Board of Trustees was chosen as the governing authority over a new system of public two-year colleges?

DICKEY: I think it was, uh, primarily because, uh, it, it had already started out that way, and, uh, no one wanted to, uh, make a, a break with the, uh, current, uh, there was no effort on the part of the university to, uh, keep them at that time. But they, there was never any discussion of any, any other alternative. And so it was, uh, just a matter of continuing that which had already been started, mainly 00:20:00through the Northern Center and through Ashland, and, uh, and I, I recall Paducah, but by that time, I'm not sure. But anyway, um, it, uh, just seemed the logical thing to do, to continue the pattern that already had been established.

O'HARA: Was there a, um, on the, in the University of Kentucky, uh, I, as I read through some of Dr Albright's papers and various papers and archives, I came across an article written in the, I'd say '59 or '60, one of its turning points (??), when a lot changes were taking place. And it was, um, on an SREB grant--

DICKEY: Um-hm.

O'HARA: Southern Regional Education Board, and it was mapping out what other states were doing to expand their service mission as a land grant institution--


DICKEY: Um-hm.

O'HARA: --across the state, and, and states were doing different things, but one of the things that other (??) states were doing is that they were creating extension centers.

DICKEY: Um-hm.

O'HARA: And, uh, was that a philosophy or a mission of the university that, that possibly underlies the whole movement?

DICKEY: I think that's true. Um, the University of Kentucky, at that time, was much more cognizant of its, uh, role as a land grant institution, and as a land grant institution, it had the three major missions of teaching, research, and service; and, uh, I think over the years the, uh, service sometimes has been almost forgotten in recent, more recent years. And, uh, so it, uh, was just part of the whole 00:22:00philosophy of the university that, uh, would render service to various outlying parts of the state. And we, they were still very much imbued with the philosophy that Dr Donavan established, mainly that the campus of the university are the bounds of the Commonwealth of Kentucky, and consequently, it meant that, uh, the university had this obligation to, uh, establish educational centers where there seemed to be a need for them. So that was pretty much the philosophical background of it, and, uh, it became just the, kind of a guiding principle that, under which the whole effort took place.

O'HARA: And continued from--

DICKEY: Um-hm. Right.

O'HARA: --extension centers right into the community college--

DICKEY: Right.

O'HARA: --system.

DICKEY: Um-hm.


O'HARA: While (??), we know the outcomes of those talks about creating a community college system, we do not know how this agreement was reached. Because you were the president of the University of Kentucky from 1956 to 1963, you can explain how the recommendations for a public system of two-year colleges was discussed at the university. You have already highlighted some of this, your talks with Governor Combs. What was the general reception?

DICKEY: Uh, as is true on almost any, uh, major change that takes place on a campus, uh, there was divided feeling on the part of the faculty. Uh, for example, when the Medical Center was established, uh, very few people were in favor of the Medical Center being established, 00:24:00because they felt that it would be a drain on the resources of the university, that their salaries would be diminished as a result. But, in actuality, the reverse was true; because when they took a look at the salaries from the Medical Center, they said, "Well, the salaries for the other people (??) will have to be raised." How the, the feeling was on the part of the faculty, that, uh, this would drain off some of the resources of the university, but when they saw that the--(clears throat)--budget that had been proposed by Governor Combs included these in a somewhat separate package, I think their fears were mitigated to some extent. And, um, so they became much more, uh, willing to accept 00:25:00the direction that we were going. As far as the citizens and the, uh, alumni of the university, I think that they were heartily in support of it, 'cause they could see that it was a very constructive step to take to make education available to a lot more people.

O'HARA: You spoke of, uh, Governor Combs setting aside a separate amount of money for the community colleges. How did that work? Is, was that in the 1962 legislation? Or, was that at a later time? I might, I'll look that up, but, um, I'm just thinking about how he, um, was able to finance them.

DICKEY: It was, a--all that, all that was, was earmark for, uh, community college development, uh, in the 1962 Legislation. Um, and, uh, after that, it became more a separate, uh, part of the budget. 00:26:00But, uh, as I recall, it was, it was designated in the 1962, uh, budgetary, uh, legislation that, uh, it would be for, uh, development of community colleges.

O'HARA: Did--

DICKEY: I'm not, I'm not absolutely certain about that, because that's one of those things that--

O'HARA: Sure.

DICKEY: --has escaped me over the years.

O'HARA: Well I'm sure you're correct. I'll, I'll double check that. I'm, I'm curious about the financing and, 'cause what I was wondering is, um, possibly was there an economic, besides the fact that UK had already developed the extension centers--

DICKEY: Um-hm.

O'HARA: --was there, was it also economically feasible to, um, to have it through the university and to finance it initially in the 1962 00:27:00legislative session? I was thinking, was it easier to get it up and going and get it passed? Um, did somehow UK, were they able to finance it through their own budget or systems or something through bonds? Something that could--


O'HARA: --was easier than going another way (??).

DICKEY: Of course, of course the construction building was, uh, largely through bonds. Uh, but, uh, the operational expenses had to be, uh, through state appropriated funds and through some of the university's, uh, other sources of revenue, tuition, of course, and, uh, that sort of thing. But, um, the budget, uh, it was not a, um, huge sum of money 00:28:00that was in the budget for it, but it was, uh, largely for, uh, initial planning, and for, a lot of it was for, uh, architectural design work, that sort of thing. Uh, and, uh, as soon as the, uh, notion was, uh, spread over the state that these were going to be the, ----------(??) had just a tremendous interest in designing buildings and that sort of thing. So, but I, I don't think there was any, any other budgetary, uh, element than, that was involved there with that.

O'HARA: Did UK pursue governance of the community colleges, or were they, did you feel like they were imposed on, or was it just in the, 00:29:00was it simply that both parties agreed with Governor Combs--

DICKEY: It was just, just that both parties agreed, uh, that, uh, that this would be a continuation of that which had already been established, and, uh, it was not, was not an imposition, it was, nor was it a desire on the part of the university to, uh, try to corner the market on, on them or anything like that; it was just that since it had already started that way that it would continue.

O'HARA: In oral history interviews, after, after asking a person why a decision was made, we often ask next why a different decis-, result did not occur. During the discussions, did you at any time expect a different result?

DICKEY: Mm, I must admit that I left at a time when they were still in 00:30:00their infancy, and I don't think that, from my personal point of view, I had any, uh, disappointment in the results nor any feeling that, uh, I wanted, felt that it should be different from that which it were. Now I think if I had stayed for another ten years, there might have been some; but I, I can't really answer that question with any degree of accuracy, because, as I said, leaving in 1963 just within, really a few months after some of them had been established, there was no way to, to know whether they were fulfilling the need or what they were doing.

O'HARA: In this interview, we have determined who decided what, how, and 00:31:00why, but we have not yet considered when the decision was made in the sense of, in the sense of Governor Combs. Do you know if Combs had in mind, this idea before he came into political office? That's what I was trying to determine.

DICKEY: Oh, I think it came largely through this, uh, study that had been made, and, uh, that, uh, it was a forward looking step that had been suggested through the study that you've already referred to.

O'HARA: Documentation leading up to the decision is very informative and a historian can reconstruct how the issue was emerging. But the records are blank when it comes to explaining how the issue was resolved with the regional colleges. Since you were there, how was the 00:32:00issue resolved?

DICKEY: (laughs) It never was resolved. Uh, they were very jealous, very unhappy about it. Each one of the colleges wanted to establish its own set of, uh, community colleges, and, uh, there is still that desire. And, uh, in fact, this, this is not on the point at all, but I just learned the other day that there is a community college in Bowling Green. Now, is that a part of the community college system?

O'HARA: No, it's, uh, it's a part of the Uni-, Western Kentucky University.

DICKEY: That's, that's what I thought.

O'HARA: Yes.

DICKEY: And that is a way that all of them wanted to have it operate, and, uh, particularly Eastern through President Robert Martin and, 00:33:00uh, Morehead through President Adron Doran. Those were the two, uh, greatest proponents of, uh, establishing their own, uh, set of community colleges. So, uh, it was a point that was not solved by the, uh, legislation or by the establishment of the community college system under the university, because they continued to, wanted to do that and to make, uh, sub rosa efforts to do it.

O'HARA: I was, um, I was curious as to whether or not Combs had, uh, tried to compromise and give them something else that they might have wanted in return.

DICKEY: I don't know.

O'HARA: I haven't come across anything yet. They did get, um, there was money, of course, appropriated to all the state colleges and universities--

DICKEY: That's right. They--

O'HARA: --for building.


DICKEY: There was time when, when the money was there, and they, and he was willing to make, uh, the appropriations for them, so, um, he and Governor Breathitt both were very generous in their support of education. And, uh, they tried not to be, play any favorites at all, far as I can see. And maybe that was because we got our share, but, uh, never the less, uh, I think that, uh, they, they got fair and equal treatment, as far as I can see.

O'HARA: It's interesting because, um, there was, I found one piece of legislation where Morehead, um, had evidently gotten a, uh, representative or a congressman to, uh, to try to get some legislation to have a community college in Prestonsburg. But that was the only 00:35:00one I actually found on the record. The rest was just all in the newspapers.

DICKEY: Yeah, yeah.

O'HARA: So it was, uh--

DICKEY: --well they--

O'HARA: --it was interesting.

DICKEY: --they made many speeches over their particular areas, uh, trying to, uh, persuade people to, uh, pressure the state legislature and Governor to permit, uh, them to establish community colleges. But, uh, they were able to resist those, uh, pressures. Um, I think that's probably when the, when Morehead, uh, wanted to establish a college in Prestonsburg, uh, Governor Combs, having lived in Prestonsburg, uh, felt that it would be, uh, inappropriate to put them on the list, at the top of the list. But when he heard that, uh, Morehead wanted to 00:36:00establish one there, he said, "Let's put Prestonsburg on the list." (O'Hara laughs)

O'HARA: (Dickey laughs)They got the ball rolling there.

DICKEY: That's right.

O'HARA: Interesting.

DICKEY: So that's how the Prestonsburg's center got on the list as quickly as it did, because it wouldn't have, wouldn't have been on there, probably, if it hadn't been for Adron Doran making all this noise about it.

O'HARA: 'Cause that one came fairly soon after the, the legislation, I think. I'll have to double check that. But I was thinking that was the, of course, Somerset was in the works, and Elizabethtown was in the works, but I was--

DICKEY: That's right.

O'HARA: --thinking Prestonsburg wasn't too far behind.

DICKEY: No, it wasn't very far behind. That's right. Um, in fact, it was already being, uh, planned before I left in 19-, June of 1963. So it was just, uh, within a period of just a few months after the legislation was passed.

O'HARA: The decision to place, um, the new community college system 00:37:00under the state's flagship and land grant institutions was considered unique across the nation. How did Kentucky's development of public two-year colleges compare to the expansion of community colleges in other states in the 1960's?

DICKEY: Uh, I would say it was about the same degree of speed as, uh, most of the other states, exce-, with the exception, perhaps, of, uh, California, Florida, one or two others that had already had a running start, even before Kentucky started. Uh, but if one looks at, uh, the, particularly the states of the, that were in the SREB area, um, I would say that Kentucky moved ahead as rapidly or more rapidly than most of the other southern states, with the exception perhaps of Florida. Now I don't, I don't know what happened in Texas, uh, but, uh, they did 00:38:00have a rapid growth of community colleges, but I don't know the exact time and period there.

O'HARA: I'm not sure; I'll have to check on that. I think it was later on, because in the, in the South, Florida and North Carolina--

DICKEY: Um-hm.

O'HARA: --really, really--


O'HARA: --ahead of, were a little bit ahead of--


O'HARA: --of the, the game in the fifties, but then, not, not really much, I mean, not much--


O'HARA: --I mean they, they started doing more in the sixties with everyone else.

DICKEY: I guess, uh, North Carolina was establishing community colleges just about the same time as Kentucky was, really. I've been, and, uh, we lived in North Carolina for, had a home there for twenty-seven years, and I learned quite a bit about their community colleges while I was there, and their largest period of growth came in the late sixties 00:39:00and early seventies, amongst the community colleges, and, uh, I don't know how many they had before then, but they're, they had, oh, ten or fifteen established in that period between about 1965 and 1972 or '3.

O'HARA: Hmm. About the same time Kentucky--

DICKEY: Um-hm.

O'HARA: --was really booming.

DICKEY: Um-hm. Um-hm.

O'HARA: Wow.


O'HARA: There is a lot of comparison there. That's neat. (Dickey clears throat) The next question follows up on this. Um, some states developed independent governance structures, such as you'd find in, uh, Florida. Florida has an independent government structure for community colleges. It still had technical schools, um, whereas separate state--

DICKEY: Um-hm.

O'HARA: --under a separate system. It wasn't together, but North Carolina in the, at, at one point, it might have been the mid-fifties, 00:40:00they had had a technical school system and a community college system, and then they decided to merge those together.

DICKEY: Um-hm.

O'HARA: Um, but then, on the other hand, you have, um, other states chose to develop branch campuses of their university systems. Indiana's a very unique case.

DICKEY: Um-hm.

O'HARA: They actually did not create, they have, like, one community college--

DICKEY: Um-hm.

O'HARA: --right now, in the state (??), but they created four-branch extension--

DICKEY: Um-hm.

O'HARA: --systems. And, no one state is the same. (laughs)


O'HARA: Everyone's got their own interesting--

DICKEY: That's right.

O'HARA: So it's really hard to make patterns.

DICKEY: And it's very hard to make any sort of, uh, comparison, uh, or contrast, uh, because, uh, there are so many different patterns. Um, oh, um, you're right that Indiana's kind of a law unto itself in that 00:41:00respect. I always laugh when I see IUPUI. (both laugh)

O'HARA: Kind of hard to say, huh?

DICKEY: That's right. (O'Hara laughs) But, uh, they're, and I guess, uh, the tendency has been to try to consolidate the governance of the community colleges and technical schools, but, uh, it's proven to be a, a very difficult sort of thing, because they're two entirely different animals. And, uh, se-, several western states, and I can't tell you which ones they are, that have, uh, after they tried to combine governance, have gone back to separate--

O'HARA: Really?

DICKEY: --governance. Um-hm.

O'HARA: Just recently?

DICKEY: Seems to me, well, I don't know, within the last six or eight 00:42:00years. Uh, and I can't remember what they are, one of the Dakota's and one of the, um, I believe, Utah. I don't know about Nevada, but I think maybe some of those states, but, uh, it just, uh, turned out that they, they didn't have enough in common to warrant having s-, one board for it, so they split up and have two boards.

O'HARA: That's interesting. You wonder what, what the--(laughs)--what the different, uh, forms it will be in another ten years.

DICKEY: Yeah, and, uh, I don't know how, how Kentucky's going to fare with the technical schools, and, uh, but the community colleges that, they, they serve different, different purposes, really, but, uh, whether it will dilute the efforts of either one of them is, is hard to say.


O'HARA: Were you familiar at all with Virginia?

DICKEY: Not particularly, no, I don't know much about it.

O'HARA: I was thinking, um, Virginia Community--I was thinking about Virginia Community College because, um, there was a former governor, I believe his name, his last name was Colgate, that within the 1962 legislative session, that stood up and said that he was, you know, fully supported the decision that Governor Combs was making.

DICKEY: That was Colgate Darden.

O'HARA: Okay, that's the first name and not the second.

DICKEY: Colgate Darden.

O'HARA: Thank you.

DICKEY: Um, yes, he, uh, he was very, very, uh, forward-looking and I think, uh, probably would have, had he, uh, had the opportunity, would 00:44:00have, uh, pushed the community college system idea in, uh, Virginia much faster than it did grow. Uh, it was a little behind Kentucky, I believe. But, uh, he was, he was certainly a very forward-looking governor. I remember one other statement he made that, clear off the subject, while we were in the process of developing the Medical Center here, he had had so much problem, so many problems with the Medical Center with the Medical College of Virginia, he said, "If I ever wanted to play a dirty trick on the devil, I'd establish a medical school right in the middle--(O'Hara laughs)--of hell." (both laugh)

O'HARA: He sounds like quite a character.

DICKEY: He was. He was.

O'HARA: Oh. That's--


O'HARA: --interesting animals, the, uh, the, uh, medical centers sound 00:45:00like, the community colleges, all these different forms of higher education.

DICKEY: That's right. It's, it's diff-, it's a diff-, different sort of animal, it just, uh, at heart, it belongs in, in the same category with the rest of the departments and colleges or universities, because they, they go about their educational program in an entirely different way, and they have different, uh, levels of personnel, that sort of thing. (both laugh) It's always--

O'HARA: Well, we sure do need 'em.

DICKEY: (laughs) Yeah, absolutely.

O'HARA: (laughs) Sure do. Critics have attacked the UK Community College System over the years. What were the benefits and the drawbacks to having one governance struction, one governance structure for the state's research university and the community college system?

DICKEY: Um, well, I would, I would amend that, uh, question by saying 00:46:00that, uh, it's not just the research university, but it was the land grant institution--

[Pause in recording.]

O'HARA: Dr Dickey, you were saying that the, the benefits to having one governance structure for the state's land grant institution and the community college system--

DICKEY: Well, that, because of the emphasis on service as a part of the land grant institution, that it fit in with the philosophy of the institution, and, as a consequence, uh, was a integral part of the university. Um, the disadvantage, of course, is that, uh, there is a feeling on the part of, uh, the people who are involved in the research 00:47:00when you get over into that element of the, of, uh, the university's role, that, uh, the community colleges are dealing at such a level that they have no business being a part of the university. And, as a consequence, uh, there, there's a conflict there, and I think that it's, it's a little difficult sometimes to justify having them a part of the university. And that's one of the reasons that I think that perhaps the, uh, separation has been a very constructive step; uh, because, uh, it leaves each one of them, both the community college and the university, free to pursue the goals that it sees, that they, they 00:48:00see as being the major ones that they should be pursuing.

O'HARA: Both economic and political factors played, um, a key role in the decision to initially grant the University of Kentucky Board of Trustees--

DICKEY: Um-hm.

O'HARA: --control of the community colleges. How did the debate over the governance of Kentucky's community colleges change over time? You, you were, more or less, just addressing that.

DICKEY: Well, I, I'm merely a bystander and an observer and I just, uh, seemed to me that it was, uh, inevitable that the separation would occur and, uh, just, it took longer than, I think, anybody thought it would. But, uh, they are, uh, two different types of institutions serving two purposes and, uh, as a consequence, uh, probably both will 00:49:00be stronger as a result of the separation, but, uh, there were, of course, as you know, so many arguments, uh, co-, pro and con--

O'HARA: Um-hm.

DICKEY: --and, uh, I, uh, I find myself, uh, somewhat at odds with some people on that, but nevertheless, it's, uh, I think it's working out satisfactorily now.

O'HARA: Did you, when the community college act was first established, did you foresee, at that time, that someday the governance may change, or did you just assume that it would always, always be the same? Did you think that UK could protect, nourish, and build up this system? 00:50:00----------(??)--

DICKEY: If one, if one looked at the nation as a whole and saw that, uh, the major, uh, states where there were the largest number and strongest community colleges, I can say California, Florida, and North Carolina, uh, and could see that their, uh, patterns of operation was a separate board for them, I think one had to recognize that, uh, some time it would change, and, uh, I must admit that that early in the game, when I was president, I had not looked that far down the road, because they were so young, just fledgling--

O'HARA: Um-hm.

DICKEY: --colleges, uh, community colleges, at that time, but, um, I 00:51:00think that as you looked, look at it, you know that, uh, change has to take place, it just had to.

O'HARA: Are there any questions I have not asked that you wish I had?

DICKEY: No, you've asked a lot of questions that I hadn't anticipated. (both laugh) I'm, I'm kind of like President Bush was when he said, "I wish I had known you were going to ask that question." (both laugh)

O'HARA: That's the whole mystery of it. (Dickey laughs) Well, you have been very generous with your time and, and, uh, your knowledge. It's, it's been very rewarding talking to you today.

DICKEY: Well I've, I've enjoyed it and it's good, good to look back on some of those things and find out that, uh, some of them worked out and some didn't. But, uh, uh, I think the, the worst, worst days of 00:52:00the whole thing were when we were battling the state colleges, at that time, the state universities, now--

O'HARA: Um-hm.

DICKEY: --to prevent them from all proliferating and, uh, establishing a whole set of community colleges. No telling how many we would have had had they, they been permitted doing it (??). But--

O'HARA: How would you describe the, um, the higher education, the, the system of higher education in Kentucky, in the 1960's, with these various regional institutions?

DICKEY: There was no system. (both laugh) Each one was a entity into itself, unto itself, and, uh, uh, each one had battled for, uh, uh, appropriations and money, and, uh, as a consequence, there was, had a 00:53:00considerable amount of hard feeling amongst institutions, very little cooperation. Uh, it's a sad statement to make, but that's, that's about the story back then. So, uh--

O'HARA: I'm sure other states had that--(laughs)--you know, had similar situations in the sense of, uh, no coordi-, ideas like coordinating whole statewide systems--


O'HARA: --and it was just beginning to emerge--

DICKEY: That's true.

O'HARA: --I think at that time, so, so i-, I wouldn't say it, it's ----- -----(??)--

DICKEY: If, we were not too far different from most, most other states. Where, where was home for you originally?

O'HARA: North Carolina.

DICKEY: North Carolina. What part?

O'HARA: Um-hm. I grew up in Western North Carolina in a little town called Andrews.

DICKEY: I know where Andrews is.

O'HARA: You do? That's right.

DICKEY: Yeah, well, we lived in Blowing Rock for--

O'HARA: Yeah.

DICKEY: --uh, had a home there for twenty-seven years, and we were 00:54:00actually, uh, residents for, oh, a period of ten years. Um, then I was provost (??) in the University of North Carolina Charlotte for two years, and I was Dean of Academic--acting dean--both positions really were consulting jobs, and they, North Carolina had a pecul-, peculiar law that they cannot employ a consultant for a longer period than three months at a time. So both institutions wanted me for a period of at least a year, and in North Carolina's inst-, instance two years; and so they both created positions, and, uh, I was provost at the University of North Carolina Charlotte, and I was Dean of Academic Affairs at the School of Arts in, uh, Winston-Salem--


O'HARA: Isn't that interesting?

DICKEY: So, so I had quite a bit of experience in the North Carolina system, and of course, uh, Bill Friday and I became presidents the same year--

O'HARA: Really?

DICKEY: --and, uh, so I knew Bill quite well and still, still correspond with him occasionally. And, uh, so, where, did you go to a college or a university in North Carolina?

O'HARA: I went to Berea.

DICKEY: Did you?

O'HARA: And then I married a Kentucky boy.

DICKEY: Well that's, and stayed.

O'HARA: Yes.


O'HARA: And I'm hoping someday I'll, I'll get adopted. (Dickey laughs) But I like North Carolina's a lot, too; I just went down there--

DICKEY: Well--

O'HARA: --see my granny.

DICKEY: Well, I've always said that if I couldn't live in Kentucky, I'd live in North Carolina. Uh, and you feel surprised, if you can't live in North Carolina, you'd live in Kentucky. And--

O'HARA: Um-hm. Very much so.

DICKEY: --each state has, I think, great similarities. Uh, if you just flopped North Carolina over on Kentucky, uh, instead of the sea coast, 00:56:00uh, we'd have our Ohio and Mississippi River--

O'HARA: Um-hm.

DICKEY: --area.

O'HARA: That's true.

DICKEY: We'd have a central area in, comparable to the Piedmont--

O'HARA: Um-hm.

DICKEY: --and we have the mountain area, not as h-, high a mountains as, uh, North Carolina, but, uh, nevertheless, uh, so each, each of us have some similar, uh, geographic, uh, features, and then the, I think the people are, are very similar, too, 'cause most of them came from, uh, Scotch-Irish backgrounds.

O'HARA: Um-hm, especially in the mountains. (O'Hara laughs)

DICKEY: That's right.

O'HARA: They have a lot.

DICKEY: That's right. Uh, well now, O'Hara, that's a good Scotch name, isn't it?

O'HARA: It's Irish--

DICKEY: --did you marry a S--

O'HARA: Yes, but it's a, it's a, but I married in, yes. But, yes.

DICKEY: Uh, uh, well, you, uh, were you there at Berea during the time 00:57:00that, uh, uh, Stephenson was president?

O'HARA: Luckily I was there, um, for my first, I think, two or three years with him. Maybe it was just my last year that, um, we'd, and he was, uh, my regret was that I didn't go and speak to him, personally. At that stage I was still intimidated by the idea of a college president. (both laugh)

DICKEY: (O'Hara laughs) But he was a great, great man, and he was on the university faculty when, when I was president, and, uh, just a super faculty member and a wonderful person. I'm sorry, sorry he passed away as early in life as he did. I don't know what's happened to his wife; I think she's still living in Berea, as far as I know.

O'HARA: To my knowledge.

DICKEY: Uh, but, uh, well, listen, if there are any other questions that 00:58:00pop up or occur to you, why, that you think I could help with, let me know. But I think I've probably exhausted all the--(both laugh)--all the information I have.

O'HARA: Well, you had a lot of information; it was good. And you mentioned North Carolina and your experiences there. North Carolina is probably the state I'm going to do the most comparisons with, because, like you pointed out, geographically they're similar, economically--

DICKEY: Um-hm.

O'HARA: --they're not so different--


O'HARA: --tobacco bases, um, and politically, I don't know the politics of North Carolina as, I mean, I'm, I'm just beginning to learn the politics of--(laughs)--Kentucky in the sense of higher ed, but, um, I think, you know, I've been told that they, they are not so different either, um, in some ways. So you--


O'HARA: --I might, I might get back with you and ask you, you know, to kind of double-check my, my North Carolina information.

DICKEY: I think y-, Kentucky's had its share of good governors and 00:59:00its share of poor governors and North Carolina has had the same, but I think, if anything, Kentucky had more poor governors than North Carolina. North Carolina's been blessed with some, some very good governors. And they've, they've been, all of them have been interested in education. That's why North Carolina has such an excellent system of higher education. At least I think it is a very, very fine system.

O'HARA: Um-hm.

DICKEY: Um, particularly the university systems for state colleges. Uh, I don't know as much about the community college system, but, uh, has a lot, lot of experience with the, um, Central Piedmont Community College when we were in Charlotte, and it's, oh gosh, m-, marvelous institution. They do things there that quality universities, uh, do in, uh, in both 01:00:00teaching and research, even research as a community college.

O'HARA: Really?


O'HARA: Wow.

DICKEY: Yeah. And so it's just a, a very interesting institution. I guess it's, hmm, probably at ten thousand students, maybe.

O'HARA: Oh my goodness--


O'HARA: --'cause LCC is eight--(laughs)--thousand, actually I heard nine thousand for the enrollment for fall--

DICKEY: Um-hm.

O'HARA: --so--

DICKEY: And, uh, but it's a--

O'HARA: That's a lot of students for a community college.


O'HARA: That's incredible. You mentioned Bill Friday?

DICKEY: Mentioned what?

O'HARA: It, was his name Bill Friday?

DICKEY: Um-hm.

O'HARA: I, um, now he was the--

DICKEY: He was the president of the system. Um, he was, originally started out as, just as president of the university, and then when they established a system, he became the president of the whole system, and they had chancellors for each of the universities, as head of each 01:01:00university, and, uh, but Bill is, was president and he's been retired, but he still, still does a Friday evening talk show.

O'HARA: Oh, really?

DICKEY: Yeah, it's just fascinating. Bill's my age. He's eighty, eighty-six or eighty-seven--

O'HARA: Wow.

DICKEY: --and still, and still on television every Friday night.

O'HARA: Oh, that is great.

DICKEY: Yeah, he's very, very active in the field of education.

O'HARA: My committee recommended, for my qualifying exam--

DICKEY: Um-hm.

O'HARA: --that I, one of my questions was to do a comparison with North Carolina.

DICKEY: Um-hm.

O'HARA: And I did, I did a, I did a whole regional one, but North Carolina was the one ----------(??) me the most--

DICKEY: Um-hm.

O'HARA: And so I looked at a biography of, of Bill Friday--

DICKEY: Um-hm.

O'HARA: --and just picked out parts on the community college.

DICKEY: Um-hm.

O'HARA: And then, uh, I also looked at the governor at the time.


O'HARA: I'm trying to remember who--

DICKEY: I guess the governor at that time was probably--hmm.


O'HARA: I'll have to, it's been a couple of months. (laughs) I'll have to look that up.

DICKEY: I was gonna say, I can't recall who it would have been. Uh, who is the chairman of your committee?

O'HARA: Dr John Thelin's the--

DICKEY: Thelin?

O'HARA: --chairman.

DICKEY: Um-hm.

O'HARA: --and Dr. Birdwhistell is very instrumental in, in, in, this sta-, in the research part--


O'HARA: --the oral histories.

DICKEY: Well, uh--

O'HARA: But, uh--

DICKEY: I know both of them quite well. Uh--

O'HARA: I couldn't ask for better advisors.

DICKEY: Have, I'm working on the oral history, uh, foundation fund drive right now, uh, not, not moving as fast as we would like, but, nevertheless, still, still getting some funding for oral history programs. So it's good.

O'HARA: Good. Yeah. With Dr. Birdwhistell?

DICKEY: Um-hm. Yeah.

O'HARA: He's a busy man. I know he must be out a lot. (laughs)

DICKEY: Terry's on the road half the time I think and, uh, does a, does 01:03:00a magnificent job.

O'HARA: He does. ----------(??). Everything I've heard, he's really set a good example. I've listened to a lot of interviews with, in fact, I was listening to one in 198-, you all conducted an interview in 1988.

DICKEY: Oh, when he came to Washington to interview me, I think.

O'HARA: I think so.

DICKEY: I believe that that's where it was.

O'HARA: Yes.


O'HARA: I don't think it said the location on the tape. I'll have to double-check. But, uh, but it was fascinating. (Dickey laughs) It, it's fascinating to hear, hear your whole story. I wish I could--


O'HARA: --could ask you more about it, but I focused in on one topic. (both laugh)

DICKEY: Well, I was going to say, that would get you completely off--

[End of interview.]