Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Intervew with Francis A. Roberts III, October 27, 2004

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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ADAMS: Test. Test. This is an oral history interview with, uh, Francis Arthur Roberts III for the Lexington Community College Fortieth Anniversary Oral History Project. The interview is being conducted by John Adams on October the twenty-seventh 2004 and we are currently located in the Oswald Building. The first question, just for the record, uh, I would like to know if you could to state your full name please.

ROBERTS: Sure. Um, I'm Francis Arthur Roberts III and for the III, uh, I have a nickname: it's Tri and I go by Tri as--as a name--

ADAMS: --okay. So throughout the interview you would prefer that I would call you Tri, that's how most people know you?--

ROBERTS: --yes. Yes.

ADAMS: Okay. Um, just for a little history background, uh, when and where were you born?

ROBERTS: Okay, um, I was born January 17 1950 in Lexington, Kentucky. 00:01:00So I'm a hometown boy. They're hard to find nowadays. Um, and as a matter of fact I was born in the Good Samaritan Hospital, um, which was its original location: which the current location--the current hospital is not on the original location but I was born at Good Samaritan Hospital here in Lexington.

ADAMS: What school did you attend?

ROBERTS: Uh, all the way through?

ADAMS: Elementary and--yeah all the way through--

ROBERTS: --yeah. This is interesting too, you know, that someday somebody might want to--or maybe they've already written something about this. Um, my mom and dad were both from Lexington. Uh, my dad- -my mother attended Henry Clay High School. I don't remember much about anything before that, uh, in terms of elementary school et cetera. My dad attended the school the university used to run called University 00:02:00High. Um, so as a result of that and--and his background I began kindergarten through fifth grade--I attended University School. Which was a training school, and the college of education is my assumption. It was located in Taylor Ed building.

ADAMS: Um-hm.

ROBERTS: Um, and, uh, you know teachers did their student teaching, they did research; they did all sorts of things. And I went there through kindergarten, uh, from kindergarten through fifth grade. It was great, we had a great time. Um, at fifth grade--or at the end of fifth grade, um, I entered Glendover Elementary School for sixth grade. Um, and then after sixth grade--this is an interesting time in Lexington's history actually. Um, I was in a district--a school district of 00:03:00Lexington that we were supposed to go to Tates Creek High School. And the middle school and high school I guess at that time was Tates Creek Junior; and then onto Tates Creek High. Well, Tates Creek wasn't ready yet. Uh, they were in the midst of, um, building. So in the seventh grade I actually attended Lafayette. Um, and we were doing what's called double sessions. Because there weren't enough school rooms to support all the kids. So the first session, which I attended, started at seven a.m. and we got out at one.


ROBERTS: And the second session began at two and got out--gosh what was that, eight o'clock that--at night. So there were actually running two groups of students in the same building until Tates Creek High School was done. So my seventh grade that's what I did at Lafayette. I went to morning--the first session. And then in eight and ninth I went to 00:04:00Tates Creek Junior or Middle now I guess it's called. Uh, and then ninth, tenth, eleventh, and twelfth or however they used to do that. I guess eighth and ninth was junior high then but anyway. So I graduated from Tates Creek High in 1968.

ADAMS: Okay in 1968 you say?

ROBERTS: Yeah. Right so and beyond that, um, I entered UK 1960--the fall of 1968. Spring of 1973 I graduated with a bachelor's degree in psychology from UK. And then, I believe, in '81 I got my master's in education from UK. Uh, and since that time I've sort of worked on and off on my doctorate.

ADAMS: You said your bachelor's was in what?

ROBERTS: Psychology.

ADAMS: Psychology? And what year did you say you got your master's in?


ADAMS: '81?



ADAMS: Both from UK?

ROBERTS: Right, everything's been from UK

ADAMS: What did that feel like? Uh, was the education department still over at Taylor Ed?

ROBERTS: Yeah it was--

ADAMS: --where you got your master's?--

ROBERTS: --actually Dickey Hall, Taylor Ed, the Heights, pretty much hasn't changed.

ADAMS: What'd that feel like, going back there to get your master's after spending K through five?

ROBERTS: Well, it was interesting because being, uh, K through five in Taylor Ed I used to walk down those halls and have memories, you know, of being in first grade and remembering who my first grade teacher was. I can still remember--Mrs. Adams, actually. Um, it was kinda--it was kind of weird. And now where--gee what is there now? maybe a parking lot. We used to have a play ground.

ADAMS: Um-hm. Out back?

ROBERTS: Out back where the parking lot is and so I'd oftentimes think about, you know, how neat that was to be--actually going to school there and be back that many years later and--and remembering all the teachers. Because that is the hallway--that--that far hallway of Taylor Ed, um, closest, to, you know, whatever that South Hill Station 00:06:00on that side?--

ADAMS: --yeah--

ROBERTS: is where our classrooms were. So you had like K through like- -I don't remember what. K through like three or four on the first floor and then, you know, fifth, sixth--fourth, fifth, sixth on the second floor. Um, and we used to do plays and, you know, choir kinds of things in the auditorium, which is still there, you know. So it's kind of neat to go back and see and imagine. Now Dickey Hall was not there at that time so.

ADAMS: Right.

ROBERTS: So it was just Taylor Ed.

ADAMS: What was it like going by those little lockers? I don't even see how people even get books in them. (Roberts laughs) You have to turn them up sideways just to get the books in. Uh, the reason I'm asking is that I'm working on my master's in higher-ed in Taylor.


ADAMS: All the same place you did yours and it's just very interesting to be able to talk to someone who actually attended school there and grade school.

ROBERTS: And my dad did too, so. It's--it is--and my aunt. Um, so it's 00:07:00kind of neat to think back. And they--I guess what they did was try a lot of things in terms of research, you know, testing, that kind of thing. But also I think a lot of student teachers actually did--did their student teaching, you know, with--with higher edu--when they had the "training school," quote-unquote there. It was a good experience--

ADAMS: --do you--do you remember any student teachers? When you were going to school there as a child?--

ROBERTS: --no--actually I have a really a tough time remembering, you know, all my teachers. Um, Ms. Adams was my first grade teacher. I had a woman named Ms. Burke but I can't remember exactly what grade. It'd take me awhile probably to sort through that, but.

ADAMS: You--you mentioned earlier about, uh, your parents, your father and your mother. Could you tell me a little bit about your, uh, parents. Like your father's name, mother's name? What they did for a living; that sort of thing?--

ROBERTS: --sure. Sure. Um, let's start out with my--my dad. Um, he is Francis Arthur Roberts Jr., um, and, uh, from when I was born--well 00:08:00let's see how far back I want to go. He, you know, he went to U High, graduated from U High, et cetera. Uh, he's from Lexington. Um, and he--his dad was actually a saddle horse trainer; trained saddle horses, not thoroughbreds, but saddle horses. Um, like the Junior League and things like that. And he was pretty well-known nationally. And there was a woman, um, that--from New York that bought a farm in the--Fayette County. Uh, and he was her trainer. And so he actually was living on the farm here in Fayette County when my dad was born.

ADAMS: Um-hm.

ROBERTS: It's out off Old Richmond Road. It used to be called ------- ----(??) Farm. And so my dad was born and raised there and lived--and when I was born we were living there--

ADAMS: --um-hm--

ROBERTS: --on the same farm. And so my dad was a saddle horse trainer 00:09:00most of his life. Until 1959 I lived there, until I was about nine or ten years old. And we moved into town in '59. Um, and the reason we did was the woman that owned the farm--she lived in New York, and she sold the farm so to speak. And since we lived and worked on the farm--or my dad did and his dad, um, then we had to move. He switched jobs, so he went from saddle horse trainer and did some sort of odds and ends kinds of things. Um, worked at Sears, worked as a painter and ended up retiring from Pieratt's as the manager of the Nicholasville Road store. Let's see what I could tell you about my mom. My mom is from Lexington. She graduated from Henry--graduated from Henry Clay 00:10:00High School. She worked a little, you know, after high school, uh, prior to my mom and dad getting married. Uh, I think she worked here in an insurance agency downtown. She was--she was born and raised near downtown Lexington. Um, and then they met, got married, and moved to the farm. And she was a, you know, stay-at-home mom, so to speak. Um, my dad did attend college. I didn't--I didn't mention that. He did not graduate. I think he went two years of UK. And my mom never attended college. So, uh, in terms of--of first generation--I'm trying to think if I would be considered a first generation, at least in my immediate family, yeah, first generation college student.

ADAMS: Um-hm. What was your mom's name?

ROBERTS: Her name--her full name is, uh, Betty Jane Cramer Roberts. It's Cramer. C-r-a-m-e-r.

ADAMS: Um-hm.

ROBERTS: That's her maiden name. And then of course she's a Roberts now.


ADAMS: And--and she's from here--her family on that side of the family still--basically both sides of your family are from Lexington.

ROBERTS: From my mom and dad, yeah. Now my grandfather on my dad's side--

ADAMS: Um-hm.

ROBERTS: --Francis Arthur Roberts Sr., um, actually came to the States from England. So he was born in England and came to the States. And I couldn't even tell you the date right off, but it was probably in the- -gosh I can't remember, I don't know. I'd probably not just--won't tell you the date because I really don't know the date. Um, so he is, you know, a native, uh, uh, British native person and came, you know, came here, uh, from England. And his wife, uh, gee whiz, I think she may have been born in Germany actually. So they were immigrants to this 00:12:00country. And, um, so then my dad was born here of course. Uh, my dad was actually born in New Jersey. I forgot to mention that. And moved here when he was like, one, with his dad. So--yeah--

ADAMS: --so your grandfather came from England?


ADAMS: To New Jersey I'm taking it?


ADAMS: Had your dad a year later?

ROBERTS: Moved to--

ADAMS: --now you said your, uh, I guess it would be your grandfather, worked in saddle?

ROBERTS: Yes, in saddle horses.

ADAMS: Did he do that in England too or did he pick that profession up when he moved here, or do you know?

ROBERTS: That's a good question I really don't know the background on that.

ADAMS: Okay.

ROBERTS: And my mom? My mom's--well my grandfather on my mother's side was from Ohio.

ADAMS: Um-hm.

ROBERTS: And my grandmother on my mother's side was from Lexington. Actually she was born and raised out on Harrodsburg Road as you go out past Military Pike. Um, and I'm not sure how they met, etcetera, but--but he was not a Kentucky native, but she--she was.


ADAMS: So you get your true-blue from your mom?


ADAMS: (laughs) Um, you mentioned earlier that you got your--your bachelor's from UK in 1973. And you first came here in 1968 to UK, correct?--

ROBERTS: --um-hm. Right. I began in the fall of '68, right.

ADAMS: What can you remember as a student? Because LCC was--it was then LTI, Lexington Technical Institute. It was actually--

ROBERTS: --I didn't even mention going to LTI.

ADAMS: You went to LTI?

ROBERTS: Yeah. I should probably do--do that now?--

ADAMS: Yes. Yeah, we can do that now.

ROBERTS: I'm sorry, I should have thought all about that and I didn't. Um, yeah, after my bachelor's degree in '73, um, since my bachelor's was in psychology it was a matter of me either going back and getting a 00:14:00master's and--or whatever in psych in order to, you know, get a really pretty decent job.

ADAMS: Um-hm.

ROBERTS: Or pursuing some other profession. And at the time I had a friend whose father was the, uh, administrator of Good Samaritan Hospital. And he was volun--not volunteering, he was actually working in the respiratory care department of Good Samaritan Hospital, sort of as a part-time employee. He and I were relatively good friends and he mentioned to me something about, you know, respiratory care as a profession, uh, etcetera. I ended up going in--he had called one weekend, and I ended up going with him when he was called in.

ADAMS: Um-hm.

ROBERTS: Kind of got interested in the--the idea and this was probably, I'm trying to think, probably '74 I bet. Um, and I asked him a little 00:15:00bit about how, you know, you get involved in that, etcetera. And he was what I called an OJT, on-the-job trained. But it just so happened that LTI had a respiratory care program, respiratory therapy program. So me being interested in that I checked at LTI and this was after I had my bachelor's degree in psych. And they had a respiratory therapy program and then since I had already earned--I had already done all my general-ed work--

ADAMS: --um-hm--

ROBERTS: --I basically--when I spoke to them they said, you know, well, you could probably, uh, get through the program rather quickly because you've already done a lot of the gen--all the general education. So I de-decided to go and so I went in the fall of '74. I began LTI as a respiratory therapy student and graduated in December of '75 with a--an 00:16:00associate degree, an associate in applied science in respiratory care from LTI. Now I can tell you--I don't know if this is where you're headed. I can tell you a little bit about how LTI was set up at the time--

ADAMS: um-hm--

ROBERTS:--and how, you know, we've transitioned from that to where we are today, etcetera. I don't know if you're ready for that kind of a thing--

ADAMS: --well, um--

ROBERTS: --Because you wanted to go back and--

ADAMS: --what I was going to ask you was when you came in 1968--

ROBERTS: --to UK? Okay--

ADAMS: --um-hm. This building that we're currently in, the football stadium. None of this was here, correct?

ROBERTS: Um, right. That--as I recall it was farmland.

ADAMS: Okay.

ROBERTS: Now that's just off the top of my head.

ADAMS: The, uh, dairy barn? The Good Barn?

ROBERTS: The Good Barn.

ADAMS: Was there and the barn up here, the carpool was at, but your recollections, the current facilities that we're in right now, was it just open pastureland?

ROBERTS: That is what I remember, but you know I--I can never say 00:17:00I really paid much attention to it. Because it seems like it was because I know these subdivisions over here, the other side of KET, I'm sure that was all there then so I don't even really can remember Cooper Drive that much. It must have just gone through pastureland or farmland or something. I don't remember though.

ADAMS: So you don't remember when Cooper connected all the way to Tates Creek?

ROBERTS: No I sure don't.

ADAMS: do you remember when?--

ROBERTS: --maybe it didn't, maybe you're right--

ADAMS: --it didn't during that time. Um, do you remember when they built the KET building?


ADAMS: Okay.

ROBERTS: Because, you know, it makes sense, though, because you--I know Nicholasville Road was here, of course, and then maybe Cooper didn't extend from there to there. That very well could be, maybe it was just a farm.

ADAMS: During that time?

ROBERTS: Right. Yeah, I just don't remember.

ADAMS: Um, when--when you were a student between '68 and '73 were you 00:18:00aware much that--that LTI was located over in Breckinridge and had classes?--

ROBERTS: --as--as I recall I'd never heard of it, ever--

ADAMS: --okay. So as a student at UK during that time, just as a student; Lexington Technical Institute really didn't come up a lot with your other friends?


ADAMS: So it was just more or less like another entity or another arm of UK at that time?

ROBERTS: I guess, I--I don't know. I mean--I never, to my knowledge I'd never heard of it. (laughs) Prior to me then, you know, prior to me asking about: "Well, how do you become a respiratory therapist," I can't remember I had ever heard of LTI.

ADAMS: So until you inquired about a technical program it never really came into your psyche?

ROBERTS: Exactly.

ADAMS: Um, you said you got into the respiratory therapy program in the fall of 1974, correct?

ROBERTS: Yeah, now that's--I'm pretty sure that's right. Best of my 00:19:00know--knowledge.

ADAMS: Now when you graduated in '73.


ADAMS:--from UK--

ROBERTS: --okay, the bachelor's, okay?

ADAMS: When did you start inquiring about--early '74 about LTI?

ROBERTS: Let's see, I graduated in seventy, um, May of '73, right. And then I began LTI as I recall in the fall of '74. So really about a year and a half I was sort of in that transition period of trying to decide of whether to go on for a graduate degree in psych or do something different. And I wasn't totally sold on the idea of doing, um, graduate work in psychology, you know, working in a mental institution or whatever. It really didn't appeal to me greatly. Um, so, um, as I recall I worked--worked construction and maybe took a 00:20:00class just as sort of a--just to see--kinda like a counsel--ed-psych and counseling class maybe, either that fall or the following spring. And it was also during that time that I had the friend that was working at Samaritan that I got--became knowledgeable of the profession of respiratory therapy and then when I approached--when I started asking around: well how do, you know, get a degree in that? And that's when I learned about LTI and the degree that they had, uh, that--that would allow me to become a respiratory therapist.

ADAMS: Do you remember, and I know this is a few days back, do you remember who you contacted as far as the program and where you went?

ROBERTS: I don't really remember who, but I do remember going to Breckinridge Hall. It was--it seemed to me as though the administrative offices for LTI were in the quadrangle, so Breckinridge Hall, that area. The technical courses themselves for respiratory care 00:21:00or respiratory therapy were located in the medical center. So as I recall the way the structure was, is the administrative offices were in the quadrangle; Breckinridge Hall specifically. But the courses themselves were housed throughout the university, depending on what the discipline was. So the medical professions, associate degrees in the medical professions that LTI had; most of them were either in the College of Allied Health or in the Medical Center. Uh, engineering, you know, as I recall is probably somewhere with the engineering department on the university. The other interesting thing, even though I didn't have to take any gen-ed, at the time any student at LTI that was enrolled in a technical program, right,? would take all their gen- ed at UK, alongside other UK students.


ADAMS: Correct.

ROBERTS: So that is some of the history on why over time our tuition stayed with UK's and never was the same as the other community colleges throughout the state. Because our students were sort of intermingled; LTI students were intermingled with UK students taking their gen-ed. So there'd be no way to really separate out the costs.

ADAMS: Right.

ROBERTS: And so that's kind of the historical piece. 'Cause--'cause when our tuition changed, golly, which I can't even remember when that was, maybe mid-eighties, um that was the rationale for why it was always just like UK's, because we were a part of UK, LTI was.

ADAMS: So, so when you registered at LTI in the fall of '74, did you also have to register with UK, because of the close connections between the two schools?

ROBERTS: I don't think I did, no.

ADAMS: Because you already had your gen-ed classes. If you had had to take your gen-ed classes you would have had to registered at UK 00:23:00probably wouldn't you?

ROBERTS: I--I really don't remember, maybe; hard to know--

ADAMS: --When--when you graduated with your respiratory therapy degree, did your diploma say UK? For all intents and purposes were you a University of Kentucky graduate or a Lexington Technical Institute graduate?

ROBERTS: Um, good question. I was an LTI--I knew--I thought of myself as an LTI graduate. The University of Kentucky name might have been on my diploma. But it was clear though, as I recall, on the diploma that I was--that the degree was awarded by LTI. But--but I think, you know, I think I saw my diploma not too long ago, but it was signed by I think maybe the chair of the Board of Trustees of UK. Because LTI was part of UK So it--it--it felt very, you know, UK-like but it certainly said LTI on it, yeah.


ADAMS: So if you were to go back and get your transcripts would you have separate transcripts from LTI and from UK, or would it all be on the same one?

ROBERTS: Hm, I've done that. I wonder, I'll see. I think I had separate transcripts. Pretty sure I did.

ADAMS: In your opinion, and this is solely your opinion, when LTI was organized and became an entity in 1965--


ADAMS: --was it established different from the other community colleges in the state?

ROBERTS: Different? In--what do you mean different?

ADAMS: What I'm--what I'm getting at is, uh, LTI, because UK could not teach technical courses, they established LTI to be able to teach those. The other community colleges were created separately throughout the state.


ADAMS: And then the administrative control of LTI was, uh, placed--UK 00:25:00decided to place it under the community college.

ROBERTS: Good point.

ADAMS: So it wasn't as if like the other schools they were created for that purpose; created differently. Would that be your understanding?--

ROBERTS: --right. Yeah I think that's a very good description of my understanding it. And also having just gone through LCC's separation from the university and becoming part of KCTCS, um it's been pretty clear to me that LTI and LCC were always at sort of the behest of the board of trustees; UK's associate degree granting function, where all the other community colleges weren't set up that away. You know, they were set up as part of this other system.

ADAMS: Right.

ROBERTS: So--so LCC has kind of been this in-between institution. Like you said--I think you said it well, is LTI formed by the University 00:26:00as sort of its associate degree granting, and--and given--given the authority to run it given to the community college system--

ADAMS: --correct--

ROBERTS: --uh, but not really being part of that system per se. And much like probably, you know, we are now and that is, you know, the authority's been turned over from the university, uh, for LCC to be run by KCTCS and actually I guess we're just a part of KCTCS now. So it is different now than it was even then.

ADAMS: Um-hm. Um, since--since you started in '74 at LTI, were you aware--or was LTI large enough at that time to where you were unaware of the administrative leadership of LTI at that time? Or do you remember, like, who was the director? And how it was structured?

ROBERTS: No I really don't remember directors per se. You know, the 00:27:00only recollection--and this, this kind of goes to why it's probably, you know, my interview will serve a lot of purposes and that is because as soon as I graduated from LTI--

ADAMS: --um-hm--

ROBERTS: --with the--the degree in respiratory care in December of '75--I graduated in a year and a half, so I have sort of this speeded up experience, instead of two years?

ADAMS: Uh-hm.

ROBERTS: um, I began working at the medical center in December of '75 as a respiratory therapist. This is kind of an interesting story and I don't know if--I hope I don't forget what you asked me, but I--I'd thought I'd throw this in as we go. So I began working at the medical center in December of '75 as a staff respiratory therapist, okay. Because I graduated from LTI in December of '75, not May. So I was actually in school a year and a half, not two years. I doubled up 00:28:00on some of my courses which we wouldn't allow now but that's--that's another story. (Adams laughs) So, me graduating in '75 I became a staff therapist at the university medical center. The respiratory therapy program was actually housed in the medical center as part of Anesthesia and College of Allied Health. I think it was begun as a part of--of a College of Allied Health grant. You know, they got their initial funding maybe even through Peter Bosonworth. And he'll be a real good- -he--I think he and maybe when--you are going to interview him right?

ADAMS: Correct.

ROBERTS: Yeah. um, he actually was instrumental in getting the funding as I recall. You may want to ask him this when you all interview. Getting the funding. He was in the Department of Anesthesiology at that time. And I think he was, you know, one of the critical players in getting the funding to actually--from an--one of the allied health 00:29:00groups to establish the respiratory care program at LTI. Yeah, he'd be-- I'd love to read his someday. When you got his interview ready I'd like to see it actually, if it's open. Um, but anyway, I was getting off track there. So me that working--graduating in December, me beginning work at the medical center in, um, December of '75 as a staff therapist. In fact that the respiratory care program was actually housed in the medical center as of the relationship with Peter Bosonworth, anesthesiology, etcetera. So we had like two or three rooms of offices; a classroom. Um, so I began to--to work at the med center and that semester, spring of '76,yeah. Two of the faculty actually got in a fight that taught in the program. A guy named Larry 00:30:00Krasium (??), gosh, Sanchez, Mike Sanchez I think was the other guy's name. Actually got in a fight, in the program. Dan Holt knows this story; it's a really good story. I bet Dan Holt--did you interview Dan yet? ----------(??)

ADAMS: I can re--I can talk to him.

ROBERTS: He knew. You might want to talk to him--

ADAMS: --Mike Sanchez?

ROBERTS: I think his name was Mike Sanchez and the other guy-- guy's name was Larry Krasium (??) and they didn't get along.

ADAMS: When you say got into a fight, do you mean?

ROBERTS: I think a verbal altercation--

ADAMS: --spat--

Roberts:--altercation. And maybe even came very close to even physical.

ADAMS: Really? Over what?

ROBERTS: Uh, I think personality-wise they didn't get along. There were three people teaching in the program at the time. Larry Krasium (??), Mike Sanchez and a guy named Bud Nave, Roy Nave. N-a-v-e. And Larry and Sanchez got in an altercation. I think they got upset--they 00:31:00didn't get along, number one, and I think one of them was sitting in on the other one's class while he was teaching it. This is just a story that I recall. Uh, and one of 'em disputed a fact that the other one presented in class, and they just got into it.

ADAMS: In class?--

ROBERTS: --yes and they ended up firing them both. Dan Holt knows the story I swear because he was here. He was the business officer at the time.

ADAMS: So both teachers were in a classroom and they got into a verbal altercation in front of students and they got fired for it?

ROBERTS: I think they got let go. Or asked to leave or something-- something. Dan would know, because at the time I was not a student anymore. Okay, I was working at the med center. And the reason this was important to me is because since they were released, let go, fired, whatever, all right? for this altercation. They had nobody to teach 00:32:00the courses. So here I was working at the medical center as a staff therapist, just having graduated from LTI in '75 of December with a respiratory therapy degree. But I also had a bachelor's degree in psych, all right?

ADAMS: Um-hm.

ROBERTS: I was deemed to be qualified because of my associate degree in respiratory but also my bachelor's in psych, to teach in the program. So here I had just graduated but I'm working at the med center. They fire these two guys and they say: oh my God, how are we going to finish this semester? So they approached me and said: Tri, would you be willing to help in finishing out the semester in teaching these classes near, you know, towards the end of the semester? And I agreed to, and the way I agreed to do it was actually I was working as a staff therapist in respiratory care for a guy name Bob Floro. F-l-o-r-o.


ADAMS: How do you spell that?

ROBERTS: F-l-o-r-o. Floro.

ADAMS: Okay.

ROBERTS: He was the director of respiratory care in the hospital. So he really had nothing to do with LTI.


ROBERTS: Bob Floro.

ADAMS: Bob Floro, okay.

ROBERTS: Peter Bosonworth would probably even know him. But anyway, so--so LTI approached me and said: We're in a pickle here; what can we do? You know, would you help teach, would you help finish out the semester? I said: I'd be glad to, but I got a job, I got a respiratory therapy job. They said: well if we talk to Bob Floro and he's willing to release you to come into the classroom, you know, a couple hours a day, three or four days a week to do lecture, or whatever, to finish out, and then go back, you know, and do your respiratory care stuff the rest of the time. If he'll agree to that would--would you do it? And I said, "Of course, I would love to do that. I'd love to give it a try." So Bob agreed and he allowed me to sort of play both roles. 00:34:00Do respiratory therapy when I wasn't teaching and then teach, you know, allow me to go into the classroom and do some teaching. Um, so in spring of '76 I help finish out that semester and that's when at the end of the semester they put out--LTI, uh, put an ad to recruit two faculty to replace the two they fired. I applied for one of the positions and in fall of '76 I was hired to teach full-time regular in the respiratory care program at LTI. So I resigned at the medical center and became full-time at LTI in 1976. Fall--that was August of 1976. That was the same month that we moved into this building. So my first office was in this building. Not in the med center.


ADAMS: This building, as in the Oswald Building?


ADAMS: So, August of 1976 you became an employee of Lexington Technical Institute?

ROBERTS: Correct.

ADAMS: And your first office and the first classes you taught were in this building which just happened to open?

ROBERTS: Well first full time regular classes I taught were in this building, but I finished out the semester.

ADAMS: At the med?

ROBERTS: Spring semester, previous spring of '76 at the med center, yes.

ADAMS: Okay.

ROBERTS: So we moved in here in fall of '76 and that's when my--that's when I was hired full-time regular.

ADAMS: All right. Can you, uh--

ROBERTS: --so what a--what a bunch of events there that fell into place. Had those guys never been fired I probably would have never worked here. (laughs)

ADAMS: (laughs) So those guys getting into a fight actually helped you out.

ROBERTS: And I'd love to hear what Dan Holt has to say about that, because I think Dan is the one who fired them. I swear to you I think I am--he was.


ADAMS: He got put in the unfortunate position of having to--

ROBERTS: --yeah, I think at that time, you know, Personnel, Human Resources blah-blah-blah, all that flowed through the business office. Which it still does, but I think at the time LTI was more run on the- -that type sort of a business model. Maybe where the dean of Business Affairs, or the director of Business Affairs; which Dan served in that role prior to Marilyn. Um, I think they actually had Dan fire them I swear to you I did. (laughs)

ADAMS: Now so--so you would be very, uh, familiar with, um, Oswald Building being built then, since you worked right over at the med center, correct?

ROBERTS: Well familiar is probably not the best word.

ADAMS: Do you remember when it was under construction?

ROBERTS: No I really don't. Dan would. Uh, but I don't. All I do--I just remember moving in.

ADAMS: What was it like moving in, August 76? Brand-new building, big 00:37:00huge parking lot, foot ball stadium?

ROBERTS: Yeah, and, you know, it's--it's funny how my mind works sometimes. There are some things I just hardly remember at all and that's-that's kind of one of them. And you know I don't know if we moved in that August. I know I began August of '76 and it might have been later. It might have been more like October that we actually moved over here from the med center. But I know--I just don't remember. But it was that fall semester, you know, that we actually moved in. And that's the semester I began. But I remember there being, you know, lots of boxes and furniture and, you know, stuff and- -but I don't remember a lot about what's beyond here. I mean I guess the stadium wasn't, because I--I don't even remember when it was built. But, uh, parking was never an issue. I mean it was, at first it was free. And then after that they made us buy "K" hang tags. Or gave us the option, you know, of buying "K"s and parking in certain places. 00:38:00And then now of course that's "E"--"E" or "EG", so.

ADAMS: Were--did the other faculty that you joined and the other administrative staff in that time, in '76, were they very excited about actually going to be in the same building for the first time instead of scattered out.

ROBERTS: Yeah, and--and me not having a whole lot of history of living through the other, uh, but I do recall people being, you know, happy about the fact, you know, that they would be close to their colleagues, etcetera. Because in the old--in the old LTI, prior to moving into this site they were spread throughout the entire campus, depending on what their discipline was. You know, um, and--and I think that some of the faculty actually had their offices maybe in the quadrangle near each other, but--but many of the--of the disciplines the associate degree faculty were spread all over the place. So, as I recall, it was really probably the--the defining moment, if you will, for us becoming, 00:39:00oh, feeling more like--like a real school. You know, as opposed to just a degree granting-department, if you will.

ADAMS: Right. More--made you feel more of a school than just a department or a section?

ROBERTS: Right. Right.

ADAMS: What can you tell me about, um, the actual building itself, Oswald at that time? I mean has it changed much over the years or has it pretty much?--

ROBERTS: --I don't--I don't remember it's changed much at all, I really don't. No, obviously, well maybe not obviously, um, things like food service we didn't have, you know, like we do now; the Atrium Cafe. The Atrium Cafe was really sort of the--as I recall, the brainchild of-of previous interim president, uh, Chapman, Jim Chapman. Um, and talked a little bit--I think he's the one that sort of got the idea going: my goodness, there's no place to eat, you know. Um, but--but other than 00:40:00that--the library has always been in the same place; our--respiratory therapy program and classrooms, etcetera, have always been in the same place. There's been some change. But, you know, as I look back over LTI and LCC, we have had very few programs come and go in forty years, which is really weird in my opinion. To have a community college, which, by definition, community colleges really are sort of predicated on the idea of meeting the workforce, if you will, needs of the community. And to think if you--programs you started in '65 you still need today, is pretty amazing, you know. Um, or the fact that we've added very few new programs in forty years is also pretty amazing. Um, up until just a, you know, a few years ago we hadn't added a program in I don't know--I couldn't tell you how long. Gosh, 00:41:00maybe fifteen years. And, um, when we added the environmental science program it was one of our newest programs and we had not added a new program in-in decades, for that matter. Um, and then, of course, environ--we added environmental science; we've added early-childhood education. That's one of the primary programs we've added, you know, since Dr. Kerley's been here. Um, but it's--it's also, its just kind of been of interest to me that LTI, since it's been so closely linked with UK all this--these years, it's kind of taken on a culture, if you will, of a four-year institution. A four-year institutions is--I kind of think of them as being sort of insulated from the, I don't want to say insulated in terms of not being involved in the community, but sort of starting their own programs and knowing the programs they want 00:42:00to offer etcetera, etcetera. Where a community college really by--by virtue of its name is, needs, and wants to be responsive to the needs of the community. So things like tenure, uh, etcetera, aren't usually found in community colleges across the nation. Why? Because they--most community colleges have never been a part of a major university like we have. But since we were part of a major university, many of the things that come with being a faculty member at a major university; like tenure; like programs that don't come and go very often--

ADAMS: --um-hm--

ROBERTS: --um, or is--some of the culture we've taken on as a school, uh, that I believe down the road will probably change. I think we are already looking at sort of changing some of those things. We're already in the position now with the KCTCS where we can offer contracts that are renewable yearly even to faculty and may or may not be in a 00:43:00tenure track line. The--the concept being is you hire somebody to teach something that may have a limited lifespan, or the community may only need for a few years, and then that might go away. And that's really what I think a community college is supposed to be about. And that is: find out what the educational needs are of the community. Once those needs are met then maybe that area becomes less active and you start a new area of activity--of educational activity, you know, much like, uh, the community college system had at one time, I don't know if it still does, a roving dental hygiene program. That they got some money from, uh, an allied health grant so they could move this--this dental hygiene program from site to site every couple of years; meet the needs of the local community and then move on to another community. And it was 00:44:00sort of a, you know, a new, uh, really innovative concept, being that it didn't get in one community and just stay for the ever--stay there forever, saturate the market, those people can't find jobs, you know. So the program itself sort of of goes down in terms of popularity because all the graduates can't find jobs. So one of the things they thought with that program is to move it.

ADAMS: From side to side--

ROBERTS: --and it may still exist. And it would stay two or three years, fill the needs of the community and then move to another site.

ADAMS: Well, this kind of leads to something that you were really talking about. In your opinion, who do you think was pushing in the corporate slash community for LTI, and why?

ROBERTS: In the beginning?

ADAMS: Well since you became aware of it in 1976. What--where--what have you seen as being, uh,--has there been a force in the community like IBM; like the med center, that's pushing LTI to offer these 00:45:00programs, or for these jobs not to become stagnant, because we are here to help the community?

ROBERTS: Yeah, that's a good question. Um, you know, it's been kind of interesting to me because since LTI has been sort of part of UK I don't really recall a whole lot of corporate influence over much, you know, um, programmatically--you know, we've had some ties and done some things, uh, programmatically on the academic side of the house with IBM over the years.

ADAMS: Uh-hm.

ROBERTS: Uh, there's been some things with Toyota. I know that the engineering program here has done some, some sorts of things with Toyota. But, um,--but really I don't, yeah--do you need to change the tape?

[Pause in recording.]

ADAMS: We were talking, before I turned the tape over, about corporate influence. Of, in other words, determining possibly what programs we 00:46:00may teach. And you said that you--you think the programs that LTI were teaching were more, uh, more influenced by what UK wanted versus not what the community wanted?

ROBERTS: Yeah, I don't remember there being a whole lot of external community push, you know, for us--and--and-- and back to my earlier comment. You know, it was years and years and years and we didn't--we closed very few programs, if any. I think we had a wood--a fire technology program or something like that maybe we closed. But we've closed very few programs, and we've actually begun very few, since I've been here. Which is kind of a--I think an oddity for a community college that's supposed to be having it's, you know, finger on the pulse of the community and trying to figure out what the community wants and needs in terms of--of educational programs. Um, so I know 00:47:00that when we began the environmental science program, the previous president, Janice Friedel was here, and I believe that while she, when she came from us from Iowa, that was a push that had been very popular in Iowa and so she just brought that this way. There was really, as I recall, very little push from the community to have an environmental science program. Um, that was more of a presidential sort of a--you know, what--what programs do we think the community might want. Or what program--it seemed to be more of a push in an area that she had expertise in. Because she had just begun one as I recall--in Iowa when she came here. Um, and I know when President Kerley came he was interested in the fact that we really hadn't begun any new programs over our lifespan. Um, most of the programs we currently have on the 00:48:00books were here in 1965. If not, then shortly thereafter. I think the respiratory care program was begun in, like, 1968. And somewhere in there, you know, the uh, uh, nursing program--I think dental lab is one of the oldest programs here. Um, and it's interesting to me that very few of those have closed nor have we added very--very many others. And when President Kerley came he was interested in sort of the idea of starting and establishing new programs. And Early Childhood seemed to be one that came out of a community survey, a community-wide survey. Us asking the community: well, what kinds of, you know, educational opportunities, um, aren't being met in--in the community? And I think Early Childhood sort of rose to the top. And it's been extremely successful, by the way. I mean we've got--I was talking to the, uh, 00:49:00coordinator the other day, Trisha Mosby, and I think she said something like 115 students were enrolled in that program. Where on the opposite end the environmental science program has many fewer students enrolled. So that's one of the dangers of starting programs just to start a program and not finding out what the community needs.

ADAMS: Well, and you--you may not want to answer this. It's totally up to you. So in your opinion, do you think LTI slash LCC has let the community of Lexington down? Or has not given the community what it may or may not need? Or do you think that we're serving the community perfectly fine the way we are?

ROBERTS: Um, I think for the most part LTI and LCC has I think done a pretty daggone good job in the community of trying to meet the needs. 00:50:00I think one of the things that LCC's grown into--

ADAMS: --um-hm--

ROBERTS: --and it's probably served the community as--as good as any of our technical programs and that's become and that is it that it has become such a popular place to start, uh, as even a transfer student. Get your gen-ed done and then go on to a four-year school. Uh, so when I began at LC--LTI I think we were in the neighborhood of seven or eight hundred students possibly, uh, all of which were technical students. And today, you know, the vast majority of students enrolled in LCC are not technical students, they're transfer students. So LCC sort of looks like a junior college in that--from that perspective, in that it'--a a lot of students begin their four-year education here, you 00:51:00know, and then transfer on.

ADAMS: Well, you struck on a good point there. You said, uh, you came in fall of 1976, correct? as a full-time faculty member at LTI.

ROBERTS: Correct.

ADAMS: You said there were approximately 700 to 800 students enrolled at that time?

ROBERTS: Yeah. That's just a guess but that--I would say that's pretty close.

ADAMS: And how many technical programs do you think existed at that time?

ROBERTS: Oh, let's see. I would--there's--if we have fourteen or fifteen now, I think we were probably in the neighborhood of eleven or twelve.

ADAMS: Eleven or twelve?


ADAMS: Versus--right now?

ROBERTS: Fifteen, I believe, I think. It might be fourteen.

ADAMS: And this is just technical programs, correct? Okay. Um, this kind of leads me up to, uh, where I want to go right now. Starting chronologically, from 1976, have you worked for LTI slash LCC ever 00:52:00since '76?

ROBERTS: Ever since. Yes.

ADAMS: Okay. Can you bring me forward professionally as far as you are concerned. You started teaching in '76, and then what happened?

ROBERTS: Um, some of these are guesses so I'll do the best I can on the dates. Um, so I started teaching in '76. Uh, and--and as I--yeah, I'm pretty--no that's not true, the first year I was here, '76 is right, right The first year I was here though I started as a faculty per--an instructor. Um, and I believe either the following year or the next, the person that was serving as the director or coordinator of the respiratory care program resigned and went back to his home state. His name was Jerry Rocho, R-o-c-h-o. Um, so with his departure 00:53:00I then assumed the role of coordinator. So it's either--it was a year or two after I began at LC--LTI. So it was either '77 or '78, I can't remember.

ADAMS: Now becoming the, uh, coordinator of the respiratory therapy, did you still teach or was that solely administrative?

ROBERTS: No, it's--well, uh, it was just another duty. I knew--I taught just as much as I had always taught. So back then we, um, we--we had very few part-time faculty in our programs, so we did not only lecture in lab but we also did clinical. While I was coordinator there were three eight-hour days a week that I wasn't even on this campus. I was in the hospital teaching students. So I coordinated, taught clinicals, taught lab, and taught lecture all together. My contact hours at the time I--I remember calculating somewhere in the neighborhood of twenty- seven contact hours a week of--of--of teaching time.


ADAMS: So they got their money's worth out of you. (laughs)

ROBERTS: And then a lot of that is because we did clinical. And that- -that takes up a lot more time. So that was about I think '78 or so I became coordinator. And I remained coordinator, golly, until probably, shoot, or--or late-eighties, early-nineties. I can't--I can't give you exactly what that would be, maybe fifteen years?

ADAMS: Approximately to '87, '88?

ROBERTS: Yeah somewhere in there. Maybe a little later than that, maybe eighteen years, I can't remember. And, uh, became division chair; I can't tell you the date. Gosh.

ADAMS: Nineteen-ninety?

ROBERTS: Probably, let's just say, yeah, just for--round it off, probably 1990 I became division chair. Um, served one three year term as division chair of the--I guess it was the natural sciences and 00:55:00health technologies division. Um, and then was going to serve--serve another term and I think I got maybe another three year term and I think I maybe served another year. So I was in my fourth year. And Eunice Beatty was dean of Academics at the time. She was dean of Academic Affairs and Eunice had been a dental hygienist with us--well, she's still with us obviously, but--so I had, I had known her through our division. And Eunice needed someone to sort of serve as an assistant to the dean of Academic Affairs. So Eunice asked me if I'd be willing to--to accept a temporary reassignment as an assistant to the dean of Academic Affairs when Eunice was--was dean. And I did, and the office was right down here in 206 where Becky Womack is now. Um, 00:56:00and Eunice was where Sandy is, and at the time, who was president? Gee, it was probably Friedel, I guess, yeah. So I agreed to serve in that role and it went on for like two years maybe, two or three years. And it, uh, with--with I think when President Kerley came, um, it was--it was the line was converted to a full-time regular position. And there was a search, and I applied for the position, and, uh, got the job as associate dean of Academic Affairs. And then so I was in that position per se a year or so. And the opportunity to, uh, move to South came 00:57:00available and that sort of, um, evolved into the opportunity to become associate dean for extended campuses. So we began, uh, you know, we got South, and then we worked on Winchester and it's just grown and grown. So that's really probably, at least from my, you know, chronological per--you know, perspective of getting--from becoming an instructor to where I am today.

ADAMS: When did you cease to teach classes and become a full-time administrator?

ROBERTS: Uh, even when I was division chair I still taught, so it's when I accepted the role of assistant to the dean with Eunice that I didn't- -that didn't--I no longer taught.

ADAMS: About 1995?

ROBERTS: Yeah I think that's pretty--pretty good. So, you know, what, nine years ago? Yeah, nine or ten.

ADAMS: Now, so you were actually a teacher in, what was it, 1984 when 00:58:00LTI changed its name to LCC?

ROBERTS: Yeah, that's good. I was going to guess mid-eighties, right,'84 or '85 right.

ADAMS: What was that like, the whole change, because it was reorganized completely. What was it like as a faculty member and what--what type of atmosphere was it like here?--

ROBERTS: --I--I think the thing that struck me the most was that we began teaching all the gen-ed ourselves. You know, prior to that time our students still went to the university and took all their gen-ed there.

ADAMS: Did they have to dual-enroll? As a UK and an LTI student, or do you know?

ROBERTS: I don't think they did I swear I don't. Now I could be wrong. See that was prior to UK having selective admissions.

ADAMS: Um-hm.

ROBERTS: So I think they did not have to dual-enroll. I think they were just considered to be.

ADAMS: But when UK started, that's what brought on the change of--to 00:59:00Lexington Community College from Lexington Technical was the selective admissions by UK? Is that correct?

ROBERTS: I think that some of those maybe are coincidental or some of those things--one--one maybe was a precursor to the other. But at about the time LCC began or became what I refer to as a comprehensive community college I mean we did--and then we'd serve our own students, all their educational needs. Um, I think it was about the time UK--now I never really stopped and sort of put two and two together, but it could have been about the time UK started with selective admissions, yeah. It makes sense.

ADAMS: When?--

ROBERTS: --and that's about the time too the debate began about: well, if we're-- if our students now are not taking courses at UK, why do we have to pay the same tuition, when all the other community colleges students pay a lower tuition?

ADAMS: Let's see, in '84 you were still not--you were still not in 01:00:00the administrative side of it so it would be hard to say what the discussion would be as far as the tuition goes, right?


ADAMS: Was--was the students happy with it becoming Lexington Community College?

ROBERTS: I think the students enjoyed the fact that they could get all their classes here, yes; as opposed to running across the street to get their gen-ed.

ADAMS: Okay. How did the, uh--what did the faculty think? Because now that made you teach basic courses--

ROBERTS: --well, yeah I guess my thinking was, and I didn't really give it a whole lot of thought at the time, because when you start--when we started the process of teaching everything, the number of technical faculty was still far outnumbered than the number of technical students, far outnumbered, uh, general education faculty and non- technical students.


ADAMS: Um-hm.

ROBERTS: But over time that balance has kind of gone the other direction. So now if you sat down with a directory of the faculty and looked at what people teach? I think it's overwhelmingly we have many more people that--that teach gen ed than teach technical. So I think over time faculty sort of began to--to--technical faculty began to get the feeling that they were--we were no longer what we used to be. You know, we had become something very different. And understanding what technical educations' all about, uh, votes in faculty, all of a sudden you have general education faculty voting on technical curriculum and they really didn't understand it.

ADAMS: Um-hm.

ROBERTS: Uh, why a technical program might not be interested in teaching 01:02:00a whole lot of gen-ed, um, didn't make sense to a--a gen-ed faculty person.

ADAMS: Um-hm.

ROBERTS: But a technical persons' thinking you know: all I'm really concerned about is making sure all my students when they graduate can do these skills. But of course my thinking now is one of: well, skills are important, but being able to communicate, write effectively, etcetera, etcetera, and being able to learn on a lifelong basis is probably just as, if not more, important than being able to do a technical--perform a technical skill. So I've sort of come full- circle, actually, in my thinking about that.

ADAMS: So, not only with the change from Lexington Technical Institute to Lexington Community College, in your opinion--or would it be your opinion that the mission of the institution also changed?

ROBERTS: Yeah I think so. I think the mission, I think the technical 01:03:00component of our mission is still there but it used to be all we were about.

ADAMS: Right.

ROBERTS: And I think what we see now is we have a couple of other pieces of our mission that are just as important. But I think some of the technical faculty may feel, um, that--that some people think it's more important.

ADAMS: Um-hm.

ROBERTS: You know, obviously with eight thousand, nine thousand students, most of those students are not enrolled in a technical program. So our student--and you if you also--you know, this would be an interesting study too, if somebody went back and looked at degrees awarded over the years.

ADAMS: Um-hm.

ROBERTS: Starting with even 1965, and seeing at the point at which the associate in the arts and the associate in the science began to be awarded and how that number has grown. And as a matter of fact I think I looked at the commencement bulletin from our last graduation, 01:04:00and we may--we may award more degrees now that are AA and AS than we do AAS. So there's--you know, we've evolved into something, uh, that,--from something. You know, we still do the technical component, but it's just not maybe as big a piece of what we're all about. Interestingly though, I think, much of the financial support for the technical programs comes from the tuition that the gen-ed students pay. And I'll give you an example of what I'm talking about. If we can teach a lecture course in history with forty students sitting in the classroom all paying tuition with very little overhead other than the cost of the teacher, it's very cost-effective to teach that class compared to me in the respiratory care lab teaching maybe six or eight 01:05:00or ten students at a time because it's very labor intensive, it's very equipment intensive. One piece of equipment that--a--a respirator, you know, as--for an example, might cost $25,000. So what I believe we have found is, is the gen-ed side of the house supports the technical side of the house in terms of generation of--of revenue. And I think one of the things that--that goes on at Central Kentucky Tech--if you take CKTC now, that's what LTI used to be like in 1976. It was all technical basically. And the amount of revenue that they--they generate to support technical programs is very small. Because they don't have gen-ed, and the gen-ed they do have is just in support of their technical programs. Where we have grown to a college of, you know, huge proportions; most of which of the gen-ed, uh, generates a 01:06:00lot of revenue. And are very--it's very cost effective. You know, you might pay--pay a teacher, a part-time faculty member, to teach it for twenty-one hundred dollars; you might have some printing costs, but that's it. And that revenue supports the technical side of the house which is--is quite expensive. The dental hygiene is a very expensive program to run, you might imagine. You've got dental chairs, dental equipment, the dentist. That's probably the most expensive program in the college. Good program, but very expensive.

ADAMS: So would you say in--in 1964 with the, uh, creation of Lexington Community College?--

ROBERTS: --sixty-four?

ADAMS: I mean '84, I'm sorry.

ROBERTS: Eighty-four.

ADAMS: Yeah, 1984. I'm sorry about that. And, um, with the selective admissions at UK, the ability for us to teach the general education 01:07:00courses, do you think that led more of LCC being labeled as a feeder college to UK?

ROBERTS: Yeah. Absolutely. Absolutely. Prior to that time we were not a feeder college at all. I mean, because students came to us to earn their degree and that--and--and the gen-ed they took was only in support of--and they were sitting right next to, in the the same class with, a UK student. So in no way did I ever interpret--or think it--of us as being a feeder school. And I think you're exactly right; I think with us becoming a comprehensive community college teaching gen ed here--and as soon as we began teaching UK's gen ed courses here, and our tuition was frozen which I can't remember the date, maybe late- 80's. Four or five years after we became a comprehensive, students began to figure out that they could come here, take all their 100- and 01:08:00200-level courses here for much less cost than to start at UK Plus, UK having selective admissions, many of those that couldn't go to UK chose to come here. And those things I think are--are some of the things that led to us becoming what, you know, you might call a feeder school.

ADAMS: Did it affect--did the selective admissions at UK affect the technical side of the people as far as wanting to go on because of the selective admissions? Or at that time?--

ROBERTS: --very few people really went on.

ADAMS: Went on to like nursing to get their four year nursing degree or whatever?--

ROBERTS: --Well, now nursing, that might have been very different. But, you know, the nursing pro--school--the professional schools at UK already had selective admissions anyway, prior to UK starting their own broad sel--so if you wanted to go to nursing school you had to be selectively admitted even prior to UK implementing selective--like 01:09:00medical school.

ADAMS: Right.

ROBERTS: It's always been selective. Uh, dental school's always been selective. So, I really have never thought of that changing much. UK selective--broad selective admission policy change--affecting our students or our graduates.

ADAMS: But it definitely increased the number of people who attended LCC?

ROBERTS: I think so, especially taking gen-ed, absolutely.

ADAMS: Because currently right now you look at tuition. You can come to LCC and get it for about a thousand dollars per semester cheaper.

ROBERTS: Yeah. I didn't know--

ADAMS: --than going to UK. So why would you not come here and be in a classroom of thirty or forty, versus four hundred?

ROBERTS: Right. Why would--I--I don't know--don't know why anybody would, but they did. You know, and some people are very big on the idea that, you know, LCC is not the quality or the name recognition 01:10:00that UK is, so, "don't go there." Or you know the reputation of "last chance college" and dah, dah, dah.

ADAMS: So you have been a student of LTI?


ADAMS: Worked for LTI; worked for LCC as both faculty--became an administrator of LCC. What would you say have been some of the significant accomplishments that LCC's made in this state over your tenure?

ROBERTS: Hmm. Accomplishments? Well--I'm sorry, go ahead--

ADAMS: --well, because you--because you--

ROBERTS: --you may give me some ideas.

ADAMS: Well because you mentioned earlier that, uh, the respiratory therapy; the nursing programs; dental hygiene, were nationally recognized.

ROBERTS: Yeah. I mean certainly, you know, I can't really think of any 01:11:00one big, oh, a big bang sort of a thing. But certainly the fact that our technical programs, especially I think, and maybe I'm prejudiced, but our health programs especially, are sort of what I kind of see as being our--you know, for a long time were sort of our what was recognized about LCC: the graduates, the quality of the graduates, the number of the graduates. Nursing; dental hygiene; radiography; respiratory care: certainly many of those being the only programs in town if not the only programs in the state. Dental lab is the only dental lab program in the state. Um, so I think that--that began as something that's very important to this community and has continued. But really the fact that we are an open-access--and I think really 01:12:00Dr. Kerley probably has driven this as much as any president I can remember and I can almost remember all of them, um, from Bill Price on through. Um, the open access; affordability; begin your education, um, but be able to carry that with you, you know, to other schools. Earn you associate degree here and go on and get your bachelor's degree at UK or Eastern or whatever. So I think the accessibility, the affordability, um, the emphasis on diversity in giving a diverse student population the opportunity; making people aware. I know another thing President Kerley's done is--is just something that no other president ever pushed--is even though we're growing like we're 01:13:00growing, you know, he felt very strongly about--or feels very strongly about reaching out into Winchester, Nicholasville, um, South Campus. Although South Campus, really, I see sort of as an overflow of this campus. Where I see Winchester as being an extension into a community that otherwise wouldn't have that opportunity. I see the same thing probably with Nicholasville, even though it is sort of a--a lot closer. Um, but just that idea of distance education, you know, uh, putting online, courses online. Weekend college, uh, that we teach courses at South on Saturdays and courses, uh, here on Sundays at--at the Cooper campus. More evening courses, I mean, of all the presidents I can remember since I've been here, and there's no question in my mind that 01:14:00Kerley is the most dynamic, the most, um, uh, creative in terms of-of offering classes off-site. Offering classes at times that nobody else is offering classes. Fall II is an example. Spring II, that, you know, those are his brainchilds, it's--it's incredible. You know, the guy is amazing--amazes me. Um, to do stuff in Winchester; weekends; uh, evenings, uh, Fall II, Spring II; one day a week. You know, we-we weren't doing that kind of stuff. And most of that has been since he's been here. It's amazing.

ADAMS: In 1998 you said you became the associate, what was the correct title?

ROBERTS: Associate Dean, uh-huh, for Academic Affairs. And then it kinda morphed into extended campuses, because it got more defined, 01:15:00especially when I went to South.

ADAMS: So you're the associate dean of Academic Affairs for all the extended campuses?

ROBERTS: Correct.

ADAMS: Okay. In your opinion, since the'84 creation of Lexington Community College--define its mission.

ROBERTS: Um, well, you mean--has it changed--

ADAMS: --it's mission, it's purpose? Because you said when--when, um, UK was--

ROBERTS: --I mean I know what the mission of the school--I mean I know what the mission of LCC is. I mean, I can tell you that.

ADAMS: What--what--what do you think--think it is?

ROBERTS: Well, what I think the mission, you know, the mission of the school is just to provide educational opportunities for those that are pursuing technical, you know, workforce development types of programs; transfer, pre-bacc, transfer; and then of course the continuing education-lifelong learning. So the--it's a three-part mission. Continuing ed being not an--an academic course, but a 01:16:00continuing education. Whether it be English as a second language; a computer career ----------(??) a computer course or actually providing, um, training at a corporation on-site, like Toyota that might need-- whatever they might need. So, um, that's really what is the textbook definition of what a community college's mission is all about. And I really think ours fits that pretty well. You know, and I think if you read our mission, that's--that's its basic three goals.

ADAMS: And--and the reason I was asking that at this particular time leading up to this question. We've-we've discussed what LTI was, it's purpose, how it--the purpose kind of changed in '84 when we became a community college--

ROBERTS: --yeah, yeah, I agree.

ADAMS: And I asked you about, you know, the successes, the accomplishments. Knowing all that and since you were here since--what 01:17:00is it, '76, correct?

ROBERTS: Right. Um-hm.

ADAMS: What are you particularly disappointed with, with the institution and what do you think--in other words, what you do think it could have become that it hasn't become?

ROBERTS: Really the pluses far outweigh the negatives. But I do--I--I can think of something that is a--a bit disappointing. And that is, um, I think there are--are certain technical programs that LCC has on the books that we no longer need. And I think we do not do a very good job and, you know, some of this fell in my area actually. I don't think we do a very good job at identifying programs that are no longer needed, uh, and figuring out how to restructure, re-tool that, or eliminate 01:18:00that program. And if you can't figure that out its very difficult on budgets that we inherit from the state or limited budgets. Unless you eliminate something it's very hard to start something new or unless it can be funded externally some other way. So I think there have been opportunities to develop new programs, but funding being so tight we couldn't start those programs. But another way to do it is just take existing dollars and reallocate those existing dollars and start new programs by eliminating older programs that we no longer need. And if you will look, I think, and I could be wrong, at the original list of programs that were on the books in the late-sixties, I would've bet that majority of what we have today looks very much like that. And I 01:19:00think in order for our community college to be responsive to the needs of the community it needs to look at what's no longer needed--

ADAMS: --um-hm--

ROBERTS: --so we can take dollars and reallocate those dollars and begin programs that weren't even in existence, uh, in the late-sixties. So, that's just kind of--if there's one thing I could sort of point to that's--that I think is a little disappointing--and I really think a lot of that stems from the--the fact that our academic model of what we look like is much like that of a university because we are an offshoot of the university. So you have people that are in those programs that have tenure, and to eliminate a program and let tenured faculty go is a very difficult thing to do. Where if you're sitting at a university and you have people that have tenure that are teaching English, well, 01:20:00English isn't going to go away. You know, you're always going to need a medical school. You're always going to need a dental school. So, since we adopted a model that's much--much like a university I don't think we're very flexible in our ability to eliminate what's no longer needed and add what--what is needed. Because we've got some of the trappings of a university that sort of bog us down. We have ten--and- -and don't get me wrong, I'm not against tenure. It's just that I think it--it sort of limits how quickly we can move in new directions and-- and not go in directions we used to go. So if faculty heard--would hear me say this they'd probably string me up out front. (Adams laughs) But it has nothing to do with the person per se--

ADAMS: --right--

ROBERTS: --it's just an institution.

ADAMS: Well I think like you were saying, and-- I may be wrong with this statement, but you see no problem in offering tenure for History and English, and programs you're going to need.


ROBERTS: Correct.

ADAMS: But for some technical program that you really don't really need--

ROBERTS: --yeah, and I thought I would never hear myself say that because I was a technical faculty person. But now that I've been on both sides and see--not really both sides, but I'm able to step back from it and see it doesn't make a lot of sense that if you--we have some programs that have so few students enrolled in them. You know, we have tenured faculty in those programs and it's--we've been--I think we sort of ignored it. Uh, we sort of looked the other way and luckily our enrollment has increased so much in the gen-ed side that we have all these dollars--

ADAMS: --um-hm--

ROBERTS: --to do some, you know, creative things and even though we haven't started a lot of new programs, we--we have started some. But I think, only to be accountable for the money we spend, we ought to look at how we spend some of those dollars. Because we have some programs 01:22:00that teach very large numbers of students and work very hard to do the things they do. And then you have some programs that teach very few students and somebody might argue: well, for the good of the, you know, the world, we need these types of graduates. I would argue maybe not.

ADAMS: In your opinion, and--and if you don't want to answer this I fully understand. What we've just been talking about. Give me an example of one program you think that we shouldn't have and one program you think we should, that we don't currently have, that would benefit the community?

ROBERTS: I could probably--it's probably easier for me to identify a program that I think we should probably look at eliminating.

ADAMS: Um-hm.

ROBERTS: And I'll have to think a little bit about the program we should add. But anyway, I think the engineering electrical program is one. 01:23:00And this kind of comes from my perspective of serving in--in the associate dean for Academic Affairs where we do program review. And we do five years program reviews mandatory for everybody. But every year we look at numbers of graduates and any program that has fewer than ten graduates in one year, they're triggered to do sort of what we call a mini-program review report.

ADAMS: Um-hm.

ROBERTS: And my experience with Academic Affairs and being on--with academic council, etcetera, electrical engineering almost every year had to do some sort of follow-up report, and almost never were the enrollment numbers increasing. And I think we just sort of called them back to the table every year where you never really did much about it. And I think it's hard to make that hardball call, but I think that would be one of the programs I'd look at. Because if--there are other programs and--and there--there are two or three faculty in that program 01:24:00and some years they'll have fewer than six graduates. So you're talking a two or three to one ratio of graduates to faculty. And then you have other programs that have one faculty member, Trisha Mosby being the one in--in, um, Early Childhood. She has a hundred and some- odd students enrolled in her program. So to me she needs more faculty and the engineer--electrical engineering area needs fewer faculty. And we ought to be able to reallocate those positions accordingly. That's just off the top of my head.

ADAMS: But sometimes tenure holds that up, right?

ROBERTS: Yeah, and tenure makes it tricky. Now I believe the regs do say if you eliminate a program you can actually let tenured faculty members go. But we've just never gone there. And--and it might be political suicide for a president to go there, you know, it's--I think most people would understand, but it's difficult. A program we should add? Golly, I'm--I'm not sure that I could identify any right off. Um, 01:25:00I think more importantly, like I mentioned Early Childhood; there's probably programs that need additional faculty and some that need fewer faculty. And we ought to be able to move those positions. If we ran a business the way we run this college in terms of eliminating and developing new products and--and eliminating old products we would have gone out of business a long time ago in my opinion. We'd still be making Model A Fords or whatever.

ADAMS: Right.

ROBERTS: Um, we at one time looked at starting a physical therapy assisting program, PTA? Um, and I think if we had the dollars available we probably would have done it. In hindsight that--it was good we didn't, because the way that the reimbursements got restructured. Reimbursement protocol in the healthcare industry got restructured--

ADAMS: --kind of put you in a rough spot?--

ROBERTS: --yeah. I think that would of--we'd end up losing on that deal.


ADAMS: Um, since, and I think this is very, very important. Since you were in such a high administrative level, in the institution, do you think the, uh, separation of LCC from UK was a good or bad thing? For-- for not only the school but also the community?

ROBERTS: I think as difficult as it was; I think in--in the long run it'll be a good thing. I think the fact that its going to lead to us consolidating slash merging with Central Kentucky Tech--I think we're going to be able as an institution--our reach and--and what we offer and the quality of--of, maybe not quality. I think quality is pretty 01:27:00good in both--both cases. But our--just our reach and our variety in the fact that we--the--the public will no longer be confused about what: well, what's CKTC do and what you all do and what's the difference?

ADAMS: Um-hm.

ROBERTS: Um, so I think brand recognition and, you know, those sorts of things; I think in the long run it's going to be a very good thing. And it's really going to be good for students. I think it is going to be good for the community. I think it--for LCC or whatever our name will be, I think, you know, our, and--and I hate this cliche, but, you know, I think that--that we have--we've been unleashed, if you will. You know, I think that we were tethered so much by the university fundraising.

ADAMS: Um-hm.

ROBERTS: There's certain people we could not approach. Because the university was--was courting them for a huge donation. Toyota being one as an example. And they didn't want us interfering in what--what 01:28:00they were doing. So we--we--I think our ability to be independent from the university and some of the things that allows us to do will pay off in the long run. I really think, uh, now that may go counter to what some people say in terms of us being more autonomous. Because when we were a part of the university, um, LCC, we could sort of start and revise our curriculum pretty much at will. I mean they--we got to the point where we could do through our academic council, as long as they were our programs, uh, we could do anything we wanted. Now that we're a part of the KCTCS, if we make a change here it has to go through the KCTCS and then in some ways has to align with the programs that they're offering across the state. So it's kind of ironic that SACS said we weren't autonomous enough when we were with UK, and now they're saying 01:29:00we are autonomous enough, even though we don't probably don't have as much control of our curriculum as we did in the old days. But there are pieces of autonomy that we now have that we didn't have with UK So I think in the long run it--it'll be good.

ADAMS: So would it be fair to quote that Tri Roberts wanted the separation of LCC from UK? Or would that be an incorrect statement?--

ROBERTS: --um-- would it--would--would it be fair to say that if--if, you know, five years ago or however long ago we started talking about separation, that Tri would have thought of the idea and pressed the idea? No. Um, I think as long as Charles Wethington was president of the university, we--If he were still president we'd still be a part of UK I think it was Lee Todd who did not see how LCC provided anything to 01:30:00help him meet his goal of becoming a top-twenty research institution, that we provided anything in terms of helping him reach that goal. Nor did he see that he was hired, um, to make UK a top-twenty, uh, how LCC fit into that picture. Because I've heard him say on a number of occasions, and you've probably read it as well: None of the top- twenties have a community college. You know, so how can you become a top-twenty if you don't look like a top-twenty?

ADAMS: Right.

ROBERTS: Um, so I think it had nothing to do with the fact that he thought we weren't worthy, that he thought we didn't do a good enough job or what we did didn't rise to some level of expectation, or in some way drug them down. I don't think any of those things were true. I just don't think he saw how we fit that--

ADAMS: --right. So you would say, and--and this is probably going to be one of our last questions.


ADAMS: You would say that--that Lee Todd probably was the force behind 01:31:00the separation?

ROBERTS: Absolutely. I--I--not for wrong reasons or not for--not that he was a bad man or--I think he had legitimate reasons, but I think he was the driving force. And I think if Charles Wethington were still president, we'd still be part of UK.

ADAMS: Well I do appreciate your time Tri. Thank you.

ROBERTS: My pleasure.

ADAMS: And, uh, I'm sure if I have any other questions I'll be more than willing to give you a call. And if you have anything else that you think you want to add, don't hesitate at all in--in contacting me. But I do appreciate you taking time from your busy schedule.

ROBERTS: You're welcome.

ADAMS: Thank you.

[Pause in recording.]

ADAMS: This is an oral history interview with, uh, Tri Roberts. The second part of the interview that we were conducting on the LCC fortieth anniversary oral history project. And again my name is John Adams and we're conducting this second part on October the twenty- seventh 2004 in the Oswald Building. And, uh, before we had to stop 01:32:00earlier we were talking about the, uh, the merger, or I guess the separation of LCC from UK. And you said that, uh, you think really the-the separation was forced more from Lee Todd. That he really wanted this separation because LCC or Lexington Community College really didn't fit into the top-twenty research model. Could--and I was just wondering if you could expand on that a little bit more Tri?

ROBERTS: Yeah. Um, I--I really think, you--you know, the idea of what SACS needed us to do; what SACS needed us to change in order to become what they believed to be an autonomous institution. I think those things could have been done. I think if President Wethington were still 01:33:00president those things probably would have been done. Because I think President Wethington having a history of coming from chancellor of the community college system had a understanding--a better understanding of the community colleges were about. Maybe a better understanding how the community college could be supportive of a top-twenty research even though across the nation there are probably no other community colleges associated with a top-twenty university. Um, so I think the fact that- -that, uh, Charles Wethington saw the value, and I'm not saying that Lee Todd doesn't see the value of what a community college does, I just think--don't think that Lee Todd could envision how our remaining with the university would be of any, uh, significance to them. And I think he really did believe, that--or does believe that--he being Lee Todd, 01:34:00that LCC being part of a community college system, uh, and a system of peers and equals, uh, that have--I shouldn't even say peers and equals; people that are focused on the same mission, if you will, um, would be a benefit to LCC. And I--I can't say that I--I could argue with that. And I think if I were, um, hired in Lee Todd's position and given the challenge of making UK a top-twenty, I might say I--I'm not sure I would do much differently than he, uh, did. Um, now how that all played out, you know, politically or, uh, so somebody didn't look like the bad guy, you know, that might be, you know, a discussion of some other type. But I really believe, uh, at least from my perspective, that--that Lee Todd was the driving force. Um, and not, and not--not 01:35:00bad actually. I mean, just different philosophy, different mindset. Uh, why did all the other schools go to a community college system and we didn't? Uh, a lot of that doesn't make sense, and I think a lot of even people in the community didn't understand why.

ADAMS: Um-hm.

ROBERTS: You know, if all those other schools went, why didn't LCC go? And I think that was always kind of a position we found ourselves in trying to explain why. You know, "Why are you still apart of UK?" And I think the UK name brings a lot of positives to LCC, but I don't think that in the long run, students--it's really going to change much. I think students still value what we do. I think our enrollment is still strong. I'm not sure our enrollment has been affected negatively by the split between--uh, from UK Um, even though there was a lot of prediction that it would. I think the fact that we don't get as many 01:36:00dorm rooms as we used to get probably hurts us as much as--as, um, the fact that UK's name is not on the diploma. So, um, so anyway that-- hope that gets at what you wanted to get at.

ADAMS: Well, um, one thing that I wanted to--to ask your opinion on. Do you think that the board, and the board of trustees at the University of Kentucky and Lee Todd researched enough to realize that Lexington Community College wasn't like the other community colleges. It wasn't formed under the same pretense. I mean there was a more of a direct relationship between LCC and UK

ROBERTS: I think initially--in the initial phases, I don't think a lot of people really researched enough to know. I think once it became a heated debate, discussion, uh, and I thought that it--that it became 01:37:00pretty clear to me they'd done their homework, and they realized, you know: yeah okay, LCC really wasn't--or LTI really wasn't formed like the other community colleges in terms of--of how they--of their development. But--but what they offered to the community was similar and so, just again, not fitting the top-twenty model I think really was what I saw sort of as the driving force. Or what I heard, um, is the driving force.

ADAMS: Because I--I actually got the opportunity, and I think you were over there as well. Did you attend the board meeting when the decision was made?--

ROBERTS: --yes. Yes.

ADAMS: Um, do you--so what you're saying is that everyone around that table knew before they cast their vote--they knew about the history, they knew about why LCC was initially formed? And, uh, they had all 01:38:00done their homework, so to speak, before casting it?

ROBERTS: Uh, I--I don't know if I'd go that far. I think a lot of the- -the decisions made by the board are oftentimes at the, um,--of what want--they think in terms of what the president, what--the direction the president wants to go. And I know they're not--um, I'm not suggesting that they're a rubber stamp.

ADAMS: Um-hm.

ROBERTS: But I think that, uh, Lee Todd probably made his case and convinced a lot of people. And I think it--there is a possibility that some of that discussion goes on outside the boardroom. Um, I got the impression a lot of that information tends to flow before the meeting even happens. Like I've been to a lot of board meetings--

ADAMS: --um-hm--

ROBERTS:--and you can tell that--that the decision's probably already been made that--or it--it wouldn't even-- it wouldn't come up for a 01:39:00vote. I don't think they--I think they play those things so that if it's a controversial issue it--it--it doesn't even come on--get on the table. So I think going in they knew they had the votes to--to separate us. With the exception of the little man that walked out.

ADAMS: (laughs) That's where I was, uh, going with that. I--I think everything was pretty much coordinated except for the guy getting up and using the vulgarity--

ROBERTS: --you know what interested me though? One of the things that sort of interested me about the whole--the way everything unfolded. Is I really--I thought I understood Dr. Kerley to say that he thought Steven Reed, the chair of the board of trustees?

ADAMS: Um-hm.

ROBERTS: Is that his name? Was going to in some way oppose the transition or the separation. And at the meeting none of that happened. So either I didn't--wasn't listening very closely to what the--Dr. Kerley 01:40:00was saying, or Dr. Kerley was led to believe through his conversations with Steve Reed that he was going to align with us. And at the meeting none of that happened. So I don't know--between A and B--or something broke down. So, I--that--that was really probably the only thing that surprised me. Um, I tended to believe that--or I tended to--to interpret from Dr. Kerley that some of his discussions with Steve Reed were sort of leading in the direction of he was going to be against the separation, and that never happened. Never came out publicly at least.

ADAMS: It seemed like it was all well-orchestrated.

ROBERTS: Yeah. Yeah. Before the meeting even.

ADAMS: Well Tri I--I think that that's, um, answered quite a few questions that we had about the, you know, the merger and everything. But, uh, in your opinion you think it's a good thing, you think LCC 01:41:00will go forward as?--

ROBERTS: --absolutely. I, you know, I think it will be a stronger institution. Um, uh, uh, be able to offer to the community and be responsive to the community's needs. Uh, from across the board, you know--

ADAMS: --um-hm--

ROBERTS: --previously most community colleges across the nation offer a wide variety of programs and services. Many of which we did not offer. A lot of what I call the hard skills kinds of things: construction; welding; auto. Those types of things that we've never offered and never will. And now that we're one school, we'll be able to offer those, and everything that we offer. So I think in terms of meeting the needs of the community with our vision--with our mission in mind, we'll--we'll be a much stronger institution.

ADAMS: Okay. Well again, I do appreciate you taking time out of your busy schedule--

ROBERTS: --you're welcome--

ADAMS: --and sitting down with us, uh, and telling us your thoughts, 01:42:00experiences at L--LTI and LCC.

ROBERTS: My pleasure.

ADAMS: Thank you Tri.

ROBERTS: You're welcome.

[End of interview.]