Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Gordon Davies, October 3, 2007

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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DAVIES: I think it will be just as astonished that you did this with something smaller than a pack of cigarettes.

LANE: It's wonderful, it's wonderful to carry and I have a back-up just in case the batteries. But you can record for ten hours, uh, for each of a hundred folders on this little thing. We hope the technology supports us when we are finished. Uh, for the record we're here with Dr. Gordon Davies, uh, who was president of the Council on Postsecondary Education from 1998 to 2002. He's back in Kentucky- -we're delighted to have him at the KCTCS President's Leadership Conference. I--as I mentioned to you before I had the pleasure of listening to an interview that you conducted in 2002 with Myk Garn, who was preparing his doctorial dissertation. And in that interview you detail some of the early days of, you know, the, the CPE and of the results of the '97 Postsecondary Improvement Act. But today if we 00:01:00could, I, and I learned a great deal, I might add, from your comments and some of your, your historical comments about education in the area. So I appreciated getting to know you that way. But I would like to focus on your impressions of the past few years, from your standpoint of the KCTCS story. First of all though, I would like to ask you what you have been doing since you left Kentucky for, for the record.

DAVIES: Um, well fine. For, for the record the thing that really frightens me here, is that--I'll tell you a different story than I told Myk Garn in 2002, which is entirely possible. Because memories change. Um, so if I go off and say something that absolutely contrary to what I told Myk Garn interrupt me and--

LANE: Well, I shall--

DAVIES: --let's try to resolve that--

LANE: --but I'm interested in your impressions from five years ago.


LANE: And how those have changed.

DAVIES: So what have I been doing in the last five years? Well, 00:02:00when I left here I took on the directorship of a project funded by the Pew Charitable Trusts called the National Collaborative Fund on Postsecondary Education and Policy. (coughs) Uh, it might have actually been Higher Education Policy.

LANE: It was higher education.

DAVIES: It was, yeah. Uh, and it was, uh, a grant made by Pew to three national organizations, uh, the Education Commission of the States, the, uh, National Center for Higher Education Management Systems, NCHEMS, and the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education. Uh, they were all, uh, run by people I knew and, uh, and liked. Uh, the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education is the group that publishes the, uh, Measuring Up the national report card on states in higher education. And I had been involved with all of these 00:03:00before and, uh, took this on and the job was to work with, uh, as many as five states on, um, helping to, uh, improve the policy-making and the policy--higher education policy--in the states. So we worked in a number of states--five, uh, on the project. But probably another ten indirectly. Uh, with the same sort of ideas. And that ended in 2006 and, um, since that time I have been doing just various things.

LANE: Indulging your passions? Do you research, read, do you speak--is that your favorite thing?

DAVIES: I don't speak much, uh, I don't research much. I read, uh, I, uh--I give advice if I'm asked.


LANE: Excellent. That's good I'm glad you do. We need your advice. Let's back up to the KCTCS presidential search in late 1998, which resulted in bringing Mike McCall to Kentucky. Had you known him before that time?

DAVIES: I knew of him, but I really didn't know him. What, what happened there, um--I know it was probably the, one of the strongest--the best contributions I made to, uh, Kentucky. Um, [clicking sound] Jim Ramsey was the, uh, acting president of, uh, CPE of K-, KCTCS, excuse me.

LANE: Yes.

DAVIES: And, um, it became clear to, uh, Governor Patton that, uh, Jim was not going to be the president of KCTCS. So he asked me to come in 00:05:00and uh, I did and basically he said, uh, they were in a really tough situation, because they had to get this thing off the ground, and they didn't have a president. And, um, I met with the board sometime in--oh it would have been, uh, early 1998. Uh, um, probably May or April of 1998, I'm, I'm not quite sure--(clears throat)--and, uh, as a result of that I, uh, uh, I asked Jeff Hockaday if he could come over here and, uh, help to get this thing started. And Jeff and I knew each other for years from, uh, Virginia where he was the chancellor and I was the head of the state council of higher education. Uh, and while we always didn't get along, uh, on issues we I think saw the world in basically 00:06:00the same way. And, uh, I have great respect for him. And, uh, Jeff came over and, and did that and got, got us started here in Kentucky. Uh, but most important Jeff found Mike.

LANE: Jeff found Mike?

DAVIES: And there was--yeah--and there was a connection there because Mike had been at Paul D. Camp, uh, Community College, if I remember the college correctly, in Virginia before he went to South Carolina. So I knew that he had been in Virginia, but I didn't know him well in Virginia. Uh, and, uh, getting Mike was one of the best things any of us did. Yeah.

LANE: It seems to have been one of the shining moments.


LANE: It has proven out to be.

DAVIES: Yeah. I think so.

LANE: In those first CPE meetings of course that was a new, new structure as well.

DAVIES: Well no--


DAVIES: --not really.

LANE: Well the council on higher education had been?

DAVIES: Had been there yeah.

LANE: Yes, of course.

DAVIES: Um, but it was, it was new in the sense that it had, it had some 00:07:00new responsibilities.

LANE: Exactly.

DAVIES: And, uh, and all of a sudden it was responsible for implementing this reform act.

LANE: Reform. What was the mood in those meetings? The attitude of the, the university presidents had been members of course, of the other council. But this new kid on the block was sitting at the table.

DAVIES: Well, for one thing they weren't members anymore. It was, it was now a--an appointed body, and the mood of that appointed body, uh, was, uh, was various. Uh, there were some people on that appointed body who, uh, I think knew exactly what needed to be done. And, uh, were very comfortable with it. They were some people on the appointed body who were very apprehensive, uh, because it was, uh, well at least 00:08:00my appointment signaled it to be a departure from previous practice. Uh, and, uh, that I think, uh, I think that hurt the Council, and I think that was part of, uh, the problem for four years is that Council. Uh, uh, the people who were close, who understood what needed to be done, left the Council. And I think the Council became increasingly dysfunctional as a result.

LANE: They left because the battle was--

DAVIES: No, uh--

LANE: --too intense?

DAVIES: Leonard Hardin's term was over and he left, and Leonard was the chair when I came aboard, and Leonard was the head of, uh--goodness you might remember--one of the big banks in Louisville. Uh, I can't remember which one it was.

LANE: I think it was Fifth Third.

DAVIES: Might have been Fifth Third. Uh, Lee Todd was there, and Lee 00:09:00left and went up to, uh, Boston for a while. Um, Lois Weinberg was there and she stayed.

LANE: Right.

DAVIES: But, uh, Lee Todd--I mean just as he is now--Lee knew exactly, you know, what needed to be done and he knew that the, the table had to be reset, you know. (laughs)

LANE: Exactly.

DAVIES: And so did Leonard. Um, but there were others who didn't see it that way, and um.

LANE: Who were still resisting moving the community colleges from UK? Was that--

DAVIES: No, no, well, well--

LANE: --was that attitude there?

DAVIES: They just didn't, they, it was more we--our job is to, our job is to allocate resources and take care of, uh, you know, individual wants, so you don't ask, uh, what the people of a state need, you ask what the institutions want. And then you, uh, try as best you can to, uh, make them equally unsatisfied.

LANE: The old way of doing things? Which has gotten us--had gotten us 00:10:00where?

DAVIES: Yeah, had gotten us where we were.

LANE: --where we were--

DAVIES: And I think you're back to it now, frankly.

LANE: That's too bad. That's, it's frightening, because I think we have--we had made some wonderful steps.


LANE: We'll talk about that a bit more. Um, as I, as I look back over ten--nine years of mon-, of, of a great number of details that had to be pulled together--like McCall had to invent systems and pull these two entities together. Technical, postsecondary technical schools, from state government, a whole different world than a community college world. Um, how, how many of those details was the Council involved in early on? Or is this Mike McCall's thing and he came and, and reported to you? Did he seek advice?

DAVIES: Um, you, you would have to confirm with Mike--this with Mike McCall. But, um, my recollection of that time is that, uh, Hockaday 00:11:00and I, and then McCall and I, uh, uh, worked together very closely on this, and we saw this thing pretty much the same way. Um, you mentioned the notion of bringing the technical colleges and the community colleges together. Um, I mean there are a lot of things to congratulate Mike McCall about but, uh, to my mind there is nothing more important--the, the genius with which he, uh, did that, uh, I think was really quite extraordinary.

LANE: I agree with you.

DAVIES: And the fact that he, uh, he never forced that to happen any place but, uh--nonetheless led people to recognize that it was the right thing and the best thing for the communities to do.


LANE: To--for the communities. True.

DAVIES: And I could point to, uh, systems in the United States where that has not happened as well as easily.

LANE: Because it's been mandated for one?

DAVIES: Well it's been mandated or, uh, or the leadership, uh, uh, was, um, well the leadership as I would define it didn't understand what leadership was--(laughs)--in that situation and, um, was to impatient, uh, for it to happen.

LANE: For it to happen.

DAVIES: Um, but it, uh, it worked here, it worked very well.

LANE: And in--

DAVIES: I think Hockaday saw what needed to be done and then I think McCall did too.

LANE: You saw it. In one of your interviews you mentioned that you thought it would work, because Lee Todd and Mike McCall were different types of individuals. They were coming into this system without some of the political baggage perhaps.

DAVIES: Well. I mean one of the just remarkable things about Kentucky 00:13:00politics, and I mean educational politics, was the notion that Paul Patton and Charles Wethington actually would go on public television and argue--debate this issue. I just could not imagine that happening.

LANE: Even in Kentucky politics we were--people who had observed that for years, we were shocked at that as well. That KET debate was phenomenal.

DAVIES: But it was, it was probably a good thing to have happen and, uh, and when that was, when that was done, and you were talking about McCall, and then finally, uh, Lee Todd, uh, Lee could look at the mission of the University of Kentucky and say, if we're going to be a stronger research university, if we're going to be a, uh, a magnet for 00:14:00innovative faculty, um, I have to concentrate on that. I really don't need to run a community college system. I don't even need to run the community college across the street.

LANE: Well, and we know, too--good morning, that's fine.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Am I interrupting something?

LANE: We're doing an interview--that's fine. That's fine if you need to come in. Um, I think too, that, um, he did not have the emotional attachment to the community colleges that Charles Wethington may have had, naturally. Because he had been chancellor of that, that was--he was a product of those.

DAVIES: Well I think that's probably, uh--

LANE: One, one of the factors.

DAVIES: I think that's probably true.

LANE: I also like the comment that I read of yours, and we may want to 00:15:00use that if that's all right with you. As you discuss the importance of not only of technical education, not only preparing Kentuckians for jobs, but the value of liberal arts education--if you will getting something like that at the community colleges. As they join those technical schools and your quote involved Kentuckians having bread on the table, but roses too.

DAVIES: Oh yeah.

LANE: I particularly like that.

DAVIES: Well, you know where that comes from, um, in, uh, Massachusetts in the, uh, in the, uh, Western Massachusetts the, uh, the garment mills went on strike in the turn of the century--the turn of the, the 19th century. And, um, the men went out on strike and the National Guard came in and beat the men, beat them badly. Um, so in response to 00:16:00that the women went out and they said, "The guard will not beat us the way they beat you." And the women did the picketing and the striking. And, uh, the notion of bread and roses became the symbol for that and, uh, um, one of the great folk singers, uh, has a song about bread and roses, uh.

LANE: Not Carly Simon?

DAVIES: No not Carly Simon. Even before that--

LANE: --earlier than that--

DAVIES: --uh, even before that and I can't remember her name. It's not Julie Christie but it's a name like Julie Christie. Julie London maybe. Uh, but--

LANE: I may have attached a different meaning to it, but I liked it. I liked it because I felt it was appropriate here.

DAVIES: Well, but it is the same--what you, what you, what you're looking at is not just, uh, a way to earn a living. You're looking at a quality of life. You're looking at an ability to, uh, put bread 00:17:00on the table, but also to put, uh, roses, uh--one of the things that I have been--since I came to Kentucky, and I really did learn how to do this work all over again in Kentucky. What I've been, uh, quite obsessive about is, uh, the connections between, uh, education and quality of life. The connection between education and health for instance. One of the things we did here in the early days of my tenure was to map by county the incidents of children living in poverty, child abuse, uh, lung cancer, uh, diabetes, um, cardiovascular disease. And we had all these data and then we mapped them against educational attainment. And where educational attainment was low all the other 00:18:00things were high. Uh, I actually convened over here, by invitation, a meeting of, uh, people from around the country who bless them, paid their own way. And I didn't, uh, and I didn't give them any money to come, to just come talk about it. And, uh, I remember an economist named Tony Carnevale who's just a great guy. Finally said, "You can't make this case 'cause there's no causal nexus. You cannot prove that, uh, that education reduces lung cancer." And Tony's right of course. You can't prove it in an economist's sense, but there--if there are no causal nexi, there are correlations. And, uh, and I have no doubt that, uh, the one follows from the other.

LANE: I don't either. Hope and self-respect. Think about--but I think both of those things as making me--if I have a little hope for the 00:19:00future or more self-respect, I'm going to want to take care of myself a little better. And I hope my children will see that. Yeah the same thing if momma, if momma's--nobody in her family has ever been to school and there's a college pretty close and it's pretty easy and she can, she can take a class. That's, that's a ray of hope for the, for her and the--her children.

DAVIES: Oh, sure it is. Sure it is.

LANE: I mean that's simplistic, but I, I think, I think the correlations are exactly there as you say.

DAVIES: Well, the other thing that isn't simplistic is if you can't read. You can't teach your kids to read.

LANE: No, you cannot.

DAVIES: So your kids will go to kindergarten and they won't be reading ready. And when they come home and they are having trouble you can't help them. And that is cause for alarm.

LANE: And they don't see you reading. And they don't see that it's important to you.

DAVIES: Yeah. Yeah. And that's why we took on when, uh, was David Williams then, who asked us to do this. We took on responsibility for managing the adult literacy programs in--


LANE: Um-hm.

DAVIES: --in Kentucky. And we did it because of what I'd learned here. And what I learned here is, and what I had learned here is, that these are not quick fix issues. These are trans-generational issues. The illiteracy of one population has its roots in the illiteracy of its parents. And, uh--

LANE: I was speaking with someone last week who said they felt like that was a very important part of the whole movement. As putting adult ed there--it had been a stepchild here and there. But putting it with, with, uh, well CPE isn't it?


LANE: At, at this point?

DAVIES: Yeah. I'm not sure I agree with, uh, putting the administrative, uh, putting the, uh, the nuts and bolts of running adult education with the Council, because I don't think the Council should run things. I think it should coordinate things.

LANE: I see. Well, that makes sense.

DAVIES: But, uh, that's not withstanding. Uh, it's been very important.


LANE: Those programs, because of the linkage though, I think more of those folks who are just taking an adult ed class tend to think abo-, more about higher education. Taking a college course or, or a course at the technical school. So I, I think it's--I think there are many positive things coming from that, from that combination. What would you list as the highlights of the first years of that formation? When you were here? The melding of those systems. You know where there a couple of highlights that stand out in your mind? We talked about Mike McCall coming in.

DAVIES: Well, uh--(laughs)--one of the, one of the first things that happened of course, is that we had to deal with the, with accreditation with Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

LANE: Yes, you did.

DAVIES: And, uh, and, uh, I think it was Asheville--I'm not quite sure. Mike and I and, uh, maybe Jeff I'm not sure went down to a meeting of 00:22:00the, uh--

LANE: --I read about that--

DAVIES: --the board, uh--maybe Charlie Wethington went with us. Maybe it was McCall and Wethington.

LANE: I believe that--

DAVIES: --maybe it was McCall and Wethington and me. And, uh, and to his credit Wethington was, uh, I mean, he could have, he could have thrown monkey wrenches into that, and he didn't. Um, but the whole question of who, who governed, uh, the community and technical colleges and, uh--

LANE: And who issued the degrees?

DAVIES: Yeah, who issued the degrees was, was a major, uh, discussion point. And, uh, and it was, it was nice to go there having the leverage of a governor who was watching this issue. And, uh, and knowing that I could sort of speak for the state. Um, from the 00:23:00governments' perspective and, uh, so that was, that was one major issue. Another was of course, just figuring out how to, how to, uh, uh, put these things together and, uh, and Mike's decision, with which I agree that we shouldn't, uh, force them together. We should let them come together was, uh, was, was very important. Uh, the whole question of, uh, of getting these colleges to behave like a system was a, was a, a major thing. I--

LANE: I interviewed one of the staff members who, who was there early on and said literally in the first meetings--the board meetings and other meetings--the technical school people sat on one side of the room with their arms folded, the community college folks on the other. 00:24:00And with great deal of fear and trepidation in their faces. And, and the staff member's still at KCTCS, she said, "Now we hardly notice the difference." So I feel like that's pro-, progress.

DAVIES: Yeah, yeah. Well the first time I, I guess the only time I did the, uh, the president's leadership's seminars, uh, there was that hostility. It was very early. It was the first year or second year. (clears throat) And, uh, they, they were camps and they didn't see the world the same way.

LANE: No. They were from different worlds almost.


LANE: College credits versus hours and technical certificates. A state employee who worked from eight to 4:30 versus a college faculty member.


LANE: I, I understand the, the fear they must have had. I think they've all--it seems from everything I've observed and read that they have 00:25:00been treated with a great deal of respect. Even though they might not always agreed with the decisions--


LANE: --and that's make a difference.

LANE: Yeah. No. I agree with you. The Louisiana Community and Technical College system is in formation now, and it's having, uh, uh, problems like this, if anything a bit more severe. I, I, uh, for years was a one of three monitors of desegregation in Louisiana higher education, uh, I guess '96 to what ninety, yeah' 96 to 2006 same time. Uh, and was part of helping to create that system. Uh, indirectly, but part of it and uh, and now, uh, down there helping to rewrite the master plan, post-Katrina. The master plan for higher education. And, uh--there's a significant, not even a push-back down there, but a, uh, 00:26:00a disinterest in adult basic education and adult literacy.

LANE: A disinterest.

DAVIES: Yeah, well one of the reasons is that the, the technical colleges are, uh, created down there, or were created down there, really as little political favors to a local industry. You know, we need printers so we created a technical college to train printers. Uh, and the community colleges, uh, saw their work as transfer, we transfer students. Um, so nobody's very interested in, uh, the most socio-, uh, socio-economically disadvantaged segments of the Louisiana population and Joe May, who's the chancellor down there now, is another guy with 00:27:00roots in Virginia incidentally. Uh, but he was a fine chancellor and, uh, in Colorado, too. Um, but Joe is having to deal with this, and you know get them to A to behave like a system--

LANE: --the goal to bring them together--

DAVIES: --um, but B to, uh, to see that, uh, they do have a responsibility to this segment of the population. And, uh, that's hard.

LANE: I feel in Kentucky that we know that we have a responsibility; we know we have many issues. I don't sense there is a disinterest- -perhaps in some pockets in some of the communities they just don't realize they need to improve.

DAVIES: Well, if you think about what we did though, with, uh, uh, adult basic education in, uh, in Kentucky. We essentially did the same--took the same approach that Mike took in merging the community and technical colleges.

LANE: Um-hm.

DAVIES: We could have assigned adult education to the community and 00:28:00technical college system.

LANE: Right.

DAVIES: And, uh, he and I agreed that that was too politically heavy--

LANE: Yeah.

DAVIES: --for that system to bear at that time. The reason is that that, uh, adult education is a, uh, is a, uh, a source of patronage in, uh, local communities. I mean it comes down and this is actually an example. No you can't be an assistant football coach 'cause we don't need an assistant football coach. But if you want you could head up adult education.

LANE: Ah. A fall-back. Wow.

DAVIES: So you get a--

LANE: I wasn't aware of that.

DAVIES: You get a three thousand dollar supplement on your salary. You don't know anything about adult education, but then there are no standards for adult education, so it doesn't really matter. So what you do is fill seats, and you don't worry about whether anybody becomes more literate. And what we did was set some standards and then say, uh, everybody whose got a system now--is delivering now in the current 00:29:00system, uh, has a contract, and, uh, if you meet the standards that's fine. If you don't we'll put your district--your county out for bid. And when we put the counties out for bid, um, Mike's local community college or technical college could bid if it wanted. And, uh, some of them did and some of them didn't. But when they did, um, it was at their initiative and then they wore the responsibility in their own county for, uh, selling the fact that look we now do this.

LANE: So it's community-based?

DAVIES: Yeah, it's community-based.

LANE: Send it back to the communities.

DAVIES: Right.

LANE: Which is very effective.

DAVIES: Well, it, uh, seems to have worked both, both places.

LANE: Since you, um, left Kentucky, what have you heard about KCTCS? I know you said this is the first time that you had been back, but have you communicated with your, your friends here or have you?


DAVIES: Oh I, I hear from people.

LANE: And what do you hear on the national level?

DAVIES: Uh, well, from people here in Kentucky I hear very positive things. On the national level, uh, what I hear is that people watch Kentucky. And, uh, they--Kentucky's a small state obviously.

LANE: Right.

DAVIES: There are four million people in Kentucky.

LANE: Right.

DAVIES: Uh, so that it's not as if California watches Kentucky and says oh, my. But people, uh, do--are aware of Kentucky and, uh, and are very impressed with how, uh, this has come together. And it's been instructive--uh, Louisiana for instance with this, the LCTCS, uh, watches Kentucky very closely. And it doesn't really matter that everybody doesn't watch Kentucky. That New York doesn't watch Kentucky. Ireland watches Finland. Ireland watches Finland because 00:31:00they're two small countries in a, uh, giant European Union. Uh, they- -the Finns have been very successful in building a high technology, uh, economy and a, uh, good educational system. And the Irish learned from the Finns. And now the Finns and the Irish since the Irish are very successful, too, watch each other.

LANE: On a very crass level R and D which usually means research and development. I've heard someone say that's rip off and duplicate. (both laugh) But, but I know exactly what you are saying as far as some are watching Kentucky. Particularly those who--who are aspiring to make changes, and watching us to see if it's working. If we're, are we going to hold the line? Are we going to let it fall apart?

DAVIES: Yeah. And the, the very sorry truth as I see it is that, um, Mike has done a marvelous job. KCTCS is now firmly grounded. 00:32:00Everybody if you go around and say [clicking sound] what do you think about it the reaction will tend to be--well it's always been this way. I mean there aren't that many people who say I really miss when UK had the community colleges.

LANE: Right.

DAVIES: Uh, but is Kentucky, uh, succeeding? I'm not really sure.

LANE: I don't, I don't know. We still have politics at the--

DAVIES: Well, and, and, yeah--

LANE: --top levels, as.

DAVIES: And you have, uh, a system that has fallen into some disarray. Basically I don't think it's a system anymore. Uh, but I'm not even- -I'm, I'm talking about results in a different sense. Have the work places of Kentucky changed? I don't really see that--I don't see new industries here. Uh, uh, I don't, I don't see the demand for skilled and technically proficient people having increased the way it really 00:33:00has to increase if you're going to change the quality of life in this state.

LANE: So one follows the other? It has to, they have to go hand in hand?

DAVIES: Well, you talk about creating a work-force. But if you create a work-force and there are no jobs, the work-force leaves.

LANE: That's right.

DAVIES: Uh, that happens all over the world. Um, and, uh--the parallels for instance between, uh, Prince William and, uh, Nova Scotia and, uh, Newfoundland, uh, and Kentucky are striking. You know you get educated up there and you go to Toronto or you go to Calgary. Uh, you get educated here, and if you're a teacher or a nurse, what we found is you stayed. But if you're an engineer or a scientist you leave.

LANE: Wow.

DAVIES: Um, and I don't know that, uh, that the economic development mechanisms, uh, have been nearly as successful in Kentucky as they need 00:34:00to be.

LANE: They need to be. I know Dr. McCall has, um, instituted a series of visits with industry leaders who are here.


LANE: And I believe he has worked, working closely with the Economic Development Cabinet. So I hope you're right in saying they know what needs to be done. And are working to try to make it happen.

DAVIES: Understand me--I don't mean in any way to be criticizing Mike or the KCTCS.

LANE: I understand that.

DAVIES: But I am criticizing, uh, Kentucky and Kentucky's economic development apparatus.

LANE: Right.

DAVIES: Because it still thinks the ideal is to go out and find companies that employ a thousand people and bring 'em in and, uh, when you find a thousand people those are usually not very good jobs. What you need is an entrepreneurial base, and you need mechanisms to, uh, to fund companies that, uh, hire fifteen people to start.


LANE: Right. I read an article in the State Journal, the Frankfort paper, saying since they have lost two major manufacturers in the last couple of years, that their EDA has a goal of finding some higher tech companies. Now, I think we have to be careful there, too. So we don't--those things change so rapidly. But you're right--the earl-, the young companies that we can, we can build on, uh, would make a healthy community.


LANE: Um, well. I know you've kept up with reports of the political climate, we've discussed that a bit. With the major political swing we've had in the last five years, and the election coming up in the next month or so. What's your impression of the impact of today's Kentucky's politics on particularly postsecondary education?

DAVIES: Um, well I, I, I guess the phrase that comes to my mind is just back to business as usual. Um, I mean before Paul Patton, um, higher 00:36:00education was, uh, was basically a, uh, um, a patronage game. Um, dominated by UK but a patronage game. Uh, Patton surprised everybody when he said he was going to institute a reform program. Uh--after Paul Patton it seems to me to have become a patronage game again. And it depends on who your legislator is, uh--what committees, uh, she or he, uh, dominates and, uh, who gets what. And what happens then is that even very good presidents and I think--well, I, I just would name three. Uh, McCall, Votruba, and Todd.

LANE: Um-hm.


DAVIES: In the final analysis, uh, cannot behave as if they're members of a system. They have to behave as if, uh, they are, um, they're, uh, pigs at a trough, you know, and they have to push other pigs away from the trough. Um, so I, I see the pressures for that, you know, much as I admire Lee Todd's business plan, um, it's not the way to go. You know, everybody needs a business plan--not the University of Kentucky. And I think Lee Todd would really like very much to behave as if he's part of a system. But if there is no--

LANE: --political realist--

DAVIES: --yeah if there is no political, uh, uh, will to behave as a system, would create a system, I think you end up going by yourself.

LANE: And that's unfortunate.

DAVIES: Sure it is.

LANE: Counter-productive. What's your opinion of the, of the news of the past week? I'm sure you've heard that, uh, CPE is considering 00:38:00recommending a freeze on tuition strictly at KCTCS colleges.

DAVIES: No. I hadn't heard.

LANE: Because they--the rationale that I read in the newspaper was that they tend to be the entry point for so many people in education and they're becoming too expensive. Now some of the legislators are saying I think, I think we should broaden that, and in fact, I think there has been a bill pre-filed, uh, to, to freeze tuition at all of the universities. But I hope those legislators understand that there's going to have to be some funding somewhere if that happens.

DAVIES: Well, that's, you know, that's the notion that, uh, that this is a private good education rather than a public good. And if it's a private good and we don't fund it, you fund it yourself and, uh--

LANE: They'll find a way.

DAVIES: And, uh, and all you have to do is go back to those maps I was 00:39:00talking about with the quality of life, uh, indicators and you, uh, you know that's wrong. But what's happening, I expect, if that's what they're talking about is, is, uh, the state is also in, uh, not in a crisis, but in a, uh, uh, a situation where it's short of revenues. Certainly Virginia is--

LANE: Well we all--definitely, I think we live like that but--

DAVIES: Oh, everybody's always--

LANE: Of course.

DAVIES: --everybody's always modestly, uh, needy but, uh--

LANE: --right, right--

DAVIES: --but I would guess, I would guess that, uh, there's not a lot of money to give out so you--

LANE: Well, the original, the original, uh, article came from Brad Cowgill at CPE. Of course the interim director there now, who was the state budget director.


LANE: But, uh, we'll, we'll watch that with interest. I haven't gotten to talk to Dr. McCall about that yet to see his reaction. Of course, 00:40:00his comment was well if, if we don't have an increase in revenue from that avenue, we will need more allocation from the legislature.


LANE: Yeah.


LANE: You have seen the latest profile that of 2007, uh, uh, I hope you've gotten a copy of that from KCTCS, with the enrollment approaching ninety thousand--a hundred eighty to two hundred thousand more in distance learning classes. Sixteen college systems and sixty- five campuses. Did you feel it would grow this rapidly?

DAVIES: Um-hm.

LANE: Nine years ago?

DAVIES: Yeah. What, what we did in, uh, 1998 was ask, uh, I just knew some people there, but ask the RAND corporation if they would take all Kentucky's data and, um, on the basis of all the data we gave them, uh, 00:41:00tell us how many, uh, students we needed to enroll in order to achieve a national, uh, average. And, you know, RAND is a big organization but they very kindly did it for about ten or twelve thousand dollars. I don't remember but very little money. And they came back and said, "You got a hundred and sixty thousand students enrolled in higher education now and you need two hundred and forty. You need eighty thousand more." And if you look at what KCTCS has done was about fifty as I recall when we merged them.

LANE: Um-hm. I think so.

DAVIES: And it's got about forty more now. Uh, so it's done about half of the, uh, the eighty more we needed. I, uh, I fully expected KCTCS to do that. Um, I don't know that the other institutions have done nearly as, uh, as much. Uh, but, uh, the burden of that really will 00:42:00fall on KCTCS, it just has to. Uh, UK probably ought to grow. Um, and I think there's probably--there's some discussion about UK growing. Uh, the regionals ought to grow, but I, I don't know that, uh, that they're in a position to, uh--some of them are probably, but places like Morehead probably aren't in a position to grow. Um, um, down in Bowling Green they probably could, uh, out at Murray maybe not, I just don't know. Um, uh, so I, I would say KCTCS still has growing to do, but obviously, if you freeze tuition and don't increase appropriations, um, it becomes very difficult to--

LANE: Right. A creative challenge--

DAVIES: --keep it going, yeah.

LANE: --it, it will. Have you, uh, been to the new headquarters--


LANE: --in Versailles?


LANE: Uh, it's unfortunate. I'm a Versailles resident.


DAVIES: Yeah, you told me.

LANE: We're very proud of, of the KCTCS family coming to Versailles. It's certainly been a win-win--

DAVIES: Oh sure.

LANE: --for both, both entities and what they've done to that old manufacturing plant is--it's just beautiful. It's a luxurious but practical facility, and they're all under one roof. They had been nomads in Frankfort and Lexington and, uh--it's, it's quite a jewel in Versailles, the Versailles crown if you will. Actually just, uh, uh, homeland security has been added--the training portion to KCTCS. Um, the Fir-, the Kentucky Fire Commission and the Kentucky Board of Emergency Management Systems. They are being absorbed as we speak. They're having some, some growing pains, getting those things on board.

DAVIES: So, they will--

LANE: So we've expanded again.

DAVIES: --they will become part of KCTCS?

LANE: Their, their administrative unit will become part of KCTCS, their training--particularly their training portions. They'll train 00:44:00the ambulance drivers and the, and the first responders and that sort of thing. That, uh, that was at their request on, on this end. But sometimes the legislature will do that as well. So.

DAVIES: Well, that just, uh, makes all the more relevant, uh, a comment that George Boggs made yesterday in the, uh--were you there?

LANE: No. I'm sorry I missed it.

DAVIES: Well George Boggs is the head of the American Association of Community Colleges in Washington. And what he pointed out was that, uh, community colleges across the country, uh, train the, the overwhelming majority of law enforcement emergency rescue and emergency medical personnel in, uh, in our communities. And if you, uh, don't fund these institutions, uh, you're going to find yourself short of cops.

LANE: Exactly. Exactly.

DAVIES: And, uh--

LANE: Right--don't believe law enforcement per se is with us, it's 00:45:00still at Eastern, the main school. The Kentucky School. But the Fire Commission and KBEMS have been attached to KCTCS. So that, that, that- -they, uh, organization is continually changing.

DAVIES: Um-hm.

LANE: What would you like to say in summary for the record as we write our ten year history? Are there comments you would like to make that you haven't?

DAVIES: Well in a way I've, I've made it, I suppose. But let me just be very explicit about it. Uh, the leadership provided, um, to this system by Mike McCall is, is really quite extraordinary. And is recognized across the country. Uh, it depends of course on, on how you define leadership. But the way I tend to define leadership, uh, what Mike has done is, uh, really unprecedented. Uh, it's not as if 00:46:00he started and, uh, without any political baggage. He started with a tremendous amount of political resistance. And over ten years has been able to, uh, quiet the resistance and if not dispel it entirely. Um, but, uh, create a system that is, uh, is solid and coherent and, uh, really quite remarkable. I just, uh, I'm glad to have been a part of--

LANE: --you were--

DAVIES: --uh, helping get here--

LANE: --important early part of that. I'm sure he depended on your good advice a great deal.

DAVIES: Whether he did or not was--I was part of getting him here-- (laughs)--after which--

LANE: --that's right--

DAVIES: --after which he had to figure it out.

LANE: Exactly.

DAVIES: And he's done it beautifully, I think.

LANE: Uh, that, that impression is, is pervasive, I think.


LANE: Thank you so much for taking the time.


DAVIES: It's a pleasure.

LANE: I hadn't--I didn't realize you hadn't been back in Kentucky. I hope this was not uncomfortable for you.

DAVIES: No not at all.

LANE: Great. Thank you so much. Uh, we--

[End of interview.]