Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Martha Johnson, November 28, 2007

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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00:00:00

LANE: Hopefully. Add some snippets to our publications.

JOHNSON: Well, I am, uh, I caught a cold a couple of days ago--

LANE: Oh.

JOHNSON: So, I am medicated, so--

LANE: Oh, I'm sorry, 'tis the season--

JOHNSON: Right.

LANE: --I'm telling you, I've heard so many people with that. Do you need Kleenex? Shall I go get one?

JOHNSON: No, I'm fine, I, uh.

LANE: I may. (laughs)

JOHNSON: I am fine for now, we'll put it that way--

LANE: Okay.

JOHNSON: Uh--

LANE: I think, I think I see a box and we may both need it. It's just a, I don't know, I hope it's not a cold for me, just sort of an allergy thing. (clears throat)

LANE: Oh, Marty takes care of us.

JOHNSON: Marty always takes care of us.

LANE: She has everything. Are you too warm in here? Are you comfortable? It's a little warm with this sun.

JOHNSON: I'm fine.

LANE: You're all right?

JOHNSON: I'm fine.

LANE: Good. Okay. We've finally gotten everybody into the mode of thinking, ooh, this might be good for the history, uh, that's something she just gave me, so--

00:01:00

JOHNSON: Oh, good.

LANE: I, the collection is going to be really fun, and thankfully it's just eight or ten years, because my last project was two hundred years, and that was a little--(Johnson laughs)-trickier--(laughs)--the history of the governors' mansions from 1798 to 1998, took seven years to do, so--

JOHNSON: I would have loved to have seen the, uh, I had an invitation to go to the Governor's Mansion, and--

LANE: Yeah.

JOHNSON: --but, you know, I got on Tuesday, and it was on Friday--

LANE: Is that right?

JOHNSON: --and--

LANE: I heard about it, oh I know, I wish you had, you could tell me all about it. (laughs)

JOHNSON: I know, I know, I wish I've, I've, so, and I tried to get somebody else from the company to go, but--

LANE: They couldn't, but--

JOHNSON: --they just couldn't--

LANE: --that timing.

JOHNSON: --you know, the timing was just--

LANE: Well, I didn't hear--

JOHNSON: --so short.

LANE: --a lot about it, did you?

JOHNSON: Unh-uh.

LANE: --even before or after.

JOHNSON: No, I had, I knew nothing about it beforehand--

LANE: So it was--

JOHNSON: --and I haven't heard anything--

LANE: --last minute.

JOHNSON: --about it.

LANE: Well I, my--it's intriguing, because I was executive director at the old mansion and that mansion. I was at the new mansion for eight years, you know, back and forth when Brereton was lieutenant governor 00:02:00and then governor. I know every inch of that house, so anything--any time there is anything about, I'm, I'm very interested in it, and actually will probably do a, uh, another edition of this mansion's book, it was the People's House: Governors' Mansions of Kentucky, because it's been almost ten years, so we'll probably want to update, so I can't wait to get in there.

JOHNSON: So you, you didn't get an invitation to the?

LANE: Are you kidding? No, no, no, no. (Johnson laughs) I, I think it was, it was, uh, the foundation and people who contributed, oh, Kenny is the director--is wonderful, we have a great working relationship, and I hope he'll invite me to come and see it, and I told him I want pictures, you've got to get photographs, because that's a big change in that house, it's history.

JOHNSON: Um-hm.

LANE: So, well, anyway, all things will change--(laughs)--

JOHNSON: Yes.

LANE: --as they always do, particularly in politics--

JOHNSON: My--

LANE: --right?

JOHNSON: --my guess is that's why I, it went so quickly, is because when he didn't win--

LANE: Yeah, I think--

JOHNSON: --that--

LANE: --they were hoping, thinking he might--

JOHNSON: Yeah. And then they could have more time to plan it, so--

00:03:00

LANE: Exactly, I--

JOHNSON: --so--

LANE: --thought about that too, you know, we did a--I am going to close this door.

JOHNSON: Okay.

LANE: We did a historic marker--unless you get uncomfortable now, and then I'll have to open it, because I, that, that thing is beyond me, I can't make it do anything I want it to do. Uh, we did a historical marker for that house, because it's on the National Register, and they asked me to write it, and so I did that last April, and they said, "We'll wait until fall, until we premier the house and then we'll put the marker up, which we should do anyway for those wonderful house, that wonderful house, uh, but I haven't heard a word, so I'm, I'm sure they're just trying to decide what their plans are going to be, my gosh, the inauguration is what, two week and a half, three weeks away?

JOHNSON: It's not much longer.

LANE: That's tough.

JOHNSON: Yes.

LANE: I've been there through two or three transitions, and it's tough.

JOHNSON: I thought it was usually in January, why did I think that?

LANE: Well, the governor takes office December 11th, whatever that is, Inauguration Day, and then the l-, the session starts in January, and the constitutional officers are sworn in, in January.

00:04:00

JOHNSON: In January--

LANE: Yeah.

JOHNSON: --okay, maybe that's what--

LANE: Yeah.

JOHNSON: --I was thinking about.

LANE: It's a, it's a crazy six weeks--

JOHNSON: Um-hm.

LANE: --and then the governor has to get that budget ready to meet the first session, and there is a lot to be done--(Johnson laughs)--I've been in the middle of it, it's, it's quite energizing, but quite, uh, overwhelming. So I'm, I'm thinking about him.

JOHNSON: Hmm.

LANE: Well, we're here today to record your thoughts, uh, for our official record, and you as, as one of the original board members appointed by Governor Patton, in 1997, to the KCTCS Board of Regents. Correct me, if I am--I'm just going to read over a few things, and--

JOHNSON: Okay.

LANE: --please, please correct me if, if there is an error. Uh, then you served as chair of the board from 1997 until 2001, which is four consecutive terms.

JOHNSON: Yes.

LANE: Wonderful. Um, and as I said, I know you had the oral history last March. I'm so sorry I missed that, and somebody didn't record it. They said it was absolutely wonderful, you and Paul Patton, and--

00:05:00

JOHNSON: It was fun.

LANE: --the give and take--

JOHNSON: It was fun.

LANE: --that it was just terrific. So, he is always entertaining, and I, and I'm sure you could add lots of good information from the, from the board perspective. But, to begin, would you please review your professional career, and how, how you ended up being affiliated with KCTCS?

JOHNSON: Sure. Oh gosh--(Lane laughs)--it will be thirty years of it, uh, after col-, I went to Western Kentucky University, and I got my, uh, bachelor's is in public relations--

LANE: Um-hm.

JOHNSON: --and I went to Houston, Texas, um, as a new bride at the time, and couldn't find a job in PR, if you can imagine--

LANE: Um-hm, yes.

JOHNSON: --that was in 1976.

LANE: Yeah.

JOHNSON: Booming town, but, you know, people didn't really know what public relations was all about, back then, uh, not too much anyway, so, I was down there, uh, a couple of years, came back to, uh, Ashland, Kentucky, which is, uh, where I've called home most of my years, and 00:06:00went to work for, uh, Second National Bank, uh, and I was in banking almost ten years, um, and I left there, we were acquired--

LANE: Um-hm.

JOHNSON: --lots of changes in banks--

LANE: Um-hm.

JOHNSON: --at the time. I went through three--I took the bank through three name changes, and, you know, all the things that go with that--

LANE: Yeah.

JOHNSON: --and, uh, but I, uh, we were acquired by First American, out of Nashville, Tennessee, and I didn't really agree with their marketing philosophy, so I left, and, um, went to work for the family business, my husband's family business for a few months, and there was just way too much family, and I just--

LANE: Um-hm.

JOHNSON: --that didn't work for me--

LANE: Um-hm.

JOHNSON: --so, uh, not that--I could have worked with Jim, my husband--

LANE: Um-hm.

JOHNSON: --but I could not work with his brother, so, I said goodbye to that and, uh, Tara was in the third grade at the time, and I said, "You know, I want to be a homeroom mother, and, you know, I'm--

LANE: Um-hm.

JOHNSON: --I'm going to see what that, that's like, and that didn't last 00:07:00long, because I got a call from Ashland Incorporated and, um, Ashland Oil at the time, and the lady that I had known through the local advertising club, uh, knew that I was not working, and asked if I would like to apply for a job they had there as supervisor of, uh, employee publications, and I, I did that, and, um, wh-, you know, I said, well maybe I'll stay here five years, you know, good experience.

LANE: Um-hm.

JOHNSON: But I, I felt like there was something else I wanted to do. Um, that turned into twenty. (Lane laughs) Um, and, and I had some great opportunities--

LANE: Yeah.

JOHNSON: Um, but I think the m-, the important thing I did at the bank, and in my Ashland career, um, I went through lots of different, uh, jobs at Ashland, I was over employee communications, and then, um, I got into issues analysis and then media relations, and then community relations--

LANE: Um-hm.

JOHNSON: --and then contributions in community relations, and then back to, uh, divisional communications, back in the communications area 00:08:00more, and, um, and right now I am vice president of communications in corporate affairs, uh, but I'm getting ready to retire. So, twenty years of--

LANE: Hmm.

JOHNSON: --of all of that. But, but both, when I was at the bank, and then, uh, in most of my time at Ashland, when I was doing community kinds of things, I stayed very involved in the community, and, um, have always been a volunteer, whether it was the, you know, March of Dimes Walk America--

LANE: Um-hm, um-hm.

JOHNSON: --or, you know, whatever the bank was involved in at the time--

LANE: Right, right.

JOHNSON: So, when I got back to Ashland, I had conn-, reconnected with Ashland Community College, where as, I, I got my associate's degree from ACC.

LANE: Hmm, hmm.

JOHNSON: --back in, um, '74, and, um, did some volunteer work up there, and an opportunity, um, came up to be on their, uh, board there.

LANE: Um-hm.

JOHNSON: So, at the time, uh, when all of this post-secondary education bill was being vetted--

00:09:00

LANE: Um-hm, um-hm.

JOHNSON: --in, in, uh, '96 and '97, um, I was on--

LANE: Oh, wow.

JOHNSON: --ACC's board.

LANE: You were on the board, so you were hearing about all that from--

JOHNSON: Yes.

LANE: --that perspective.

JOHNSON: And I went to--

LANE: Wow.

JOHNSON: --some of the meetings in, in Frankfort--

LANE: Um-hm, um-hm.

JOHNSON: --and, you know, just trying to get an understanding in, of, of what was happening. Um, what was interesting from my point of view was that, you know, I was at, at Ashland at the time, and, uh, Mac Zachem was my boss.

LANE: Um-hm.

JOHNSON: And Mac was very involved with UK, and Paul Chellgren was on, uh, the UK board--

LANE: Yep.

JOHNSON: --and they felt strongly that this was the wrong thing to do.

LANE: Hmm.

JOHNSON: And, um, I felt like it was the right thing to do, but I wasn't very vocal about it, not when you have these two guys, you know--

LANE: Of course.

JOHNSON: --you know, the chairman and the, and the senior, uh--

LANE: When did you--

JOHNSON: --vice president.

LANE: When did you first hear about this, was it Patton's inaugural speech?

JOHNSON: Yes.

LANE: I think most everybody says--

00:10:00

JOHNSON: Yes.

LANE: --oh yeah, and, and--

JOHNSON: Yes.

LANE: --and even as his ad-, his advisors looked at each other and said, "Where did that come from?" Because that's when he--

JOHNSON: --that's when he--

LANE: --brought it out.

JOHNSON: --brought it out.

LANE: So that was the first you all heard of it, too.

JOHNSON: That's, that's the first.

LANE: Hadn't had any inklings?

JOHNSON: Um, and, uh, you know, I think as everybody has heard, Ashland Community College audience, I was in, we had a board meeting that day, that the governor came there, and I was, I was so embarrassed to be in that audience.

LANE: Um-hm.

JOHNSON: It was, it was very embarrassing.

LANE: Ed Ford, uh, Patton's education advisor at the time called those the visits from hell.

JOHNSON: Hmm.

LANE: He said they were tough. Uh, go back and tell me why you thought it was the right thing to do.

JOHNSON: From being on ACC's board at that time, and knowing some of the things that they wanted to do, but they couldn't--

LANE: Um-hm.

JOHNSON: --um, once I had heard--

00:11:00

LANE: Yeah.

JOHNSON: --the governor talk about, you know, his vision, I could s-, I, to me, I felt like it was pretty clear that that was a better path.

LANE: Hmm, hmm.

JOHNSON: --and--

LANE: Because you had sensed the frustration of getting things approved, and--

JOHNSON: Yes.

LANE: --the budgetary process, which I understand was, was an issue with most of the community colleges.

JOHNSON: Yeah, it, it was. I, I didn't think that the, you know, being a part of a university that had a great basketball team was that much more help to the students we were trying to serve--

LANE: Hmm.

JOHNSON: --there, in the local community.

LANE: Hmm.

JOHNSON: So, you know, but it, so it was kind of interesting from where I sat to watch and, and, of course, the board chair in, uh, Ashland, at ACC--

LANE: Um-hm.

JOHNSON: --uh, was very much in the camp with Mac, and, and--

LANE: Um-hm.

JOHNSON: --and Paul, and--

LANE: Um-hm.

JOHNSON: --so, um, I was odd man out, and, you know.

LANE: So, as you say you weren't particularly vocal about it--

00:12:00

JOHNSON: I, I wasn't vocal about it.

LANE: --it just wasn't--

JOHNSON: I wasn't. Um, but then it did pass--

LANE: Um-hm.

JOHNSON: --and, uh, I remember quite clearly, I was in a meeting, uh, I don't remember what kind of a meeting it was, at Ashland, in our board room, when our headquarters was in Ashland--

LANE: Um-hm.

JOHNSON: --and, uh, Paul Chellgren stepped into the room and looked over and motioned me out, and of course my immediate rea-, what have I done, what is it.

LANE: Yeah, of course.

JOHNSON: So I stepped out into the hallway and Paul, um, explained to me that, uh, that the UK Board had an opportunity to name part of the, you know, board for KCTCS, and of course he didn't call it that at the time--

LANE: Right.

JOHNSON: --the new system was -----------(??).

LANE: --new system, yeah--

JOHNSON: Uh, and they needed women, and they, um, they had been asked for, uh, you know, he had been asked if he had any recommendations and he wanted to recommend me, um, and he said, "You know, I don't want, 00:13:00you know, and a, he said, "If that's okay," he said, "I know you've been involved locally," and, you know, he, he didn't really believe this was going to work.

LANE: Um-hm.

JOHNSON: And that came across to me, that's how I felt about what he was saying it, but he said, "But, you know, and I don't know who the governor is going to choose, but, I'd lik-, I'll put your name, if, if you'll do that." And I said, "Well, Paul, you know, just in case I am chosen, I'll do it, if you are committing to me that I can have the time to do it." And he said, "Oh, sure." And, and I--(laughs)--to this day I believe that Paul, number one, didn't think I would be chosen. (Lane laughs) And number two, I'm not really sure he realized--well I, d-, I don't think he thought it would work, uh--

LANE: It really happened.

JOHNSON: And--

LANE: Hmm.

JOHNSON: --it, it was very, uh, pleasing to me down the road, you know, three or four years down the road, to be in, uh, some kind of reception kind of atmosphere, where Paul would be there and he would say, you 00:14:00know, come over and get me, and say, you know, "Martha, I want you to meet these people," and he would say to them, "You know, Martha and I were both involved in, you know, KCTCS, and it getting started." And--

LANE: Hmm.

JOHNSON: --you know, and he would say very nice things about the work that I did, I'm, that was always very gratifying to me.

LANE: Um-hm.

JOHNSON: Because I knew he, he, you know, was very uncomfortable with it in the beginning.

LANE: I can understand that, so many people were.

JOHNSON: Oh yes.

LANE: But he seemed--he came around then--

JOHNSON: He did.

LANE: --after a while.

JOHNSON: He did, he did.

LANE: And was proud of, of your involvement--

JOHNSON: And he was proud of--

LANE: --and Ashland in it.

JOHNSON: --of, of what we had done with it--

LANE: Hmm.

JOHNSON: --and, uh, so, that's sort of how I, I got on that list.

LANE: On the list, and then in, um, I think it was July of '97 you had a meeting you were called to a meeting.

JOHNSON: Um-hm.

LANE: And the inaugural board of regents was appointed by Patton, um, I'm just going to read them and make sure I have included everybody, uh, John Banks, Richard Bean, Michael, is it Hoseus?

JOHNSON: Hoseus, um-hm.

LANE: Lorna Littrell, Diana Lutz, Cynthia Read, Marvin Russow, as well 00:15:00as yourself.

JOHNSON: Yes.

LANE: So, you were, you were the first.

JOHNSON: Um-hm.

LANE: Did you know when you got the invitation? Did somebody call you and say, "You are going to be inaugurated?" Or did they just invite you to a meeting?

JOHNSON: Margaret, I don't remember.

LANE: So, you don't know if it was a surprise or not when you got there.

JOHNSON: I don't think it was a surprise--

LANE: So they must have--

JOHNSON: --I think, uh, we'd had--

LANE: --alerted you.

JOHNSON: --you know, we had like three different, you know, we interviewed, we each interviewed personally--

LANE: Okay.

JOHNSON: --with Paul.

LANE: Good.

JOHNSON: Uh, it, it was a very, uh, intensive kind of, of vent, I mean there was--a lot of us first that were there, that were going to be interviewed. We were all in a room together and, you know, everybody, of course didn't get chosen from that group.

LANE: Right. I think there were twenty-four--

JOHNSON: Okay.

LANE: --it--

JOHNSON: And so--

LANE: --nominations.

JOHNSON: --so we had, we had that group first, and then we were--(Lane laughs)--taken out and, uh, it was Skip that I interviewed with.

LANE: Huh.

JOHNSON: Uh--

LANE: Okay.

JOHNSON: --we, we had two interviews--

00:16:00

LANE: Skipper Martin--

JOHNSON: Um-hm.

LANE: --yeah.

JOHNSON: --I had, Skipper was one--

LANE: Sure.

JOHNSON: --of my interviews, and, um, Paul was the other, and then it was like another meeting that we were called back to, so--

LANE: I see.

JOHNSON: --I, I think we knew at--

LANE: I, I--

JOHNSON: --that point.

LANE: --you knew that you had made the cut--

JOHNSON: Yes.

LANE: --there. What sorts of things did they ask you, did Skipper and Paul ask you in that interview? Do you recall?

JOHNSON: I've slept (??) a few times since then.

LANE: I know and, and don't worry--

JOHNSON: No, I don't.

LANE: --but I'm, I'm just wondering if it was--

JOHNSON: Um--

LANE: --uh, what the tone was, and what--

JOHNSON: --the--

LANE: --they really wanted to know about you.

JOHNSON: --the tone, the tone was--what do you think it's going to take to make this work.

LANE: Okay. Okay.

JOHNSON: You know, how, do you, you know, do you think it can work, and, you know, just that kind--

LANE: Okay.

JOHNSON: --of conversation about--

LANE: About the system--

JOHNSON: --about--

LANE: --itself then.

JOHNSON: --about the system itself.

LANE: Okay.

JOHNSON: Um, you know, they had done so much research on us--

LANE: Oh yeah.

JOHNSON: --I mean they knew--

LANE: Right.

JOHNSON: --all about us.

LANE: Right, right.

JOHNSON: But, uh, so it was more about whether, I think we had the 00:17:00ability to help make it happen--

LANE: Um-hm.

JOHNSON: --that's how it felt.

LANE: Because they were very invested in this--

JOHNSON: Oh yes.

LANE: --very much so.

JOHNSON: Oh yes, and, and, you know, Paul showed that again, and again, and again, uh, throughout--

LANE: Um-hm.

JOHNSON: --his, his term, and his time with us, and he was so supportive.

LANE: Um-hm, um-hm, all, all the way through, he didn't just put you in there, and then--although he did say, "I'm gonna, this is the last time I'll probably meet with you." I have the, the text from his remarks at that July '97 meeting, because I want you to go ahead and do what you need to do, but, he said, "The first members of KCTCS will shape the personality, character, and productivity of this new institution." He certainly was right.

JOHNSON: Um-hm.

LANE: Um, and the choices seem to have led to much success. Um, we know that later on, in October, there were more board members added, you had 00:18:00a student reg-, student regent, and some faculty and staff regents, uh, so--and then at, at that time, you were elected. He, he--let me back up and say, weren't you appointed as the chairman in that July meeting?

JOHNSON: Yes, Jim Ramsey was given that responsibility to, uh, to choose the chairman that would be in place until the election.

LANE: Right.

JOHNSON: And, um--

LANE: And then you were elected by acclamation--

JOHNSON: --and then I was--

LANE: --in October.

JOHNSON: --and then I was elected, but it's, it's kind of funny, because up until not very long ago, uh--Beth, for one person, thought that I knew that I was going to be named chair by Jim Ramsey. I did not. We sat beside each other at lunch, and, um, I am a graduate of Western--

LANE: Um-hm.

JOHNSON: --and, um, we had that in common--

LANE: Sure.

JOHNSON: --and we had a nice conversation, and, and when he got up to 00:19:00speak, and then when he said that I would serve as chair, I mean, I was--

LANE: Oh, he hadn't asked you.

JOHNSON: Oh no.

LANE: (laughs) It was as much a surprise to you--

JOHNSON: It was--

LANE: --as anyone.

JOHNSON: --yeah, it was, it was--(Lane laughs)--it was a surprise, yes it was, yes it was.

LANE: Okay. Now the, uh, let's see, your vice chair was--

JOHNSON: Mike Hoseus.

LANE: --I'm not sure I have that. Okay. And secretary, or secretary- treasurer? That--I think that was Beth in an interim basis, wasn't it?

JOHNSON: Yes.

LANE: I remember seeing that.

JOHNSON: Yes, yes.

LANE: It sure was.

JOHNSON: Yes.

LANE: Yeah, because Beth was very involved with the transition. Of course, she and Jim Ramsey had worked very closely together. Um, now Richard Bean subsequently has remarked, "At that time, we had no by-laws, no rules, we had nothing. This was the first time community and technical had even seen each other in a working environment. There 00:20:00were huge fears about what would happen." So, what was the first thing you thought about that you needed to get done when you el-, from July to October, let's say, how did, how did you proceed?

JOHNSON: Well you, you have to remember that Jim and Beth, I mean, they, they were the architects--

LANE: Um-hm.

JOHNSON: --of so much.

LANE: Um-hm.

JOHNSON: But I think some of the things that we did as a board that made a difference, um, our commitment to meet at locations all across the state--

LANE: Um-hm.

JOHNSON: --made a huge difference.

LANE: It did.

JOHNSON: We knew we needed to get out, you know, if this system was to be about access, then we need to be accessible.

LANE: Um-hm.

JOHNSON: And, um, so I felt good about that decision, and, and I know it was hard on staff, you know, to do that, but, I think it's one of the things that, uh, that really made a difference. Another thing that made a difference was just going, uh, getting the board members out 00:21:00as there were meetings across the state, you know, not our meetings, necessarily, but--

LANE: Right.

JOHNSON: --the one I remember quite well, was in Hazard, and, um, the folks from the technical school were--

LANE: Um-hm.

JOHNSON: --very, very concerned.

LANE: Yes.

JOHNSON: Um, and, you know, standing in front of that group, and not really being able to answer any of their questions, but just to keep assuring them, this really is going to be okay, it's going to be tough, you know, I, I think that made a difference too, is the fact that, that myself and other board members got out to those meetings and stood up front, and said, "You know, I don't know the answer to that, but, you know, we will get that on the list and--

LANE: Um-hm.

JOHNSON: --you know, we do know this." And, you know, but there was so much fear, there was so much fear.

LANE: What was the major, the major fear, if you will? I know there were many. Was it about employment, was it about, is our school going to be 00:22:00absorbed, are we going to become--

JOHNSON: I think--

LANE: --this or that--

JOHNSON: --for most of the technical--(Lane clears throat)--uh, from the technical side, the, the, the instructors on the technical side were so afraid that they wouldn't be able to deal with their students in the same way that had been successful for them.

LANE: Hmm.

JOHNSON: And, and, you know, you can't blame them--

LANE: No.

JOHNSON: --for, you know, if they got those worries, I'm just glad that they spoke up, because that was something that then we tried to be very responsive to, because one of the changes that had to take place is, they were in an hour system, you know, it was that whole, you know, bringing that together.

LANE: Oh, two worlds together.

JOHNSON: And, you know, and they had fears that were, I mean, some of them were well founded.

LANE: Um-hm.

JOHNSON: And so, I think the fact that we would listen--

LANE: Um-hm.

JOHNSON: --um, I mean in the beginning, you know, we would sit down and have a board meeting and we might have an audience of fifty or a 00:23:00hundred people--

LANE: Re-,--

JOHNSON: --I'd--

LANE: Reporters, and citizens, and--

JOHNSON: Just, you know--

LANE: --everyone.

JOHNSON: --everybody, and, you know, conducting business, I mean--(Lane laughs)--you get used to it, you do, but, uh, my goodness, the first meeting, you know, they put you on a stage, so everybody can see--

LANE: See who you are.

JOHNSON: --lights and everything, and--

LANE: And the technical people on one side of the room and the community college people on the other--

JOHNSON: Um-hm.

LANE: --I understand.

JOHNSON: Um-hm, yeah, so, you know, there, I--honestly, Margaret, if I had really understood what, what I was signing up for, I, I do, I do, I, I don't know whether I could of said, "Sure I'll do this."

LANE: Is that right?

JOHNSON: Um, but I think what was in, uh, our favor, is that the board that the governor chose, the members that he chose, we each were committed to, this can work, and I'm willing to do my part to make 00:24:00it work.

LANE: Um-hm.

JOHNSON: Um, we weren't well-known. I mean it's not--there wasn't anybody on the board that was like somebody you--a name you would recognize, and, uh, that, that first group, that core group that started, you know, we had our ups and downs, but we learned to b-, to be able to put issues out, and listen to each other.

LANE: You were dealing with, of course, Jim Ramsey and Beth Hilliard, some of the transition team folks, and who, uh, in those first days, were your points of contact within the staff of KCTCS? That--some of those people were put together early, during that transition time.

JOHNSON: Beth, uh, well see, um, Beverly--

LANE: Um-hm.

JOHNSON: --was one of the original--

LANE: Haverstock, um-hm.

JOHNSON: --um-hm and Bryan--

LANE: Um-hm, Bryan Armstrong.

JOHNSON: Yeah.

LANE: Okay.

JOHNSON: And, um, when I first--one of the people who was, was hired 00:25:00short-term was, uh, I just saw him the other day--Jack--

LANE: Oh, Moreland.

JOHNSON: --Moreland.

LANE: Yes, yes.

JOHNSON: And--

LANE: On the technical side, right?

JOHNSON: --on the tech-, yeah, on the technical side, but, but, but Jack, Jack is a very political person--

LANE: Um-hm.

JOHNSON: --he understands how things work.

LANE: Um-hm, he was from state government.

JOHNSON: He was from state government.

LANE: Yeah, yeah.

JOHNSON: So, before the first meeting, like within a week after I had, uh, been named chair, I got a call from Jack, and I didn't know Jack--

LANE: Um-hm.

JOHNSON: --he didn't know me.

LANE: Um-hm.

JOHNSON: And he said, "If you've got some time, I'll come to see you, and we'll just talk about, you know, maybe what you need to know."

LANE: Okay.

JOHNSON: And Jack drove from Covington to Ashland, and came to my office there, and we spent probably the first time two or three hours, but 00:26:00Jack literally took me under his wing--

LANE: Hmm.

JOHNSON: --to help me understand--

LANE: --how--

JOHNSON: --some of the political--

LANE: Hmm.

JOHNSON: --parts of it, you know, and mainly where, you know, where those bombs were that I didn't want to step on. Um, so he was a great help to me--

LANE: Hmm.

JOHNSON: --in, in the beginning.

LANE: Is it accurate to say that if the community colleges had a political base, those technical schools did as well--

JOHNSON: Oh yes.

LANE: --maybe not the same, and maybe they didn't cooperate in the communities, they were in different worlds.

JOHNSON: They were in different worlds.

LANE: Um-hm.

JOHNSON: And, and, and, and the technical schools, their, their base of power was really in state government.

LANE: Um-hm, um-hm.

JOHNSON: And the community colleges were in the community.

LANE: Right.

JOHNSON: And so you had to learn both sides and, you know, when you try to, when you brought them together to talk, you try not to, you know, set up any animosity--

LANE: Um-hm, um-hm.

JOHNSON: --in the beginning of the, by trading--

00:27:00

LANE: Right.

JOHNSON: --in the wrong place, and so--

LANE: Right.

JOHNSON: --um, I had a lot of, uh, experience with a gentleman in Ashland named G.B. Johnson.

LANE: Um-hm.

JOHNSON: He was the chairman of the bank, no relation.

LANE: Um-hm.

JOHNSON: Um, but I rea-, he was, um, he had a, a hip disorder that caused him to, to use a, a walker--

LANE: Um-hm.

JOHNSON: --and he stayed in his office a lot, but he was one of these people who connected--

LANE: Hmm.

JOHNSON: --with people, and he'd have a project going on, and he used to call me in and say, "Now I want you to work on this, but sit down here, and I've got a few people to talk to," and he'd get on the phone and I got to listen, and how he worked--

LANE: Networked, yeah.

JOHNSON: --and did all those kinds of things, so I had about ten years of, of that experience behind me and--

LANE: Um-hm.

JOHNSON: --um, so, you know, Jack was working with somebody, I, I, I knew the politics of my world--

LANE: Right, right.

JOHNSON: --and so, he did a lot to help me understand the politics of--

LANE: --of his--

JOHNSON: --state government and--

LANE: Um-hm.

JOHNSON: --and, and the, the college association (??), so.

00:28:00

LANE: Fascinating. Now Jack--(sighs)--was he one of the chancellors for a while, or did they have a chancellor at that point, you know, you had a chancellor, which was Dr. News-, Newberry of the community college system.

JOHNSON: Um-hm.

LANE: And Jack of the technical side--

JOHNSON: Right.

LANE: --for a while.

JOHNSON: Right, and I, uh, you know, some of that all blurs together--

LANE: I'm sure it does.

JOHNSON: --as far as the timing, you know, we started our search, and I'm sure Richard's talked a lot about this--

LANE: Um-hm.

JOHNSON: --but we started the search in November of '97.

LANE: Um-hm.

JOHNSON: And I had my surgery in February, and was out of commission for--should have been eight weeks, it was more like six--

LANE: Um-hm.

JOHNSON: --because all that kind of fell apart.

LANE: Um-hm, um-hm.

JOHNSON: Uh, but somewhere in, I'm trying to remember, you know, we 00:29:00brought Dr. Hockaday on.

LANE: Right, right.

JOHNSON: I don't know if you have the date for that or not.

LANE: Yeah.

JOHNSON: But--

LANE: I have a kind of a timeline here, but he was, he was here for about, uh, six months, I think, wasn't he?

JOHNSON: I think it was a little--

LANE: Was it longer than that?

JOHNSON: --a little longer than that, because he came on board--oh, I'll tell you what it was, he ca-, he must have come on board in April, May time-frame.

LANE: Okay.

JOHNSON: Um, because it was after I got back from--yes--

LANE: Yeah.

JOHNSON: --yeah, that's what it was.

LANE: It was, you're right, it was June 1.

JOHNSON: Because--

LANE: Um-hm.

JOHNSON: --there was, uh it, there, it was, it was in disarray.

LANE: Um-hm.

JOHNSON: And, uh, I was thinking he was there; he was there when--

LANE: Now, Nelson was there before Jeff, Nelson Grote--

JOHNSON: Um-hm.

LANE: --was there before, uh, Jeff Hockaday.

JOHNSON: I was trying to remember who told me I could--when I s-, I was going into that meeting--

LANE: Um-hm.

JOHNSON: --and I said, "We're going to start over."

00:30:00

LANE: Um-hm.

JOHNSON: And they said, "You can't do that."

LANE: Okay.

JOHNSON: And I said, "Oh yes, we can."

LANE: Um-hm.

JOHNSON: And that's what we did, we got Dr. Barringer--

LANE: Um-hm.

JOHNSON: --to do the search.

LANE: Um-hm.

JOHNSON: We hired, uh, Jeff Hockaday, Dr. Hockaday to--

LANE: Um-hm.

JOHNSON: --to lead--

LANE: Um-hm.

JOHNSON: --in the meantime.

LANE: Um-hm.

JOHNSON: So I, I don't remember who that was, there were so many times when, when Dr. Hockaday would say, "Is that really what you want to do?" And I'd say, "Yeah, for these reasons," and he'd go, "Okay, just being sure," but somebody told me that I--

LANE: --couldn't st-, you couldn't--

JOHNSON: --I couldn't start over.

LANE: --start over.

JOHNSON: And I don't--

LANE: But you were not at all comfortable with the results of that first search, or it had fallen apart--

JOHNSON: It had fallen apart.

LANE: --as you say. Yeah.

JOHNSON: It had fallen apart.

LANE: Yeah.

JOHNSON: And so, um, we had--(sighs)--you know, we couldn't go, we couldn't go for--I didn't think, from being someone who'd stepped out of it for four weeks--

LANE: Right.

JOHNSON: --I didn't think that we could start again from where we were. I thought we needed a fresh start.

00:31:00

LANE: Start all over.

JOHNSON: And that's what we did, and, uh, of course, you know, we got the very best president in the world--

LANE: Um-hm.

JOHNSON: --uh, out of that--

LANE: Um-hm.

JOHNSON: --so, it was the right thing to do, but it was, it was a struggle.

LANE: I'm sure it was, and, and very emotional, because during all of that time, some of that time, uh, Jim Ramsey was, was into the mix, and then out of the mix, and--

JOHNSON: Yes.

LANE: --uh, I'm, it, it sounds as if it was, was very tough for the board members, uh, during that era.

JOHNSON: It was, it was, uh--

LANE: But, as you say, uh, towards the end of '98, um, on December 3rd, the board of regents appointed Dr. Michael McCall, as the system's first permanent president.

JOHNSON: First permanent president.

LANE: Is it accurate to say that Nelson Grote and Jeff Hockaday were two of the first interim, I don't--Nelson was really not president--

JOHNSON: Nelson was not.

LANE: He was executive vice president.

JOHNSON: Yes.

LANE: Jim Ramsey--

JOHNSON: It was Jim Ramsey--

LANE: Jim.

JOHNSON: --and then, uh, Jeff Hockaday.

LANE: Okay.

00:32:00

JOHNSON: And Dr. Hockaday was a godsend.

LANE: Hmm.

JOHNSON: He, he really was.

LANE: How do we get him? Who, who knew Jeff?

JOHNSON: The head of CPE.

LANE: Gordon Davies.

JOHNSON: Gordon Davies.

LANE: Okay.

JOHNSON: Maybe it was Gordon who told me I'd, he didn't think--

LANE: It might have been.

JOHNSON: --could do it. It might have been.

LANE: It might have been.

JOHNSON: What, what a sweetheart.

LANE: Yeah, I interviewed him--(Johnson sighs)--a few weeks ago, he is, you can just feel the--

JOHNSON: Where is he now?

LANE: --intelligence--

JOHNSON: --do you have his--

LANE: --in the room.

JOHNSON: --do you have his address?

LANE: I do, I'll get that for you.

JOHNSON: I'd love to have that--

LANE: Uh--

JOHNSON: --I'd love to drop him a note.

LANE: --he came back to Dr. McCall's leadership seminar, uh, a few months ago.

JOHNSON: No.

LANE: He and Jeff, I interviewed both of them on the same day, and when I sat down to interview Dr. Davies, he said, "Do you know, this is first time I've been back in Kentucky." (laughs) Oh my, I did not realize that, but he was just greeted so warmly by everyone and thanked for his contributions and--

JOHNSON: He was so--

LANE: --he was very, he's--

JOHNSON: --supportive.

LANE: --so knowledgeable, he is in, he and Betsy are in Virginia. I 00:33:00know his wife who's--

JOHNSON: Oh, okay.

LANE: --also an oral historian, um, she sent, uh, e-mailed me and said, "Gordon said you interviewed him with something smaller than a pack of cigarettes, you got to tell me what that thing is," because she lugs around a, a big suitcase of whatever--(Johnson laughs)--oral history recording equipment. I'll make myself a note and get that for you.

JOHNSON: Yeah, I'd love it. Thank you Margaret--

LANE: Yeah.

JOHNSON: --I appreciate that.

LANE: Yeah, but he, he was very supportive, as I understand through-- (clears throat)--those early days.

JOHNSON: There were so many people. I mean, it, you, you think about, um, the--like the president of the University of Louisville, at the time.

LANE: Shumacher.

JOHNSON: And, you know, loaning us Ron.

LANE: Um-hm.

JOHNSON: And, you know, the IT system is so foundational to what we are able to do today.

LANE: That was one of your major--

JOHNSON: Absolutely.

LANE: --major, major points to get that in, in order.

JOHNSON: Yes.

00:34:00

LANE: So Ron Moore came on board--

JOHNSON: Um-hm.

LANE: --was, was loaned to you by U of L to help get that started.

JOHNSON: Yes, yes, um, and so people like that who believed in what we were--you know, and worked countless hours--

LANE: Um-hm.

JOHNSON: --oh my gosh--(Lane laughs)--I mean they did, they just--

LANE: Well, they had to.

JOHNSON: --uh, so, so that was really good, but Dr. Hockaday was, um, and, in, in his, his point of view was that he could do some really difficult things, um, to prepare us for a new president--

LANE: Um-hm.

JOHNSON: --to walk in--

LANE: Um-hm.

JOHNSON: --uh, and had a list of some things that we needed to take care of--

LANE: Hmm.

JOHNSON: --and, and, and worked on those.

LANE: He could be the crisis manager and, and then depart and pave the way.

JOHNSON: Yeah, the bad guy.

LANE: Well--yeah, that's what a crisis manager has to do sometimes-- (Johnson laughs)--but, but it, it doesn't seem that it turned out that way, because--

JOHNSON: No.

LANE: --because it's very p-, the whole reaction to his tenure is very positive and his contributions and, um, and you I th-, were you, um, 00:35:00being contacted by the governor's office, did you have any contact with Crit and, and Ed Ford, and Paul Patton, and Skipper during those early days?

JOHNSON: Um, the way that we had kind of left it, um, is that I called, if, if I needed help.

LANE: Um-hm.

JOHNSON: I knew that was my fall-back--

LANE: Sure.

JOHNSON: --position.

LANE: Sure.

JOHNSON: And I probably talked to each one of them at different times--

LANE: Um-hm.

JOHNSON: --along the way--

LANE: Um-hm.

JOHNSON: --in that first year, um, the governor was always there for me.

LANE: Um-hm.

JOHNSON: If I needed something--

LANE: Um-hm.

JOHNSON: --you know, he--

LANE: Do you recall a time when you had to call on them?

JOHNSON: Well, I talked with him; I talked with him during all of this.

LANE: The whole thing.

JOHNSON: Um, at some point, and I don't remember exactly when that was. I think it was after, I think it was after Jeff was on board and--

00:36:00

LANE: Um-hm.

JOHNSON: --we restarted the search.

LANE: Um-hm.

JOHNSON: Uh, and Dr. Hockaday and I sat down with the governor and kind of brought him up to speed about where we were and what we were trying to do, um, so, you know, we kept him informed. Of course, Jim had kept him informed up until--

LANE: Exactly.

JOHNSON: --that point.

LANE: Exactly.

JOHNSON: And, uh--

LANE: And I have listed here the things that happened during that year were your PeopleSoft contract, which was preceded by much work, with Ron Moore--

JOHNSON: Um-hm.

LANE: --um, IT issue that we discussed, um, some of the, the president's office was, it was announced that was going to be at Spindletop, in Lexington, and then there was some folks left in Frankfort, uh, your first degrees, and your new associate programs, uh, and then of course the search, which was major, and I'm sure there were many others-- (clears throat)--what was the governor's conc-, did he have concerns, 00:37:00I know he was supportive. What worried him more than anything about, or the team, about what was going on? Was it this consolidation issue, which was sort of looming out there?

JOHNSON: No--

LANE: No.

JOHNSON: --not really, uh, I, I think the under, the undercurrent was about whether we could pull all these leaders in--

LANE: Um-hm.

JOHNSON: --and have that--

LANE: Um-hm.

JOHNSON: --alliance that we needed--

LANE: --your presidents--

JOHNSON: Yes.

LANE: --of the commu-, of the technical schools and community colleges.

JOHNSON: Yes.

LANE: Yeah.

JOHNSON: Yes, I think, um, because y-, it, you know, in a meeting with us, we ne-, we needed, we tried to build a relationship where they'd be 00:38:00honest with us.

LANE: Um-hm.

JOHNSON: I thought, the worst thing that could happen is that they'd say one thing to us--

LANE: Um-hm.

JOHNSON: --and then say something else in the community.

LANE: Right.

JOHNSON: So, you know, we took the tactic of, you know, it's not a bed of roses; there's a lot of issues to work out, so talk to us about them. So, we tried in those meetings to really listen to what wasn't working and then try to find ways to, to fix it.

LANE: Um-hm, um-hm.

JOHNSON: Um, that would have, that would have stymied--

LANE: Yeah.

JOHNSON: --the entire thing, is if we'd had too much of that--no we had some, of course--

LANE: You, you, you had human beings involved--

JOHNSON: --ex-, exactly.

LANE: --it's always going to happen.

JOHNSON: Exactly, but, um, at the end of the day, and I, and I, I give, uh, Dr. Hockaday a lot of credit for that, in just his manner with people and, and helping them see what the benefits were and--

LANE: Um-hm.

JOHNSON: --kind of pulling them in at the right pace, and--

LANE: Um-hm.

JOHNSON: --so, there was a lot going on that, uh, we needed to, as you said, to, to juggle.

LANE: Right. And then you had to talk about strategic planning--

00:39:00

JOHNSON: Yes.

LANE: --by-laws, you had a pretty good team, uh, did, uh, Su-, if Sue Hodges Moore and Patsy Stice were those folks who--

JOHNSON: Yes.

LANE: --who helped during that time?

JOHNSON: Yes.

LANE: Because you had to, uh, draw from the best at the community colleges, and the best at the technical schools, and the, the best at industry; you really had to put together the group, didn't you.

JOHNSON: It was ground up and, and, you know, even the personnel policies--

LANE: Um-hm.

JOHNSON: --and I, and of course the board had to, to do the personnel policies, and that's the time that, that Dr. Hockaday, um, really questioned what I had done.

LANE: Really.

JOHNSON: Um, because, we were struggling with the personnel policies, and we had, uh, you know, you know, one gentleman who was, uh, in the labor union organization--

LANE: Um-hm.

JOHNSON: --and, uh, the teachers and the faculty, I mean we had these--

LANE: Um-hm.

JOHNSON: --people who, you know, no matter what you said, they always 00:40:00had an argument with it.

LANE: Um-hm, um-hm.

JOHNSON: Um, and so the first, the first look we had at the personnel policies and the people that I expected kind of spoke up about, you know, well this won't work, or that won't work, and I said, "Okay, what we're going to do here, we've got a, we're going to have a new personnel policy, and you guys are all going to be on it. Now, now, you're on the personnel policy, now you guys come back and bring us back a document that we can, that we can all look at and agree to." And--(laughs)--and Jeff was, you know, was like, he couldn't believe that I would, you know, orchestrate it in that way, but my feeling was, is once they got down into it, and knew that, you know, at the end of the day we had to have policies everybody could agree on--

LANE: Um-hm.

JOHNSON: --that there would be more give and take at that level--

LANE: Hmm.

JOHNSON: --rather than us try to do it around the board table--

LANE: Right.

JOHNSON: --because we couldn't do it there.

LANE: So you assigned it to committee.

JOHNSON: So I assigned it to a committee, and, uh, and Marvin, uh, 00:41:00Russow stepped up to the challenge, and, uh, you know, did a fabulous job helping, you know, get that all worked out.

LANE: Hmm.

JOHNSON: But it, you know, in, I've always believed that, you know, whoever is the most passionate about an issue, whether you like which side they are on--

LANE: Right.

JOHNSON: --should be--

LANE: Involved.

JOHNSON: --in the midst of--

LANE: Yeah.

JOHNSON: --of, of getting it put together. So, uh, but yeah, we, we laughed about that.

LANE: And I think--I have heard Richard say, maybe Richard, and it could have been Jeff, "Martha, are you sure, you're going to put those people on the committee?" (both laugh) And Martha said, "Yes, I am." (laughs)

JOHNSON: Yes I am. (Lane laughs) I'm sure.

LANE: Well, the end result is that you, you have, in essence the m-, the elements of three personnel systems, you almost have two or three personnel systems. Here we are, in, uh, 2007, and some of that is being phased out as, because people who were allowed to remain--

JOHNSON: Right.

LANE: --with the system. No one was hurt, that was the goal--

JOHNSON: That was the goal--

LANE: --as I understand it.

00:42:00

JOHNSON: --and I think, and I think that, um, you know, and through the years, we started making the KCTCS, uh, package more desirable, but--

LANE: Um-hm.

JOHNSON: --you know, that was to the good of KCTCS--

LANE: Um-hm.

JOHNSON: --to try to get everybody moved over as quickly as possible, so, and you know, I don't think there is anybody that's worked in the system that could say they weren't treated fairly.

LANE: I know--

JOHNSON: And I would hope they--

LANE: --I haven't heard that at all.

JOHNSON: I--

LANE: Everybody seemed to understand, I've, I've done several interviews with some of the staff who were here early on, that they understood that it had, it was kind of the best of each system to the benefit of, of the employee so.

JOHNSON: That, that's, that's really nice to hear.

LANE: But I'm sure it was not easy--(laughs)--and your personnel people were saying, ho-, how many systems are we going to have to, have to administer?

JOHNSON: Yes.

LANE: Yeah, that's right.

JOHNSON: Yes, that's right.

LANE: No, I, I've, I have heard, I haven't heard anything. I've heard a couple say, "I'm sorry I didn't go ahead and opt over into the KCTCS system," but it, you know, they were far along, uh, enough along in 00:43:00their, their professional life that it just wasn't a practical thing to do, but, they wish they could have, so.

JOHNSON: That's nice.

LANE: Well, you're right, you know, you just have to get all those, all those dissenting and agreeing voices on the table to see what they can work out, so, that's, that's an interesting tidbit, I, I like that one. Um, accreditation, that's something--(laughs)--I don't go into, you know, it's just some sort of apoplexy here, but I'm sure that was a major, major issue, because to, for the record, um, the la-, the late night agreement or compromise between Paul Patton and Charles Wethington had left some issues, and I don't know that we'll ever know, if Paul Patton really knew that would become an accreditation problem, if Charles Wething-, Wethington knew, or if they were, it was just, i-, in the simplest form of compromise to get the bill passed, because some of the things that they did agree to, came back to sort of become a 00:44:00problem for you, accreditation-wise.

JOHNSON: Yeah, they, they haunted us a bit--

LANE: Um-hm.

JOHNSON: --um, and I couldn't even tell you the timing of that one, but there was a, a meeting with the accreditation, um, group, in Lexington--

LANE: Um-hm.

JOHNSON: --at the hotel.

LANE: Um-hm.

JOHNSON: And my job was to convince them that we were in charge.

LANE: Um-hm.

JOHNSON: And, but Jim Ramsey was still with us at that point, I think, or was it Jeff? Anyway--

LANE: I think it was Jeff--

JOHNSON: It was Jeff?

LANE: --actually.

JOHNSON: Okay.

LANE: I believe it was.

JOHNSON: Yeah, well that was, you know, that, that was, that was my marching orders.

LANE: Convince them that we are in charge.

JOHNSON: Con-, um-hm.

LANE: Then the, the technicality of that was UK still had some say-so over your budgeting process and a little bit of say-so over who was granting the degrees, and the diploma would come from UK.

JOHNSON: Yes.

LANE: And SACS wasn't really happy about that.

00:45:00

JOHNSON: No, um, Jeff did some great work on that, of course Mike, uh, you know, that, that issue rolled over to mine--

LANE: Um-hm--

JOHNSON: It was not--

LANE: Um-hm.

JOHNSON: --one we could get completely resolved.

LANE: Right.

JOHNSON: Um, I went to Atlanta with them on one trip--

LANE: Um-hm.

JOHNSON: --to talk, uh, with them, and, you know, the, the important thing is that we ironed it out.

LANE: Yes.

JOHNSON: But it, that's an interesting question now, Margaret, is whether either of them knew.

LANE: I'm not su-, I have come to the conclusion that, I'm not sure we will ever know. I, I will ask them both, um, it's, it's a, it is an interesting thought, isn't it?

JOHNSON: Yeah, I think, my guess is it would left unsaid--

LANE: Um-hm, um-hm.

JOHNSON: --but, but let's--

LANE: But it's been worked out--

JOHNSON: It's been worked out.

LANE: --is the important part in this.

JOHNSON: Yes.

LANE: And you, you all made it work. So, how did you convince them you were in charge?

JOHNSON: Um, I just, um, displayed no hesitancy on any of their 00:46:00questions.

LANE: Um-hm.

JOHNSON: You know, you'd have to ask somebody who was watching. (Lane laughs) Because I could, I couldn't tell you what I said, um, or whether I was convincing, but, uh.

LANE: Worked it out. Now did, then did you have to go back and, at what point then did you go back and recompromise with UK to get some of those sticky wickets ironed out? Was that before SACS was satisfied then?

JOHNSON: Yes.

LANE: Yeah, so you had to--

JOHNSON: Yes.

LANE: --go back and do some more work.

JOHNSON: The first meeting with, with UK was Jim Ramsey and myself, uh, meeting with, um, Dr. Wethington, his attorney, I can remember his 00:47:00face, but I don't remember his name, and Paul Chellgren.

LANE: Um-hm.

JOHNSON: And, um--

LANE: Who was chairm-, was he chairman of the board then, at UK?

JOHNSON: No, he was chairman of a transition committee that Dr. Wethington had made.

LANE: That's corre-, that's right, that's right.

JOHNSON: Um, and that's a very interesting position to put a, an employee of, uh--

LANE: Um-hm.

JOHNSON: --but you know, for, for Jim and myself, what it gave us was enough information to figure out how to proceed.

LANE: Right.

JOHNSON: Um, and then Jeff and I met with them a second, another time from--

LANE: Um-hm.

JOHNSON: --here, I think.

LANE: But they, you went to Atlanta, then they made a visit here, and--

JOHNSON: Yeah.

LANE: --they were, there was quite a bit of back and forth.

00:48:00

JOHNSON: And then, I guess, really Tony led the team that really pulled all of the, uh, documentation together.

LANE: Um-hm, he had been--

JOHNSON: It was hu-,--

LANE: --through that before.

JOHNSON: --it was huge. The whole thing though was just huge.

LANE: Um-hm. Accreditation, even when things are going smoothly, is a major issue, I can imagine how this one might have been, but it seems like he had, he had been involved in those before--

JOHNSON: Yes

LANE: --him being with the community colleges so that certainly was helpful. Well let's, let's talk about, uh, Mike McCall. When was the first time you met him?

JOHNSON: At the interview in Louisville--

LANE: Um-hm.

JOHNSON: --at the hotel there.

LANE: Um-hm.

JOHNSON: Uh, and I liked him from the beginning, I just, I liked his way.

LANE: Um-hm.

JOHNSON: Uh, so that was the first.

LANE: ----------(??) about his credentials--

JOHNSON: Of course.

LANE: --you, you certainly had lots of research.

00:49:00

JOHNSON: Um-hm.

LANE: And, and as I can tell, he had done some of the things that you were hoping to do here, he had actually put some systems together and headed some systems.

JOHNSON: It was that statewide, um, experience--

LANE: Um-hm.

JOHNSON: --that he had.

LANE: Um-hm.

JOHNSON: Um, his, certainly, his belief that he could take what, all of what he had done before and make this work--

LANE: Um-hm.

JOHNSON: --his excitement--

LANE: Um-hm.

JOHNSON: --about the opportunity.

LANE: Um-hm.

JOHNSON: Um, it was all of those things, but yes, his credentials were impeccable when, thinking about exactly what it is we were trying to do and he'd, he had done some much of that.

LANE: As I understand--excuse me--(laughs)--as I understand the--it's noon, past noon--the, uh, progression of things, Gordon Davies was responsible for getting Jeff Hockaday to Kentucky, and Jeff had worked with Mike McCall, so he en-, encouraged him to apply--

JOHNSON: Yes.

LANE: --for, for this position, of course, you know, he had to apply and 00:50:00go through the whole process like anyone else but, but that's where the connections came.

JOHNSON: Yeah, in fact. Um, early on, Dr. Hockaday, when he and I first sat down to talk about whether this was a possibility for him to come to the state--

LANE: Um-hm.

JOHNSON: --and do this or not. Um, he had said that he could the search--

LANE: Um-hm.

JOHNSON: --as well, and, uh, I sai-, I told him no, um, that we really, there was so much to the system itself, I'd rather keep the search separate--

LANE: Right--

JOHNSON: --and--

LANE: --and let him concentrate on the system.

JOHNSON: --and him concentrate on the system.

LANE: Um-hm.

JOHNSON: --but I did know that he was working with Bob Barringer, to--

LANE: Um-hm.

JOHNSON: --you know--

LANE: Um-hm.

JOHNSON: --so it was kind of--

LANE: Well, I know this one--

JOHNSON: --interesting how all of that works.

LANE: Right, right, well it's just the fact that, if you know someone and you know they've had this experience, and you've worked with them and know they're in, that's a good network.

JOHNSON: Um-hm.

LANE: But I'm sure it was all very much above board, I think, no question about that. Um, so, some of the--tell me about some of your 00:51:00first meetings after Mike McCall, uh, is appointed, uh, the system's first permanent president, this is his title, and he reports to work in January of 1999, at Spindletop, I believe, I believe that's where the president's office was--

JOHNSON: Yes.

LANE: --at that time. Um, so--

JOHNSON: Was he there yet?

LANE: The 11th was his first day of work, um, let's see, maybe they didn't go until March, maybe he went to Frankfort at first.

JOHNSON: I think so.

LANE: You're right.

JOHNSON: I think so.

LANE: You are correct, because this says, forty employees, uh, of the central staff at Research Park Drive, yeah.

JOHNSON: Because it was about that point when we, when they had the space available, there at Spindletop, uh, I had been telling them that, my fellow board members and--(laughs)--and, uh, Mike that I thought, I 00:52:00thought the perfect place for our, for KCTCS to be was Versailles.

LANE: You did.

JOHNSON: Yes, I did.

LANE: Because of it's--

JOHNSON: Because of where it's located--

LANE: Okay.

JOHNSON: --because, um--

LANE: Hmm.

JOHNSON: --because you didn't have to share the city, because, you know, people think of--

LANE: It's true.

JOHNSON: --Lexington, they think--

LANE: True.

JOHNSON: --of UK. If you think of Frankfort, you think of state government, and we didn't want to be part of state government, that's, that wasn't--

LANE: That's true.

JOHNSON: --what we needed to do. So I had this whole, you know, big thing about where, why we needed to be in Versailles, but there wasn't anything available.

LANE: Right, right.

JOHNSON: Um, and, of course, I was already off the board at the time this, uh was--

LANE: -----------(??), um-hm.

JOHNSON: --happening, but I, I'll never forget the day that Mike called me, and was like, "You are not going to believe where we are going." (both laugh) I was like, yes!

LANE: Oh, that's right, it was perfect.

JOHNSON: Perfect.

LANE: Well I think they, you know, they kept their ear to the ground about, about Versailles, and of course we know the story of, of this Texas Instruments' building where they are now is just a, a neat story. 00:53:00I interviewed Bruce Bailey, and Mayor Siegleman, and that was a great interview.

JOHNSON: Oh, I bet it was.

LANE: And I actually had them walk around the building and talk about, oh, this was, this was the loading dock, and, so that's going to be a great story--

JOHNSON: Good.

LANE: --in your history, uh, and it's a win-win for everybody, I mean these people just get downright emotional about the connection of KCTCS being in Versailles, and, and Woodford County is supporting them, so, I think our new entrance on Markham Drive off the bypass is just about ready.

JOHNSON: Oh, is it--

LANE: To, to--

JOHNSON: --oh good.

LANE: --enter, Bruce wants to do some landscaping, so--

JOHNSON: Of course he does.

LANE: --but that's going to be--(Johnson laughs)--well, you know, he said, "They're entering, our visitors are coming in the back of our building." I said, "You can put trees and things." (Johnson laughs) We'll make that work--(Johnson coughs)--but you're right, that's, that's quite an exciting part of the history, I think, of KCTCS, and, you are right, this is centrally located, it's not a political city, uh, and it's, it's just a, as I said, a win-win--

JOHNSON: It's good for us.

LANE: --for everybody.

JOHNSON: Um-hm.

00:54:00

LANE: So, oh, I had asked you about some of your first meetings with Mike McCall, we, we got side-tracked on where he was, but if you--

JOHNSON: Okay.

LANE: Do you recall those?

JOHNSON: Honestly, I don't.

LANE: Um-hm.

JOHNSON: I mean, is there any one thing that stands out-

LANE: It was probably a blur. (laughs)

JOHNSON: --it, there's, it's, there is a lot of that, uh, that's, Ashland had just moved its headquarters, um, our first day in Covington, as--

LANE: Oh.

JOHNSON: --our new headquarters--

LANE: Um-hm.

JOHNSON: --was January, uh, 2nd--

LANE: Hmm.

JOHNSON: --of '99.

LANE: Um-hm.

JOHNSON: And I had just taken on an additional job--

LANE: Oh.

JOHNSON: --you know, some people like to say, you know, Martha got to spend all of her time doing KCTCS, no I didn't--

LANE: I was going to say--

JOHNSON: --I had a full-time job.

LANE: --I don't think you did--

JOHNSON: No, I didn't.

LANE: --the way it sounds.

JOHNSON: No, I didn't I had a full-time job, and then, uh, my job changed, um, I'd had community relations and I took on contributions as well--

LANE: Oh.

JOHNSON: --when we moved in on Jan-, in January--

LANE: Um-hm.

JOHNSON: Actually, I started it back in October--

00:55:00

LANE: Um-hm.

JOHNSON: --but so, we got Mike at the time when I couldn't quite spend as much--

LANE: Right.

JOHNSON: --uh, you know, I gave him everything, hopefully his re, -recollection is that I was as supportive as I needed to be--

LANE: I'm sure it is.

JOHNSON: --but, uh, you know, we would have long conversations. What, what was great about Mike is that, you know, he had a vision--

LANE: Um-hm.

JOHNSON: --um, he, uh, had lots and lots of experience working with boards--

LANE: Um-hm.

JOHNSON: --and knew how to handle us.

LANE: Um-hm.

JOHNSON: Um, made sure that, you know, we were guiding--

LANE: Um-hm.

JOHNSON: --but that we weren't executing.

LANE: Right.

JOHNSON: And it, that was a little, uh, tricky for some of our board members--

LANE: Um-hm.

JOHNSON: --that, you know, in the beginning, we had to be hands-on, because we didn't--

LANE: You had to be.

JOHNSON: --we didn't have anything, you know--

LANE: That's right.

JOHNSON: --we had to be hands-on, but as Mike got in place and started developing his staff, you know, we needed to, uh, change our role.

LANE: Um-hm.

JOHNSON: So, we did a lot more board training--

LANE: Um-hm.

JOHNSON: --at that time--

LANE: Um-hm.

JOHNSON: --and tried to help people and, uh, understand--

00:56:00

LANE: Right.

JOHNSON: --what truly the role of the board was--

LANE: Right.

JOHNSON: --as compared to--

LANE: Right.

JOHNSON: --um, what Mike's role, and, and the new system was--

LANE: But you had to be, you were--

JOHNSON: But we had to be--

LANE: --you were--

JOHNSON: --in the beginning.

LANE: --board and staff, really at the beginning--

JOHNSON: From the beginning.

LANE: --of necessity.

JOHNSON: So--

LANE: Yeah.

JOHNSON: --uh, so I, my memories of that time is, you know, rather than being specific to certain events is more sort of that transition time--

LANE: Um-hm, um-hm.

JOHNSON: --of, you know, well, what should a board chair really be doing--

LANE: Okay.

JOHNSON: --when they are not, you know--

LANE: --in training. Let's talk about, uh, the RSVP model of leadership, which Mike McCall, I think has put into place, was the board involved in that all, you know, just--

JOHNSON: He brought it to us.

LANE: He brought it to you.

JOHNSON: Yes.

LANE: Okay, I, I, it appears to be quite comprehensive--

JOHNSON: Um-hm.

LANE: --and, you know, so many plans are plans that sit on the shelf, this one is integrated within this whole agency, and used every day.

JOHNSON: Um-hm.

00:57:00

LANE: Now, was the board comfortable with that, is, is it something that you said, "Go ahead, this is--

JOHNSON: Well--

LANE: --sounds good," or--

JOHNSON: --the, the board, uh, in, in my years there always, uh, spent a, a lot of time reading and discussing whatever was happening--

LANE: Um-hm.

JOHNSON: --so, I think the board got comfortable, um, I think there was always, you know, this first board, is this where we need to be going--

LANE: Hmm.

JOHNSON: --you know, we've been nurturing this baby and--

LANE: Right.

JOHNSON: --you know, so--

LANE: Right.

JOHNSON: --um, and I think, I think Mike respected, uh, the board members for that--

LANE: Um-hm.

JOHNSON: --because it, you know, we didn't--yes we hired him because we thought he was the best--

LANE: Um-hm.

JOHNSON: --and he was going to do the best.

LANE: Um-hm.

JOHNSON: But that didn't mean we just handed it all over to him.

LANE: Of course.

JOHNSON: So, um, I think there was, you know, the, the kind of discussion you would expect, uh, for a board that's very, very involved.

LANE: Um-hm, um-hm, but a give and take on that.

JOHNSON: Yes.

00:58:00

LANE: And then that's something, that model, I'm, I will, I'm going to interview him tomorrow for the first time, I have a series of interviews set up with him, as you can imagine, they've had to be shuffled and--

JOHNSON: Yeah.

LANE: --rescheduled, but, uh, to see if that's something he'd used before, do you know, or if it's something that he just--

JOHNSON: I think that--

LANE: --felt would work here?

JOHNSON: --no, and, and this will be interesting to see--

LANE: Um-hm.

JOHNSON: --if I'm right or wrong--

LANE: Um-hm.

JOHNSON: --but I think that, that was a trait of his--

LANE: Um-hm.

JOHNSON: --a characteristic of his to--

LANE: Um-hm.

JOHNSON: --use acronyms--

LANE: Um-hm.

JOHNSON: --to kind of, uh, focus--

LANE: Right.

JOHNSON: --his thinking--

LANE: Right.

JOHNSON: --as much for himself as then for other people, and for staff to understand--

LANE: Right.

JOHNSON: --what he is thinking about--

LANE: And be included.

JOHNSON: --I think he had used it before.

LANE: Okay, that will, that, it will be--

JOHNSON: And then he brought--

LANE: --interesting to see.

JOHNSON: --some people in that had been around him before, too--

LANE: Oh.

JOHNSON: --and I think that made a difference, you know, um--

LANE: Um-hm.

JOHNSON: --Keith Bird.

LANE: Yes, yes, Dr. Bird came on board very shortly after, what a month after--

JOHNSON: Yeah.

LANE: --Dr. McCall came.

JOHNSON: And Candace, hmm--

LANE: Hmm, just a minute. I will think of that in a minute.

JOHNSON: Isn't that funny, I can see her.

LANE: --Armstrong worked, -----------(??).

00:59:00

JOHNSON: And she got married to.

LANE: Gosnell.

JOHNSON: Yes.

LANE: Gosnell. (laughs)

JOHNSON: Yes, yes, ----------(??).

LANE: I haven't met her yet, uh, but she was, she was here early as well, yeah. Uh--

JOHNSON: And you, and you have to remember too, Margaret, these were southern people.

LANE: Um-hm.

JOHNSON: And the fit was much better than if we had hired someone from the North.

LANE: That's a great factor. I know people may think, ha, but that is a real factor--

JOHNSON: Um-hm, it is.

LANE: --from the South, I totally agree, there, it's a, it's an attitudinal, I call it a softness, even with men, it's a, it's a different approach than a northern, a northern approach--

JOHNSON: Yes.

LANE: --and I don't mean to stereotype, but it is a factor.

JOHNSON: But it, yeah, and, yes, you're going to find some, you, we, we both know it's a generalization, but--

LANE: Right.

JOHNSON: --generally, I think, um, it, they had the kind of, uh, 01:00:00characteristics that made people from this st-, across this state-- comfortable with them--

LANE: Um-hm.

JOHNSON: --when you--

LANE: Um-hm.

JOHNSON: --you know, Tony was already in the system--

LANE: Right.

JOHNSON: --everybody loves Tony--

LANE: Right, right.

JOHNSON: --and then, you know, Keith was so easy going, or, s-, you know, seemed to be--

LANE: Um-hm.

JOHNSON: --and, um, had that southern accent, and--

LANE: Um-hm.

JOHNSON: --and Candace is--

LANE: Um-hm.

JOHNSON: --very soft-spoken, and--

LANE: Um-hm.

JOHNSON: --and I think that they were the right people--

LANE: Hmm.

JOHNSON: --for what we were trying to do.

LANE: Because, you are so right in saying that the whole thing, at the very beginning was a perception, who are these people, do they know what they're doing, are they going to be good, are they going to be hard on us, it, the whole perception of, of, uh, the team, was quite important, it really was, um, it could have gone as in so many instances along that road, you can see where it could have gone the other way, and I'm sure you were very much aware of that.

JOHNSON: Um-hm.

LANE: So, leadership, uh, his leadership style is, is touted as very 01:01:00positive with, with everybody I talk with, um, and, and you're saying then that he brought that to the board, you all ha-, had some give and take about that, and then said, "You're the operations man," yeah.

JOHNSON: (laughs) Yeah, move it forward.

LANE: Yeah. Um, I'm going to fast forward a little bit to July of '99, the KCTCS foundation was created, and you were chair, chairm-, chairman of re-, the regents, board of regents at that time, so you served as an ex-officio member of the foundation. Would you, uh, and, and you continue to serve now, as an elected member until 2009, I believe?

JOHNSON: I think that's correct.

LANE: Correct. Give me your thoughts about the importance of the foundation to the history of this system and the stability of this system, including colleges, not just what goes on here, but--

JOHNSON: Well, you know, so many of the colleges had their own foundation.

LANE: Um-hm.

JOHNSON: Um, and, you know, what a foundation allows you to do is, you know, obviously there's the, the money part of it.

01:02:00

LANE: Um-hm.

JOHNSON: But, um, my belief is that a foundation is a, a demonstration of the support--

LANE: Um-hm.

JOHNSON: --that an organization--

LANE: Um-hm.

JOHNSON: --has.

LANE: Um-hm.

JOHNSON: Um, so Tim and I had had, and, and Mike had many conversations around the fact that we needed one, and we needed though to structure it carefully that we wouldn't have any of the colleges feel like we were--

LANE: Right.

JOHNSON: --infringing--

LANE: Right.

JOHNSON: --uh, and so, you know, Tim has led all of that brilliantly.

LANE: Yes, he has.

JOHNSON: --um, but it was important that we have one, and then it was important that we get the right people--

LANE: Um-hm.

JOHNSON: --to, to be the--

LANE: Hmm.

JOHNSON: --board, on, on, on the board and, and I, I believe that's happened, um, you know, and continues to happen. That there's a very strong foundation board.

LANE: Very strong, and I don't think you can argue at all at the 01:03:00success, even, even if we, we say that success is the, the amount of dollars raised. It's just been phenomenal.

JOHNSON: It has.

LANE: But it's been--I think the sys-, what your foundation does is help the colleges integrate and organize perhaps, so, of course some of them weren't, didn't have foundations at all.

JOHNSON: Right, right.

LANE: Yeah.

JOHNSON: And it's, it's been both, uh, partnering with those that had--

LANE: Um-hm.

JOHNSON: --strong--

LANE: Um-hm.

JOHNSON: --uh, foundations helping the ones that didn't develop them--

LANE: Um-hm.

JOHNSON: --uh, helping them understand the benefits of, you know, having--

LANE: Right.

JOHNSON: --a foundation--

LANE: Right.

JOHNSON: --and, and, you know, I think for the system, the, the system's foundation has been as much about that perception of strong support--

LANE: Um-hm.

JOHNSON: --from the business community--

LANE: Right.

JOHNSON: --as it has anything else.

LANE: Right. Well, and, and it's, it's factual, your business community support, and then you think of those communities across the state, it's 01:04:00so important that the citizens become involved in, in their communities.

JOHNSON: In their community.

LANE: That's right.

JOHNSON: And--

LANE: That's right.

JOHNSON: --you know, you have to--

LANE: I know, I know.

JOHNSON: --make sure you, that everybody understands--

LANE: Exactly.

JOHNSON: --the roles.

LANE: Exactly.

JOHNSON: And, and that's one of the things that, you know, that Mike and Tim have been so wonderful at, is, you know, it is developing that understanding--

LANE: Um-hm.

JOHNSON: --about what the role is here and what the role is here--

LANE: Right.

JOHNSON: --and, you know--

LANE: Right.

JOHNSON: --keeping us from having any of those--

LANE: Yeah, we're here for support and service, that sort of thing, which is--

JOHNSON: Well service--

LANE: --kind of the systems, this--

JOHNSON: --service leadership, exactly.

LANE: Exactly, that's, that's very true. Well, as we record this ten-year history of KCTCS, what are the major highlights that you feel we should not leave out, we really need to be sure, we've talked about many of them, but be sure that we, we touch on this and that.

JOHNSON: Well, I think we've ta-, you know, the, the two that, that I always make sure I talk about if somebody asks me about--

01:05:00

LANE: Um-hm.

JOHNSON: --the history is, um, Dr. McCall being--

LANE: Um-hm.

JOHNSON: --uh, hired to lead the system--

LANE: Right.

JOHNSON: --and, and the IT system, that PeopleSoft, uh, decision that we made--

LANE: Hmm.

JOHNSON: --uh, was very, very important, uh, and I, you know, Richard might have told you we, we didn't have the money--

LANE: No, I haven't heard that.

JOHNSON: --yeah, yeah, we had the first year money, but the second-year money wasn't, uh, exactly in place--

LANE: Um-hm.

JOHNSON: --when we made the decision--

LANE: Um-hm.

JOHNSON: --uh, and that was what the discussion, the board discussion was about, there, there was some strong feeling that, that we shouldn't be making a commitment that we didn't know how we were going to fund, and, uh, several of us felt that and I very strongly felt that, if we didn't make this decision, we could never become a true system.

LANE: Um-hm.

JOHNSON: And we couldn't wait.

01:06:00

LANE: Because it, it just--give the record, the 101 for PeopleSoft, it is a system that connects and integrates all colleges in the system office--

JOHNSON: Yes.

LANE: --uh, through technology, human resources, finances, the whole, the whole operating structure, uh, student access--

JOHNSON: Student access, I mean that's why a student can come in the door--

LANE: Um-hm.

JOHNSON: --um, in Ashland and sign up for a class in Paducah--

LANE: Um-hm.

JOHNSON: --it's because it's all on the same system.

LANE: It's one system.

JOHNSON: Uh, so, I felt like that was foundational to the success of KCTCS--

LANE: Hmm, hmm, hmm.

JOHNSON: --and, uh, it took a lot of convincing, uh.

LANE: So it was very expensive, do--

JOHNSON: Very.

LANE: --you remember the total--

JOHNSON: I don't--

LANE: --package?

JOHNSON: I don't.

LANE: It was millions.

JOHNSON: Ron would know that or--

LANE: Yeah, yeah, I'm going to interview Jon Hesseldenz, before he leaves, he is, he is retired and been here for a while, but he is going to leave at the end of December, so--

JOHNSON: Oh, is he?

LANE: --I will interview Jon.

01:07:00

JOHNSON: Oh is here today then--

LANE: He's here.

JOHNSON: Oh, I'll have to go find him.

LANE: Yeah he's here, he's, I'll show you where his--

JOHNSON: Okay.

LANE: --office is, he's, he seems--

JOHNSON: That's another--

LANE: --like a great guy.

JOHNSON: --you know, we've had such wonderful, wonderful people.

LANE: I agree with you.

JOHNSON: Somebody that we haven't mentioned, um, that was in that first team.

LANE: Um-hm.

JOHNSON: Um, who handled our finance, and she, I saw her name just the other day.

LANE: Sandy Gubser.

JOHNSON: Yes, Sandy was so--

LANE: Yeah.

JOHNSON: --terrific, and, uh--

LANE: She came from Workforce, didn't she?

JOHNSON: Yes.

LANE: She had, had been with state government.

JOHNSON: Yes, yes, and she was a part of that, that decision, and Jon--

LANE: Yeah.

JOHNSON: --would of, you know, known, uh, of it, and--

LANE: I'm sure.

JOHNSON: --it's so many people. I think that's one of, I think that's one of the things that I would like to, to see in the ten-year review is, is to help people grasp how many people it took.

LANE: Yeah.

JOHNSON: And this isn't anybody's--

01:08:00

LANE: Hmm.

JOHNSON: --you know, this is not one person's--

LANE: Sure.

JOHNSON: --doing, in--

LANE: Sure.

JOHNSON: --any way, uh, at all, because everything from, you know, from the system level, all the things that had to be done, but then, you think about each of the colleges, and--

LANE: Exactly.

JOHNSON: --what they had to change, and the months that they had to take--

LANE: True.

JOHNSON: --to make a decision to be a part of this.

LANE: True.

JOHNSON: I mean, out there, across the state, you know, you, us, a college could have given lip service and then not always been on board--

LANE: Um-hm, um-hm.

JOHNSON: --but, part of that was Mike's leadership in helping everybody see the benefits--

LANE: Um-hm.

JOHNSON: --and part of it was just, you know, the local leadership, you know, stepping up and having the understanding, and taking a chance--

LANE: Um-hm.

JOHNSON: --on making this work.

LANE: Um-hm.

JOHNSON: So, that's one of the things that I think is so important is trying to, you know, there were many, many people who played heroic roles in making this all work.

01:09:00

LANE: Right, that's a good term. Was there, at the very beginning, you know, you, you said you thought maybe Paul thought, well, this won't--

JOHNSON: Paul Chellgren.

LANE: --really hap-,--

JOHNSON: Yeah. Um-hm.

LANE: --really happen, were you convinced from day one that it would work, were there times when you thought, oh my goodness, maybe we're as, uh, Jeff Hockaday said to, oh gosh, or Gordon said to Jeff, "I think you've bitten off a big bite here." (both laugh)

JOHNSON: Sounds like something Jeff would say.

LANE: Yeah, it does, doesn't it?

JOHNSON: Um, I think the only time that I felt defeated--

LANE: Um-hm.

JOHNSON: --was during time of my surgery--

LANE: Oh.

JOHNSON: --and having to come back. But, you know, I was able to look back and say, you know, a surgery that you're supposed to be off for eight weeks, you know--

LANE: Yeah.

JOHNSON: --no wonder I felt that way.

LANE: Exactly.

JOHNSON: You know.

LANE: Exactly, because you weren't probably thinking a whole lot about 01:10:00this, I wouldn't be during surgery time, but I bet you had to, I'm sure they were calling you and--

JOHNSON: Well, that's what happened, I started getting calls--

LANE: Yeah.

JOHNSON: --um, within a few days after I was home, and--

LANE: Oh.

JOHNSON: --after the first, we, uh, my husband is a private pilot, you know, for recreation, and we had a little plane at the time, and as soon as I was able, he put me in the plane and took me to Georgia to stay with some friends, and, you know, he was answering the phone, and saying, you--

LANE: She is not--

JOHNSON: --all have to leave her alone. (laughs)

LANE: Yeah, yeah.

JOHNSON: You know, which is--

LANE: Oh.

JOHNSON: --you know, it was terrible.

LANE: I know.

JOHNSON: But uh--

LANE: The search is falling apart. (laughs)

JOHNSON: Yeah, yeah, and that's the old--

LANE: And you're thinking, oh not that, anything but that.

JOHNSON: Anything but that, um--

LANE: Yeah, yeah, oh, that's a rough time.

JOHNSON: --but it was, that was just--

LANE: But I can see why you would feel de-, well, defeated, or maybe not totally but sort of.

JOHNSON: Well sort of.

LANE: --during that time. (laughs)

JOHNSON: Well, un-, you know, until, uh, Jim actually had to drive me to the meeting in Lexington--

LANE: Um-hm.

JOHNSON: --when we brought everybody back together, and by then, and I 01:11:00think you probably any of the board members you could ask them--by then I was just pissed--

LANE: Yeah.

JOHNSON: --you know, I mean I just was.

LANE: Really, I mean really, come on.

JOHNSON: I was like, come on.

LANE: Come on. I think, I think that's what Cynthia said, Cynthia Read and, uh, Richard Bean, I do have a tape of, of some of the oral history that they gave at one of the board meetings and she said, "I think that's the first time I saw Richard cry." (laughs) During that, oh, that, that search business, and it was just tough on you all.

JOHNSON: It was awful.

LANE: But, but it, it was pretty obvious that none of you were comfortable with, with any of those candidates, or, or now you look back and say, oh, thank goodness we did, we did start all over.

JOHNSON: Yeah, I, I think everybody was happy that we started over.

LANE: Yeah, just--

JOHNSON: It was the ri-, it, it felt like the right thing to do.

LANE: Um-hm, um-hm.

JOHNSON: And sometimes you just have to go with your gut.

LANE: You, yes, you do. Well, it was so important, it was critical to the success of, of this whole new world.

01:12:00

JOHNSON: And, you know, although we were a little afraid of looking stupid, you know--

LANE: It's proven to be the right thing.

JOHNSON: --but it's proven to be the right thing.

LANE: It sure has.

JOHNSON: That we did the right thing, so.

LANE: It sure has, wow. Talk about the next ten years, what do you, what would you like to see happen with this system for the next ten years or so?

JOHNSON: (pause) I think there is such an opportunity to move people through where they can get their bachelor's degree, uh, we, we have such an opportunity to do that, but we're gonna have to have, we're going to have to go back to some of those, uh, ideas that were in 01:13:00place in '97 about everybody working together more. I was, I was very surprised at the last, uh, foundation meeting, uh, to find out that we're still having problems with credit hours not transferring.

LANE: Oh, yes.

JOHNSON: I mean, that's nuts.

LANE: Um-hm.

JOHNSON: And, and, basically my, my reaction was, I thought we'd solved that problem.

LANE: Um-hm.

JOHNSON: And Mike said, "There's a lot of people who thought we had--

LANE: Hmm.

JOHNSON: --but, but we haven't."

LANE: It's still hanging out there.

JOHNSON: It's still hanging out there, so I think there is some, I, I think maybe my, my word for the next ten years would be optimization.

LANE: Um-hm.

JOHNSON: Um, what's been built--

LANE: Um-hm.

JOHNSON: --has, there are just so many opportunities, and so, if we could really focus on optimizing what we have--

LANE: Um-hm.

JOHNSON: --and making things smoother, so that people can move through easy--more easily, I think that's where--

LANE: Um-hm.

JOHNSON: --we have such great opportunities.

01:14:00

LANE: Taking what we have already put in place--

JOHNSON: Yes.

LANE: --okay--instead of new initiatives necessarily, even though there will be some.

JOHNSON: There will be some.

LANE: Well, you know, Gordon Davies expressed that as well, by saying, you know, there was such a feeling of, the governor's office, and the legislature, and this new team being together in those early days, he said, "I'm really worried about it becoming political again, even though it's, it's always political, but v-, more political, uh, as it was before the formation of KCTCS," and of course he's, he feels very, uh, bitter about that sort of thing, and I understand it.

JOHNSON: Um-hm.

LANE: Um, I'm hoping that our legislature will see, particularly the legislature, will see, uh, what a jewel we have here, and that it, it, it just needs to be optimized.

JOHNSON: Um-hm.

LANE: I don't, we haven't talked about the CPE's decision, or, or thought about freezing tuition for KCTCS colleges, and how we feel that 01:15:00might fit into, you know, the plans for the next few years, I'm not sure that's a done deal, but certainly it's been touted as something that we ought to do.

JOHNSON: Well, you know, one of the things that we used to say when we'd get stymied on an issue on what to do, um, was the fact that, you know, what we were doing around this table was supposed to be about students--

LANE: Um-hm.

JOHNSON: --and we've reminded ourselves of that--

LANE: Um-hm.

JOHNSON: --and then, the decision would, would, would be clearer.

LANE: Right.

JOHNSON: --where we needed to go.

LANE: Right.

JOHNSON: I would hope that the sys-, system would always keep that student in mind first--

LANE: Yeah, right.

JOHNSON: --um, being accessible, and--

LANE: Um-hm.

JOHNSON: --understanding that, you know, we are community-based.

LANE: Um-hm.

JOHNSON: You know, it's about people being able to, you know, get into that post-secondary education world from the, from where they are--

LANE: Where they are.

JOHNSON: --and, um, and that's, that's gonna remain so important, and I just, if we can just do that the most efficient and effective way--

01:16:00

LANE: Um-hm.

JOHNSON: --then, um, it will--

LANE: If everybody can remember that--

JOHNSON: Um-hm--

LANE: Yeah.

JOHNSON: --it will be a great ten years.

LANE: Oh yeah.

JOHNSON: The next ten years.

LANE: I'm looking forward to it, it's amazing what's happened in this first, don't you think?

JOHNSON: Yes.

LANE: And you were certainly a great part of that, up, an integral part of that, so uh, I appreciate your taking the time to share your thoughts. If you think of anything else that you really should, um, record or, or, again this is for the--

JOHNSON: Um-hm.

LANE: --for the record.

JOHNSON: --for the record--

LANE: Because people, people will go back, uh, years from now, I hope, in the archives and listen to these and, and, uh, and we--I personally, as a historian think, it's very important for every employee who walks in this building to get a, a good grasp of the history of what went before you here, you know, uh, and how the road to the creation of this system, so that's why we were, we, I suggested we think about an ex-, an exhibit, or a touch screen or something right out in the lobby so visitors and students, and--

01:17:00

JOHNSON: Good -----------(??), yeah.

LANE: --guests and employees can capture, can capture that, I just think you have to tout your own history and this one, being so phenomenal, frankly is, is a special one, I think.

JOHNSON: I think the only other thing I can think of at the moment, Margaret, is, uh, and you touched on that when talking Cindy Read's comments is--

LANE: Um-hm.

JOHNSON: --um, this was a very emotional board in those early days.

LANE: Um-hm.

JOHNSON: I haven't been to a meeting, uh, you know, and the one last year, as far as the oral history--

LANE: Um-hm. Um-hm.

JOHNSON: --but in those first four years, and I think part of that was the fact that it was such hard work--

LANE: Um-hm.

JOHNSON: --that when something went right you had that release--

LANE: Um-hm.

JOHNSON: --I mean, I probably cried more in those four years--

LANE: Is that right?

JOHNSON: --um--

LANE: Yeah.

JOHNSON: --I mean, you know, and, and they would laugh at me, but it would be at the oddest moments--(Lane laughs)--you know, I mean--

LANE: Yeah.

JOHNSON: --I'm supposed to be conducting a board meeting, and, you know, so, you know, call on Richard or whoever to make a report about, oh, I 01:18:00guess it would have been Jack Hanel, you know, when--

LANE: Right.

JOHNSON: --Jack Hanel to make a report about, you know, our new graduates, and invariably, you know, I would just tear up, and you know, it just, it got to be funny, but the first few times, I mean, Mike McCall and I have cried together--

LANE: Hmm.

JOHNSON: --so many times.

LANE: Hmm, hmm.

JOHNSON: But that's part, I think, of what made this so special--

LANE: I think you're right.

JOHNSON: --is that people--

LANE: You were comfortable, I mean, not, you were, you felt free to do that.

JOHNSON: Yes, yes, it wasn't like--

LANE: Yeah, and you knew you were all on the same boat.

JOHNSON: --he, you didn't have to hide it, it's like, okay, fine, I'm emotional about this, but think about--

LANE: But how important it is.

JOHNSON: --you know, w-, how we got to where we are today, so, uh--

LANE: Oh my gosh.

JOHNSON: --but there was a lot of, a lot of tears shed.

LANE: Hmm, isn't that interesting? I, well, I think that's the ultimate bonding experience, because you're talking to somebody who cries at the grand opening of Walmart, so--(Johnson laughs)--you know, you know, it's just--(laughs)--and they're, they're just right here all the time. But I think, I, I, I find it really refreshing that, that people talk 01:19:00about that, I think that's wonderful, actually, and I sense that with Mike McCall, he's, uh, he is just so emotionally vested in, in the students, and, and, and, and his staff, and, that's endearing--

JOHNSON: Um-hm.

LANE: --that's endearing, I think.

JOHNSON: Hmm, it was to us, too.

LANE: I, I'm sure.

JOHNSON: Thank you.

LANE: Thank you.

JOHNSON: It was fun.

LANE: I know you want a little time before your meeting, but if, I will show you where Jon's office is too, if you like to--

JOHNSON: Yeah, I'll stop by and see Jon and--

LANE: Say hi to Jon.

[End of interview.]