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Interview with Paul E. Patton, August 8, 2014

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

 

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00:00:00 - Becoming governor

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Partial Transcript: Alright. This is James Savage. I'm talking today to Governor Paul Patton, who was the governor of Kentucky from 1995 to 2003.

Segment Synopsis: Patton describes his efforts to create jobs leading up to his becoming governor. He talks about his family's involvement as educators, his campaign for governor, and his desire to improve education in the state.

Keywords: Campaigns; Education reform; Jobs; Lieutenant governor; Pike County (Ky.)

Subjects: Governors--Kentucky; Political campaigns; Politicians--Kentucky

00:08:00 - Patton as Lieutenant Governor

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Partial Transcript: Let me take a step back, even, you jumped ahead a little bit to House Bill 1, but as the Lieutenant Governor, actually in an interview we did yesterday, there were folks who were with the community and the tech--the community college system, who said that as Lieutenant Governor, and as, as Economic Development Secretary, you were asking tough questions of them about what they're doing to prepare a workforce.

Segment Synopsis: Patton talks about universities resisting change while community colleges do not. He talks about his desire, as Lieutenant Governor, to better understand Kentucky schools. He talks about the relationship between education and workforce development.

Keywords: Ashland (Ky.); Needs; Vocational training; Workforce; Workforce development education system

Subjects: Education, Higher--Kentucky.; Governors--Kentucky; Labor supply--Kentucky; Technical education--Kentucky.

00:13:41 - Campaign / KERA

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Partial Transcript: Your opponent in that race, in that first race, Larry Forgy, am I pronouncing his name right? Forgy--is talking about education, though, isn't he?

Segment Synopsis: Patton talks about his campaign for governor against Larry Forgy and addressing KERA. He discusses the importance of improving and preserving KERA.

Keywords: Kentucky Education Reform Act of 1990; Larry Forgy

Subjects: Educational change--Kentucky; Governors--Kentucky; Political campaigns; Politicians--Kentucky

00:18:24 - House Bill 1

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Partial Transcript: So, in '96, you worked to preserve KERA, in '98, you--there were some revisions, in financing. Right smack in the middle, you decide you're going to build on KERA, with, through House Bill 1.

Segment Synopsis: Patton talks about his decision to build on KERA with House Bill 1. He discusses seeking counsel from educators, and considering the obstacles for consolidating community colleges. He discusses the University of Kentucky's aversion to losing its associations with the community colleges. He speaks about being governor during the 1996 NCAA championship and about passing House Bill 1.

Keywords: Consolidation; Counsel; Kentucky Education Reform Act of 1990; Postsecondary Education Improvement Act of 1997

Subjects: Community Colleges--Kentucky; Educational change--Kentucky.; University of Kentucky. Community College System

00:30:48 - Conflict over dissolving the University of Kentucky Community College System

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Partial Transcript: Was there a moment in this very ugly, very public fight, when you thought, this is not going to happen. Or it's not gonna happen as, as broadly as we need it to.

Segment Synopsis: Patton talks about the controversy about dissolving the University of Kentucky Community College System, and the need for the community colleges to be disassociated from UK. He describes visiting the community colleges during this time and meeting contention. Patton discusses his personal struggle during the controversy.

Keywords: Aversion; Controversy; Education reform; Promotion; Support; Travel

Subjects: Community Colleges--Kentucky; Educational change--Kentucky.; Governors--Kentucky; University of Kentucky. Community College System

00:38:31 - Support from regional universities

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Partial Transcript: Now was the, was, there are two questions that, that I have, based on what you just said. Uh, were there legislators who have both a regional university and a community college in their districts, and are hearing from both?

Segment Synopsis: Patton talks about the support of regional universities for reorganizing the community college system. He talks about regional schools organizing extension campuses and creating a center of excellence.

Keywords: Development; Education reform; Expansion; Regional universities; Support

Subjects: Education, Higher--Kentucky.; Politicians--Kentucky; University extension.

00:41:54 - More on UK's aversion to reorganize the community colleges

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Partial Transcript: Let's talk a little bit about, there were two very public meetings in which you sort of faced off with Charles Wethington.

Segment Synopsis: Patton discusses his debates with UK President Charles Wethington. He talks about his relationship with Governor Breathitt and talks more about UK's argument against reorganizing the community college system.

Keywords: Board of Trustees meeting; Charles T. Wethington, Jr.; Edward T. Breathitt; KET debate; University of Kentucky

Subjects: Community Colleges--Kentucky; Education, Higher--Kentucky.; Educational change--Kentucky.; Governors--Kentucky

00:47:18 - Aims McGuiness / Southern Association of Colleges and Schools regulations

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Partial Transcript: Let me ask you about some of that advice, because I'm going to be talking in a few weeks, at least I hope to, uh, talking to Aims McGuiness. Who, who you worked very closely with. So tell me about the advice he's given you.

Segment Synopsis: Patton talks about Aims McGuiness's counsel concerning the community college system restructure. He talks about trying to devise a way for the community college system to keep the UK name but not being in regulation with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. Patton describes Wethington's anger at SACS.

Keywords: Charles T. Wethington, Jr.; Dennis James; SACS; Southern Association of Colleges and Schools

Subjects: Community Colleges--Kentucky; Educational change--Kentucky.; University of Kentucky. Community College System

00:57:49 - KCTCS Transition Team / Gordon Davies

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Partial Transcript: Let's talk, okay, House Bill 1 is signed, is now the law of the land, it's a good day for Paul Patton as a governor, it's a good day for the Commonwealth. Let's talk about the Transition Team. You tap your Budget Director to lead the Transition Team. Why'd you pick James Ramsey?

Segment Synopsis: Patton discusses the members of the KCTCS Transition Team, especially Jim Ramsey. He talks about Dr. McCall being the best choice as president of KCTCS. He discusses the administration of KCTCS and talks about the members of the first board. He talks about Gordon Davies's conflict with Harry Moberly.

Keywords: CPE; James Ramsey; KCTCS Transition Team; Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education; Michael B. McCall

Subjects: Education, Higher--Kentucky.; Educational change--Kentucky.; Kentucky Community & Technical College System

01:07:04 - Growth of Kentucky universities / KCTCS personnel systems

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Partial Transcript: Politically, because you'd just come out of this blistering fight where state government is reorganizing higher education, and then, was it particularly problematic because of this atmosphere, where, you know, that you have someone in place who's doing a little bit of heavy handing?

Segment Synopsis: Patton talks about establishing a policy of non-interference. He talks about University of Louisville becoming a strong research institution, endowed chairs, and the growth of University of Louisville and University of Kentucky. He talks about KCTCS interim president Jeff Hockaday and about KCTCS administering three personnel systems.

Keywords: Education reform; House Bill 1; Interim presidents; Jeff Hockaday; Postsecondary Education Improvement Act of 1997; Top 20 public research university; University of Kentucky; University of Louisville

Subjects: Education, Higher--Kentucky.; Educational change--Kentucky.; Governors--Kentucky

01:17:08 - KCTCS presidential search / consolidation issue

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Partial Transcript: We were talking about Dr. Hockaday, and bringing in Dr. Hockaday after Dr. Ramsey's departure. Um, still looking for that permanent president. Okay, and there's a second search. The question was, you know, what were your concerns? Looking for this permanent leader,what did you want?

Segment Synopsis: Patton talks about what was wanted from a president of KCTCS and his involvement with the search committee. He talks about meeting Dr. McCall and their relationship. Patton describes the consolidation issue going smoother than he expected.

Keywords: Candidates; Impressions; KCTCS Board of Regents; Michael B. McCall; Qualifications

Subjects: College presidents; Kentucky Community & Technical College System; Schools--Centralization.

01:23:02 - Dr. McCall / more on Charles Wethington

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Partial Transcript: What were your impressions of Dr. McCall as a person? Just as a--.

Segment Synopsis: Patton describes McCall's personality and attributes. He describes McCall, and other academic leaders, as being a legacy he left as governor. He talks more about his conflict with Charles Wethington and more about his relationship with Governor Breathitt. The interview is concluded.

Keywords: Attributes; Charles T. Wethington, Jr.; Edward T. Breathitt; Michael B. McCall; Personality

Subjects: College presidents; Education, Higher--Kentucky.; Governors--Kentucky