Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Ken Walker, January 16, 2015

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

 

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00:00:00 - His youth in Nelson County

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Partial Transcript: Alright. This James Savage. Today is the sixteenth of January, 2015. Uh, we're at the KCTCS office in Versailles with Mr. Ken Walker, soon to be retired, uh, Vice President for Finance Facilities Management and Human Resources, uh, which is, uh, quite a big portfolio.

Segment Synopsis: Ken Walker discusses his childhood in the towns of Samuels and Bardstown in Nelson County, Kentucky. He describes his education and discusses his large family of eight siblings, explaining that his father, a miller at Jim Beam Distillery, was a widower and his mother a widow before their marriage and the joining of their families into one. Walker explains that he was the first in his family to attend college.

Keywords: Bardstown (Ky.); Catholic Church; Fredericksburg (Ky.); Jim Beam Distillery; Nelson County Senior High School; Old Kentucky Home High School; Samuels (Ky.); St. Joseph Preparatory School; St. Thomas (Ky.); University of Kentucky; Widowers; Widows

Subjects: Education.; Family life.; Farms.; Marriage.; Nelson County (Ky.); Schools.

GPS: Samuels (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 37.883, -85.534
00:10:19 - Majoring in mathematics / summer work at Jim Beam

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Partial Transcript: So, let's jump ahead to you, your, you've gone to Lexington. Now, what makes you want to study math?

Segment Synopsis: Walker explains that he chose to major in mathematics with a plan to teach high school. He describes working at Jim Beam Distillery in the summer of 1970 after his high school graduation, an experience which he says confirmed that he should not have gone into the distilling business.

Keywords: Bottling; Bourbon; College classes; French; German; Glass house; Jim Beam Distillery; Labor unions; Summer jobs; University of Kentucky

Subjects: Calculus.; James B. Beam Distilling Company.; Mathematics.; Work ethic.

00:18:41 - His first year at the University of Kentucky

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Partial Transcript: So, the, the siblings that came after you--you were six. Number seven went to college. Did number eight?

Segment Synopsis: Walker describes his experiences as an undergraduate student at the University of Kentucky in 1970-1971, including his struggling in an honors calculus course, his unpleasant experience of dropping and adding courses, and life in a house shared with other students. He explains that student unrest over the Vietnam War, culminating in the burning of the Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) building, had disappeared by the time he entered the university in the fall, but he recalls that in the spring of 1973, streaking was popular on campus.

Keywords: Anti-war protests; Blanding Tower; KCTCS; Kirwan Tower; Lexington (Ky.); Maxwell Street; Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC); Streaking

Subjects: Anti-war demonstrations; Kentucky Community & Technical College System; Peace movements.; Students.; Undergraduates.; University of Kentucky.; Vietnam War, 1961-1975.

GPS: University of Kentucky (Lexington, Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 38.033, -84.500
00:32:55 - Graduate degree in statistics

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Partial Transcript: Well, um--(laughs)--so you graduate, only, you know, if--presumably, you may want to stuck, stuck around if people were running around naked, uh--(laughs)--being a young man at that time.

Segment Synopsis: Walker explains that he earned a master's degree in statistics, being interested in its practical nature, and that in 1974 he got married. He describes being married in graduate school as a good experience.

Keywords: Eastern Kentucky University; Fraternities; Graduate school; Mathematics

Subjects: Graduate students.; Marriage.; Statistics.; University of Kentucky.

00:39:05 - Entering the Council on Public Higher Education

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Partial Transcript: Well, let's--so, in 1976 you graduate with a, a master's in statistics, and you go to work for state government--

Segment Synopsis: Walker describes how he began work at the Council on Public Higher Education (COPHE), a state government agency now known as the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education, describing the work he did in the area of student data, which is the work he continued to do despite opportunities to move up into positions involving finance and management.

Keywords: Carson Smith; Council on Public Higher Education (COPHE); Dave Carter; Don Mullis; Frankfort (Ky.); Larry Owsley; Statistical analysts

Subjects: Education, Higher.; Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education; Statistics.; Universities and colleges.

00:54:58 - Developing the first unit record reporting system

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Partial Transcript: And, um, so then I continued work with, um, uh, on this statistical side, and, uh, there was a--technology was, was improving a little, and so my boss and the first IT person I ever worked with and I basically over a weekend, uh, designed, uh, a unit record reporting system that, uh, then got approved and, uh, got implemented both for the public universities and eventually for the private colleges agreed to use it as well.

Segment Synopsis: Walker describes his involvement in creating the first student unit record reporting system, which became the basis for similar systems up to the present time.

Keywords: Kentucky Community & Technical College System (KCTCS); Student unit record data

Subjects: Computers.; Databases.; Students.

00:58:42 - Data analysis for the desegregation plan

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Partial Transcript: There's a big, there's a big period of time in your career at CPE, I mean, beyond the, uh, the design of this database.

Segment Synopsis: Walker notes the renaming of the Council on Public Higher Education as the Council on Higher Education in 1981, and as the Council on Post-secondary Education in 1997. Of the three major issues that the council dealt with in 1981--namely the development of a new budget, the formation of the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence, and the development of a desegregation plan--Walker says he was most involved in data analysis for the desegregation plan. He explains how the desegregation plan was funded at one hundred percent, which he says very rarely happens in educational funding.

Keywords: Budgets; Data analysis; Ed Carter; Federal Office for Civil Rights; Kentucky State University; Northern State University; Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence; Raymond Burse; University of Louisville

Subjects: Budget.; Ed Carter; Harry Snyder; Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education; Larry Owsley; Segregation.; University of Kentucky.

01:13:43 - His work in financial analysis / the funding formula before House Bill 1

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Partial Transcript: Well, let me, let me ask you this, because in, in, oh--early on in your, your stint, uh, in state government, you're having to tell people, "Don't fear data."

Segment Synopsis: Walker discusses his further work in financial analysis, including his appointment in March 1985 as chief financial officer and his involvement in the Task Group on Inter-institutional Finance (TGIF). He discusses the funding formula developed in the early 1980s that served as a budget request system even before the formal introduction of budget requests in Kentucky General Assembly House Bill 1 passed in 1997.

Keywords: Ann Mead; Educational funding; Financial analysis; Gary Cox; Harry Snyder; House Bill 1; Jim Ramsey; Kentucky Education Reform Act (KERA); Larry Owsley; Pat Ingram; Paul E. Patton; Personal computers; Sherron Jackson; Task Group on Inter-institutional Finance (TGIF); Wallace Glenn Wilkinson

Subjects: Budget.; Governors--Kentucky; Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education; Kentucky--Politics and government.