Interview with Ken Walker, January 26, 2015

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

 

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00:00:01 - Trying teaching and distillery work

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Partial Transcript: Alright. Today is January 26, 2015. This is James Savage. We're doing interview two with Mr. Ken Walker, who's Vice President of KCTCS. This is your last week at KCTCS.

Segment Synopsis: Ken Walker explains that he lost interest in teaching as a career when he served as substitute mathematics teacher in a public school during his undergraduate studies. He explains how his summer working at Jim Beam confirmed to him that he wanted to go to college rather than begin working right out of high school.

Keywords: Higher education; Jim Beam Distillery; Public schools; Universities and colleges

Subjects: Careers.; James B. Beam Distilling Company.; Substitute teachers; Teaching.; Work.

00:06:17 - The Postsecondary Improvement Act (House Bill 1)

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Partial Transcript: Let's fast-forward quite a bit, because, uh, we left off, I believe, right in the meaty part of the, uh, the discussion about the, um, formation of KCTCS and House Bill 1, the debate over House Bill 1.

Segment Synopsis: Walker discusses the drawing up and passing of the Postsecondary Improvement Act (House Bill 1) during a special session of the Kentucky General Assembly in May 1997, including the role of Governor Paul Patton (in office 1995-2003) in pushing for educational reform during his first term. He explains some of the reasons for educational reform at that point and his role in finance in the new Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education (formerly the Council on Higher Education).

Keywords: CPE; Educational reform; Gary Cox; Gordon Davies; House Bill 1; Kentucky Council on Higher Education; Paul E. Patton; Postsecondary Improvement Act of 1997; Universities and colleges

Subjects: Educational change.; Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education

00:18:05 - Gordon Davies as president of the Council on Postsecondary Education

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Partial Transcript: The, the search for the presidency began sometime, you know, in the fall of '97, but we didn't really expect the president's position to be filled, or for that person to be--hit the ground perhaps July of '98, the beginning of the, the beginning of the next fiscal year.

Segment Synopsis: Walker discusses the search for a president for the the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education (CPE) to replace Gary Cox, president of the former Council on Higher Education. He describes Gordon Davies' appointment to the position and his choosing new staff members.

Keywords: CPE; Educational reform; Gary Cox; Gordon Davies; Higher education

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

00:26:24 - Budgeting in 1997

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Partial Transcript: Um, talk about Gordon Davies personally.

Segment Synopsis: Walker discusses the work done in the Council on Postsecondary Education (CPE) between the passing of the Postsecondary Improvement Act of 1997 (House Bill 1) and the appointment of Gordon Davies as president. In particular he recalls the work of setting budgets for the agency; for the Kentucky Community and Technical College System (KCTCS), also created by House Bill 1; and for state universities including the University of Kentucky and the University of Louisville.

Keywords: Budgeting; Educational funding; Gary Cox; Jim Ramsey; KCTCS; Kentucky Council on Higher Education; University of Kentucky; University of Louisville

Subjects: Budget.; Community colleges.; Kentucky Community & Technical College System; Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education

00:41:37 - Supporting the new Kentucky Community and Technical College System

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Partial Transcript: Now, is there a role that C--now CPE, whoever listens to this, we'll apologize for the acronyms--but, the, the CPE plays in kind of tamping down, I think, the, uh, continued residual hard feelings about House Bill 1, that, um, that some folks have indicated continued well after the passage.

Segment Synopsis: Walker discusses his role in solidifying the provisions of the Postsecondary Improvement Act of 1997 (House Bill 1), particularly in attending board meetings in support of the newly created Kentucky Community and Technical College System (KCTCS).

Keywords: Budgeting; Educational funding; Sue Moore

Subjects: Budget.; Kentucky Community & Technical College System; Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education

00:45:34 - Working under Gordon Davies

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Partial Transcript: There are so many threads of this story that, that you're involved in. I wanted to shift back to, um, to CPE if we can, and, and get into Gordon Davies.

Segment Synopsis: Walker discusses the term of Gordon Davies as president of the Council on Postsecondary Education (CPE). He describes early assignments under the leadership of Davies, including the drawing up of guidelines for the use of money placed in trust funds by state colleges and universities, and the determining that technical institutes should not be renamed to technical colleges.

Keywords: Gordon Davies; Jim Ramsey; Sue Moore

Subjects: Kentucky Community & Technical College System; Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education

00:50:24 - Choosing a president for the Kentucky Community and Technical College System

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Partial Transcript: At the same time that, uh, KCTCS is still searching for its, its first permanent president, um, how--what was your observation from the, from the, the, the--from CPE about that first search, uh, which we call the first search.

Segment Synopsis: Walker discusses the selection of Jeff Hockaday as interim president and then Michael B. McCall as the first president of the Kentucky Community and Technical College System (KCTCS), explaining that Gordon Davies, president of the Council on Postsecondary Education (CPE), had a direct role in the appointment of Hockaday and an indirect role in the appointment of McCall. Walker explains why McCall was a more fitting candidate than Jim Ramsey, who went on to become president of the University of Louisville. He also discusses changes McCall brought to the vision of the founders of KCTCS.

Keywords: Gordon Davies; Jeff Hockaday; Jim Ramsey; Michael B. McCall

Subjects: Council on Postsecondary Education; Kentucky Community & Technical College System

01:02:34 - His early contact with Michael McCall / the 2000 General Assembly session

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Partial Transcript: But let me ask you, are--you know, you're watching from the, from the position of CPE. Uh, after doctor Dr. McCall has hired, um, what are you interactions, what are CPE's interactions with him, you know, and at what point do you decide to join his team?

Segment Synopsis: Walker discusses his work with the Kentucky Community and Technical College System (KCTCS) and his contact with its president Michael McCall and several of its staff members. He discusses the difficulty of submitting a budget request to the Kentucky General Assembly session of 2000.

Keywords: Gary Cloyd; Gary Dean; Gary Grogan; General Assembly; Gordon Davies; Jim Byford; Michael B. McCall; Paul E. Patton; Technical institutes; Wendell Followell

Subjects: Community colleges.; Kentucky Community & Technical College System; Kentucky. General Assembly.

01:11:59 - Vice president of finance at the Kentucky Community and Technical College System

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Partial Transcript: I knew that, um, because I was invited to, uh, the retirement reception, I knew that the first vice president of finance at KCTCS had retired at the end of December of '99.

Segment Synopsis: Walker tells of his successful application to the position of vice president of finance in the Kentucky Community and Technical College System (KCTCS). He briefly discusses the implementation of PeopleSoft educational software by KCTCS.

Keywords: Beth R. Hilliard; Gordon Davies; Jim Byford; Michael B. McCall; Ronald Moore; Sandy Gubser

Subjects: Applications for positions.; Kentucky Community & Technical College System; PeopleSoft software.

01:24:55 - His early years at the Kentucky Community and Technical College System

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Partial Transcript: What are you discovering, those--you think you're coming into a job where, uh, you're going to inherit a lot of the hard work that other folks have put down. What, what's, what's day one like for you in those early years?

Segment Synopsis: Walker describes his starting work as vice president of finance at Kentucky Community and Technical College System (KCTCS). He explains that he had much to learn, though he had already learned much throughout his career that he had not learned in school, such as finance.

Keywords: David Atkins; Doug Roberts; Finance; Gary Cloyd; Gary Dean; Gary Grogan; Jim Byford

Subjects: Accounting.; Community colleges.; Kentucky Community & Technical College System

01:34:21 - Budget cuts and tuition increases

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Partial Transcript: Alright, we had a, a, a brief technical problem, but we're back, and, and the question I was asking, um, was about the ever-decreasing amount of money that's available to, to higher education, not just KCTCS but across the board.

Segment Synopsis: Walker discusses the repeated revenue shortfalls and resulting budget cuts experienced by the state government beginning in the 1970s, which have been in large part the cause of tuition increases in recent years.

Keywords: Budgeting; Educational funding

Subjects: Budget.; Revenue.; Tuition; Universities and colleges.

01:46:28 - His greatest accomplishments

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Partial Transcript: (??)--talk about the, the heavy burdens of, of, sort of the--and the biggest challenges that you've faced, but let's talk about, what would you point to as the point of pride for you as you're wrapping this up?

Segment Synopsis: Walker lists as his greatest accomplishments the development of his staff, the development of systems such as funding models and the payment of tuition by credit hour, the decision of outsourcing work to software developers such as Cedar Crestone, and his decision to work with the Kentucky Department of Revenue rather than debt collection agencies. He concludes the interview by discussing his retirement plans.

Keywords: Achievements; Bardstown (Ky.); Christian missions; Churches; Collection agencies; September 11 Terrorist Attacks, 2001; Sierra-Cedar; Student debt

Subjects: Computer software.; Family life.; Retirement.; Volunteers.