Monday, July 23, 2018

Frank G. Dickey Hall

Dickey Hall opened on campus in 1964 as the Frank G. Dickey Education Annex.  Frank Dickey served as UK's fifth president after serving as Dean of the College of Education.

Dickey Hall construction

The building cost, which cost $200,000, contained two graduate classrooms, 12 regular classrooms, an observation room for education classes, 49 offices, and several reception areas.  The building also housed the Education Library and the Bureau of School Services.

Dickey Hall was officially dedicated March 11, 1965.

Thursday, July 19, 2018


Veterans enrolling at the University of Kentucky following World War II created a housing shortage on campus.  The July 19, 1946 Kentucky Kernel reported that barracks were being constructed around the campus for up to 48 women and 50 men but they would not be ready in time for the beginning of the semester.  Also, planning and construction for Shawneetown, a new housing project on the agricultural farm, was just getting underway.

Dean of Women Sarah Holmes warned UK officials that the university should not house returning male veterans at the expense of the women students.  However, 69 women students, including Chi Omega and Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority members and former women residents of the Shelby House, still did not have housing for the fall semesters.

Dean Holmes negotiated for the university to rent the former Odd Fellows Home on Sixth Street for 200 women students.  She was also using scholastic standing to determine which women students had first access to the 694 beds available.  Women students with the lowest grades would be forced to find living accommodations off campus.

Dean Sarah Holmes

Writing in 1946 Dean Homles noted:

"I cannot help but wonder if the doors are closing for women students at our co-educational institutions.  It is a short-sighted policy to provide educational benefits for veterans at the expense of women.  More women than ever are applying for entrance to institutions of higher learning.  Some people are saying let women wait their turn.  There is no turn in higher education for women.  The veterans' pressure will be felt perhaps five or ten years.  Women cannot wait until this pressure is reduced.  Though discrimination against women students is not actually designed, many of our present policies actually have that result.  It is the responsibility of not only Deans of Women but other college officials to see that women as well as men have their chance for higher education."

Friday, June 29, 2018


Sixty-two years ago this week Frank G. Dickey became the University of Kentucky's sixth president at the age of 38.  The previous six years he had served as Dean of the College of Education.

The Board of Trustees set the new president's salary at $21,000 or $1,000 more than the Dean of the new Medical School was making.  Dickey's predecessor, Herman Lee Donovan, earned only $12,000 annually, but since the university had no retirement program at that time the Board voted to award Donovan $15,000 each year of his retirement. 

President Dickey and family
Dickey beat out formidable competition for the presidency including Elvis Stahr, Dean of the College of Law and UK Provost, Frank Welch, Dean of the UK College of Agriculture, and Louis Pardue, Vice-President of Virginia Tech.  Stahr would go on to serve as president of both West Virginia University, Indiana University, and the Audubon Society.

Frank Dickey resigned in 1963.

Friday, May 25, 2018


"Coeds Speak Out On Law Students' Capers" announced the headline across the front page of the May 24, 1962 Kentucky Kernel.

University of Kentucky law students had, over the years since moving into Lafferty Hall in 1936, become well-known for their sexist behavior towards women students.  Located on a busy walkway in central campus, it was nearly impossible for women students to avoid Lafferty Hall and the future lawyers.  One UK student told reporters Bob Baugh and Kyra Hackley that she would "feel safer if they were in a cage."

Law students outside Lafferty Hall, 1957
The reporters noted that, "Regardless of the pleasure the parade of coeds gives the law students, the females have other ideas.  Many freshmen coeds admit they are flustered by the thought of passing in review."  Women students had become tired of what the Kernel labeled as "Law Students' Capers," with capers generally defined as a frivolous, carefree episode or activity.  To many women students the behavior of the law students was far from frivolous or carefree.  "I feel like a factory part rolling past the assembly line inspector," said student Lynda Hanson.  

Women students reported going "out of their way to avoid the jeers," with one student admitting that she "always cut through the Botanical Gardens to avoid the whistles of the law students."   Another student proposed "an overpass be built over the law school to prevent embarrassment."  

In one of the harshest critiques, a woman student remarked that, "They look like a bunch of lounge lizards and lolligaggers [and] you would think they would have better things to do than squawk and gawk."   I suppose anticipating that many of the young legal minds would one day be in the Kentucky General Assembly it was suggested that "If they have so many pennies to pitch, why don't 'they go to Frankfort and pitch them into...the floral clock."

Some of the women students apparently appreciated the attention they received and noted that "not all of the comments are derogatory."  Nancy Clay McClure added that, "Yelling at coeds is here to stay," while Joy Mason simply noted, "I love it."  Betty Groger concluded that, "I think it just shows those boys are really normal after all.  I'll start worrying when they're not perched like a flock of chattering birds on the steps."

Fortunately, today's women students at the University of Kentucky do not have to endure such blatant sexism on campus.  But that progress should not distract from the necessity of assuring that UK is a diverse and inclusive environment for everyone where discrimination in any form is unacceptable.

Monday, May 14, 2018


In the late 1940s the University of Kentucky Student Government Association passed a rule forbidding student smoking in restricted buildings that were "non-fire-resistant" or temporary frame units. The student rule did not apply to faculty or staff. 

In February, 1948 Dr. Thomas D. Clark brought charges against James Clarkson for smoking in Frazee Hall.  The student had been reported by history professor James Hopkins.  At his hearing, Clarkson pleaded ignorance of the policy since he was a "first-quarter" student and he had not seen any no smoking signs in the building.  Nevertheless, Mr. Clarkson was found guilty and fined $5.

Eight years later on the evening of January 24, 1956 a fire destroyed 75% of Frazee Hall including the offices, books, and papers of most of the university's history faculty.  Theories about the cause of the fire did not include careless cigarette smoking but did point to the possibility that students may have "bombed" the building using some type of incendiary device.

Frazee Hall Fire
Later that year on May 14, 1948, a Kentucky Kernel headline asked, "Faculty Exempt Under Smoking Law or Not?" Six students had recently been fined $5 each for violating the no smoking policy.  The article  noted that other student smokers had not been fined because of a lack of cooperation from the faculty in reporting offenders.

Two students, Rusty Russell and Jack Sorrelle, introduced a bill before the Student Government Association to make the non-smoking policy also apply to faculty and staff  including in private offices.  SGA leadership reminded everyone that faculty would have to accept the policy before it could apply to them.  While there is no readily available record of how the issue was resolved, it is safe to assume that few, if any, faculty or staff accepted the ban on smoking.

During the following fall semester Norwood Hall, built in 1910 and home to the Botany Department, was destroyed by fire.

Norwood Hall

Fortunately, today's UK tobacco policy makes everyone healthier and safer.

Sunday, May 6, 2018


In 1888 Belle Clement Gunn became the first woman student at UK to earn a baccalaureate degree.

Gunn, a Lexington native, spent her childhood on a farm near Shelbyville, Kentucky, where she attended the highly regarded Science Hill Academy for girls.  Her family moved to Lexington in the early 1880s where Gunn attended public schools and the Sayre Institute.  Classmates remembered Gunn as "well above average in scholarship, but not so brilliant as to inspire envy and jealousy."  She participated fully in the social life available, including the literary societies.

Prior to the 1888 commencement, President Patterson called Belle Gunn to his office.  He asked the only woman graduate, "I suppose you will not want to sit up on the platform with the young men on Commencement Day, will you Miss Gunn?"  Gunn replied, "I've been through four years in classes with them and I don't see why I shouldn't sit on the platform with them now."  

At commencement President Patterson was reportedly "most gracious" to the first woman graduate whom he referred to as the "Eldest Daughter of the Institution."

Congratulations 2018 graduates!