Friday, September 15, 2017

Learning A Skill...Learning To Live

The debate over "liberal" versus science and "practical" studies is as old as the University of Kentucky itself.  Founded in 1865 following the Morrill Act that intended to support agricultural and mechanical education and access to public higher education generally, UK's early history illustrates the persistent tension between "practical" and "liberal" education.

The details of the early debates are presented in James Hopkins, The University of Kentucky: Origins and Early Years (Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1951) and J. Allen Smith, College of Agriculture, University of Kentucky, Early and Middle Years, 1865-1951).  

President James K. Patterson, UK's first president and a central figure in the debates, received a "liberal" education at Hanover College and his intellectual interests focused primarily on philosophical studies.  Many believed that he hindered the growth of UK's science, engineering, and agricultural programs because of his own background and intellectual interests.

As explained by Smith, "In an 1880 report...he (Patterson) contrasted eloquently and convincingly the agriculture and mechanical colleges conducted under the 'narrow gauge' view with those conducted under the 'broad gauge’ view, to the great advantage of the latter, and he declared the intent of the Morrill Act of 1862 was 'to make scientific and technical education the privilege of all, and not the prerogative of the dignify labor and ennoble toil by making the agriculturist and the mechanic the equal in intelligence, in culture, in breadth of information, and in nobleness of aim of those in any rank and in any profession of life."

Unfortunately, the debate over “liberal’ versus “practical” education continues in 2017.  People outside the academy somehow feel the need to pit interpretive dance against STEM majors, English against engineering, art against agriculture, and foreign language against business.  But within the university there is tremendous cooperation among the colleges.  I believe President Patterson would be very pleased with the scope and breadth of his university today and the opportunities that UK students have to learn a skill and learn to live.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Wendell Ford - Last Governor to Serve as UK Board Chair

Today is Wendell Hampton Ford's birthday (September 8, 1924 – January 22, 2015).  He would have been 93.

Wendell Ford served Kentucky as State Senator, Lt. Governor, Governor, and U.S. Senator.  His passing in 2015 brought tributes to his life and service from all levels of government.

Senator Ford attended the University of Kentucky during the 1942-1943 academic year leaving to return to Davies County to help on his family's farm before entering the military during World War II.  Upon becoming Governor in 1971, like his predecessors, Ford became Chair of the UK Board of Trustees. However, during his time as Governor, he supported the removal of the Governor of Kentucky as UK's Board Chair, therefore, making Wendell Ford the last governor to serve in that position.  

Many believed that removing the Governor from the board would help keep politics out of the university. Perhaps it did, but more recent events in Kentucky illustrate that politics, as practiced in the bluegrass state, are never far removed from Kentucky's educational institutions.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

UK's Scottish President

The legacy of James K. Patterson is remembered across the UK campus because of the Patterson Office Tower, the Patterson statue, Patterson Hall, and the Patterson School of Diplomacy and International Commerce. UK's first president served four decades before retiring in 1910.  He is credited with guiding the university through its difficult early years and setting the institution on a path to become today's modern public research university.

What many may not know is that President Patterson was born March 26, 1833 in the Gorbals parish of Glasgow, Scotland.  His family immigrated to a farm near Madison, Indiana in 1842.

Moreover, at the age of four, an accident severely injured young Patterson's leg requiring him to walk with the aid of a crutch (which can be seen as part of the statue) for the remainder of his life.

UK's founding president overcame his immigrant status, a disability, and meager family resources to play a crucial role in the history of the University of Kentucky.

Photograph of Main Street Gorbals,1868
Today, the University of Kentucky welcomes students, faculty, and staff from across the globe and is committed to a policy of providing opportunities to people regardless of economic or social status and will not discriminate on the basis of race, color, ethnic origin, national origin, creed, religion, political belief, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, pregnancy, marital status, genetic information, age, veteran status, or physical or mental disability.

I trust that commitment on the part of UK would have made President James K. Patterson proud.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Remembering Norma B. Case - UK Librarian

Over seven years ago UK Libraries began a new effort of international involvement.  Toni Greider, a senior librarian with extensive international experience, led the new initiative with tremendous success.  The number of visiting international librarians increased, more UK librarians traveled internationally and presented at scholarly meetings, and UK Libraries' involvement with the UK International Center and international students increased exponentially.

This week, while looking for an article in the October 10, 1952 Kentucky Kernel, I was reminded that UK Libraries' international involvement began decades earlier.

Norma B. Case

Norma Case, described as "one of the leading reference librarians in the country" established benchmarks for what it means to be an academic librarian in a research library that we should still aspire to today in the 21st century.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Basketball Memories

On occasion I intend to include some of my personal experiences at UK in this blog.  After all, beginning my 45th fall on the University of Kentucky campus gives me some perspective on its history.

Almost as far back as I can remember UK played a prominent role in my life.  Of course, those earliest memories revolve entirely around Kentucky basketball.  Like so many young Kentuckians I listened intently as Claude Sullivan called UK games over the Standard Oil Network that covered most, if not all, of Kentucky.  I also was lucky enough to see Kentucky play at Vanderbilt one or two times since it was not far from my home in Hopkinsville.

Finally, as a teenager I experienced UK basketball in Memorial Coliseum.  I do not recall how I secured the ticket but in February I saw Kentucky (Rupp's Runts) beat Georgia 74-50.  Following the game Larry Conley and Tommy Kron autographed my game program which I still have.

The price of admission to the game, $2.60.  The experience for one Kentucky teenager, priceless!

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Moving in!

Students have been moving into UK each fall since the 1860's.  The first on-campus dorm, Whitehall, was for men only.  Even though women began attending UK in 1880, they had no place to live on campus until the construction of Patterson Hall nearly a quarter century later.

Whitehall Men's Dormitory

The Patterson Office Tower replaced Whitehall dormitory in the 1960's.

Patterson Hall

Patterson Hall for women opened in 1904 but state funding stipulated that it must be constructed "off campus," thus its location across Euclid Avenue from what was then the main campus.

Back in the day parents and students dressed more formally for the big move.

Wonder how many students moving in this week know that suitcases were not always on wheels?

Thanks to the assistance of large numbers of UK volunteers (administrators, staff, and faculty), this year's move-in should be the best ever and hopefully easier than balancing a table on one's head!

Welcome new Wildcats!!

Monday, July 17, 2017

Helen Galvin King - UK's First Alumni Director

As the University of Kentucky prepares to begin a new era of leadership it is a good time to remember the Alumni Association's first director who devoted most of her adult life to the Association and to the University of Kentucky.

Helen Galvin King (1904-1985) became the first Director of the UK Alumni Association in 1946. She served the Association with distinction until her retirement in 1969.


A 1925 graduate of UK in Journalism, King held positions in marketing, public relations, and with newspapers before directing the Alumni Association.  In 1959 she launched a fundraising drive to secure $335,000 to build and furnish the Alumni House at Euclid Avenue and Rose Street.  The building was later named the Helen King Alumni House in her honor.

King participated in an interview for the Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History in 1977 in which she discusses her student days at UK and her work with the UK Alumni Association.  The link to the interview is below: