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2004-08-04 Interview with Wendell H. Ford, August 11, 2004 2004OH111 KH 696 0:56:52 CC001 Community Colleges of Kentucky Oral History Project Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries University of Kentucky. Community College System Wendell H. Ford; interviewee Adina O'Hara; interviewer 2004OH111_KH696_Ford 1:|8(2)|19(6)|30(6)|45(7)|64(4)|76(5)|86(10)|100(8)|119(2)|128(13)|140(7)|155(12)|166(7)|187(3)|205(9)|235(11)|246(1)|267(1)|282(10)|295(6)|305(10)|326(9)|338(7)|356(4)|371(4)|384(12)|397(12)|411(1)|428(11)|438(7)|456(3)|471(11)|483(11)|502(7)|518(12)|529(9)|552(6)|580(1)|591(8)|620(4)|633(1)|644(1)|655(9)|667(8)|681(6)|691(3) audiotrans Legit interview O'HARA: This is an unrehearsed interview with Wendell Ford at his office in Owensboro, Kentucky on August 4, 2004 conducted by Adina O'Hara. Governor Ford, in the 1962 legislative session, the Community College Act was passed authorizing the UK Board of Trustees to establish a system of community colleges across the state. While we know the outcomes of those talks about creating a community college system, we do not know how this agreement was reached. Because you were Bert T. Combs' chief administrative aide from 1959-1963 you can explain how the decision to establish a community college system in Kentucky was discussed in the governor's office. FORD: Well, I can tell you that I'm not sure I, that the discussion we're probably all right now, since everything has passed. There was some politics involved, which is in everything, but the main thing that Governor Combs wanted to do was be sure that when the community colleges were started full-scale that they had the substance to continue. And let me give you an example. Paducah Community College has the virtual engineering four-year school. Well, it could not have done that had it not had the resources of the University of Kentucky to support it. And so Combs knew that and as we developed the ability to pass the legislation, we had to be sure that when we started that the resources were available that when we inaugurated a community college in a community that it would have the resources to continue, and so it would, UK would give it. And one of the things that I think probably made him, or caused him to give it to the University of Kentucky, was he felt like as you gave it to the regional colleges, that they would all be different. They would all have different ways of doing things. They would be split up. They would have to have somebody in charge of it and that sort of thing at the time of the beginning. Now, his attitude now, I don't know with this new, what Patton did to separate it and make it a single entity which I think, it seems to be doing very well. I was basically opposed to it because I hated to see the University of Kentucky lose it because they were and it was something for the students too, because when you got a certificate from the community college, it said: The University of Kentucky Community College of Owensboro. And so that was a certificate from the University of Kentucky, now it's just a, "community college." And so, but, I think Bob Martin--oh, we'll get into the politics of it later. I did a bit of writing of something for you. O'HARA: Great. FORD: And, but one of the things that caused Bert Combs to do this was the University of Kentucky already had a community college, had three at the time: one at Northern, one at Ashland and one down in Henderson. And so, and maybe and maybe another location, I'm not sure. When Combs got the legislation for the system that he put under UK he could say to people, well, they already have it. O'HARA: Right. FORD: They had the system and they're working it. But beyond that, Combs wanted to be sure that community colleges had the resources and the UK had the ability to give them the resources, the professors, the background, but, you know, all those sort of things that you need to give a good education and help a community college to grow. So, that's basically it. You got another question? O'HARA: Yes. I wanted to make sure you didn't have any more right then. FORD: I don't think so. O'HARA: Okay. Governor Collins established a commission on the study of public higher education in 1960 to study the needs of higher education in Kentucky. With the guidance of out of state consultants and the research assistance of a legislative research commission, the governor's commission recommended that a super-board replace the current council on public higher education and that an independent board be established to govern a new system of community colleges. While the recommendation for a super board was adamantly rejected by the state's colleges and university, why did the recommendation for an independent community college receive little attention? FORD: Well, I think that the, the politics of it is that Adrian Dorn and Bob Martin got with the president at Murray and developed a song to get the community colleges to the regional universities and they did that just prior to Otis Singletary becoming president of the University of Kentucky. And that in my judgment was done in order to put Otis Singletary on the defensive, or trying to defend the University of Kentucky against the regionals and so, but as far as I can recall, nothing happened. UK kept it the way it was until Patton came along and took up the proposal of a single entity. O'HARA: Knowing as we know, what happened and how it happened, we need to consider why it happened. Did UK pursue the governance of the community colleges or did Governor Combs propose the idea himself? Whose idea was this? FORD: Combs had the ability to have a lot of input from various and sundry people. For instance, he might give three people the job to write him a speech, the same speech and so they would write, he'd get three speeches from three different people that he trusted about what he ought to say at a place. So that's kind of the way he moved on most points. He would get people that he thought could get him the best information, that had the best background and he would ask them to tell him what they thought. And I think Combs, from the beginning, as I said earlier, wanted to be sure that community colleges got off the ground because Eastern Kentucky was the place he wanted to put a lot of them, in his home territory, to help the education of the mountain people. He was very adamant about that. And so he wanted to be sure that they ran, that they were run well, that they were able to educate the people in the community that they were able to grow, all those things that are necessary. So, I think that the advice that he got from various and sundry people, and I can't tell you who he got the advice from, because I don't really know, if I knew I'd be---------- (??) but he, he was very much, he was very much concerned about Adron Doran and Bob Martin that they might tear it up. And he didn't want to go too far and Combs didn't want to say too much in an interview to Dick Wilson. I don't know whether you ever talked to Dick Wilson or not, but Dick, I've got a little information on that and not for publication both Combs to Dick Wilson. So you can have that-- O'HARA: Great. FORD: Not, whirl it around and we'll see how it comes out. O'HARA: Okay. FORD: But, I still think, I still go back to the point that he was emphatic about the reason. See, he was chairman of the Board at the University of Kentucky also and that was a post that was significant to UK because as long as the governor was on the board, it was the number one university in the state. Otis Singletary got very unhappy with me because I took all elected officials off all boards. I just felt like that we ought to appoint people, to make, we'd make the policy and they'd run the universities. And we had the commissioner of agriculture was on one, the superintendent of public construction at that time were on all regional boards, you know, and so governors on UK and I just took them all off and that removed the governor from the University of Kentucky and the reason they were unhappy about it because the governor being on that board gave it this, at least, symbolically it was the number one university in the state. Well, it's still the University in Kentucky and so that, that was, I think not something they needed to worry about. But that was another reason because Combs had graduated from there and he was close to the university and was chairman of the board at the time and I think everything, his reasoning, it was very hard to fault, at the time. Now, as things changed, the more they stayed the same, the more things changed, the more they stay the same, you know, but I think in this particular, with the new technology and everything, I think it probably is best that they separated 'cause it gives University of Kentucky opportunity to grow within itself, rather than expansion. And see, the university--what makes me unhappy is that Bowling Green or Murray or Eastern can just set up a community college anywhere they want to. They just call it an extension and then, so they have an extension of Western right here in Owensboro. You know the extension of Western at Glasgow but they're community colleges for all practical purposes. And so, I didn't think they kept the regional universities out of it, and so even though we have these entities, these regional universities can go out and call an extension, which is basically a community college. O'HARA: Did they create any extensions, extensions like you said, back in the early 1960s? FORD: No, I don't think so. I don't remember them doing that. As you say, we had, we had this--one of the reasons Owensboro was so late in getting a community college was the fact that the survey showed we could have too many community colleges and that we would be spending too much money per student that would come to the community college. They would have to slow down, let the community colleges get a firmer base and then Owensboro was the third largest college in the state when it opened its doors. Well, I guess Louisville was number one. But they--I forget who, Booz, Allen and Hamilton? That doesn't make any sense. Seems like the research people that took the survey and did the research for the community colleges told us to slow down. Their recommendation was that we slow down and because the community colleges were going very fast and Louie Nunn kept them going until he got Glasgow and Carrollton and which later were pulled back, you know. He pulled both of those back. O'HARA: So, Owensboro was in the same position with those two? When it was proposed, it was recommended that we just slow down and pull back and then it was built in the '80s? FORD: Yes. O'HARA: Okay, 'cause that was one of my questions I was going to ask you. FORD: Yeah, see-- O'HARA: --that's important. FORD: Yeah, 'cause if you were growing too large. It's just like a military. You can move too fast and your supply line's gone. And so what they were afraid of was that each community college was growing too much that each community would be fighting over more money, more money, more money and you wouldn't be able to have that and then you would have more interest in trying to get money for a community college than stability of the college and the education it was giving. You know, like Hopkinsville. The editor of the paper down in Hopkinsville said he would never have gotten his degree in journalism had it not been for the community colleges. So he went to community college at night while he worked in the daytime and then he hadn't saved enough and had two years of education which can be transferred to UK and he went up at got his degree in journalism and came back and finally made the editor of the New Era, I think, at Hopkinsville. You ought to ask him some time. O'HARA: Okay. FORD: If you want to, or just pick up the phone and, I can't think of his name but he'll tell you, if it hadn't been for the community college in Hopkinsville he'd never would have gotten his journalism, journalism, degree and he wouldn't have been editor of the paper. O'HARA: And those are the stories that speak volume. If someone's like, been pulled back, for academic quality, for the quality of the system--. FORD: You said it better than I did. O'HARA: No. No. (laughs) FORD: Academic quality. You're right. O'HARA: That they're conserving. FORD: You're absolutely right. O'HARA: By 1962 and you've, you've discussed this, briefly you mentioned it, by 1962 UK had already developed a system of, at the time they called them university extension systems but they were community colleges-- FORD: --community colleges. yeah-- O'HARA: --because they only offered the first two years, and in Covington, they even got it in as residence of credit versus off campus credit, which has a different value. FORD: Yeah. Yeah. O'HARA: (laughs) Did you anticipate the transformation of these branch campuses into community colleges. Like, how early did, was there discussion of transforming them? Was it early in the-- FORD: I don't know that they tried to transform the ones that already were in existence but the community college system under the University of Kentucky was something that a lot of folks put a great deal of effort into and had the feel that this is one of the things that we needed to do in order to raise educational level in Kentucky and most, most could get their high school diploma. Most could not go to the university. So, if you brought the university closer to the most, they would go and if that would stir up enough, they'd go on and get their other two years, if not they had their two years of higher education, they wouldn't have had any. And so it was just a plus all the way around, everybody thought at that time, including me, and Combs was the pusher. He was emphatic. He'd hit that fist is his hand and he would tell them, "This is the way it's gonna be." O'HARA: This is the way its gonna be. I alluded to this before in this interview, we've determined who decided what, Combs, how and why. But we have not yet considered when the decision was made and, because the timing is worth knowing about, would you explain to me, when the decision was made and the-- FORD: I don't remember. O'HARA: Don't remember? FORD: I wish I could tell you. The only thing I know, Combs could have made up his mind what he wanted to do months before. O'HARA: That's what I was curious about. FORD: He was a feller I said he was hard to play poker with because he never smiled when he was thinking and he had those pearly blues he could just look at you but everything right here was going all the time. And he, he, he would keep a saying in his wallet for weeks or months until he got at the right spot with the person he had it for till he could pull that joke on them, you know. (O'Hara laughs). And so, what I'm saying is, that he may have had this for a long, long time and probably did because, you know, he graduated, I guess from high school at twelve or thirteen and he's in college and graduated before he was eighteen or something like that. He got his law degree at University of Kentucky, took shorthand, did all these, he just, he was amazing. And you couldn't read the papers on his desk, like some reporters could, because you had, he had his long hand and his own long hand. He'd get ready to get up and make a speech it was all in long hand. O'HARA: Wow. FORD: So, he was an interesting fellow. That's where I got my political savvy and what you can do to state government. It was, he was a real educator but, I wish I could tell you when he, when he, that was his goal and it could be his goal and he could see it and he'd work at it and then all of a sudden it would appear you know, and bam, he'd let you have it. O'HARA: That's the way, I noticed when I looked at archives was that we had this commission report and it came out and then bam, within two months, the commission report came out in November 2nd, 1962, no 1961, and then by January he had his plan all laid out in immense detailing. FORD: Well, of course that happens with the legislator and he had to cause we didn't have that extra session then where we go, every year we have a short session now and so then we just had a session every two years unless you call as special session so now we have a session every year. The long session which is the first one on the constitution and then the one, they added which is the short one and so he didn't have that. So he had to do it. You had to have your budget by a certain time, it was, I went through that. My, my term as governor was the same, but, I mean, the procedure was the same. I called a special session to change the different redistricting of the 1970 census, we were 3 percent off and the courts rejected it and federal government filed suit against the state of Kentucky and I hired Combs who I'd just defeated. I hired him to represent us and he gave the court a letter that we call special session and get it right if they would, and so the court delayed the trial until such time as the governor could call the legislature to session and review these things. It was tough to get it done and, but, Combs, Combs and I worked it out. He's, he's, I still go back, he's an amazing fellow. O'HARA: That's great. I talked to Dee Huddleston, Senator D. Huddleston. FORD: Walter D. O'HARA: Yeah. Yes. And we had a very good conversation and he mentioned that back in 1962, of course, he was not in the legislature at that time, as you weren't either, but-- FORD: We both ran in '64. O'HARA: Together correct? FORD: Sixty-five. We both ran in '65. We ran in '65. O'HARA: Sixty-five. And so, I was discussing with him--he was for a local initiative in Elizabethtown to get a four year college established there and he told me a story about going up to meet with Governor Combs and yourself and do you remember that encounter when you, he had mentioned you coming out to let them know if they were going to get a college that basically, that yes and no they're going to get a college. That yes, they're going to get a college but it's not going to be a four-year college. I was just wondering if you remember any occurrences talking to some of the local, like Elizabethtown or-- FORD: Well, there was, well, we'll go back to Louie Nunn promised a community college at Madisonville if the fellow voted for the sales tax, that was in there and that, I didn't know about it, but I did hear it 'cause the rumors were all around. That's the way Madisonville got their community college and I think I would have done the same thing if I, if it had been my, you get a community college if you vote yes, but-- O'HARA: Do you remember the representative or senator down there that-- FORD: Yeah, I remember him, Bill-- O'HARA: I was wondering if it was ----------(??)-- FORD: No, no, no, no, this was, I can't think of it--. O'HARA: That's okay. FORD: But a lot of community colleges it's just like Glasgow and Carrollton, they were, we were just moving too fast and Glasgow had the extension of Western and didn't need a community college and Carrollton didn't have enough students, in my judgment. But Northern Kentucky, that, that, that was the fastest growing community college at the time, in the state, percentage wise. The fastest growing institution of higher learning in the state and it had Chase Law School, finally came over there and its now absorbed into Northern Kentucky. O'HARA: They're the only college that went from two-year to four-year status so they had some remarkable growth. FORD: Yeah, they, and, but Paducah has one now, that's virtual. O'HARA: Yes. FORD: That's a four-year, the engineering part of it. I'm not sure that you ought to have all those community colleges as four years. That would be another argument, another decision-making. You know. Do you want all these universities around? Then you take the money away from UK and U of L and Murray and you might find them being opposed to four- year colleges and the community colleges. O'HARA: That brings up an interesting issue. Some states, at the same time that Kentucky was developing a community college system in the 1960s, other states had developed four-year branch extension systems, instead of community colleges. For example, Indiana, and I often wondered why Kentucky chose, you know, even with their extension centers, to keep them at two years. FORD: Well, I think that one of the things we, we have two four-year colleges here, then we'd have three, then we go to Madisonville and we have a four year college and go to Henderson and we have a four-year college. The Paducah area is big enough but yet, they would draw from Murray and be less expensive, probably than Murray, but, and so they could draw the Paducah crowd and they would come up to Murray they probably wouldn't come, they would stay in Paducah and so you probably reduce it. It, it got to be a, it's a very tough question. My judgment is that you can find, most universities now will take the hours and the credits from community colleges, particularly in Kentucky and you can go to community college out here for practically nothing compared to what Brescia and Western charge you. They charge you, you know, pretty heavy, and but they still, they got so much help, financial help, that they can get a long alright. Where you don't have any money, they have to figure some way to get you books and tuition and a little eating change and then a job somewhere at Red Lobster. (O'Hara laughs). But it was, no it would be, we'd have too many higher, too many four-year colleges so, two years, there was a lot, if you wanted to go and get a four-year education, there were plenty of opportunities in this state. If we'd get a budget. O'HARA: The decision to place a community college system under the state's flagship and land-grant university was considered unique across the nation. How did Kentucky's development of public two-year colleges compare to the expansion of community colleges in other states? FORD: I couldn't tell you. It's been so long see. I mean that's been forty years, forty-five and I'm just lucky that I can remember lots of it. But we, the community college system that was being developed by the legislation and after Combs left, was recognized around the country as one of the better ones I think, at least on paper. And KERA, who is one of the things that really in the nineties that Kentucky did that was recognized around the country and how did you do it. Really. It was amazing what happened and that goes back to Combs who filed suit and got the courts to say that our system was obsolete, we had to build another one. O'HARA: Wow. FORD: You didn't know that? O'HARA: I didn't know that. FORD: That was Bert Combs. Bert Combs, filed that suit and Robert Stevens, the judge, the courthouse named after him in Lexington. He was the judge that was chief judge that made the ruling. So it's, Combs, (O'Hara laughs) he played a vital part. I hate to see him drown. Oh, it was awful. Course its stubbornness on his part. They told him not to go, the water was up. He went anyhow. But, we just couldn't have, we could not afford then or now. When I left as Governor, we had $300 million dollars unspent in the treasury. Think about that. $300 million dollars unspent and everything paid for. Forty percent increase to higher education. Then and now, well, that was then. 40 percent increase then was 40 percent increase. You know. And so, seventeen million and we funded education and at a level that they asked for, which was unusual and then put seventeen million that we had in surplus into education, elementary and secondary. But, its, we can't, we can't afford it today. And we couldn't afford it, I don't think we could afford it then even though we were, we, I was too conservative maybe, cause we had a lot of things we needed to do but then we would have been tied into costs, and it's like the federal government, you know. You put up one, they put up four and the next year you put up two and they put up three, first think you know you've got all five of the dollars, after five years you got five dollars. O'HARA: Yeah. FORD: That's kind of what you had back then. You can't afford to do that. That's wrong, to, to cripple the state. O'HARA: Um hm. Put them in a bind. You mentioned the regionals back at the beginning of our discussion. FORD: Yes, ma'am. O'HARA: I want to return to that just briefly. Documentation leading up to the decision to create the community colleges is very informative and a historian can reconstruct how the issue was emerging, but the records are blank when it comes to explaining how the issue was resolved with the regional colleges. Was there a compromise made, or--in the early 1960s was there anything that Combs compromised on and gave to the regionals because they did not get the community colleges? FORD: I don't think so. Course, Bob Martin was appointed president of Eastern at the time , he was right in there. Adron Doran was getting some additional money for Morehead and we were the two that were really the culprits in trying to stop the community colleges under University of Kentucky, as I told you earlier. But Otis Singletary was coming in to put him on the defensive. At least that's in my political judgment and so, I don't think so. I don't think so. It was, Combs, when he put on the 3 percent sales tax everybody was mad at him, which added taxes you know. But when you start seeing schools go, buildings go up, and that sort of thing, you stand out there and put your hand on it, you know, it was, they changed their mind about it, about Combs from that point. It worked out fine. Course it's the easiest, now, Louie Nunn came right behind him and put on the two cents and never won another race. So-- O'HARA: But in the case with Combs and the sales tax, the veterans bonus that he attached some additional money to, was that considered a, something that was unique to Combs, to, to always think of education so he built in enough money to have the surplus to fund-- FORD: I don't know whether it was always Bert Combs, but he had ideas- -now, the veterans thing, I don't know whose idea it was his primarily and didn't pay very much but there were veterans were carrying them to the polls in the stretchers to vote for it, you know, so they'd get it and nobody thought that was gonna work, but it did. And so, it just like the flower clock. Everybody thought that would be silly spending the states money for that flower clock up there. It's been nothing but a tourist attraction, you know, and garden clubs, and everybody, get the money out of it and buy ponies for all this and used to buy a pony every once and a while for an orphanage, you know and that sort of thing-- O'HARA: Oh, how nice. FORD: Money was thrown in the pool. (laughs) O'HARA: Oh, wow. Things aren't always what people think they're gonna be. FORD: Things are not always what they seem. O'HARA: Um-hm. Critics have attacked the UK Community College System since its conception. What were the benefits and drawbacks of having one governing structure for this state's land grant and flagship institution and the community college system? FORD: Well, the public plus is what I said all along, is that you have a source that will keep those community colleges strong and professors, if you need somebody to go down and teach, you can send one of them down, somebody down there to teach. If you need material, you send some down, if you need somebody to oversee, you have the university to do that and only the critics, were the regionals, who felt like they were left out. And they were not. They had their extensions, they could do that, and they still do that today. Just like you said Indiana has their extensions, well, these regionals can do that today and so, I, it was just, they felt like, well, it was just like UK when they went to a separate system. They thought they could use the University of Kentucky and Dr. Charles Wethington was opposed to it because it was taking something away from the university and so I think it's, most of it was personal ego. I don't think it was anything, course we had some surveys that would say back early that it ought not be. Well one survey was that we slow down. We're going too fast. So we did. There's no question about that. We did. 'Cause that was, you and I both could see that without hiring somebody to come in to take a survey but it's always good to have somebody back you up. O'HARA: Do you think that's the reason why Combs created the commission on the study of public education? FORD: Sure. Sure. And one of the things that the council did earlier before he created the council, the one that was replaced, they just would send budgets over there and they just put a stamp on it and send it to the legislature. They never would scrutinize it. When I became governor I sent all of them back. It was a fiasco. They hadn't had anybody do 'em that way before. 'Cause you know, I just sent the budgets back. Scrutinize it, look at it, tell us something. You know. Just don't put a stamp on it, send it over there and let us do it. We don't need you. O'HARA: Right. FORD: You know. And that's when Combs found: that you really didn't need 'em. And so he replaced them, then when he started with the replacement after a while they just put that stamp on and sent it up here to you, you know. It didn't work. O'HARA: You're talking about the replacement of the council on public higher education in the mid 1960s? FORD: Um-hm. O'HARA: When they revamped it a bit? FORD: Yep. O'HARA: And took the voting authority away from the presidents. FORD: Um-hm. O'HARA: And brought in laypersons to try to give it-- FORD: Give it some more stability. O'HARA: Bring stability. Yeah. Something occurred to me the other day when I was talking to someone else. Do you think the enrollments at the regional institutions in the early 1960s, do you think they could have even, they had so much going on, there was such an increase in enrollment and yet their physical facilities were busting at the seams, from what I gathered. I wondered if they could even handle community colleges being attached to them, with all the other stuff they had going on. FORD: I'm not sure they could either but you have to remember that when they started a community college in Louisville, Western lost about 1200-1500 students. They had their big huge tower down there and every president tried to build a building that was taller than the others in the region. This was about twenty-six floors up and they weren't full and they turned the lights on in the top floors to make people think there were students in it. Seriously, I'm telling you the truth. And so yeah, they, they had a hard time and they had to force their students, freshmen, out there at Murray and sophomores to stay in the dorms so they could pay off their bond issues and so they, they were, and that's Combs that got 'em started because of the sales tax and, expansion, the push education and all that, he got 'em really started on building and that sort of thing and they tried to build too much. And it's just like a fellow that, boy that's good and he ate too much and it makes him sick. So we had to slow up. O'HARA: That's interesting. FORD: It is. It is. O'HARA: Are there any questions I have not asked that you wish I had? FORD: I don't know. I doubt it. But, (pause) well, let me give you that. O'HARA: Thank you, sir. FORD: Just a little something I put together, you can do whatever you want to with it. O'HARA: Thank you very much. Thank you very much for your time Governor Ford. FORD: You haven't done very much. I thought you was going to stay a couple of hours. I'm tickled to death that you're getting ready to leave. (laughs) O'HARA: Are you sure, 'cause I could stay a couple of hours. (both laugh) FORD: No, no. O'HARA: I, I covered the questions I had and you covered a lot of them, you know, too, in your discussions and you gave me the kind of answers I was looking for as far as, knowing who was behind this, confirming that it was Combs and confirming, sort of, if you want to paint a picture of how politics worked in the early 1960s in the governor's office, that might help me out, or in higher education, just to kind of figure out how that all worked. 'Cause I've been told that it is different than it is now. FORD: Well, you look at that little sheet there and it'll talk about Bob Martin and how he got to be president. I don't have to write you a outline of why he was president. That started early. Cause he became commissioner of finance and then you got how everything worked out in two years and then as Combs appointment and per him taking that job he was to become president of Eastern because the president was leaving. And so that was a political deal or political agreement and sometimes they call a deal a deal but it was an agreement and both of them kept it. But Bob put some money into Eastern a little more than they would have gotten normally so when he went to Eastern they had money. And Adron Doran, who was an old time president of, the governor just appointed. You see he was in the legislature and he appointed Adron Doran and neither one of them were fixtures up there for a long time, at Morehead, he and his wife and children. He even got a horse, a saddle horse, and he'd go around and show it at fairs to promote Morehead he said, so he, he wanted to ride a horse (O'Hara laughs). So he got a horse and he'd ride it around to promote Morehead. Everybody said, well, that's just fine, get him another one. (O'Hara laughs). So, they was pretty smart and people were pretty dumb listening to him. There was, there was less money, contracts, etcetera, back in those days than there are now. Contracts for highways, buildings, things without the bids. O'HARA: I just thought of, I was reading Governor Breathitt's transcripts in the last several days and in one area he's talking about the creation of the community colleges and he mentions Ed Pritchard. What was Ed Pritchard's role in the Combs administration and how much do you think he was involved in, in this, advising Governor Combs on the community colleges? FORD: Ed Pritchard had just, hadn't been out of the prison too long and a lot of people were, you know, just looking down their nose at him and Combs knew how smart Ed Pritchard was and he and Ed were friends and became much better friends. And Combs talked with Ed a great deal and tried to help him financially and that sort of thing because he felt sorry for him and, but, Ed Pritchard, the Pritchard Commission, you know which they finally named after him, was all education and I think, I don't know how much of Ed's suggestions that Combs took, but I do know that he discussed higher education, a lot of legal aspects of a lot of things with Ed Pritchard during the years that he was in the governor's office. I was there with him. So, Ed had some influence. Just how much, I cannot tell you. I couldn't be in the man's mind. I didn't know all the times that they met and talked about things. As I told you earlier on, Combs was a fellow that would get three people to write the same speech for the same time, you know and put 'em together and they'd bring 'em back and give it to him, tell him about it and he would have a speech from three people. If they're all basically the same he might give it, but if they're all three different, you know, well he could take pieces out of it and put it in a speech himself. You know he, Combs had a way of going about getting things done that was very good. Not only was he smart himself but he was smart enough to get smart people to help him. Ed Pritchard was, now how much I don't know, but Ed was, when Louie Nunn became governor they fired several merit system employees and that's of course illegal. You had to fire them for cause and they just let 'em go and Ed, everybody that got fired, went to Ed Pritchard and they gave him a $100 and put their names on a class action suit. And when I became governor why, they were just about ----------(??). They had us. And it cost us millions. That's one thing they don't remember about Louie Nunn. They talked about, he was a city engineer for years in Owensboro and he was one of the last to be given the governor's certificate authorizing him that he, without education that he had the ability. It was, there was a lot of that going on. O'HARA: Well, that's fascinating because, I mean, after so many years of experience in a trade, you certainly-- O'HARA: Well, they, they gave you, well you teach out at the tech schools, you know, and eighth graders teach electricity, electrical work, things like that, auto mechanics. So, they've had experience, been working for forty years, you know, repairing cars. They know more about the cars than the fellow who built it. O'HARA: Right. FORD: So, you have to have rules. O'HARA: Well, Governor Ford-- FORD: All right, young lady-- O'HARA: thank you very much for you time. FORD: Can you find your way out? O'HARA: I sure can. I appreciate your time and thank you very much. FORD: The snakes are caged so you won't have to worry about them. (O'Hara laughs) O'HARA: Thank you. [End of interview.] Former U.S. Senator Wendell Ford served as chief administrative assistant to Kentucky Governor Bert Combs in the early 1960s. In this interview, Ford remembers that Combs produced a detailed plan to establish a statewide community college system before the state legislature only two months after an appointed commission recommended it be done. Ford speculates on the factors which led the governor to take this initiative, describes the process through which it was achieved, and comments on the results. insert here