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2006-10-17 Interview with James C. Shires, October 17, 2006 CC001:2006OH186CC02 00:51:48 History of Kentucky's Community Colleges Oral History Project Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries Maysville Community and Technical College James C. Shires; interviewee John Klee; interviewer 2006OH186_CC02_Shires 1:|15(4)|26(1)|37(11)|56(1)|72(8)|87(1)|98(14)|117(4)|132(7)|146(2)|158(12)|178(11)|191(11)|204(10)|220(3)|235(6)|250(2)|261(8)|278(10)|293(12)|322(1)|335(4)|359(7)|380(5)|389(7)|415(12)|442(8)|456(12)|475(11)|489(4)|504(7)|519(1)|535(4)|545(11)|558(6)|581(5)|599(14)|614(5)|625(2)|635(3)|657(5)|672(10)|690(4)|701(8)|724(6)|736(2)|763(7)|774(5)|788(5)|799(1)|816(6) audiotrans CommuColl interview KLEE: The following is an unrehearsed interview with Dr. James C. Shires for the University of Kentucky Libraries' Oral History Project on the Community Colleges. The interview is being conducted on October 17th, 2006, and we're on the campus of Maysville Community College. Thank you, Dr. Shires, for talking to me. SHIRES: Nice to be with you John. KLEE: I wanted to start just talking about your personal background. Tell me a little about your -- where you're from and your education. SHIRES: Well, I grew up in West Virginia and got my baccalaureate degree and my master's degree at West Virginia University, and went on from there to work at Marshall University in Huntington, West Virginia. And from there, I went to the University of Virginia where I completed my doctorate in higher education administration and counselor education. And while at the University of Virginia completing my dissertation, I was fortunate to get a job with the U.S. Office of Education -- HEW in those days -- which had a regional office in Charlottesville, Virginia, where the university is, so I could work on my dissertation and work full-time also. And during that period of time, I -- which was three years that I was with them, we had responsibility for grants and loans to colleges and universities to build buildings in seven states, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. And after my first year of getting acclimated (laughter -- Shires) and getting a little experience, I had primary responsibility for working with the colleges and universities in Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and in West Virginia, Kentucky, and Virginia. And so I spent most of my time on the road with colleges and universities in those states, and came to know the organizations and state organizations under which colleges and universities operated, some of them, very well in those states. Became very familiar with Kentucky, and after about three years with the federal government, they decided to move our regional office to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. I didn't really want to move to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, (laughter -- Shires) and so I looked around and ended up going to Western Kentucky University, with whom I had worked a good bit, as the assistant dean of the graduate school and associate professor in the college of education. KLEE: What years are we talking about here, when you were working with the Department of Education -- well, it would be Health, Education & Welfare at the time, I guess, HEW? SHIRES: It was from '66 to '69. KLEE: And in your academic preparation and as you were working for this organization, what was your knowledge of community colleges? What was your -- and your impression? SHIRES: Early on, in graduate school, my knowledge of community colleges, which were really just beginning to grow at that time in the mid '60s, it was pretty much academic. It was based on discussions in class and those kind of things. And then of course, after I got with the federal government, I got to know community colleges intimately (laughter -- Shires), shall we say, and that's when the real growth was happening, in those years from, like, '66 to '69, not just in Kentucky, but nationally. KLEE: And your role with that federal organization, I guess, was right in the middle of that? SHIRES: It was. KLEE: Did you have an overwhelming number of applications? Was the government putting a lot of money into these? SHIRES: The government had a lot of money. It was the big influx of money into education, higher education in particular, in the Johnson years and the Great Society, you know, all of that. And yes, we had a lot of money for grants and loans to build buildings. And as I say, as a result of that, I worked closely, mainly with those people who were planning the facilities and who were financing the facilities, so I worked with presidents, vice presidents, architects, folks like that. KLEE: Do you remember -- particularly with Kentucky, do you remember any of the sites or individuals? SHIRES: I did -- during those years when the colleges in Kentucky were really being built, I worked with the Community College System with the University of Kentucky very closely, got to know the folks there very well. And yes, I worked on projects, including the one here at (laughter -- Shires) Maysville Community College, to build the facility here and a whole bunch of others. I remember Elizabethtown, Hazard, Hopkinsville, Henderson. Most of the community colleges in Kentucky were building at that time. Some had been in place as extension centers or branches of the University of Kentucky, and they were becoming community colleges during those same years. The legislation to actually put in place the Community College System was in 1962. And that was the period of time (laughter -- Shires) when I was right in the middle of it, both from the U.S. Office of Education perspective, and then as I say, when I decided to leave the government and get back into college and universities, I looked a lot of places. I really liked the University of Kentucky. I liked what they were planning to do with the community colleges. As I say, I'd worked on the projects very closely. And so I had talked with the University of Kentucky about a position. I had talked with Western about a position. And it just so happened at the time, Western had a good position for me. And so I went there and enjoyed being at Western for two years, at the same time staying in touch with UK, because they had said to me that, you know, "We're happy you're going to be in Kentucky, we don't have a job for you right now, but if -- you know, work -- you worked with the community colleges closely, you helped build the buildings, would you be interested in a community college position sometime in the future?" And I -- so I told them certainly I would. KLEE: I want to stay on that little time period a little bit longer. How was the -- how were they actually doing the financing? Was the government just giving direct -- I'm talking about the national government now. Were they giving direct grants to UK? Were they running it through the state? SHIRES: They came to UK, yeah, and to the other institutions. They didn't really go through a state agency as such. They went directly to -- in the case of the Community College System, they went directly to the University, but earmarked for the particular colleges. I mean, the project for Maysville Community college, for example, was assisted by the University of Kentucky, of course, as the colleges were under the administration of the University, but it was earmarked for Maysville Community College, the project was done for Maysville Community College. We did have some review by the folks in Lexington at the University in planning and design, of course, that kind of thing. But they -- the money was earmarked, and it came directly to the colleges through the University. KLEE: Through the University, right. You mentioned that you worked with the System people then? Who was at the System at that point? SHIRES: Again, the System had just gotten up and running, really. Dr. Ellis Hartford was the first -- I guess in those days his title might have been -- I'm not sure it was vice president at that time. I think it was (laughter -- Shires) not quite vice president at that time, and it wasn't director -- maybe assistant vice president. But anyway, Dr. Hartford was the first head of the Community College System. And I knew him and had worked with him on projects, but by the time I was interested in coming to Kentucky and getting involved in the community colleges in a more direct way, Dr. Stanley Wall had become the assistant vice president, had taken over from Dr. Hartford. And so my first work with the community colleges was through and with Dr. Wall. KLEE: When you were working out of Virginia and you had some standard, kind of to review by, when you looked at the West Virginia example, for example, and the Kentucky example, could you see pluses and minuses the way the different states were approaching this? SHIRES: Oh, yeah. In the states with whom I worked, Kentucky was the only state that had the community colleges under the administration of the state university. In the others, Virginia, for example, they had a community college system set up separate from the universities. West Virginia had kind of (laughter -- Shires) what I might call a hybrid situation. And I came close to going back to West Virginia, my home state. As a matter of fact, the governor at the time called me in and said, "Look, you've worked with our colleges and universities, you are a West Virginian, we are in the process of designing some type of community college system. Would you be interested in coming here and heading up that system if we get it going? And work in my office, first of all, the governor's office, to plan this system?" Certainly, I was interested, and I think I probably would have done that because it was -- I would have been, you know, right up front in designing a system for West Virginia. And I had done a paper for them expressing my philosophy and my view of what I thought should be -- would work in West Virginia, in terms of community colleges. And I won't go into any more detail about it. But anyway I was very interested, but when it came down to the nitty-gritty, the governor had the money to set up this position to start the study, and something else came along that he thought he'd better use that money for. And so he called me one day and said, "Shires, I'm sorry. We're going to have to put on the back burner our plans to design a community college system, and therefore, you know, there's no job right now. Blah, blah, blah, blah." KLEE: Who was that? What was the governor at that time? SHIRES: Oh (laughter -- Shires) that was Moore, Governor [Arch] Moore. KLEE: Okay. What was the prevailing philosophy at that time, as -- this was kind of a brand new movement around the country. SHIRES: Oh, yeah, yeah. KLEE: And what were people thinking? And you were right there as this was taking place. SHIRES: I'd say in most cases states were setting up separate community college systems or districts. A lot of them, especially in the Midwest, set up community college districts, and the district was the primary entity, rather than a state governing body. They may have had a state board for community colleges. But Illinois is one that comes to mind, because I've worked with them a lot, even after getting out of government. But that was sort of the prevailing philosophy in a number of states, was to set up separate governing districts under a state board of some kind. Some put their community colleges under individual universities. West Virginia's plan that the governor espoused at that time was a similar plan, where they would put community colleges under separate universities. West Virginia University would have one or two community colleges, Marshall would have one or two, the other state -- other colleges and universities would be the same way. In my opinion, I didn't think that was a good plan. But anyway, the way the colleges were administered in Kentucky was a different animal. As I recall, at that time Hawaii had a similar arrangement, Alaska had a similar arrangement, and if I'm not mistaken, Kentucky was the only state in the contiguous forty-eight where the community colleges were under one university. KLEE: Did you get wind or have any knowledge of what was going on in the state that moved it in that direction? Was it the state officials, the UK people? Do you remember -- either at that point or after the fact, did you learn who had really put that together in that fashion? SHIRES: Oh, I think it was certainly a combination of the University and the political strength in the state. And I think that the politicians and those who had to come up with the money for community colleges saw this as a better vehicle and maybe a money-saving way to set up a community college system, because we shared the auspices and the services of the University that were already there. We didn't have to reinvent (laughter -- Shires) everything for each college or for a separate system, as you now have today, of course. KLEE: Right. SHIRES: And there were some very good and cogent and -- I felt -- very basic reasons for setting up a community college system under a university. My long-range view was well, maybe one of these days these colleges would split off some way from the University, but when they were first developed that way and during the years in which I worked in the system, 25 years, sure, we had some differences of opinion about things with the University and with our colleges, but all in all, I would still say that was the best arrangement in Kentucky, to establish a community college system under the University of Kentucky. KLEE: Well, at that time I don't -- I'm not -- U of L, I don't even believe, was in our state system, so there wasn't any rival to UK, so to speak, as far as its status. SHIRES: No. And when I came in the System in 1969, and the years that I worked with it up until that time, I didn't see or hear any strong opposition, politically or otherwise, to a community college system established under the University of Kentucky. Some of the regional universities had off-campus sites and -- that weren't, of course, full-fledged community colleges. But they were teaching classes in other locations, and in some cases, maybe called what they had a center, which was fine. I saw no conflict between that and the Community College System. But as I say, I didn't observe or hear strong conflict or disagreements with the University of Kentucky being the administrative entity for the Community College System. KLEE: That was the administrative philosophy of the community colleges in this state. What about the -- what was the philosophy towards students? Why were they wanting to put a community college in Maysville or Henderson, as opposed to just letting things go the way they had? SHIRES: Well, as I recall, the legislation that set up the Community College System and provided for the colleges, one of which was Maysville, said that one of the reasons behind the legislation and the effort to have community colleges around the state was to have access to higher education within fifty miles of everybody in the state. And that was one of the determinants of where the colleges were located, and it wasn't to just provide a place for students to go so they could later transfer to the University of Kentucky. Of course, that happened, and I think it was a strength, by in large. But the basic reason, the philosophical reason, educational reason was to put higher education within the reach of everybody in Kentucky within a fifty-mile radius, so people could drive in and out and commute, so we didn't need residence halls. But that was the basic underlying philosophy for where the colleges were located. KLEE: Take you back to -- you went to Western as an associate dean? SHIRES: Assistant dean of the graduate school. KLEE: And instructor. And then what happened that lured you to the community colleges? SHIRES: Well, as I say, UK had said to me, you know, "Fine. We're glad to see you're going to Western. If something comes along, would you be interested?" And so I was with Western only two years until I was contacted. And there were three colleges looking for -- in those days we were called directors -- were looking for directors. That was Jefferson in Louisville and Hazard and Maysville. And at the same (laughter -- Shires) period of time, before I had gotten a contact from UK about the openings, I had met Dr. Wethington from Maysville at Western. He came for a conference, and mutual friends introduced us, and so we became friends. And a couple of people who worked at Western, one of whom, Tom Updike, was from Maysville, and others who had familiarity with Maysville (laughter -- Shires). Another person, who is our current speaker of the house, Jody Richards, he knew Maysville. And a good friend of his, Jack Keith, was here on the faculty. And Jack had gotten in touch with Jody and said they were looking for a director, because Dr. Wethington was going to the System Office at UK. And so Jody had mentioned my name also. (Laughter -- Shires) Well, all these things happened at the same time. KLEE: Right. SHIRES: So I was interested in coming into the Community College System at that level, as a director or a chief academic and executive officer. So in the discussions with the System and discussions with all my friends, I came to Maysville, really liked it, liked the people, and ended up coming to Maysville. KLEE: Now, there wasn't an intermediary step between Western and the directorship here? SHIRES: No. KLEE: You went straight from Western and came here? And that was -- SHIRES: In '71. KLEE: '71, 1971. SHIRES: Yeah. I was at Western '69 to '71. KLEE: I see. Did they have an official search? SHIRES: Oh, yeah, yeah. The search committee -- actually, the people at the Community College System, it wasn't exactly a committee. It was Dr. Wall and a couple of people in the System. Dr. Wethington was one, of course, but there was a local search committee of faculty, staff, students, and the advisory board. KLEE: Do you remember some of those individuals? SHIRES: Oh, yeah, yeah. Of course, Jean Calvert was one, Mrs. Jean Calvert. Jack Keith was on it, representing faculty. Let's see. Who were the other board members? I guess Bill Wallin from Brooksville. KLEE: Was Mr. Orme a member at that time? SHIRES: No, he wasn't a member at that time. Dr. Harry Denham was not a member of the advisory board at that time, but he sat in with the committee. Let's see. Who else was on the advisory board at that time? Oh, it may come to me later, (laughter -- Shires) but the primary ones were -- well, Bill Wallin from Brooksville and Mrs. Calvert from here. KLEE: Right. SHIRES: Let's see. Frank Jones from Maysville was on that. KLEE: Okay. SHIRES: But anyway, there was a search committee here made up of those people. KLEE: And you had been to Maysville, I guess, in reference to the building project. Did you have to come here? SHIRES: No, I hadn't. I had reviewed all the plans. KLEE: I see. Just did that from -- SHIRES: Talked with architects, talked with Dr. Wethington at the time, with Dr. Wall, of course, and folks at UK in planning and design, but I had not actually visited the campus until I came to be interviewed for the position. KLEE: Tell me your initial impressions of the community and the college. SHIRES: Oh, very positive. I really liked the community, the historical background of the community, the educational background of the community, the quality of the schools, public schools, St. Pat, all of those. You know, it just seemed to be a very good fit. And the college was, of course, very smaller (laughter -- Shires). Two hundred and some students. It was just three years old when I came, and had only been in the facility two years. And so I saw it as a good opportunity, a relatively small town, a small college, to learn a little more about administration and to get into the process, and I really liked the idea of the college in a place like this. KLEE: Your family situation at that time? SHIRES: Just a wife, and my daughter, Sarah, was two years old when we came here. KLEE: And this seemed like a good spot for them? SHIRES: Oh, yeah. You betcha. Good family place (laughter -- Shires). KLEE: Talk to me about some of those early community leaders and what you see as their importance and role. For example, Dr. Harry Denham, what was -- why was -- what was his role? SHIRES: Well, as a former -- I think he'd been on the board of trustees at the University of Kentucky, as a matter of fact, but had a close tie with the University, had been a sports star there, and of course was a well-known physician and had supported the University in many ways. And again in some ways, he was sort of a representative of the UK Board of Trustees in Maysville and with our college. And he stayed very close to the college and was very helpful in many ways. If we needed anything, he was always willing to go to bat. And course, his brother, the other Dr. Denham, had -- was speaker of the house at one time and was instrumental in the legislature getting the Community College System established and getting Maysville secured as one of the spots for it. KLEE: Did you -- Maysville was one of the smaller communities in the state to have a community college. SHIRES: The smallest. KLEE: The smallest. SHIRES: Right. KLEE: Did you have -- when you met with other presidents and so forth, I mean, did you hear anything about Maysville's size or the fact that, you know, there are other communities in the state that didn't get a community college that might have liked to have one? SHIRES: Oh, there might have been some -- you know, a little background talk about that once in a while, but never any overt criticism that, why was a college put in Maysville. I never heard that sort of thing. KLEE: I see. Uh-huh. SHIRES: And during my tenure in the college and in the System, in most cases people would consider Maysville one of the primary places to be in the Community College System because of the community, the support from the community, the fact that it was not densely populated. And closeness to UK was another advantage. So Maysville was always (laughter -- Shires) looked upon -- and I was looked upon too, as being pretty lucky to be in Maysville. KLEE: Right. SHIRES: Oh, yeah. KLEE: So Dr. Harry Denham, then, was kind of an unofficial contact with the University of Kentucky? SHIRES: Right. And Dr. Mitch Denham. KLEE: Dr. Mitch Denham was in the state legislature? SHIRES: Exactly. KLEE: And did you have to have -- in those early years, I don't remember exactly what years his term were. I know there was some overlap. He was in the legislature in your early tenure here. Were there times that you had to talk to him about funding or -- SHIRES: Oh, yeah. I would talk to him to make sure he understood our needs and our needs as related to the Community College System and UK needs. We talked about those things quite often when time for consideration of the state budgets came along. And again, he was always -- we were first. Maysville was his first consideration, and then he would do his best to help us in any way he could. Oh, yeah, he was one of the primary reasons the college got here in the first place and one of our biggest supporters and help through my years here. KLEE: Now T. Frank Jones was -- I didn't know him very well, but what was his importance to the college? SHIRES: Well, Mr. Jones was the vice president at Browning Manufacturing, and traveled extensively, and had a lot of friends in Kentucky and around the world, really. But he was a very strong supporter of the college and was another one who was always there to help us and -- politically and otherwise. And again, was one of the prime movers in making sure this college got here and that it prospered while it was here. KLEE: Did he have some fundraising function also? Was he -- SHIRES: Oh, yeah, yeah. He worked with our Licking Valley College Development Corporation, which was the non-profit organization that raised money for the college and had raised money to buy the land on which the college sits. That was one of the requirements. For a community college to be here, the local community had to furnish the land for the location of a college. And so they raised a lot of money here and bought this nice property of 120 acres and gave it to the University of Kentucky for the community college. KLEE: And I assume they told you these things when you came, that we were here for the college. SHIRES: Oh, yeah. You bet. KLEE: And were there any special -- in those early years, were there any special occasions or needs that you had to go back to these people and say we needed A, B, or C? SHIRES: (Laughter -- Shires) Oh, yeah, yeah. Many times. And I don't remember all the specific projects, but anytime we needed something for a program, nursing program, for example. When we started our electronics program, we went to the community for help with program needs. We went to them for help with things like a vehicle or anything that we needed that we couldn't put our hands on through our regular funding through the University. If we had a special need -- and we did it in conjunction with the University. We didn't just go out on our own and say, "Well let's buy us a new vehicle," or, "Let's start up a program." It was all worked together with the University. But, oh yeah, many times we went to the community for help, and they never failed to help us. KLEE: One -- Mrs. Calvert was the board chairman? SHIRES: For twenty-five years (laughter -- Shires). Right. And she was a good one, too. Maysville Community College to Mrs. Calvert was her number-one priority in terms of community development. Of course, you worked with her closely and wrote a couple of books with her, so you know her as well (laughter -- Shires) as I knew her. But Maysville Community College was her top priority. And she was always there, regardless of what the question was or the problem was or occasions for celebrations or anything at all, she was always here and was always available to help us. KLEE: The community institutions, the local newspapers, the local schools, did they accept the college pretty openly? What was their attitude? SHIRES: Oh, yes, yeah. And we always had a lot of support from our local paper, The Ledger Independent. From the radio station, of course. Mr. James Finch at that time was a great supporter of the college, and so was his radio station. And other community agencies, the schools you mentioned, yeah, we worked closely with the schools, did a lot of things for them and helped them in many ways, and they in turn worked with us very closely in helping students from the schools come to Maysville Community College. KLEE: Someone told me that someone -- a new faculty member or a new administrator coming to the college was in those early years front-page news. SHIRES: Oh, yeah. (Laughter -- Shires) Very much front-page news. It sure was. Oh, yeah. The college got a lot of attention, and rightly it should have. And in the early years and ensuing years, in my opinion, the growth of Maysville economically and the developmental growth here in large measure was due to the fact that there was Maysville Community College here. It wasn't just my opinion, but those who helped to bring in business and industry said the very same thing. So the college meant a great deal to the community, to the people in the community, educationally and economically. KLEE: There were -- there are different constituencies in all these communities, and they all wanted different things, I assume, from the college. Can you discuss that a little bit? I know that some members of the community maybe -- what did the different members of the community want from the college? SHIRES: Oh, let's see. Well, say, one segment of the community saw the college strongly as the University of Kentucky in Maysville. I mean, there were a lot of people who, you know, we were the University of Kentucky in Maysville. And they wanted us to act that way, you know, academically and otherwise. And we valued that view and those people. Then there were those who saw us more as the -- maybe a crossroads, a jumping-off place, so people could come here, get a start, then go somewhere else, either to another college or university, or to a job. Others in the industry and business, for example, saw us maybe more as a training institution for their existing employees and for people that they would need in the future, for future employees. Others saw us as a cultural base, you know, for music and art and literature, and all of those things. And saw our library as a wonderful source -- and it was at that time -- for cultural learning in the community. So, yeah, there were different areas of the community. And of course, some people were across the board, like Mrs. Calvert (laughter -- Shires), you know. She valued every part of the college. But yeah, there were different views of the college, depending on a person's orientation. KLEE: And was there anyone in particular that, you know, was -- I don't want to say insistent, but kind of a constant voice to you saying we need to do more industry training or we need to do more cultural things? SHIRES: Oh, we had some of those. Oh, yes, yes. And I would -- I'd mention T. Frank Jones. He was one of those. He valued our relationship with the University, but his orientation was from the world of industry and the world of business. And yeah, he was one that I could think of very quickly, and in a positive way. I mean, you know, he would recommend and ask us about, why don't you do this, why don't you do that for business, for industry, and so on. Or, here's an idea, maybe you ought to try this. And yeah, he was one of those from that viewpoint. KLEE: I see. SHIRES: And of course, there were others who saw us, you know, as a cultural center and wanted us to develop more and more music opportunities, art opportunities, theatrical opportunities, all of those kinds of things. KLEE: I want to mention another name. SHIRES: And they weren't necessarily opposed to one another. KLEE: I understand, sure. Yeah, yeah. SHIRES: I mean, (laughter -- Shires) they had more interest in those, and others had more interests in other aspects. KLEE: Sure, right. And you had limited personnel and limited resources and had to -- how did you handle all of that? (Laughter -- Shires) Just -- SHIRES: Well, tried to do as much as we could in all of those areas with what we had and never to try to squash an idea. You know, we might have -- and many times I would think, well this is a good idea, but looking at the other priorities and how much we have to stretch what we have, it's not going to be very soon that we could do this sort of thing, we'll have to work on it over a period of time. And usually I would say that to them. You know, well, I like the idea, yes, we'd like to do this, but look here, I can show you our budget, this is what we have, and to do this right or to add this or to further develop this aspect, it will take us a while. But I guess from my own viewpoint, I always tried to be positive with whatever idea came across and with whatever segment of the community wanted something further developed. I worked with them and would be honest with them, but also never to just say, no, we're not going to do that. KLEE: Uh-huh. There was the beginning, I think, of an academic shift -- a shift in priorities, perhaps. And I'm thinking about the transfer versus technical area there. Can you talk about that in those early years? SHIRES: Yeah. When I came in 1971, the orientation here at Maysville -- because, again, it was a new college -- was pretty much the transfer orientation. As I recall off-hand, we had about 70 percent of our students, maybe 75 percent, in transfer programs, primarily to the University of Kentucky, but Morehead was another popular spot and one close by. Some to Eastern. Northern was still a community college at that time. So our primary transfer orientation was UK and Morehead. And again, 75 percent of our students were what we called transfer students. They were following a program so they could transfer somewhere else. And it stayed that way for a number of years. And I guess late '70s or early '80s -- it had begun to change maybe a little bit before that with more interest in technical -- so-called technical programs to allow people to get enough training and education in two years to go on into the world of work. Our first what could be called a technical program was the associate degree in nursing program, which got started just a couple of years after I came. But yes, the orientation began to change in late '70s toward more technical programs and more students in technical programs. And slowly the percentage of students in the different mix of programs did change, to the point when I left seven years ago when I retired, we were probably exactly the opposite. About 30 percent of our students, 25 or 30 percent, were what we called transfer students, and the other 70 percent were in technical programs. And that was the big change over the years. KLEE: That nursing program posed -- did it pose special challenges to create and maintain, and also, I guess, had benefits. Can you talk about that some? SHIRES: Oh, yes. We had to raise locally all the money to fund the nursing program for its first year. KLEE: Oh, I didn't realize that. Uh-huh. SHIRES: The University was interested and wanted to help establish a nursing program here. They were -- there were two or three colleges about the same time they felt like could be successful with associate degree nursing programs, and ours was one of them. But the community, again, they raised the money, funded the program for the first year. And after that, little by little -- and local money went into it after the first year, but little by little the University took over the total funding of the program. And let's see. I guess our first graduates from that program must have been about '73 or '74. KLEE: That's what I'm thinking, '74. I'm not sure. SHIRES: Yeah, maybe '74. KLEE: You mentioned or we discussed T. Frank Jones as one of those people that was -- had a lot of community contacts, I guess. Were there any other individuals, either on our -- or on your development board or in the community, that you could go to and say -- I mean, they were kind of the keys? SHIRES: Well, the Browning family ,of course. KLEE: Okay. SHIRES: Louis Browning in particular, but other Brownings. His brother, Bob, and Bob's wife, Percy, was a very interested person. She served on our board. And Larry Browning and his wife, Ginny. Ginny also served on our boards. And they were -- along with the Van Meter family, they were very strong supporters of the college, financially and otherwise. And they were one of the backbones, so to speak, of community support and financial support for the college in my whole tenure here. KLEE: Those were people you could turn to. SHIRES: Could turn to them, and they were the kind of folks, too, who, you know, they would help you and wouldn't feel the need to tell you what to do (laughter -- Shires). No, they were great people and still are. The Browning family, in total, were great -- and are great supporters of Maysville Community College. KLEE: Yeah. What about in those early years, the Maysville Community College, UK Community College System Offices, and the University of Kentucky, talk about how that worked and what that relationship was like and maybe some of the people. SHIRES: Yeah. Well, we -- that is, at the colleges, we weren't restricted to work only with the Community College System. I mean, if I had a question or a problem that some other office at the University had responsibility for or I felt could help, we could go directly to the office of student financial aid or planning and design or anybody else. We might send a communication for information, like to the Community College System Central Office, but we were never restricted in to whom we could go or when we could do it, to find answers or help for the college, whatever it was. Same way academically. You know, in the very beginning the academic programs had to be approved by the University of Kentucky, not just the university system. And you know, all the courses that were taught had to be approved, I guess through the University Senate, as I recall. But anyway, that changed. The University didn't have to get into -- the broader University didn't have to get into what we were teaching. KLEE: That was pretty early in your tenure, that change started taking place? SHIRES: Oh, yeah, yeah. After the first year or two, that began to change. KLEE: So the community college could begin to offer their own separate courses and -- SHIRES: Yeah. And we established a Community College System Senate and Council and all of that, made up of faculty and staff and administrators to review and approve courses, course changes, new programs, and all of that. So that all of that took place within the Community College System, then. KLEE: What kinds of things did you not have to do locally because you were a System and part of the -- SHIRES: Well, one big area was politics per se. We didn't have to go directly to the legislature to request money, to request approval of projects, building projects or otherwise. Those were handled through the University. The University had people, and the Community College System always had a spokesperson or two who could work directly with the legislature and with the state offices, the governor and others, for example. And we didn't have to go out and beat the bushes politically (laughter -- Shires). Now, we would get into the political process from time to time, but again, on a local level. If I had needed support for something in the legislature, for example, I would get in touch with our local representative and our local state senator and work with them. That's as far as I had to go as administrator at Maysville Community College. And so that was something that we didn't have to do, because it was done through the System and through the University overall. KLEE: The advisory board that we -- that each college had, was not really a governing board. SHIRES: No. KLEE: Explain their role and how that worked. SHIRES: They didn't have approval authority. [End Side 1, Tape 1] [Begin Side 2, Tape 1] KLEE: This is side two of a tape with Dr. James C. Shires at Maysville Community College. The interviewer's John Klee. And we're talking about advisory boards, and we're going to finish up here in the next ten minutes or so. What -- you were explaining how the advisory board worked at the community colleges. SHIRES: We met with our advisory board once a month and reviewed with them our plans, asked for their advice, discussed our budget, discussed -- when budget-making time was coming up with them -- what we were asking for in terms of new funding and new programs and whatever. And then we listened to the advisory board about things they felt we should be doing at the college in the community and so on. I always found it a very good relationship. We always had fine people on the board, interested people, and it was a good relationship. And advisory board members stayed in touch with the Community College System, and the System with them. We would have folks from the System here to meet with the board and talk with them. And then our board members, as I say, many of whom had close ties to the University, they stayed in touch in Lexington also. So we had a very good working relationship, even though they didn't have an approval authority over things that we were doing. But if they had in general a strong feeling about something or "why are you doing this," "why don't you do more of this," we listened to them and tried to develop things around their advice. You betcha. KLEE: We'll -- next time we talk, I'll come back to this topic, but I want you to address, maybe, a little bit how the college has fit into the community, what the community was like before the college came, how it's changed, and maybe if the college had any role in that. SHIRES: Well, when I first came, again, we were small, we didn't have very many faculty, we didn't have very many students, but we were looked at as (laughter -- Shires) -- maybe kind of a beacon on the hill, so to speak. We had gathering places. We had a relatively small auditorium, but it was one of the best things in the community, which is now the Crockett Auditorium. So it -- our facilities and our services were used from the very beginning by the community, not just by the students who came here, and we were glad to provide that. And we worked closely then with, oh, for example, the arts council. We worked with them, so they could use our facilities and our service, and we could help them with productions, with bringing cultural events to the community. We did all that kind of thing. And early on we became a place where business and industry could use for meetings, for training programs, for things like that. Very close working relationship with all aspects of the community, both people using what we had here, and our faculty and staff going out to help other people, help the public schools, do things with them, St. Patrick, help community groups of all kinds. It was a very close-knit (laughter -- Shires) community college and community, because we were small, the community was small, we knew everybody, everybody knew us. KLEE: You -- there wasn't a sense of separation, that they're the college and we're -- you know -- SHIRES: No, no, no. There was always a very close relationship. And you know, just because of growth in the community and growth in the college, over the years, that ameliorated or that stretched out, maybe, is a better way to put it, that just as a natural occurrence, I think we got farther from the closeness that we had in the early years because of those reasons. KLEE: Sure. SHIRES: And we were the only act in town for a lot of things for a long time. KLEE: Right, right. SHIRES: Up until the '80s, and I'd say, maybe, our first ten years, I mean, we were pretty much the center. There wasn't anything else here. You had the schools with a gym and an auditorium and that sort of thing, but we had the other -- we had the people, faculty and staff, and we had a location. And you know, again, we were the -- you know, the -- sort of the bright light on the top of the hill, you betcha. And that changed through the years, again, just because of growth. KLEE: Well, I appreciate you talking to me, and I'm going to catch you again later. SHIRES: Oh, I look forward to it, John. Thank you, yeah. Oral history with Dr. James Shires, president of Maysville Community College from 1969 to 1999. Shires discusses his educational background in West Virginia and work history with the Federal Department of Health, Education, and Welfare before he came to Maysville. Interview highlights include the history of the community college movement in the United States, the community college’s relationship with the University of Kentucky in the 1970s, the role of the college in relation to transfer and technical preparation, and the college’s impact on community development. insert here