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2006-11-03 Interview with Charles Derrickson, November 3, 2006 CC001:2006OH191CC07 00:53:27 History of Kentucky's Community Colleges Oral History Project Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries Lees Junior College Hazard Community and Technical College. Lees College Campus Charles Derrickson; interviewee John Klee; interviewer 2006OH191_CC07_Derrickson 1:|23(10)|46(8)|70(5)|104(3)|132(5)|171(8)|208(3)|242(9)|261(10)|284(3)|304(5)|340(10)|354(1)|366(9)|387(5)|399(11)|416(12)|449(14)|472(17)|499(11)|521(8)|547(14)|578(10)|603(8)|629(5)|657(9)|677(5)|701(4)|722(1)|752(8)|778(3)|804(4)|837(14)|876(5)|905(3)|938(7)|970(3)|997(3)|1019(2)|1035(7)|1067(7)|1092(12)|1117(4)|1150(3)|1178(7)|1219(10)|1269(4)|1307(1)|1347(7)|1375(1)|1408(4)|1449(4)|1498(7) audiotrans CommuColl interview KLEE: This lets me see if it's coming in. I'll check it every once in a while. The following is an unrehearsed interview by John Klee for the University of Kentucky Oral History Commission -- Oral History Department, and it's about the Community College System. I'm interviewing Dr. Charles Derrickson. We are in Morehead, Kentucky, at Dr. Derrickson's home. It's November 3rd, 2006. Dr. Derrickson, we could start, if you would, and just tell me a little bit about your personal history with Lees Junior College. DR. DERRICKSON: I started my college career with Lees College, which was a junior college at the time. KLEE: Uh-huh. DR. DERRICKSON: That was back in 1948. KLEE: Uh-huh. Now, were you from the area? DR. DERRICKSON: I was -- I'm from Jackson -- KLEE: Uh-huh. DR. DERRICKSON: -- or out in the county, Frozen Creek of Breathitt County. Went to Lees a year and a half. KLEE: Uh-huh. DR. DERRICKSON: Met and married Lena Noble From there we transferred to the University of Kentucky -- KLEE: Okay. DR. DERRICKSON: -- where I finished up my degree. KLEE: Before I leave Lees, tell me about Lees Junior College at that time. DR. DERRICKSON: Lees was, of course, a little Presbyterian college, a private college. Probably had an enrollment of 200-250 or something. KLEE: Uh-huh. DR. DERRICKSON: Very small, 300 at the most. And just taught some general required courses -- education courses, and had some pretty good teachers. A nice little place -- was for me, at least -- to start my college work. And I had some good teachers. I thought really a nice little college. KLEE: Any instructors stand out in your mind? DR. DERRICKSON: Well, yes. There's two or three. A fellow by the name of Casey Morton taught history and some of the courses in geography and so on. And then a fellow by the name of Frazier Adams, he and his wife both taught. She taught English, and he taught different things, mostly, I think, along the history line. And they were some of those people that were dedicated. KLEE: Uh-huh. Do you remember who the administrator was or the president at that time? DR. DERRICKSON: It was -- yes, he was -- well, I have to think a minute. Dr-- . KLEE: Well, if it comes to you, you can tell me here in a minute. DR. DERRICKSON: I'm -- that's my problem (laughter). KLEE: I'm the same way. DR. DERRICKSON: But he was very dedicated there. KLEE: Right. DR. DERRICKSON: And -- KLEE: Now, what role did the college play in the community? How important was the college to Jackson? DR. DERRICKSON: Well, at that point, I think primarily what the students brought in to Jack- -- you know, as their expenditures -- KLEE: Sure. DR. DERRICKSON: -- which is always important to a community. KLEE: Right. DR. DERRICKSON: Van Meter, Dr. Van Meter -- KLEE: Okay. DR. DERRICKSON: -- was KLEE: The president. DR. DERRICKSON: -- the president. And during World War II, they had closed there for a semester or two. But when I started back, he had picked it back up and was very good. I guess, you know, those little colleges were difficult to keep going. KLEE: Right. DR. DERRICKSON: Financially, it was rather difficult. And so he was doing very well, worked hard, and I suppose -- I don't know, but I suppose did it without a whole lot of fin- -- KLEE: Compensation. DR. DERRICKSON: Yeah. KLEE: Was -- did Lees, in your youth there, was it providing an opportunity that students might not have otherwise had? DR. DERRICKSON: I think -- in that -- it was the only institution there. When you -- at that time, see, you didn't have Hazard Community or any of those. KLEE: Right. DR. DERRICKSON: So you're going to the University of Kentucky. I think maybe about that time, though, there might have been that little college in Winchester. KLEE: Right, there was. Uh-huh, yeah. DR. DERRICKSON: And I suppose -- but you know, if we left Jackson, we had to go to UK. And of course, it was too far. You couldn't drive -- KLEE: (Laughter) No. DR. DERRICKSON: -- at that time. There's no way. And the roads were -- now you can zip in and out. But we have a lot of people in from Maysville, you know. KLEE: Yeah. DR. DERRICKSON: They come in and commute from long ways. But now back when I went to school, the roads were so -- KLEE: Yeah. DR. DERRICKSON: -- bad that you just couldn't do it. KLEE: It was impossible. Right. DR. DERRICKSON: But then -- KLEE: Go ahead. Tell me about -- follow up -- before I leave that time when you were at Lees, were you a residential student or you lived there in a town so you just commuted from your house. DR. DERRICKSON: I commuted. KLEE: Uh-huh. Were there a lot of residential students? DR. DERRICKSON: There were a few. KLEE: Uh-huh. DR. DERRICKSON: But I think it was so expensive they really couldn't afford it. But they had a few people and had one dorm with about three floors on it. KLEE: Okay. DR. DERRICKSON: And then I think mostly they were maybe female students. KLEE: Uh-huh. DR. DERRICKSON: I don't remember how many, but they had three or four buildings. They -- I know the library was in the dorm -- KLEE: Uh-huh. DR. DERRICKSON: -- and then the cafeteria. And just -- you know, it was you know one of those that you went, got what you could. But it was there; you just had to work at it. KLEE: Right. DR. DERRICKSON: And Lees, as I said, was a well-recognized little private college at the time. KLEE: Activities for students? You said you met your wife. I mean, did they have some activities? DR. DERRICKSON: They had some, limited. KLEE: Right. DR. DERRICKSON: Had things set up as a Christian institution -- KLEE: Okay. DR. DERRICKSON: -- which was required and you had to go to chapel. KLEE: I see. DR. DERRICKSON: You know, some of those kind of things and -- KLEE: Uh-huh. DR. DERRICKSON: And -- but limited on activities, very limited. KLEE: Any sports or dances, those kind of things? DR. DERRICKSON: They had -- I don't remember. They had -- then or later, they had basketball. KLEE: Uh-huh. DR. DERRICKSON: And very, very -- I think that's about the only -- KLEE: Yeah. DR. DERRICKSON: -- sport that they had, and it was very limited. KLEE: Sure. So you left Lees and went to UK. DR. DERRICKSON: Right. KLEE: Tell me what happened in your career, and we'll get back to how you got back to Lees and -- DR. DERRICKSON: Okay. I went to UK, finished my bachelor's degree. And then after going out for a year, came back to UK and started out in extension, because I had -- agricultural extension, because I had a major in agriculture. KLEE: Uh-huh. DR. DERRICKSON: So I went to different counties across the state as assistant county agent, and then came back -- graduated in '51, came back in '56, did my master's. KLEE: At UK again. DR. DERRICKSON: At UK. KLEE: Uh-huh. DR. DERRICKSON: Then from there, back out in extension, and then was brought into the university campus to go to Quicksand. I went to the Quicksand Substation, Robinson Agricultural Experiment Substation, as they called it. And I stayed there from '56, I guess, until '60. And I left and started my graduate work at Michigan State. KLEE: I see. DR. DERRICKSON: Stayed up there about a year and then came back, and then returned and finished that in '6- -- came here at Morehead in '65, so I was at UK about 12 years. KLEE: I see. So you came to Morehead in 1965. DR. DERRICKSON: '65, uh-huh. KLEE: In that time at UK, did you hear any inkling or have any contact with community colleges? What did you know about community colleges? DR. DERRICKSON: Oh, some. You know, at one point the universities -- regional universities wanted to take the community colleges in. KLEE: Yes, sir. DR. DERRICKSON: And -- but still had contact, and I continued with Lees College as being on some of the boards there. KLEE: Uh-huh. DR. DERRICKSON: So even though I didn't graduate, I went back -- KLEE: Right. DR. DERRICKSON: -- and had a -- you know, a warm spot for Lees because of the opportunity that it offered for people in the region. KLEE: Sure. Why did they choose you? Was -- I know, of course, you went to school there, and you were from Jackson. I mean, had people taken notice of your academic career, your professional career? DR. DERRICKSON: I think they knew I was here at Morehead. At one point I was I was approached to see if I wanted to come to Lees to teach and be administrator of some nature, and I was too involved here. I thought I didn't want to. I didn't know I was going to later. KLEE: Right. DR. DERRICKSON: But I stayed here. And Lees keep going along, and I knew . . . with my involvement, I knew Lees had a hard time of keeping things moving along without -- because without a good endowment -- KLEE: Uh-huh. DR. DERRICKSON: -- anyplace. So I could see Lees having some financial problems along the way. KLEE: Are there any names of individuals in that time period of the '60s and '70s, or even into the '80s, of people that kept contact with you and, you know, particularly pulled you in to utilize your, you know, advice and so forth? DR. DERRICKSON: Yeah, I think -- they had a fellow there that was president for several years, and I think -- I don't remember -- two or three people between he and Van Meter. KLEE: Yes. DR. DERRICKSON: What's his name? KLEE: Well, it will come. DR. DERRICKSON: Left just before the -- KLEE: The closing? DR. DERRICKSON: Yeah, just before -- I guess they brought the fellow in that left before I got there. KLEE: Uh-huh DR. DERRICKSON: I'll think of it. KLEE: Well, it will come to you again, like the Van Meter, uh-huh. DR. DERRICKSON: Yeah, it'll come. MRS. DERRICKSON: Van Meter? DR. DERRICKSON: No, the one that was there for a long time after Van Meter. KLEE: Well -- DR. DERRICKSON: I think she has a better memory than I do. MRS. DERRICKSON: I missed the first part. KLEE: Yeah, right. The -- tell me about those problems. When did they become more and more serious for Lees? DR. DERRICKSON: You know, I think, to give a little background, the private schools had always had a real problem, unless they did a lot of recruiting and going out fin- -- trying to get finances built up. And some of these institutions, fortunately, built up a good fund, as you know, Berea College -- KLEE: Right. DR. DERRICKSON: -- and any of those. And their endowments grew and grew. Well, Lees is in a small Eastern Kentucky community that can't support -- really can't support the institution by itself. It just wasn't -- financially the money wasn't there. So that meant you had to get out and do a lot of fundraising. It seemed to me that what happened with Lees, they did enough to keep Lees going without adding to the funds that they needed. And when you go to an institution like that, people don't mind as much to contribute for buildings or something, but for everyday expenses, the budget -- yearly budget, they're really not too interested in that. KLEE: Right. DR. DERRICKSON: And then another factor, I think, came into that too, which made it more difficult for the private schools, and that was when the state started pulling out and saying to the state-supported institutions, "We just don't have -- you're going to have to go out and collect -- you're going to have to ask for money for some of your operations as well. We're going to support you as much as we can." And then when those institutions started, then that was competition. KLEE: Pulled even more money away. DR. DERRICKSON: Oh, it made it much more competitive and made it more difficult. KLEE: Now, how -- I know you told me that as a student there, it was a Presbyterian-affiliated. Were they providing much support? DR. DERRICKSON: They may have been, back earlier. But in my contact and when I went back on the alumni committee -- KLEE: Yes, sir. DR. DERRICKSON: -- they were not supporting Lees very much. And at one point -- I don't know how -- when it was -- there was one point that it got down to so low that the Presbyterians had little influence on the decisions of Lees College. The board had it, because the Presbyterians were not giving any -- I think when I went up as president in '92, I believe they were giving, maybe, $50,000 or something like that, a very minimal -- KLEE: Sure. DR. DERRICKSON: -- amount. And so this -- by that time it just had become apparent that there wasn't sufficient money to run the place. There was a fellow before me, Dr. Bradshaw, that came in and I think wanted to do a lot of things and to build it up and do whatever was necessary, and thought if he spent the money he'd be okay. And it went -- at that point I -- when I went in, the board of regents had to -- or did take some money out of the endowment they had. KLEE: To try to make things -- DR. DERRICKSON: And you know -- and that made some unhappy people, plus then the president and the faculty had some problems. KLEE: I see. DR. DERRICKSON: I think there were eleven faculty members that had sued the president and Lees College. KLEE: I see. DR. DERRICKSON: So going into a situation like that and seeing the financial need, and then at the same time the accreditation people got letters, and so they were coming in. KLEE: Looking at it. DR. DERRICKSON: And so going in and trying to look at it from the standpoint of what can we do, where can we go, and is it possible to keep it operating as is. KLEE: Yes. DR. DERRICKSON: And we tried. We took four years to do that. And -- MRS. DERRICKSON: Eslinger. DR. DERRICKSON: Troy Eslinger. KLEE: So you said Troy Eslinger was somebody there for a long time. DR. DERRICKSON: Uh-huh. Yeah, he was the president. MRS. DERRICKSON: ----------(??) DR. DERRICKSON: Yeah. KLEE: Yeah. Followed by Bradshaw, then you came in in '92. DR. DERRICKSON: Yeah. Bradshaw was there just before. So -- KLEE: So you were pulled into the middle of a mess. DR. DERRICKSON: Very, very much. KLEE: When did the -- did -- I don't know which thing happened first, the accreditation -- of course, you had the -- when you came in, the conflict between the faculty and Dr. Bradshaw had already presented -- was already in place, and there were already financial problems. DR. DERRICKSON: Financial straits, uh-huh. KLEE: And that's when the accrediting agency -- I guess the Southern Association -- DR. DERRICKSON: And the Southern Association had already come at us and thing -- you know, look at your financial. They were more concerned, I think -- or at least from what I could see -- they were more concerned about the financial situation. KLEE: Right. DR. DERRICKSON: The faculty -- even though the faculty were in a situation where they had sued, we corrected that part of it. KLEE: Right. DR. DERRICKSON: When they realized that we were there to try to help do the thing. In most cases -- I think we had to pay off a couple or something like two or three, but in most cases they said, "Let's go and do." But like I said, the problem you have -- and especially a two-year college; a four-year would have probably a little bit easier to have gotten funds. KLEE: Yes DR. DERRICKSON: It was really difficult when you go to people and talk about funds, that they would ask you, "Well, is it going to continue?" Or, "Are you going to have to close it?" Or -- KLEE: Right. DR. DERRICKSON: "Are these funds going down the crawdad hole?" KLEE: Sure. DR. DERRICKSON: Or those kinds of things. In looking at the overall situation, I just said to the board, "You -- we can't operate. You know, we're keeping our heads above water, but how long that will be, I don't know." KLEE: Right. DR. DERRICKSON: And we got a lot of support out of the local people. KLEE: Yeah, I wanted to ask about that. Who were some of the people on your board that were -- that you thought were, you know, important in this transition? And who were some of the community people that stood up? DR. DERRICKSON: Well, you had J. Phil Smith. First National Bank was the -- had been behind Lees for many, many years. KLEE: I see. DR. DERRICKSON: And he supported it with his assistance and his financial efforts. And then a fellow by the name of John Raymond Turner, locally, with the Citizens Bank. I don't think they had ever contributed, but he jumped in and helped. KLEE: What was his last name? John Raymond -- DR. DERRICKSON: Turner. KLEE: Turner. Okay. DR. DERRICKSON: And then you -- just a lot of people with smaller amounts were there that helped out. You know, somebody would come along with $10,000, $15,000, $20,000. And then Hinkle was on the board at one time from over at Paris, Hinkle Construction. KLEE: Okay. DR. DERRICKSON: And Hinkle was very helpful. KLEE: Well, I didn't ask you this question, but I should have. At that point in your career, had you already retired from Morehead? DR. DERRICKSON: No, I had been here 28 years at Morehead, and the president of the board called and talked with me. And I didn't think I wanted to, but they -- KLEE: Do you remember who that was, the president of the board? DR. DERRICKSON: Phil Smith. KLEE: Phil Smith, okay. DR. DERRICKSON: And so we agreed to go. My wife wasn't very happy about it either. KLEE: (Laughter) Uh-huh. DR. DERRICKSON: So she agreed to go for a year, and we, of course, stayed four years. But we got there and talked, and you know, it was sort of like, oh, you can go home on the weekend. KLEE: Sure. (Laughter) DR. DERRICKSON: But she remembers that very well. KLEE: Uh-huh. DR. DERRICKSON: But the weekends didn't turn out that way. KLEE: Right. It was too busy to get away. DR. DERRICKSON: No, it was full-time. KLEE: Sure. DR. DERRICKSON: You couldn't do all -- and then I had a real problem of going to people realizing that we're -- you know, I don't think we can make the thing go. And I said this to the board. I don't think -- but you had to have enough to operate, so you just had to go and ask people. KLEE: Right, sure. DR. DERRICKSON: And so I met with the board and said to them, "This has to change." KLEE: Uh-huh. DR. DERRICKSON: "I don't believe, under the circumstances, the situation we presently have, I don't think we have time, and then the competition of competing with the public institutions now, and the funding and the drives they're going to make and they're making them." KLEE: Right, DR. DERRICKSON: "So I think we need to look at something else." KLEE: Of course, the Community College System was in existence too. Was that providing another kind of competition, as far as for students? DR. DERRICKSON: Yeah. At that time, you know, you had Hazard. And Hazard was coming in -- Hazard Community College was coming into Jackson, teaching classes. KLEE: Classes. DR. DERRICKSON: Not, you know, on large numbers, but they were teaching some classes. So -- but we went from -- I think in a short time, we went from about 400 students up to 650. KLEE: Okay. DR. DERRICKSON: And the student number wasn't a problem. KLEE: Under your leadership, you're talking about. So it was just those recurring funds. DR. DERRICKSON: It's just -- that's right, the funding. Then realizing that it's not going to continue, you just can't do it with the enrollment we have and with the situation we're tied in with here, with accreditation looking over your shoulder and seeing where the funding's coming from. KLEE: Right. DR. DERRICKSON: And are you paying back or have you paid back the money that was taken out of the endowment? KLEE: Yes, sir. DR. DERRICKSON: And so I just said to them, you know, "Something's got to be done." So they gave me permission at that point to go seek whatever we might do. KLEE: Solution. DR. DERRICKSON: And I came to Morehead, went to UK. KLEE: Uh-huh. DR. DERRICKSON: Pikeville came, and they were interested in maybe going together. KLEE: So you talked to all three institutions trying to get a collaboration. DR. DERRICKSON: Well, that's right. We -- and so -- KLEE: Who did -- do you remember who you talked to here at Morehead? DR. DERRICKSON: Dr. Eaglin. KLEE: Okay. DR. DERRICKSON: And Dr. Charlie Wethington at UK. KLEE: Right. DR. DERRICKSON: So they both seemed interested, and it wasn't very long until it appeared Eaglin wasn't interested -- or he wasn't -- didn't seem to want to go the way that it would take to get there, whatever. KLEE: Now, you went there in '92. DR. DERRICKSON: Uh-huh. KLEE: At what point did you start reaching out to these other -- DR. DERRICKSON: Probably somewhere late '94, '95, I would guess. Mostly -- yeah, probably -- we had a -- after we looked at this, some people were still interested in trying to keep it as a -- KLEE: Sure. Independent. DR. DERRICKSON: -- private school. Some of the faculty and other people. So I called a meeting in Lexington and asked some people who might be able to afford or assist in funding. And we didn't get the response. And so this was, I believe, early in '95, like February or March. KLEE: Okay. DR. DERRICKSON: And I had talked then with Dr. Wethington, I believe. And so I went back to him, and he said he was interested, he would go along. And then I took the chairman of the board and the president. KLEE: Now who -- was that Mr. Smith still? DR. DERRICKSON: Smith and a fellow in Lexington, took a couple of them. And we went in, and I said to them, "Now, we're getting -- Dr. Wethington and I are getting close to -- he's agreed, and I'm ready to recommend to the board we put this in the college -- in the Community College System." KLEE: Uh-huh. What -- let me back you up just a little bit. What were -- I guess you called Dr. Wethington early on. And how did those early discussions go? I mean, did you just -- I mean -- DR. DERRICKSON: I don't know whether we need to get into this, but -- KLEE: (Laughter) That's part of the history. DR. DERRICKSON: You know, Wethington had just been talking to a little school down at London -- KLEE: Uh-huh. DR. DERRICKSON: -- and had almost had it. And then the ladies on the board said, "It's not going to happen." You remember that? KLEE: Yeah, I think I do, yes. DR. DERRICKSON: Well, when I went to him and started talking to him -- of course, I knew him when he was over at the community college at Maysville. So I went, and he said, "Now, Charlie, I'm interested, but not interested into getting into another situation that we had at Sue Bennett." KLEE: Sue Bennett, right, in London. DR. DERRICKSON: Uh-huh, Sue Bennett. And I said, "No, if you want -- need, I've got a letter that says I have the board's approval to move into what direction I think that Lees has to take or needs to take." KLEE: Right. DR. DERRICKSON: So once we got past that, it was fine. And I assured him that, you know, if we start this, we'll go with it. KLEE: Uh-huh. And he didn't seem to have any qualms from his end that, you know, the System was able and willing to -- DR. DERRICKSON: The only thing he said was, "We will have to take it through Hazard Community College." KLEE: Right. DR. DERRICKSON: We can do that, but we can't put you out as a community college itself. That would have to be approved above their board. KLEE: Right. DR. DERRICKSON: So that -- and we said, "Fine." KLEE: And of course, part of that was legislative too. I think the legislature actually designated those spots. So he said that, you know -- DR. DERRICKSON: But if we would go and be a part of the Hazard Community College -- KLEE: Right. DR. DERRICKSON: -- we'll move right on. KLEE: So what did you have to offer the System? I mean, obviously -- DR. DERRICKSON: The -- we -- what we did was a 10-year -- and I'll give you something on that -- we went into an agreement over a period of 10 years, and at some point if UK wanted to back out, they could do that. KLEE: I see. DR. DERRICKSON: Or if Lees' board wanted to -- and that's in this -- they could do as well. But when they when the decision time came up, we would sign over the -- Lees' board would sign over to the University the land, the buildings, the facilities that they had there. KLEE: Uh-huh. DR. DERRICKSON: And that's what happened. KLEE: Were there any financial problems that needed to be cleared up? Was there enough in your endowment to pay all your outstanding debts or -- DR. DERRICKSON: We -- along with -- I think there was -- the boys' dorm had a loan or something that we had to go on, and there was an agreement to how that would be paid -- KLEE: I see. DR. DERRICKSON: -- and everything. And the endowment is still giving -- what little endowment we had. KLEE: Oh, there's still an existing endowment providing scholarships, I guess. DR. DERRICKSON: Uh-huh. KLEE: I see. I guess Wethington -- Dr. Wethington had the UK lawyers working from their end, and you all had somebody locally. DR. DERRICKSON: Yeah. We had -- Dr. Wethington had two of the attorneys from the law school. KLEE: I see. DR. DERRICKSON: We would write a proposal, "This is what we want." KLEE: Uh-huh. DR. DERRICKSON: Then we'd give it to them, and they would do what they wanted to and send it back to us, and back and forth. And eventually came to an agreement that this is the way it needs to be done. KLEE: And of course, the community and the faculty were catching wind of this, and you were in another mess too, I guess. DR. DERRICKSON: Well, they -- KLEE: There was fear. What -- explain that. What was going on there? DR. DERRICKSON: Well, I kept before -- until I took the chairman of the board and president in, I just talked to Charlie and said nothing. We didn't have any such agreements to keep it, but there was -- nothing was there until we -- so the best thing to do was keep it ---------- (??), clean, and quiet. KLEE: Right. DR. DERRICKSON: And so when we really got into a serious situation, I called the faculty and staff together. KLEE: Uh-huh. DR. DERRICKSON: And just said, "We are in a situation that's going to require us to do something else, and we're talking to the University of Kentucky." KLEE: Right. DR. DERRICKSON: And then of course, it did spread from there (laughter). But I think they had enough confidence -- they didn't like it. KLEE: Right. DR. DERRICKSON: They were concerned about it. KLEE: Sure. DR. DERRICKSON: But I think they had enough confidence in us doing the job that we were doing to realize that it's going to be much better to remain here, even if it changes. And I had some of them to say, "I hate to see it go from a private to a public institution." KLEE: Yeah. DR. DERRICKSON: And I answered that, you know, "I don't think there's -- you know, it's better to go and stay as a public institution, as to go out without anything and close the doors. I didn't come up here to close the doors. I came to help do something else." KLEE: Right. DR. DERRICKSON: So they agreed. And after a period of time -- and I've talked to some of them there -- they're happy about it. It's worked out well. KLEE: A lot of faculty were aware that, you know, it could close, I guess. DR. DERRICKSON: Yes, they were, and then were concerned that it would. KLEE: Was there a problem with, like, salary differentials? I mean, were Lees people making more than Hazard people or vice versa or -- DR. DERRICKSON: No, I think it's the other way. KLEE: I see. (Laughter) DR. DERRICKSON: Yeah, Lees people were teaching at a rather low salary. KLEE: Right. DR. DERRICKSON: And then when it went into the System, they had to make some changes. And we'd tried to kick their salaries up before -- KLEE: I see. DR. DERRICKSON: -- as well, but they were still behind the Community College System. KLEE: And the System just brought them in at their salaries and maybe made differences later. DR. DERRICKSON: And then start- -- right. KLEE: Corrections. What about community reaction? DR. DERRICKSON: Community was so pleased. You know, I think all of them saw it as a sort of a double-edge sword. KLEE: Uh-huh. DR. DERRICKSON: It was a situation, you know, where if you don't do, then this is going to happen. KLEE: Right. DR. DERRICKSON: And when they realized that it's going to go into the Community College System, they could see different than the faculty could. KLEE: Uh-huh. DR. DERRICKSON: I think the community could see this now as -- difference -- you had some people in the community were very, very -- they just didn't want that done at all. KLEE: I see. DR. DERRICKSON: I had one fellow to walk in the office, and he was so mad at me over -- going through -- and we'd just -- it came out in the paper, and he knew we were talking about it. But he was so mad, he came in and told me what he wanted to say to me, and he didn't like it, and he'd been -- he'd taught there for years and he'd supported it, and he turned around and walked out. I didn't have a chance to -- KLEE: (Laughter) MRS. DERRICKSON: He was one of the best supporters ----------(??). DR. DERRICKSON: But he came back and -- KLEE: Sure. DR. DERRICKSON: But they could see students coming in with much lower -- KLEE: Tuition. DR. DERRICKSON: -- tuition -- KLEE: Uh-huh. DR. DERRICKSON: -- and fees. And they could see more students coming in, and they could see the support to build -- rather than to lose it. The community, I thought -- and then when they thought the thing through, they were very supportive. KLEE: Right. Maybe they -- did -- I mean, was there talk that there would be maybe new programs, expanded programs? DR. DERRICKSON: And we -- see, we were -- at the time, we had -- Morehead was teaching plus-two programs over there. KLEE: Uh-huh. Right. DR. DERRICKSON: And the University of Kentucky had some coming up and teaching wherever they were -- I'm not sure where they were from, maybe from Hazard. But they taught some. And they saw some of these -- we talked about starting a nursing program, and we did have a nursing program over there. But we talked about the plus-two program in nursing, and we had several programs, and they saw this thing building up. Of course, you have to understand, too, that that region has been pushing for a four-year program for many, many years. KLEE: I see. DR. DERRICKSON: Hazard just thinks they should have a four-year institution -- KLEE: Right. DR. DERRICKSON: -- because there's no more up there. KLEE: Yeah. There's nothing around. DR. DERRICKSON: Unh-unh. And so they're -- and I'm sure they're still -- Hazard people push for those kind of things. KLEE: Sure. DR. DERRICKSON: And it's interesting to see how dedicated they are when it comes to bringing things into Hazard. KLEE: Oh, yeah. I knew that they've been lobbying that and still do. DR. DERRICKSON: Still do. KLEE: Wanting to call it the University -- Appalachian University or Cumberlands or University of the Cumberlands or something. What about the UK label on this thing? Did that was that a factor? Or did that help the cause, that this was part of the University of Kentucky System? DR. DERRICKSON: At the time, it did. KLEE: Yes, sir. DR. DERRICKSON: At the time, it did. You had some people who were very supportive of the president, Dr. Charlie Wethington, so they -- that was -- at that time was very good. And those people that didn't like it and fought the time when it was -- KLEE: The changeover. DR. DERRICKSON: -- moved from -- uh-huh. KLEE: Right. DR. DERRICKSON: But I think now, they have accepted it and it's okay. KLEE: Sure. Part of the funding -- I saw in one of the things I found -- was there was going to be some money from the Robinson Forest. How did that come into play there? DR. DERRICKSON: This was part of what Wethington's plan was to fund this. KLEE: I see. DR. DERRICKSON: At that time, they had just started talking about mining and getting the royalty from the coal, and this money was going to come in, and he was going to put money in there to help fund the programs that we had. And without state support at the time, then he would run -- use some of that money to keep it going until they got it worked in the System. KLEE: So in other words, this was in the middle of a budget year, or whatever, and there was no extra money, and this is the way he found money. DR. DERRICKSON: That's the way he was going to find the money. KLEE: Did you -- you didn't hear anything from the UK end, that he had any opposition to this? Or was there any -- DR. DERRICKSON: Didn't hear. The two attorneys were very -- you know, worked very well. I heard -- he may have had on campus, but out and around where we were, didn't hear any. KLEE: Any reaction from the state press or the local press? Did they come out and say any thing about it? DR. DERRICKSON: The press came and were -- you know, they were asking questions, "What's happening?" And, "Why did you do this?" "Was it a double-edged sword kind of a thing?" And it was as. You know, people who would like to keep the system as it is, but it can't stay as it is. So we gotta go this way. No, the TV stations, they were there. But realizing what the situation was with Lees, there wasn't much they could say about it. KLEE: And the timing of this, as I understand, announcements were pretty much made in December of '95, and the transition was going to occur the next academic year. Was there an official ceremony or something that took place? DR. DERRICKSON: We had a little ceremony at Lees. KLEE: Okay. DR. DERRICKSON: You can see those two fellows there (laughter) signing the agreement, I think maybe on the next page. MRS. DERRICKSON: It was a big day on campus. KLEE: And that was Dr. Wethington and yourself that's pictured. DR. DERRICKSON: Right. And we had a -- a good group from the community -- KLEE: I see. DR. DERRICKSON: -- came out. But like I said, you know, they realized that Lees was probably going to close. KLEE: Yes. DR. DERRICKSON: So they were just happy that -- KLEE: And tell me about some of the reaction and some of the things that have happened the last ten years. ----------(??) from -- I mean, did enrollment stay up or -- DR. DERRICKSON: Enrollment has increased. I think they're probably up, facility-wise, about as many as they can enroll. KLEE: I see. DR. DERRICKSON: They're probably maxing out up there. KLEE: They've been able to maintain the facility and -- DR. DERRICKSON: They've been able to maintain the facility. They've improved the facility. They're making plans to build a building. We -- when we were there, I was thinking, you know, well, talk about expanding and talk about adding buildings and talk about doing things, if you're going to try to make this thing go. KLEE: Right. DR. DERRICKSON: So we talked about building a student center and a thing with an auditorium, working with the community. And we were trying to tie the community and the college together, which I think has happened and continues to. And I understand now that the Community College System is planning a building like we talked about. KLEE: Okay. A student center. DR. DERRICKSON: Student center. But that student center will have the food service in it. KLEE: Yes, sir. DR. DERRICKSON: It'll have a nice auditorium, and it's going to be really an up-to-date kind of thing. KLEE: Now, how is -- and I know that you've been away from there a decade now, but how does -- how was Lees campus of Hazard, the Lees College then, different really than the other community colleges. I understand there were still living facilities. DR. DERRICKSON: Well, it has a boys' dorm and a girls' dorm. KLEE: I see. Okay. DR. DERRICKSON: Now, I understand the -- to put some of the buildings on, that they might tear down the boys' dorm. KLEE: Okay. DR. DERRICKSON: Because there are fewer students. KLEE: Yes, sir. DR. DERRICKSON: Then they have some programs where they have brought students in to continue the residence in -- at the college, and so things have gone very well. You've got a -- they had a change of presidents at the community college. And Dr. Box, I believe, is his name. Seems to be showing quite a bit of interest in the campus. KLEE: In Lees. DR. DERRICKSON: Of Lees. KLEE: You mentioned the presidents of Hazard. You worked, I guess, with Dr. Hughes. DR. DERRICKSON: Hughes. KLEE: What was that -- how was he involved in the process? DR. DERRICKSON: Not a whole lot, until we were working on the proposal -- the agreement that we had. And the attorneys kept him updated pretty much. KLEE: I see. DR. DERRICKSON: And then, until I left -- and when I did, we just said, you know, "Here it is." KLEE: Right. DR. DERRICKSON: If he wanted or if I wanted something, why, we'd talk with each other. If we had some activities, always invited he and his wife. KLEE: Right. DR. DERRICKSON: And we had several activities while we were there to try to keep things going, the community involvement. KLEE: I see. Did -- in that -- after that transition or during that transition, did most of the faculty stay on? Were they able to keep most of the staff? DR. DERRICKSON: I think, yeah. As far as I'm concerned, I think all of them at that point stayed. KLEE: Right. DR. DERRICKSON: Now, some of them may have -- KLEE: Changes later. DR. DERRICKSON: There were some -- I know some changes were made later. But basically, they said to the faculty, "If you want to come in, you just come into the System. And this is -- and we're going to look at you as we have our ratings -- KLEE: Right. DR. DERRICKSON: -- and see where -- and this is the way we'll do." So they had already talked with the faculty. And I think everybody involved had an opportunity to be updated on what was going on, what was going to happen, and how the system was going to work. KLEE: I see. DR. DERRICKSON: And I believe -- we left up there in -- of course, in July. And I don't know of any one of them -- any of them that left at that time. MRS. DERRICKSON: I don't remember hearing of any. DR. DERRICKSON: Now, Loudermilk left later. KLEE: Uh-huh. MRS. DERRICKSON: That was later. He just wanted to advance farther than what -- DR. DERRICKSON: But the -- most of the faculty, I believe, hung right -- as I -- as I understand it -- and I've talked with them. I don't -- when I leave like that, like I left from here to go to Lees, I didn't come back and interfere with what was going on here. KLEE: Sure. DR. DERRICKSON: And the same way there. KLEE: (Laughter) DR. DERRICKSON: But a few times, I've talked to faculty, and some of them were teaching at Hazard and Jackson, and some of the people from Hazard. So they were going back -- and I think it's worked very well. KLEE: They've dovetailed in pretty well. DR. DERRICKSON: From my under- -- KLEE: When you went to Lees those first couple years, were most of your students the traditional-type students? Were they mostly right out of high school, 18 to 20? Or did you have a mix? DR. DERRICKSON: Some of both. A mix. KLEE: I see. DR. DERRICKSON: Especially in the nursing program. KLEE: Right. Now, you all had your own nursing program before it went into the System. DR. DERRICKSON: Right. Uh-huh KLEE: And that was probably one of your big programs. DR. DERRICKSON: Good-size program. And -- [End Side 1, Tape 1] [Begin Side 2, Tape 1] DR. DERRICKSON: -- but we found several of the students in the nursing program. And some of the others were nontraditional. KLEE: Uh-huh. DR. DERRICKSON: But I'd say the biggest part of them were -- KLEE: Yeah. KLEE: This is side 2 of a tape by John Klee for the University of Kentucky with Dr. Charles Derrickson. KLEE: You were -- we were talking about the programs there and the nursing program. Who did -- what local facilities did you all have to build relations with there for those programs? I mean, was there a local hospital where they did their training -- DR. DERRICKSON: Well, there's -- KLEE: -- and clinicals? DR. DERRICKSON: Well, there's one there, but we worked out of Hazard. KLEE: I see. Okay. DR. DERRICKSON: Went to Hazard, because we didn't have a large enough facility there to -- KLEE: Yeah. DR. DERRICKSON: Jackson's got a little hospital. KLEE: Right. DR. DERRICKSON: But we -- KLEE: Needed different kinds of training. DR. DERRICKSON: Experiences, uh-huh. KLEE: And how far -- I guess the roads are better than they were when you went to school there, but what kind of distance are we talking about between Jackson and Hazard? DR. DERRICKSON: I guess when I lived up there and grew up, if you went from Jackson to Hazard, it took you about an hour, and it was 40-some miles. KLEE: I see (laughter). DR. DERRICKSON: Then when they cut that down -- they cut down about 15 of them, so it was less than 30 miles. The trip to Hazard and back now is not -- KLEE: Is not too much. DR. DERRICKSON: -- really a problem. KLEE: Right. Right. Right. As you look back at it, what -- are there any challenges that stand out as-- that were particularly troubling for you? DR. DERRICKSON: Oh, mostly financial. KLEE: I see. DR. DERRICKSON: And with the financial, we saw that we were going to have problems with accreditation. KLEE: Right. DR. DERRICKSON: And it was -- but you know, when I went, I had the opportunity to bring in the administrative people. KLEE: Uh-huh. Oh, you brought in your own administrators. DR. DERRICKSON: Brought in -- didn't -- I didn't have any left. I think they'd all (laughter) -- so I was looking -- MRS. DERRICKSON: ----------(??) DR. DERRICKSON: -- for three or four or five people. KLEE: I see. DR. DERRICKSON: And fortunately hired some good people. I don't know how we did, but we did. KLEE: Right. DR. DERRICKSON: And they helped pull us through the situation. KLEE: When you're talking about this financial situation, the main problem was that -- I -- the students were paying a pretty good tuition, but it still wasn't enough to make your budget. You were just trying to make daily expenses, upkeep and maintenance and salaries and those things. DR. DERRICKSON: That's right. KLEE: Uh-huh. And it was just a battle. DR. DERRICKSON: And it was a -- really a grind to do, and -- KLEE: You were having to do fundraising just to make the recurring expenses. DR. DERRICKSON: Uh-huh. And it's hard to do anything else, if that's what you've got to do. KLEE: Right. DR. DERRICKSON: Now, if you had enough endowment that you could run the college, then you can go out and raise funds. And like I said, it's difficult to raise funds to operate on. People like to see their money going into the scholarships or some -- KLEE: Right. See their name on a building or (laughter) -- DR. DERRICKSON: That's right. So if we'd had that, I think we could have gone on and kept Lees operating. KLEE: Is there -- are there any things that stand out in your mind as particularly gratifying? DR. DERRICKSON: Well, the most gratifying thing is that we didn't have to close the -- KLEE: Right. DR. DERRICKSON: -- campus. You know, when I first went there, I decided the most important thing for me to do is to talk to faculty and staff. KLEE: Uh-huh. DR. DERRICKSON: So I did that. KLEE: Yes, sir. DR. DERRICKSON: I called the faculty together, and I tried to say to them, "I'm going to do the best I can." KLEE: Yes, sir. DR. DERRICKSON: "And I'm going to work as hard as I can. I'm going to try to keep with you, if you're willing. If you want to help, we'll try to keep this thing going." KLEE: Uh-huh. DR. DERRICKSON: "But it takes your help as well. And you've got to support what the administration does. And we've got to pull the city, the county -- we've got to pull things together here." And they agreed. KLEE: Yeah DR. DERRICKSON: And I brought in the staff. And especially the maintenance KLEE: Uh-huh. DR. DERRICKSON: -- people, and they seemed a little down. And I said to them, you know, "The faculty are important." KLEE: Yes, sir. DR. DERRICKSON: "But don't discredit yourself. You're as important as they are." KLEE: Right. (Laughter) DR. DERRICKSON: So I tried to explain, if you didn't have faculty, you're not going to have any -- but if you have faculty and you have students, and you don't have anybody -- KLEE: To keep things going. DR. DERRICKSON: -- to keep the place . . and I said, "Let me tell you something. If we have visitors in here, steps are all dirty and the place is all run down, they're not going to come back." KLEE: Right. Right. DR. DERRICKSON: "If we don't have somebody on the phone that talks well with people, they're not going to call back." KLEE: Uh-huh. DR. DERRICKSON: And I said, "That's just how important you are. And I want you to take pride in your work, and then this is what we're going to do." KLEE: Was the condition of the facilities especially challenging? Or I mean -- DR. DERRICKSON: Not too bad. KLEE: They had been kept up fairly well. DR. DERRICKSON: Yeah. Uh-huh. They were. KLEE: And obviously, you had some success, you said, because your enrollment went up. I guess you had some good people out recruiting and telling your story. DR. DERRICKSON: We did recruit. We took faculty. KLEE: Uh-huh. DR. DERRICKSON: Maybe take a van or two if we needed to, and we'd go out to the schools, and we'd have the parents come in with them. KLEE: Yeah DR. DERRICKSON: And we did okay with the -- KLEE: You obviously had some people choose to go to Lees, as opposed to the community college. What entered their decision there? You think, just a different atmosphere? Or were you still doing chapel when you were president? DR. DERRICKSON: No. KLEE: Yeah. DR. DERRICKSON: No, they had quit that earlier. KLEE: Gone, uh-huh. DR. DERRICKSON: You know, I just think it was sort of a tradition -- KLEE: I see. DR. DERRICKSON: -- that Lees had been there and had done well. KLEE: Right. DR. DERRICKSON: That students had gone -- KLEE: And done well. DR. DERRICKSON: -- and done well. KLEE: Right. DR. DERRICKSON: And strong. And so from the family standpoint, "We went to Lees, so why don't we send you to Lees?" And then of course, Lees could take these students who qualified for the federal -- KLEE: Yeah. DR. DERRICKSON: -- programs -- KLEE: Right. DR. DERRICKSON: -- and do right well with them. KLEE: Sure. You could give them a pretty good package. DR. DERRICKSON: Give them a good package, and they could come in. So -- KLEE: Right. DR. DERRICKSON: And then many of those could stay on campus. KLEE: Sure, right. DR. DERRICKSON: And we had a pretty good group of students on campus. KLEE: That was another option for them. DR. DERRICKSON: Uh-huh. Which you didn't have at other places. KLEE: Yeah. Well, I sure appreciate you talking to me. DR. DERRICKSON: Well, you -- KLEE: Got some good information. DR. DERRICKSON: Well, I hope it's what you wanted. KLEE: I think so. DR. DERRICKSON: And I think that thing will tell you -- KLEE: Do you have an extra one of these? DR. DERRICKSON: You can keep that one. KLEE: I sure -- yeah, we'll put this in the file and goes with everything else. DR. DERRICKSON: Okay. KLEE: Thank you. DR. DERRICKSON: You're welcome. Oral history with Charles Derrickson, president of Lees Junior College in Jackson, Kentucky. Interview covers the dissolution of Lees College and the college’s transition into a branch campus of Hazard Community College. Includes discussion of faculty and community adjustment to the consolidation of the colleges. insert here