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2006-11-30 Interview with Sandra Gary, November 30, 2006 CC001:2007OH041CC16 00:40:04 History of Kentucky's Community Colleges Oral History Project Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries Elizabethtown Community and Technical College. Fort Knox Campus Sandra Gary; interviewee Adina O'Hara; interviewer 2007OH041_CC16_Gary 1:|5(8)|21(3)|34(2)|49(3)|60(8)|74(5)|92(6)|109(7)|130(2)|148(5)|165(3)|194(3)|212(8)|229(2)|259(7)|277(2)|293(2)|308(8)|319(12)|332(2)|343(2)|353(1)|369(11)|386(7)|400(9)|410(6)|432(1)|454(2)|467(2)|489(2)|502(12)|519(3)|532(13)|546(3)|564(7)|595(12)|606(3)|620(6)|645(2)|672(3) audiotrans CommuColl interview O'Hara: This is Adina O'Hara conducting an interview with Sandra Gary at her office at the University of Kentucky on November 30th, 2006, for the Community College Oral History Program. In 1959 the University of Kentucky faculty recommended and the Board of Trustees authorized the establishment of an extension center at the Fort Knox military base. What was your role in the operation of the Fort Knox Community College? GARY: Well, I started working there May 20th,1968, and my role was secretary to the director. At that time there were two other employees there. One was a newly hired business officer, and the other was the director, who it's my understanding was hired on a half-time basis. He was also the chief of the Army Education Center. O'HARA: And what were some of the other roles that you have had over the years? GARY: Well, through the years my job developed into more than just being the secretary to the director. I also assisted the business officer in some of the accounting and bookkeeping processes, things like helping to get bills paid, working with the bookstore, and things like that. And also we found that as the enrollment increased through the years, there was a need for somebody to monitor and sort of corral the processes for admission, to make sure that the admission processes that the University had in place were being followed correctly. And then farther along, things like financial aid, dealing with the authorizations and paperwork to certify veterans, all of those things became part of what I did. And as a result of all those other processes and things that needed to be added in, we began to see a need for additional personnel. So at our peak we had three additional people working in the office besides myself. O'HARA: And that was the peak. So there was four total -- GARY: Yes, four people total -- O'HARA: -- at any one time. GARY: -- at any one time. That's four sort of secretarial-type staff. And then after I became the business officer -- and I think that was sometime in the mid '70s, again, I'm not sure of the date -- one of those people became my direct assistant and helped primarily with the bookstore operation and with some of the accounting-type processes, like taking care of reimbursing the imprest fund or paying the bills that came in, things like we had a phone bill, we had leased equipment, things like that. O'HARA: That leads me another question. UK contracted with the U.S. Army base at Fort Knox to offer the first two years of the undergraduate degree. Were you -- what did this contract entail, like what were the responsibilities -- what did Fort Knox bring to the table and what did UK bring to the table? GARY: What we did was offered general studies courses, things that any community college or junior college would have available during the first two years, things like English and physics and math and chemistry and psychology, just your general studies courses. In exchange for that, the U.S. Army allowed us -- or gave us office space, utilities, lab equipment, even things like office supplies that we needed in order to accommodate, you know, our function there. They also had a system set up whereby the military could get three-quarters of their tuition paid by the Army, so it was quite an inducement for the military to come to school there, because, for example, if a course cost $100, they paid $25 out of pocket, and the remainder we billed to the Army every -- at the end of every semester. And I guess, really, that was the arrangement. I'm not aware exactly of everything that was in the contract, but I do know that those things like that existed. O'HARA: And did you all operate on standard academic terms, or because it was a military base, did you have a unique calendar? GARY: For the most part, our classes were held in the evening. We had three sessions. We had a 5:30-6:50, a 7:00-8:20, and an 8:30-9:50. So classes went up to 10 o'clock in the evening, and that was, again, primarily so that military guys could attend after they were off duty as well as making it a more conducive atmosphere to find part-time instructors. We drew those people from the local high schools, from places in Louisville, you know, just all over the place. We advertised in order to find those people to fill slots as part-time instructors. But yeah, all of our classes were in the evening. O'HARA: Was the student population restricted to just military -- GARY: No. O'HARA: -- personnel? GARY: No, not at all. It was open to anybody in the community who wanted to come take a class. So -- and I don't remember the exact percentages, but I would guess probably it was about half and half. We probably had as many civilians as we did military. We had spouses, we had children of military, we had people who just lived in the area who knew we were there. Again, adult education opportunity for them. People who worked in the area who worked on post who would come over after their day was over and take evening classes. O'HARA: Now, when you started in 1968, was it still -- the official name still Fort Knox Community College? GARY: That's what it was always called. Well, it was called that up until we became a four-year center. But I'm not sure -- it seems to me that when we did that -- excuse me, when we did that self-study, that we discovered that the name had never officially been given to us as Fort Knox Community College, although we were operating under the Community College System. O'HARA: Oh, really? GARY: Yes. We -- I believe when they started out -- when they very first started, it was called Fort Knox Extension, and it may have been under the University Extension Office is why it was called that. And then when the Community College System came around, I'm not sure again how the decision was made or who made it, but we were put under the Community College System for operation. But I don't believe that through the Legislature it was ever officially named that. O'HARA: That's what I found as well. And that was one of my other things I was going to mention, was that the 1962 Community College Act did not actually -- it specified every other community college in existence at the time. GARY: Correct. Except Fort Knox. O'HARA: Except for Fort Knox. GARY: Yeah. And I believe that was just a name that was assumed, because that's where we were operating from and where we, you know, were funded, that sort of thing. O'HARA: At what point -- let me go back here. Records indicate that in 1965 Fort Knox officials requested that UK offer upper-division and graduate classes not offered by -- not, I guess, traditionally offered by a community college. Do you know how this decision to add upper- division and graduate classes -- do you know some of the discussions behind that and when it actually took place? GARY: Did you have a date there? O'HARA: In 1965 is when I found a request for it. GARY: That's when they started -- the request? Okay. O'HARA: And I don't know when the actual -- GARY: Okay, let me think about that. There were some courses that -- when I started there in '68, there were some courses there that were offered in the Armor Officer Advanced Course, AOAC, that were called extension classes. And they were upper-division. And my guess is -- and if I'm remembering correctly -- those -- that's what is referred to there. Those classes were offered at the request of the Armor Officer Advanced Course program, because there was a real need for upper- division classes. And these were officers who were going through the advanced class in order for them to be promoted, you know, like that. And -- oh my, that -- I'd forgotten all about that. O'HARA: Was it a part of the -- like, was that operating separately from the community college? GARY: No, we actually operated that, but the credit was called extension, and it was actually put on their transcript with parentheses that said extension. O'HARA: And that differed from the credit -- GARY: Yes. We sent that information to the University's registrar on a grade report type thing -- form. I don't know; I can't remember. But that went to the registrar at the end of each semester, and then it was recorded on their official transcripts as extension credit. O'HARA: That's interesting. GARY: It is, isn't it? O'HARA: Yeah. GARY: Yeah, it was really a strange thing. Now, after we became a four- year center, that extension designation disappeared because we were able to offer upper-division classes ourselves as a four-year center. O'HARA: And what was -- I'm sorry, what was the date that you all became a four-year center? GARY: I can't remember. O'HARA: Was it '70s? GARY: It was in the '70s, I believe. O'HARA: And I can always look that up. GARY: Yeah, Dr. Greasley will probably remember that, because that's when he was hired to come to the center as a full-time instructor. He was in the Army as an instructor for the AOAC people. And he was hired to come there as a full-time instructor, so he could -- I'm sure he will remember the date, but I don't. O'HARA: But that is very interesting. So in 19- -- until you became a four-year institution and you have these upper-division classes and it said extension on their transcript or records that you sent to UK, how did that differ from what you were -- the way that the two-year -- the first two years of the community college program, that did not say extension on any records or anything. GARY: No, not at all. No, the transcripts -- we had the forms ourselves in our office. We had them printed to say Fort Knox Community College on them, and we kept our own transcripts there, you see. But the extension credit was sent to the University up here and put on their University of Kentucky transcript. O'HARA: So essentially you had two operations going on. GARY: We did, we did. And it was just a handful of classes. I'm trying to think, some of those classes -- most of those classes that were offered were history, like upper-division -- 573 comes to mind. O'HARA: You have a good memory. GARY: I can't for the life of me tell you what that course was. But probably a couple political science, maybe even an upper division English class, if Dr. Greasley was over there at that time. Yeah, things like that. O'HARA: Now, when it did become a full-fledged four-year -- graduate and four-year institution, did it expand its course offerings? GARY: Oh, yeah, yeah, tremendously. There -- at the -- oh, I'm trying to think at what point we actually stopped offering very many of the lower-division courses, because Elizabethtown Community College came on post, and they, then, were charged with -- by the military to offer the first two years. And then we offered only upper-division classes. O'HARA: Interesting. Do you know -- was that a -- kind of an immediate thing when you because a four-year extension? Or was that a gradual -- GARY: No, it was gradual, yeah. O'HARA: Interesting. GARY: Again, I have -- I don't know at what point that happened, but -- O'HARA: So in that transition, the students and the community that you were serving at Fort Knox as a community college in the lower-division, they just went over and they received services still on base -- GARY: Same thing. O'HARA: -- from -- just from Elizabethtown? GARY: Same courses. O'HARA: So they never had to travel? GARY: No. O'HARA: Good. GARY: Not at all, no. And there were other universities on campus too, who were offering various programs. By that time you had, like, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical, you had Sullivan University, which was a college back then, now a university. There was another one that's in - - Embry-Riddle University out of Florida, several universities, all with different kinds of programs, different majors. And so we were just one of many at the very end. O'HARA: Interesting. This arrangement -- this contractual arrangement with the military was good for the University, because unlike the other off-campus centers or community colleges, Fort Knox required very little funding because there was no cost for building -- GARY: That's true. O'HARA: The record said that UK provided the faculty and -- GARY: Right. They gave us a budget for faculty, and our staff salaries were paid out of that. We had a current expense budget, a very small travel budget, and that was about it. O'HARA: In what other ways was Fort Knox unique, in contrast to other community colleges? GARY: Unique. O'HARA: Or was it more similar? GARY: I -- well, I guess it was unique in that it was all evening classes. I mean, we never offered day classes. It was unique in that we -- one thing that we did that I don't think that anyone else would ever have reason to do is we evaluated military credit toward their degree programs. That was something else I got in, (laughs) that I learned how to do. We were sitting in the middle of, you know, this huge Army post. I don't think anyone else would ever operate in the middle of an Army post. It was really quite a unique experience, just dealing with the kinds of students that we had. Those military people were so thankful that we were there. I mean, they really were grateful, more so -- I think a lot of high school students just going off to college don't really ever appreciate quite the same way as adult students. And that's we had, was all adult students and people who had a real desire to learn and to take college courses, that was unique. O'HARA: So very non-traditional? GARY: Exactly. O'HARA: And that's a major difference. Knowing as we do what happened and how it happened, we need to consider why it happened. Would you recount the reasons why Fort Knox Community College was developed into a four-year extension of UK? GARY: Again, I think this was a request from the military, because there are several places in the United States where military people can go for degree completion. My brother-in-law, for example, went to the University of Alabama to finish his degree while he was stationed in Alabama. And the military at this point were bringing all these people home from Vietnam. There was a surplus of officers running around without degrees, and that was highly desired that they have degrees. They got what's called a field promotion into an officer because they needed officers. And so when you understand how the military works, you can sort of understand why they felt it was a good thing to do at that point, because again, like I said, all these officers running around at Fort Knox, which was a major -- the major armor post in the United States without degrees. And what they -- they desired to have degree programs there. So we started with political science and psychology, which were two of the programs I believe that they felt would be a hit, so to speak. We also had a general studies program, which was -- turned out to be a big hit also, and later on we added nursing. That really had nothing to do with a military request, but a request of the community and from feeding from Elizabethtown Community College. They needed the last two years of the four-year nursing degree for the people in the area, so as to produce more nurses with four- year degrees. So that was added on then. But I think those were the main reasons. O'HARA: In oral history interviews, after asking a person why a decision was made, we often ask next why a different result did not occur. During your tenure at Fort Knox Community College, did you at any time expect a different result? Did you expect it to -- GARY: No, we never felt that the center would be closed. Our enrollment had not declined. What I was told -- and I suppose that this is essentially true -- is that the Army withdrew its support, that they were not planning to renew the contract. And they did, however, give us a period of time to transition away from the operation that we had going there. I guess it was a year and a half, two years -- I don't remember exactly -- that -- in order to give the full-time faculty an opportunity to either find a position somewhere else or be integrated into the main campus, should positions open up up there, and for some of our degree-completion students to finish up as much as they could toward the degrees they were working on. But as -- you know, as I was told, the support for our program would -- again, the Army didn't have as much money as they used to either, or not as much was allocated for tuition assistance program. Again, that's what I was told. And so they decided to put their money in a different pot at this point. And they felt, from either information that they had or that they gathered, that it would be better spent at the first- and second-year level. And so that's what they did. They put their money toward educating students first- and second-year. They didn't feel there was as much demand for the military to do degree completion. O'HARA: And this was in 1990 or the turn of that decade? GARY: It was a year and a half, two years before that is when, right, they told us that the center would be closing. O'HARA: And now are they still contracting with Elizabethtown Community College? GARY: As far as I know, they are. And Western Kentucky [University] is there with graduate programs. And I don't know whether there are any upper-division universities there offering anything similar to what we used to offer. I'm pretty sure Embry-Riddle is still there. Sullivan is probably still there. Now, since they've become a university, they may have expanded their offerings, but I really don't know because I'm not in touch with anybody down there, but I guess it's possible. O'HARA: That's interesting. Thinking about this from a larger system level, were there any other four-year extensions of the University of Kentucky during this time period over the last four decades? GARY: I'm not aware of any. O'HARA: This was this was the only one? GARY: This was unique. Yeah, it was unique. When we became a four-year center, we operated under University Extension programs. Then when one of the deans of that left -- I'm not sure which one -- the University made a decision to put us under the College of Arts and Sciences. We actually operated under that for a year or two, and then we were put back under University Extension, and that's where we operated from until its demise in 1990. O'HARA: When you transitioned from being a part of the Community College System to being directly under a main part of the -- UK, was there a difference in administrative -- I mean, obviously, you're reporting to different people. But under the UK Community College System, was there distinct differences in policy or in the way things were done or organized or anything? GARY: Well, that's kind of hard to answer. I guess, for the most part, after we went under University Extension, I felt that we lost some of the structure that we had, things like financial aid. When we were under Community College System, it seemed that we had meetings to discuss issues, and we had training each year when the procedures and processes changed. We had meetings about bookstore issues. Things just seemed a little more structured, whereas under University Extension, they did not deal with those issues to a large extent, and so we sort of had to dig it out ourselves and find our own guidance. With financial aid, I found myself then asking for permission to operate under the University's Financial Aid Office. Bookstore, we just sort of ran that ourselves. You know, we kind of knew how to do that, it wasn't any big deal. Admissions issues, we just dealt directly with the registrar and the Office of Admissions. Things that came up with that, we just dealt directly with them, so we really didn't have, I guess, people who we directly could get information from. It was toss a coin, if you call the office, and whoever was there may or may not be able to help you if you had an issue. O'HARA: And since you were the sole one, there wasn't a set prescribed way of doing things -- GARY: Right, there was not. O'HARA: -- or like, you know, when you're under the Community College System, you call Mary, who has the same position as you at another college, and discuss a matter and say, you know, "How are you dealing with this here?" GARY: Exactly. Or you just call the main office and you ask for the business officer there, who is going to give you, you know, a straight answer on whatever your issue is. But I guess that was the biggest difference. O'HARA: And the main office for the Community College System was still located on UK's main campus, right? GARY: It was still there. O'HARA: Was it -- GARY: It started out in Breckinridge Hall. No, it didn't. Where was it first? I can't remember where it was, I don't know. O'HARA: That's interesting. GARY: It may have been Breckinridge Hall, and then it went somewhere else and went back to Breckinridge Hall, I don't remember. O'HARA: But you're -- yeah, you're still dealing with people up here, but not people who are focused on this one particular area. Similar -- and another way of looking at this is, I'm wondering, since you all expanded and went to four-year and no one else did, for obvious reasons -- you know, the military really wanted that -- were you aware of any other of the community colleges wanting to expand into upper-division courses? GARY: I wasn't aware of any of them. I mean, it's not anything we ever discussed with anyone at the community colleges. But I do know that at Elizabethtown Community College, during the time I was at Fort Knox, they started offering courses there with -- or from, I guess, Western Kentucky. They gave them an office space over there and they used their facilities. And I believe, though, that they were offering graduate courses over there. It may have been upper-division, but I'm thinking it was graduate courses that Western was offering over there at ECC. But no, I'm not aware of any other of the community colleges who wanted to expand to be a four-year center. O'HARA: Was ever any, like you say, of all the business officers got together for a meeting or all the admissions officers, et cetera? They probably knew that you all had unique circumstances with the military base. Was that just generally accepted that you all were allowed to do things that the rest of them -- GARY: Yeah. O'HARA: -- couldn't do? It wasn't really like -- they wouldn't go, well (laughs), "Hey, can we do stuff like that?" GARY: No, they knew we were a little unique. And at the community college level, we really, as far as I know, followed whatever processes that the Community College System had in place. Once we became a four- year center, very little changed in the way of processes, except where you send documents or, you know, who you sit down and discuss your budget with, that kind of thing. But for the most part -- O'HARA: So you had probably more similarities than -- GARY: It was -- it really wasn't much different as far as processes, you know, except the ones I've mentioned of who you report to, who you talk to about certain issues and that kind of thing. O'HARA: The relationship between UK and the military developed over the decades. What were the benefits and the drawbacks of Fort Knox's -- of the Fort Knox military base's relationship to UK? GARY: I can't think of any drawbacks. I mean, we had a ready-made student body. The admission standards were not changed at all to accommodate them. They still had to meet admission standards. [Static] I really can't think of any drawbacks. O'HARA: It's pretty much a great situation for UK. GARY: It was a good situation, as far as I could tell. And the advantages are many. Like I said, the tuition assistance program ---- ------(??) so you knew that people could afford to come to school there if they were getting 75 percent of their tuition paid for by the Army. So you weren't losing students because they couldn't afford to come. I guess the greatest benefit was they gave us a place to work. And no matter what we asked for, we pretty much got it, you know, in the way of extra space or security. You know, if I needed to take a -- on the first few nights of class we stayed late to sell books. And so there I was late at night with a deposit to go to the bank. And if I needed someone to take me, all I had to do was call for an MP. They were right there. They escorted me to the bank to the night depository. And you know, just little bennies like that. O'HARA: A lot of nice little things. GARY: Yeah. O'HARA: Do you have any interesting stories or anything else? That's my primary questions that I had developed for my research, but if you have any interesting stories like that one or anything you'd like to add? GARY: Okay, let me think. Yeah. One of my favorite stories is this: When I first started working there my office was on the first floor of the Army Education Center. And people came in the front door, and you could either turn right or left. If you turned left, you were going to be in classroom space. And those rooms were empty for the most part during the day. But if you turned in the other direction, you came to my office. It was the only one there, you know. And so everybody who came in the Education Center walked in there. And the most interesting -- or the most often-asked question was, "Where do I clear?" Or, "Where do I process in?" Now, that is something that all military have to do. When you're just coming to the post, you have to check in at the Education Center. Or if you're leaving post, you have to clear the Education Center. So every military person who came in, "Where do I process in? Where do I clear?" And there was one particular day when I must have been asked that question a thousand times. Now, right outside my door in bold letters about four inches tall, it said, "Clearing or Processing In," and a big arrow that said, "Downstairs - Room 207," or whatever it was. So I was -- I had just reached my limit, and a young man walked in and he said -- he stood there and looked at the sign, and then he walked in and said, "Where do I clear?" And I said, "Well, you need to go downstairs, but in order to get there you need to go out the building, go across the street to the chapel, and there's a tunnel that takes you to the room downstairs." And don't you know, bless his heart, he turned around and walked out, and I had to go run after him and tell him that I was kidding. O'HARA: (laughs) Oh, my goodness. GARY: You know, how clear could a sign be? The arrow pointed downstairs; the stairway was right there. If you turned around, you could fall over the stairway. And another sign was by the stairway that said, "Processing and Clearing -- Downstairs - Room 207". O'HARA: You probably dreamed of them switching offices with you. (laughs) GARY: Well, it wasn't too long after that, that when we started needing more space, they moved us downstairs and did some shuffling around. So after a few years, I didn't have to direct everybody downstairs. Another funny story I like to tell is -- and I swear this happened -- one day I was sitting at my desk going through some application cards, and I ran across one that the name of the person on it was Stump, S-T- U-M-P. And I forget his first name, it may have been Leonard or Lewis or something like that. Lieutenant Stump. And I remarked to one of my co-workers, "Oh, I bet Lieutenant Stump is really short." And in walks Lieutenant Stump, and he's five-two. I was so embarrassed. I have never to this day -- O'HARA: But what's the chance that he's going to walk in the door? GARY: The chances of him walking in. And see, five-two was the shortest you could be at that time and be in the Army. And I was just making this off-the-wall, crazy joke, and in he walks. And -- O'HARA: How much better timing ----------(??)? GARY: It was just incredible. O'HARA: Did you know already -- did you know who he was? GARY: No, I had no idea. O'HARA: So he came in and said, "Hi, I'm -- ." GARY: No, this was like a lightning strike. It was -- (laughs). O'HARA: You turned three shades of red. GARY: Yeah. O'HARA: Makes for a good story, though, years later. GARY: Another interesting thing that happened while I was there was we had a safe in my office, the business office. It was a huge safe, about half the size of this stand-up cabinet over here. It weighed 750 pounds. And I had just gotten a notice the previous day from the Army that all safes that weighed less than 800 pounds would need to be secured. And then there was this long directive about how they needed to be secured. And it involved chains and locks and et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. And if you have a safe, blah, blah, this is what you need to do to request that your safe be secured. So I put in the request that the safe be secured. That very night someone came to my office and knocked out a built-in air conditioner and put my safe onto a dolly, opened my office door and went up, I think it was, 18 steps to the outside -- which -- there were panic bars on the door, it was locked from the outside, but [with] the panic bar you could get out -- and stole my safe. O'HARA: What is the chance -- they obviously knew someone was going around stealing safes? GARY: I don't know, I don't know. I mean, that was just a really strange happenstance that -- and we did find out who did it. The MPs located the safe. It was in a drainage ditch in Vine Grove, which is a small town about ten miles away from the post. They located the safe. They fingerprinted it. They -- one of the guy -- kids who was the perpetrator was one of our students and had a prior record apparently. He was not in the military. He was a veteran, and he had -- his fingerprints were on file. They arrested him, and he talked like a canary and mentioned his buddy who helped him. And so they both spent some time in the penitentiary. Now, there was some money in there. O'HARA: I was wondering. GARY: Yeah, it was during a registration period, and there was -- because I had extra change there, you know. O'HARA: Sure. GARY: And a few checks that had come in late in the day that didn't get deposited because they didn't get processed or whatever. I had a roll of stamps worth $100 in there, because I bought them, you know, a roll at a time. And I don't know, I don't remember now how much, maybe some change that I kept in there, coins that I kept for the bookstore operation, things like that. So they got a little bit, not a huge amount. O'HARA: Not much. I mean, compared to what they had to serve. GARY: What they could have. But it was -- and it was grand theft, so -- O'HARA: What is the chances? GARY: It was weird. O'HARA: That is strange, very strange. GARY: Those are the only things I can remember. O'HARA: Thank you so much for sharing those stories with us and informing -- I mean, this is really -- I think this is very valuable information because I don't -- I haven't been able to locate any other -- much information on the Fort Knox Center, written or oral. This is the first interview. And who did you recommend that we possibly talk to? GARY: Well of course, Philip Greasley. The other two faculty members are Ron Taylor, who's in the Department of Psychology, and Charles Davis, who is in Political Science. O'HARA: Great. And do you know if they were -- did they teach when it was a four-year extension? GARY: They did. They were hired at the point it became a four-year center. O'HARA: Okay. GARY: They came there as full-time instructors, just so we could have a degree program. O'HARA: Very good. Thank you so much, Sandra. GARY: You're welcome. O'HARA: And I appreciate your time. GARY: You are welcome. Oral history with Sandra Gary, business officer at the Fort Knox campus of Elizabethtown Community College. Gary explains the role of the campus in educating military personnel and their families; describes the growth of the college, including the provision of upper-level undergraduate and graduate courses; and discusses the relationship between the college and the University of Kentucky.