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2007-02-28 Interview with Larry Miller, February 28, 2007 CC001:2007OH137CC23 01:15:32 History of Kentucky's Community Colleges Oral History Project Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries Owensboro Community and Technical College Larry Miller; interviewee John Klee; interviewer 2007OH137_CC23_Miller 1:|16(7)|37(1)|57(3)|73(12)|90(7)|107(3)|120(11)|146(6)|164(3)|189(14)|209(3)|230(4)|248(10)|272(8)|295(11)|321(5)|347(2)|360(1)|376(2)|403(13)|417(13)|440(9)|465(3)|487(9)|506(12)|520(12)|539(10)|556(6)|572(3)|595(6)|613(15)|639(8)|660(11)|673(8)|703(5)|717(1)|729(11)|756(4)|771(3)|789(7)|806(4)|821(7)|836(1)|859(13)|878(1)|898(11)|923(7)|937(5)|960(10)|975(12)|995(8)|1019(3)|1038(3)|1066(6)|1099(1)|1114(2)|1130(4)|1147(12)|1163(14)|1182(8)|1194(8)|1216(6)|1232(2)|1244(5)|1265(4)|1282(13)|1300(1)|1320(3)|1339(11)|1366(7)|1379(6)|1399(5)|1414(5)|1429(9)|1445(4) audiotrans CommuColl interview KLEE: The following is an unrehearsed interview for the University of Kentucky Community College System project. The interview is being contacted at Owensboro Community & Technical College on February 28, 2007. I'm John Klee, and I'm talking to Larry Miller. Larry, tell me a little bit about your personal background. MILLER: Okay. Well, I'm a native, born and raised here in Owensboro, of course, went to Daviess County High School, and then after graduating there went to the University of Kentucky and got actually two degrees there, a bachelor's degree in history and then a master's degree in education and counseling -- guidance and counseling, and worked in Lexington at Lafayette High School as a teacher and counselor for several years in the early '70s. Got married in the mid-'70s and then moved back. KLEE: Did you marry somebody from here or-- MILLER: Believe it or not, I did. (Klee laughs) I married someone who I grew up from about two miles down the road. KLEE: I see. MILLER: She's a little bit younger than I but, she's also a UK graduate and went to UK Law School. And when she completed law school, we were, of course, in Lexington and kind of looking at the best situation for both of us, and decided to come right back home to Owensboro. So I -- when I came back to Owensboro, I knew the -- at that point the president of Kentucky Wesleyan College, who was Luther White. So I went to work for Kentucky Wesleyan for a couple of years in '84. And then in -- met Jim McDannel who was the first president of -- at that point, he was -- I joined the community college here before it actually became a community college. But Jim McDannel was the first president and the one that was -- hired me to start in the summer of 1986 and been here ever since. KLEE: So the summer of '86, you started in student affairs here at Owensboro. And that was -- that fall was the first year of the official Owensboro Community and Technical College. MILLER: It was. I think, in fact, the official date was July 15, 1986. KLEE: Okay. You were in the area -- I know being a resident of Owensboro, I'm sure you had an affection for the two private colleges that were here. What did you and -- and there was quite a bit of consternation about the opening of a community college. MILLER: Right. KLEE: Tell me something about that. What kinds of things did you hear and who did you hear them from? And -- MILLER: Well, there again, very interesting, because, as I mentioned, I was employed with Kentucky Wesleyan College at the time and worked in admissions there and remember that it was -- and I can't speak for Brescia specifically, but I know it was a strategic plan at that point to see how they could -- how the two private colleges could avoid a community college program. Just the fear of the enrollment impact, you know, obviously, that would be the major fear from Kentucky Wesleyan College and Brescia. So they were very strategic in planning to provide what they thought the community needed at the time. However, there was a -- and you've probably gotten a lot of feedback on this, but there was a Citizens Committee on Education at that point. KLEE: I wanted to hear it from you too, though. Yeah. MILLER: Uh-huh. They were very active at the time and had already come to the conclusion at that time, that looking at the on-to-college rate, graduation -- high school graduation rates and then on-to-college rate was not satisfactory. And you could have four or five smaller private colleges, and you wouldn't really address the need to provide higher -- low-cost higher education for the vast numbers of people in this service area who needed that. So yeah, I just know that it was a strategic move to try to prevent the -- to stop it there. KLEE: Some of the people on that committee, like John Hager and others, obviously, they were tied into the community too, but was -- do you think it came from anecdotal things first, and then they did the study, and it was held up? I mean, was there just a perceived need throughout the community that there's a lot of kids that ought to be going to college who just aren't going. MILLER: Yeah, I think it was a perceived need, but also statistically they looked at the -- the Citizens Committee did a study on the numbers of the high schools and graduation rates and what those folks were doing after they graduated, and just too many of them -- and obviously in comparison to other counties, populous counties in the state, especially where there was a -- either a community college at that time or a four-year public institution, that you know, we just did not compare well. So it was anecdotal, but yet, based on the statistics of the graduation rates and where -- what high school graduates were doing after they left high school. Our on-to-college rate was significantly lower than it should have been. KLEE: Right. You were a resident of the area. Do you remember in your -- when you got older, when you were in high school or even during your early adulthood or anything, was there any explanation of why there wasn't a public institution in Owensboro, third largest city in the state? Did you hear any discussions about that? Or -- MILLER: Well, I guess it just -- at that time, the status quo was that Western Kentucky University, that Daviess County was a part of their service area. And at that point, a majority of -- I wouldn't say majority, but the most significant number of students headed right down to Bowling Green from Daviess County High School. And in fact, when I graduated from high school, Apollo, one of the other county schools, did not even exist. But the county school was the major -- with numbers graduating. And of course, Owensboro High School had fewer numbers. But Western Kentucky University seemed to be the place. And I guess we were -- at that time, didn't think that 60 miles or an hour, an hour and a half down there, should be such an obstacle. But yet again, that same type of argument came up with -- well, and we do have a two-year technical -- or a community college right there in Henderson, 30 miles away, that students -- it would make sense logically that that's not too far for students to go to get a college education. But all the -- all those kind of rationale seemed to be -- it was proven very quickly to be not based on the logic of students making decisions to take college classes. As soon as we started as a part of -- first of all, an off-campus site of Henderson Community College is the way we started here in Owensboro. But the numbers just kind of mushroomed, the enrollment here, so it showed you that a lot of the practical reasons why that Western is only an hour away, that that should take care of a lot of the college-going needs. We have two private colleges, so students should have options right there if they wanted a private college education. And then of course, Henderson's right down the road. They have a community college. Why in the world would we need one here in Owensboro? So that kind of thing. KLEE: But even all that was true -- I mean, obviously, that -- there must have been -- it must have been an obstacle, going a half-hour. Of course, and a half-hour is not for everybody. I mean, there's other people in other parts of the county or the surrounding counties, I guess. MILLER: Exactly. KLEE: You know, a two-hour commute daily to Western is not as easy, maybe, as it sounds. MILLER: Well, hard to believe but -- KLEE: I guess the roads were different then, weren't they? MILLER: Yeah, the roads -- actually, the parkway didn't exist from the -- the parkway over -- Audubon Parkway over to Henderson. But you know, I think what we realized was, is that Henderson, Kentucky, and Evansville, Indiana, or Madisonville, Kentucky, that was just like a different world, as far as there was no regional concept of people driving. I mean, here in Owensboro, people felt like, you know, it's still -- people like to say that anywhere in Owensboro you need to go, you can get there in ten minutes. That kind of tells you how people felt, that if you have to drive even 30 minutes to a place that you're not familiar with, the vast majority aren't going to do it. Because the option was there for years and years if people wanted to take advantage of it, and they didn't. So -- KLEE: When you made your own decision about college, I mean, what did you -- what went into your mind? MILLER: At that point I, of course, thought seriously about Western Kentucky University. But I just felt like at that time UK had really done a good job of trying to separate themselves, in terms of the image and the education, the perception of the quality of education. And I just wanted to do something a little bit different. I think I was one of those high school students that wanted to maybe get away a little further from home, do something a little different than the majority of students. And I had an older brother that had gotten a scholarship and had gone to UK. In fact, he was -- when the low-rise -- the complex -- housing complex there at UK, he was the first one -- the first group to live in that when they opened in, I think it was '64, maybe, '65, somewhere in there. And he was one of the first -- they were brand new at that point when he started. He had a great experience there, and of course, just following in the footsteps of an older brother, then -- KLEE: It made it easy to -- MILLER: Went to UK. KLEE: I -- before this interview, I was listening to some basketball talk out in the hall. MILLER: Mm-mm. You'll hear a lot of it here. KLEE: UK has a big following here in Owensboro? MILLER: Very much so, yeah. I'd say -- yeah -- KLEE: As opposed to maybe Murray or Western or -- MILLER: Well, I'd say UK is -- the city bleeds blue, but also Western Kentucky would be second, I think, in strength. There's a huge following, a big alumni -- obviously a big alumni base here in Daviess County for Western Kentucky University. But overall, it's amazing where they say that statewide, border-to-border support for UK football and basketball really is true here, I think. KLEE: You mentioned Jim McDannel, who was the founding president of this institution. You met him. Do you remember how that happened? MILLER: You know, at that time there were -- I think he was actually a dean -- well, I don't know what his official title at Henderson, but he was employed at that time at Henderson Community College. And I think he might have been a dean or a director, but we really didn't have deans' titles at that point. KLEE: Assistant director? MILLER: We had -- assistant director title. And you know, he was over in Owensboro building support and getting the word out in the community. I think I met him through a civic organization or a speech that he was making. I'm not sure exactly the circumstances of how I met him, but -- and we got along real well immediately on a personal level. And of course, he realized at some point or hoped that there would be the support -- the approval to have a separate budget for an independent college -- community college in Owensboro. So he was trying to get his feelers out on the leadership, trying to develop the -- have the plans in place to hire the leadership team, if indeed that happened. And as soon as he received word of that, you know, he would call people or contact them and say, you know, "We're going to have these positions available, listed in the newspaper and publicized. Just wanted to give you a heads-up to look at that." And so that's how we first started talking about it. KLEE: Let me talk -- let me ask you some questions about that '84 to '86 period, you know, when all of this was breaking loose. You were at Wesleyan. MILLER: Right. KLEE: And so you said that, you know, they actually had a strategic plan to try to make sure that they were offering services so they could argue that they weren't necessary. MILLER: Sure. KLEE: What about the -- what do you remember from the discussions and the talk in the community at that time? The Citizens Committee, they had pretty wide support? MILLER: They really did. I think what it was, the thinking -- the perception I had working at Kentucky Wesleyan, but also hearing from a lot of people in the community, is that, man, we really -- community members really want to support Kentucky Wesleyan and Brescia University. And they have done great things in the community and a lot to be proud of, but you know, we really -- we have to be thinking of the majority of our citizens here, and cost was such a huge factor at that point. And it was -- there was no doubt that that was keeping a lot of people from -- that might want to go to college if it was local and convenient, but just the high tuition costs and availability of, you know, degree programs and all that was a hindrance for people. So it was kind of people understand- -- feeling support for the private colleges, not wanting to hurt them, but saying, "We've got to take a big step and do something that's better -- that's the best for the general -- for the future of the community, in general." And I remember even then, there was a -- and the name Bob Darrell might have come up in your research, but he's now a retired English faculty member at Kentucky Wesleyan College. But he was on the Citizens Committee at that point, and even he was supportive of the community college KLEE: Right. I remember seeing an article. MILLER: And it took -- that took a lot of fortitude for him to follow through on that. KLEE: Courage, I'm sure. MILLER: Mm-mm. Yeah. KLEE: I'm going to throw out some names, and just give me your reactions or thoughts or any stories that you have. What about the role of John Hager and the Messenger-Inquirer? MILLER: Mm-mm, always very supportive. Trying to, as I say, make the case for -- the need for the on-to-college rate to be improved on. Supporting the -- as I say, the private colleges wanting to support them as well, but the bottom line is, let's paint a picture of what's going on in our community and what are the resources and what is the next thing that -- what can we do in the community to address this lack of the students going on to college and getting higher education provided. KLEE: Does the Messenger-Inquirer -- I think that's the right name, isn't it? MILLER: It is. KLEE: I guess that was at one time two different papers that got merged? MILLER: A long time ago. That was -- at that point, it still was the Messenger-Inquirer. KLEE: Right. Is that pretty much the source of local information and kind of leads public opinion? MILLER: It does, it does. We -- there's really a -- like you say, there were two newspapers at one time. They combined. And the -- Evansville, of course, has a Courier newspaper, but it's -- I doubt the readership is very high in this area. People look at the Louisville Courier-Journal for statewide news. In fact, people -- I think that's the first paper they look for for statewide, but the Owensboro Messenger really is, you know, very, very strong in forming opinion. It still is, but it was at that time as well. KLEE: I see. MILLER: And we have no -- of course, there's no local/national television affiliate here in Owensboro. We have the Evansville media market. We're in the Evansville media market, so -- KLEE: So that was -- I guess there's a local radio station, but they didn't get that much involved in those kinds of issues? MILLER: Really did not. No, it was more the newspapers, from my perception. KLEE: Right, right. Louis Johnson was a state representative. Did you have any knowledge or contact of him in his role? MILLER: No, I just -- at that point I'm not sure I had contact with him. I know that he served on the -- on our -- at that point, called the advisory board, the board of directors now. But he was one of the members of our -- one of the early members of our advisory board at that time. But I just know from what I've heard from other people that obviously he really worked hard in the Legislature to make sure the funding was approved. KLEE: And Don Blandford? MILLER: Same, same too. Don Blandford, and what I could pick up at the time and what I remember, was almost singly focused on that. It's just like one of the -- how the government -- or the governor and the Legislature will tell you, you know, each community has to be focused on what's the one big thing you want, everybody get together behind it. He was single-handedly supporting that and was doing what he could to really make that happen. KLEE: Yeah. Owensboro started offering classes as an extension of Henderson in '84, and you came on board the summer of '86. MILLER: Right. KLEE: And at that point already, you had hundreds of students. MILLER: We did. KLEE: What was that like? MILLER: Well, it was kind of chaos that we tried to stay one step ahead of. I mean, because you couldn't anticipate. I think the first fall semester I was here, there was over 500 students. And at that time -- at that point, the enrollment at Henderson was maybe 900 to 1,000. Within two or three semesters we exceeded the enrollment of Henderson, at that point. But as I say, our, the first offices -- the offices I remember -- and in fact, when I first -- when I interviewed for my job with Jim McDannel, I came into his office, and they were so limited on space for even storage of books and supplies, that he had boxes of books in his office. And he cleared out a little path to his desk and pulled a chair out there so we could just have some time to talk and to have an interview there in his office. But it was the little hallway outside of his office, and this was in the old Longfellow Education Center down by Senior High. There was -- we put -- hurriedly put some shelving in the hallway so we could have books for the first classes. And students would come right in there to the office to get their textbooks for the first semester classes. So that was done -- I remember our -- the first academic -- well, he was the academic dean later on, but the director for academic programs, his name was Dr. Gary Green. He's now the president of Forsyth Community College in North Carolina, but he was hired about two weeks after I was hired. KLEE: Now, was he -- he wasn't a local? MILLER: He was at that time working at Elizabethtown Community College. He was in community education there and originally from Lexington. But he came on about two weeks later, so that was -- and you'll appreciate this. This was late July he came in, was hired, our classes started in mid-August, and I remember the first thing he did, Dr. McDannel at that point said, "Okay, Gary, we have to hire, like, ten faculty members in the next two weeks." (Miller laughs). KLEE: Oh, my goodness. MILLER: "And here are their resumes and applications and vitae." And there was just a room about this size, full of boxes with resumes. And that was -- I mean literally, we helped him load those boxes up in his car at night so he could take them home and review them at night, and then come back the next morning and call people, have them come in. And sure enough, we -- he accomplished that. KLEE: Got a faculty ready by class-time. MILLER: Yeah. Got the faculty hired and ready to go on that first day of class. KLEE: And one of the articles in the research said that McDannel was hauling books to -- I guess for classes and kind of being a one-man show there for a while. And then, I guess, you came on and others. MILLER: Right. KLEE: Now, they -- at that point, there weren't search committees or anything. He just called you in and interviewed applicants and hired somebody. MILLER: Actually, he had hired -- I think there was a couple faculty members working at that point, and I think some of them -- or most of them are still here. Steve Carden, who is a -- who taught -- teaches philosophy, and at that point, taught some English for us. Carl Runyon was a faculty member hired that summer. Al Wallace was another faculty member. But he pulled in anybody that was already are on staff. He did have a committee that he consulted with, and I remember there was a -- I had a discussion with McDannel, but I remember meeting, too, with that committee, and I believe some of those faculty members were in there that I just mentioned, two or three of them. And so he did have a quasi-committee. But like I say, it was everything happening so fast that you'd try to stay two or three days ahead of it. We'd have registration right there in the building. And the -- if there was an empty classroom, we'd take a group at a certain time into the room to do -- we felt like they needed an orientation and an explanation of the services available there, get them ready for classes, and really trying to make arrangements for where the classes were going to be held at that point. Most of them -- or a lot were in Owensboro Senior High School. We leaned heavily on them for classroom space in the evening. KLEE: I see. So your first location was this Longfellow Building? MILLER: Right. KLEE: Which is on Frederica Street, maybe? MILLER: It is. It's right next to Owensboro Senior High School. KLEE: So you were -- had your offices there and doing advising and registration and using the Senior High classroom then? MILLER: Yeah. And actually my office, I wasn't lucky enough to even have -- there wasn't enough space for me to even have an office in the Longfellow Building. The public library, the Daviess County Public Library, was just within 100 yards behind the Longfellow Building, so they allowed us to use some space in their basement. We put up partitions in there for little offices down there, just to have a place to sit down and do your work in. But we weren't in those offices over 30 minutes a day at first, because we were out getting -- like you say, doing the registration, making arrangements for classrooms, trying to line up faculty members, getting them supplies, and the whole works. KLEE: Tell me how you got access to the, if you recall, to the Longfellow Building. Did somebody just -- was there a local organization? Who owned that building and how did it come to you all? MILLER: It was a part of the Owensboro City Schools. And of course, Dr. Bill Chandler was assistant superintendent or associate superintendent at the time, and he was active on the Citizens Committee. So obviously, there was a group like that that was -- if we were getting closer to having a community college, they were going to jump in to make sure it worked. So they made arrangements for us to use that building at the time. KLEE: And this Dr. Chandler -- is that correct? MILLER: It is. That's his picture right here. KLEE: He's been on the advisory board and the foundation board? MILLER: Do it -- he's done it all. KLEE: I see. (Miller and Klee laugh). MILLER: Yeah. He was on the Citizens Committee and then later was on our board of directors, and then is currently the chair of our foundation board. KLEE: So he stayed with it the whole time? MILLER: He has. He sure did. He was, I think, assistant superintendent at the time, and then he was later on superintendent of schools for the city. But he's been retired now for, I'm not sure, eight, ten years. I'm not sure. Maybe more than that. You know how time passes. KLEE: What kind of individual was he? I mean, is he outgoing, quiet? I mean -- MILLER: He's outgoing. Very serious in nature, but there again, a good, dry sense of humor. And -- but he's the kind of person that's kind of a nuts-and-bolts, gets down to the issues involved. And like I say, once he is sold on the need for something and sees that it needs to take place, then he -- obviously the proof's in the pudding there, and he's been involved ever since then and has never wavered in his support of the community college, and more than that, seeing that -- you know, with his experience in the city schools and seeing what a lot of those graduates -- what opportunities were available or not available for them, you know, he -- it's all, for him, student-oriented and seeing that they have more opportunities in the city of Owensboro. KLEE: Sure. You went to another building, I think, too. And I can't remember what that was. MILLER: The Midtown Building. (Miller laughs). KLEE: Where -- how did that come into play? Who -- how'd that get provided for? MILLER: Well, we -- there again, we were for a crunch -- in a crunch for space. As we expanded and had more students, we needed more office space. So Malcolm Bryant -- I don't know if his name's come up in your research or not ----------(??) names, but he's also very active. He was an active local developer, and he was a part of Barron Homes at that point. And Barron Homes had their main offices in the Midtown Complex. Malcolm was on the Citizens Committee at that point. He realized there was an old -- actually it was an old vacant grocery store years ago that had been used for different reasons for different offices. But that was basically -- provided more room, and more so, we needed a place where there was parking. And there was some parking adjacent to that, that students would have to walk about a half a block. But we could at least -- at that point, the Longfellow Building had very little parking at all. This provided student parking. We took an old grocery store and literally came in and put up the walls, put offices in, so we had a suite of administrative offices. But -- and of course, I was in that office suite, but you could walk out the hall and 20 feet to your right, and here's two or three classrooms that were subdivided too. And we had, at that point, really expanded our bookstore for students. We had, at that point, more of a business office presence where students could come in to pay their fees. But that's how -- this one lower level of the Midtown Building was just available, and we were able to lease that. Plus, I think the -- and I'm trying to remember the actual name of this building, but there was a building which is right behind a Dairy Queen right now, and there again, close to Senior High, Owensboro High School. And we leased that as well for our faculty offices, see. Up until that point, faculty really didn't have any office space. So we leased another building and kind of subdivided that, put up some walls and partitions. And so I would say, our first group of 10 to 12 faculty members had offices in it, but it was about a mile down the road from the Midtown Building. KLEE: Now, during this time period, while you were offering classes and moving around and so forth, they were talking about a permanent location. And that was a subject of some controversy. MILLER: Right. KLEE: I guess you all were following that with interest? MILLER: Oh sure, very much so. KLEE: What were the different arguments that were made? MILLER: Well, there was one argument, you know, that if this was going to be a community college that served -- that was supposed to be accessible and convenient for everybody, that probably a downtown location would be good where you had city bus transportation. And so -- and obviously, and I'm not sure how this -- how that -- the other locations came about. I'm trying to think of the other locations outside of this location. But I'm aware of a proposed downtown location, but I don't think it really ever got serious consideration because of the displacement of -- you know, you have major streets downtown, any one particular large enough area that would house a college. So once again, you had your Citizens Committee with -- trying to do what's best for the long term for the college. And I'm sure the University of Kentucky at that time was really interested in the same thing, wanting an area where the college could grow and expand in the future. So -- but this site is -- what I can remember, this was always kind of the front-runner for the location. KLEE: They called this, in one of the articles, the Field property. Was that somebody significant or was that just the farmland? MILLER: It was the family that owned this property. And it was just a huge farm here. And in fact, the Field -- the family still has some members that live adjacent to this property. They have property across the road, and in fact, own the property where the Western Kentucky University expansion is going to take place there. So -- but anyway, in terms of, you know, there was a lot of discussion in town about the location, where it should go. But the accessibility, the future long- term growth possibilities, and as far as I remember, this site always seemed to be kind of the front-runner. KLEE: What was your -- I mean, you didn't have any official role, I don't think, in site selection? MILLER: No, I didn't. KLEE: What was your private interest? I mean -- MILLER: Privately, you know, I was supporting this site, the current site that we're on. And at that point, even -- it was about 104 acres, the original site. And when we first came here, I mean, it was one of those things that it was just incredible to see over a period of a year or two, how it developed. I mean this was -- there was -- when I first -- when we first walked out here just to kind of look at it, there was sagebrush, you know, seven, eight feet tall, all over this area. KLEE: Is that right? MILLER: There's some old areas where there had been corn grown and some old cornstalks and everything like that. But there was an old -- a couple of barns. Basically right where the maintenance shop is now, there were some old barns right there. But luckily, we were -- we saved the -- there's a stand of trees right when you come in. That was a -- I know there was a lot of talk there, preserve what you can of what's here. And -- but then -- but I think that was -- I think everybody was real excited because of the size of this acreage here. KLEE: The possibilities. MILLER: And the possibilities. And then not long after that, the discussion that -- the Highway 60 Bypass, US 60 Bypass, was already in at that point, but that there might be an outer loop at some point. And that would -- that was to be right outside of the campus area. So transportation-wise, they're -- even though the city didn't provide bus transportation out this way. That was one, kind of, criticism. At that point, that they felt like, man, this is so far out of town, that you know, people have to come out of town to get to the college. So -- but -- KLEE: I didn't follow it. I guess they might have tried it for a while, some bus transportation. MILLER: Well-- KLEE: I saw one article where it said they were going to discontinue, because of -- you know, ridership was -- MILLER: We've had good news on that just in the last few months. The city has decided to -- they tried it again a year ago, and they expanded the routes -- or the times to basically once every hour for -- from, like, 8:00 in the morning till 6:00 or 7:00 at night. And just within the last two or three months, they've made a decision to make it a permanent part of the route. So the buses are running here now. A part of that was that the city seems to be growing in the last few years, out this way. There's a 54 Corridor, which is the next major highway to the east of us, is growing quite a bit, so the bus route is coming out this way. There's other areas developing on J. R. Miller Boulevard, to the west of us. KLEE: So that extra loop was built eventually? MILLER: It has not been. KLEE: Okay, okay. MILLER: No. And the outer loop has kind of just been put on hold. But I remember that was in one of the original plans, that there would be an outer -- a four-lane outer loop just to the south of the college. And so we -- that would position us real well for -- to be right in -- in the long term, in the future, if growth is coming out this way, it's like we'd be kind of in the middle of things. KLEE: So the -- by that growth being out here, the bus can just kind of loop around, I guess? MILLER: Exactly. The ridership has been sufficient now, this second go-around. We tried it four or five years ago. It didn't have the ridership they needed, but now the ridership's there, and they've made it permanent. So we're proud of that. It's something that especially students that don't have reliable transportation, you know, they can get out here on a regular basis. KLEE: Tell me what kind of supervisor or boss Jim McDannel was? MILLER: Well as I say, at that time, everything was just kind of by the seat of your pants, trying to stay a step ahead, because like I say, we went from 500 students in the fall of '86 to about 800 the next fall, and we were well over 1,000 two years from then. And just trying to find space to accommodate -- so he was the kind of boss and supervisor that told you, you know, a lot's -- you can't -- "With the state of development we're in now, you're pretty much on call anytime as needed, you know. We'll be doing registrations late at night over in Ohio County and Hancock County. You know, if a bank downtown, if they have a group of 20 students that want to take a class, we're going to go down there and register them." And in fact, sometimes that did make a lot of sense, because we were limited in space to do a group registration, so we went to them a lot of times. And so -- but he just told you, you know, "I'm going to be -- I've hired you. I know that everybody has a job to do. I'm going to let you do your job, but we're going to work as a team. I want all the directors" -- or assistant directors, at that time -- "you know, we'll do what's necessary. And if -- you know, we're not going to look strictly at your job description. If we need extra help to do an orientation or if there are students lined up in the hall that we need to get into a classroom to do something, anything that needs to be done, we're going to jump in there and do it." It's kind of like the -- because of the time, the seat-of-your-pants management, because you just couldn't predict. It was growing so fast that you're just -- we were trying to stay ahead of the curve there. KLEE: And the administrative circle at that time was McDannel and yourself and Gary Green? MILLER: Gary Green. KLEE: And then was there maybe somebody in business affairs? MILLER: Kathy Chavez was the first assistant director for business affairs. KLEE: That was probably the group, wasn't it? MILLER: That was the group. We had -- I believe Ed Morris might have been, like, a division chair, uh-huh. KLEE: Right. He's been here since the beginning? MILLER: He's been here since the beginning, and he was one of those original faculty members. KLEE: Tell me -- you know, usually faculties, I guess -- I don't know if you can say this as a faculty member yourself, but faculty members have their peculiarities, and some of them are colorful and -- in your original group, that first faculty, did you have some people like that? Or do you know any stories? MILLER: (Laughing) Yeah, there was -- and you're right, we did have some characters, as they're called. (Klee laughs) And that's the thing, Dr. McDannel encouraged that. I mean, he accepted everybody for their differences and their peculiarities. He kind of accepted that and encouraged the positive and kind of downplayed the negative. It was kind of a team approach there. But there was -- we had a professor of biology and his name was Dr. Fernando Marroquin. I think he was -- I'm not sure of the -- Mexico or one of the Central American countries, but -- and I remember one time he was -- of course, wanted to enhance our biology. He was -- he didn't think our students had enough actual work on cadavers and animals to really do some real research on them. So I remember one time we found a deer carcass underneath the office building. He had brought it home -- put it in his trunk, brought it home and put it under the old office building, which was down there off -- behind the Dairy Queen I was telling you about. And I think people started getting the odor of some kind of animal. And that was his plan, man, I've brought something in I'm going to use. But anyway, he was not afraid to do anything that was necessary to provide some additional resources for his students to learn on. We had another math teacher, early math teacher, Jim Thomas. I don't know if -- and he's deceased now. He died just within the last year, but just a -- kind of a real student advocate, but was -- he was just -- I remember he was a chain smoker and you'd always find him every spare minute -- and he would -- but he would be talking to students all the time about math. And he was always -- and he was another one who is willing to help anytime day or night. And of course, he had evening -- you'd see him there during the evening classes, during the day. But he was kind of one of those that kind of lived at the college. There's some faculty members like that. That's kind of their life. KLEE: And he was kind of charismatic. I mean, students were drawn to him? MILLER: Oh, students were drawn to him. KLEE: Well, that's unusual in math. I mean, you know, sometimes you see, literature or those kind of people. MILLER: Right. But he was really challenged by those students that were having problems with getting the math, and he would do anything to make sure they understood that. KLEE: What about -- in those first years, where did your faculty -- who were your faculty leaders, the ones that -- you know, there's always some that either try to advocate for the students or the faculty or -- sometimes for good or bad. MILLER: Right. Well, I tell you, some of those that I mentioned first -- at first, had -- were the leaders. Some of them were quiet leaders at the time, but nevertheless, were advocates for students. And that was Steve Carden, who was philosophy and English, and Carl Runyon. And even though they were -- but more than that, I think they're -- the importance of those guys -- and Al Wallace was in accounting. But the quality of instruction -- you know, it would have been very easy at that time to possibly let the quality of who you hire as part-time people, the time you give students in class, to slide a little bit on that. But those guys, I have to give them credit. They were true professionals. Even though we were just starting out, this might be the first year we're offering this class or this might be the first semester we're able to offer classes in this area, but were going to have the quality and the students are going to perform on the college level. When it was sometimes perceived that some students would say, "Well, I'm glad we have a community college here. I'll go down there and sit in these classes and get my good grades and then transfer somewhere else. It will be easy." Well, that perception was very quickly overcome by teachers like that who, you know, made it known by what -- how they taught students and the way they interacted with Jim McDannel and with Gary Green that, you know, it was important to them that this be college -- quality college-work. Carl Runyon, Steve Carden, Al Wallace, Ed Morris, all those, I think, were instrumental in that and setting the tone for good quality instruction. KLEE: This college is kind of -- it is unique because it's the only college that's been created after that first-- MILLER: Big wave. KLEE: -- bunch of colleges. And it was formed as part of the University -- I mean, it was the University of Kentucky College System. And you and I both worked for that organization, the University of Kentucky, and now we're employed by Kentucky Community and Technical College System. In those -- in '84, '85, '86, when the college opened, how important to these faculty members we've talked about and maybe yourself -- was being a part of the University of Kentucky, was that a factor in any way? I mean, how did that play out? MILLER: It was critically important, from my perspective. And it helped with the perception that it was a quality program. And I know that a lot of people -- and we did, we played up the fact -- UK was really emphasized. University of Kentucky, Owensboro Community College. KLEE: Underneath that. MILLER: Right, underneath that. So I think we really benefited from being a part of a respected, structured state university system like that, because -- well, that was one of the ideas batted back and forth before the community college was created was, you know, can Western provide us some community college or lower-level classes in Owensboro? Can Kentucky Wesleyan and Brescia provide some classes at a lower tuition level? You know, all those ideas were thought about and discussed, but in the final reality I think it was important that we decided that working with the University of Kentucky and providing a structured community college, stand-alone community college, would be the way to go. And they had the systems in place -- as I say, this general development plan was all -- put a lot of thought and research into this before we even decided what the campus would look like. KLEE: Yeah. You brought me in this -- these proposed plans, but that was another one of UK functions. UK had the architects and the engineers to be able to, you know, put them right to work on this kind of thing. Buildings and so forth all went through them. The community, was UK -- you think that UK connection was a big deal to the community leaders? Was it important? MILLER: It was, because the University at that time responded obviously in a positive way after the Citizens Committee had come to their conclusions about, you know, what kind of institution was needed. And then, you know, I think the University of Kentucky was really responsive at that time, and of course, had to -- and it was kind of walking a tightrope, working with Henderson to get them to provide the programs early on in Owensboro, because their faculty -- from that '84 period, for a few years there, their faculty and student services staff, bookstore people, were all having to come to Owensboro to provide those services. And -- but my recollection, even though they might have kind of grumbled about it a little bit, but they were professional and provided those services. To them, they realized these were all students that we need to serve. And I'm sure they didn't anticipate in the long run they were going to have to be doing that too many years. (Miller laughs). Something had to give. KLEE: That brings me to students, and I've got a couple of questions. Now, you started out as assistant director of student affairs. MILLER: Student services. KLEE: Student services. And of course, those titles were changed to dean later. So you're the dean of student affairs. MILLER: Student affairs. KLEE: I saw some of those articles -- first, ask about the UK connection. Did -- how did students react to that? MILLER: About the connection with UK? Once again, I think that there was a perception that that name, the University of Kentucky being associated with the community college, really lent a lot of credibility to the programs. And of course, the transcripts they received, you know, had the University of Kentucky on there. So I think a lot of people felt a lot of pride in that, that we have a part of the University of Kentucky right here in Owensboro. And it was the same as -- even though not necessarily you'd be taking the very same thing, but it's the same as taking a class at UK. KLEE: Right. And of course, the courses were numbered the same -- MILLER: Numbered the same and the whole works. KLEE: -- and so forth. It seemed to me that -- and you can fill me in on this -- a lot more traditional-type students right at the beginning. Am I correct on that? MILLER: Right. There was a -- as I say, a pent-up demand, I think, for traditional-age students graduating from high school to have a low-cost educational option there. And so yeah, I think probably originally we were -- I know I was involved with organizing, doing the first student governments and, you know, electing student officers. And yeah, it was much more traditional in nature. And as we've gone on, our history of development, we've had more of the nontraditional blend of students, and even with --in our student leadership and those that have excelled and Phi Theta Kappa and all the student clubs and organizations, have tended to be nontraditional students there. KLEE: Well, let me explore it a little bit, because I wasn't very clear in my question. One of the things I was seeing is, did you have more transfer-type students? And then the people that listen to this that don't know our jargon, we call traditional students those right out of high school. MILLER: Right. KLEE: And then nontraditionals were older, a lot of married people, people coming back for -- working people. MILLER: Right. We -- I think we did have a real focus at that point on -- because we weren't -- we didn't have the technical side in place that we do now with KTCTS, but -- and like you say, their -- the English 101, all the UK course-numbering. We had a very large percentage -- at least it seemed to me to be more dominant at the time of students that knew they were going to stay home for the first year or two and take all those classes at the local community college. And then they could tell you when they stepped in the door the first semester, "I'm going to UK [in] fall of such and such a year, but I want to get those classes." Or Western Kentucky. Those were the big schools, where people transferred to Western at that point and to UK and to a lesser degree, even though we tried to work on the transfer to Kentucky Wesleyan and Brescia University, but regardless of the efforts, just the tuition level just was a handicap. And to their credit, Kentucky Wesleyan and Brescia both started working on transfer agreements and scholarship assistance to students. KLEE: Trying to attract students. MILLER: Trying to attract students. [End Side 1, Tape 1] [Begin Side 2, Tape 1] KLEE: I'm kind of OCD about some of this (Miller laughs) ----------(??), if it's going to work. This is Side 2 of a tape with Larry Miller on February 28, 2007. We are at Owensboro Community and Technical College, talking about the early history of Owensboro Community College. And you were -- we were just discussing how Owens- -- Kentucky Wesleyan and Brescia tried to build scholarship programs trying to attract your transfer students. MILLER: Uh-huh. And probably those were with limited success, because of the huge difference in tuition. But there were efforts made to provide some scholarship assistance to transfer. And I think we showed years later, probably around 1990 or so, to try to look at the impact of the community college on their enrollment, that after the initial beginnings of the community college, the shock of that, and huge numbers going directly into the community college, that they did adjust. And their overall enrollments had not been impacted, obviously because there's a different market, a different -- students have different needs and goals when they choose a small liberal arts college. And the community college was attracting, really, those who would not have attended or gotten any higher education at all, if it had not been here. KLEE: You all did a lot of statistical kinds of things, asking students questions. And I saw some of that in the newspaper reports, you know: How many of you would not have gone to college if this hadn't been available? And so on and so forth. MILLER: Right, right, right. And like I say, even going 30 minutes over to Henderson, the vast majority would not do that. KLEE: One of the things I kind of noted -- and you would be intimately involved with this -- as the student population changed, their ideas, needs and so forth changed. It seemed to me, in those early years, you all did a lot of traditional kind of student things. I saw, like, a Sadie Hawkins dance? MILLER: Right. KLEE: Tell me a little bit about that. Student government activities. And I saw a newspaper. MILLER: Yeah. Well, a lot of the students, since a big percentage of those were coming right out of high school and into our -- into the community college, they tended to carry over their ideas of, you know, what was appropriate in high school or what they enjoyed doing in high school. But we did start -- we started, like, a student newsletter. It really wasn't as organized as a newspaper, but it was more of just a informational newsletter we would do every week or so. Student government organized. And of course, that was a part of the UK system, that they had a structure and encouraged every college to have student -- to have an active student government. And in fact, KTCTS still does this, but the UK system included a student -- a student government president served on the advisory board at that time, and then later on the board of directors. So there was an organized way for students to be involved, but it did tend to -- their activities tended to be toward the more social aspects. I don't think we had a Phi Theta Kappa academic organization early on. That was a little bit later. But we had a real active student government, and they did like to organize different things, maybe once in the fall and once in the spring. KLEE: You had dances. MILLER: A dance, a concert, things like that. Another interesting thing we started that really has lasted, one of the few things that's lasted every year was a 5K Road Run, which we started that very first spring of '87, I believe. And in fact, we are having our 20th anniversary Road Run this -- coming up in April. KLEE: I see. Is that for a charity event? MILLER: It's really for student activities. And for -- at that time -- that's another thing, too. We tended to have more active intramural sports activities, had a lot of interesting basketball at the time. Flag football and volleyball and those kinds of things. KLEE: But I'm assuming a lot of those things have gone away, because of, you know, the older students and -- MILLER: I think you're -- yeah, you're right there. I've noticed that too, that as we have more nontraditional students -- and to be honest, a lot of students that go away for a year or two, they might go for a semester or two at UK right out of high school, and you have that reverse transfer, that they're coming back home and realizing -- or their parents are realizing that socially, they're not quite ready to handle -- they're not mature enough to handle being away from home and doing well at college away from home. They're coming back here. But I think a lot of that interest has shifted now to part-time jobs and family responsibilities. KLEE: Well, even among the traditional students who-- MILLER: Exactly. KLEE: -- you know, I don't know why, but don't seem to have the leisure time to say, "Well let's organize a football league," or whatever. MILLER: Sure. And really, one other aspect of that -- and I know that all community colleges have a real challenge in getting students involved in organizations. But if you just notice the way this campus was designed, that we're really spread out in a way, which -- and the parking's kind of adjacent to each building, so it's very easy, if you have a 9 o'clock class and you don't have another until 1 [o'clock], you know, you can park right in front of the science building, walk into the building, take your class, and then you're out of there afterwards. And you don't even see anything else going on on campus. So we've tried to change that in our master plan. And as you can see, the latest building is -- we're building more of a core campus. Dr. Wethington was instrumental in -- when the funding came up for a campus center building, it was originally scheduled for the other end of campus. KLEE: I see. Keep that -- keep this kind of half-circle pattern. MILLER: Yeah. Keep that pattern going. Well, he kind of broke that pattern, which I think turned out really well. In hindsight, it really has turned out well, but the campus center should be more in the center of the campus. So he was instrumental in getting that changed in our plan to where it would be in the center campus. And now all of the other buildings in our long- -- our strategic master plan is more of a center focus. And then you're parking on the outside of the building, so -- KLEE: I see. Was the campus center the first change to the original -- MILLER: It was. KLEE: -- original buildings? MILLER: It was. It was the first building built after the original five buildings. KLEE: And these five -- of course, you were here when all that was taking place. Any major problems? I mean, things went pretty well or -- MILLER: I thought -- KLEE: Did you get out here and already didn't have enough space? MILLER: I thought, overall, it went well. I know as -- of course, we're 20 years old now or so, that the HVAC system, the heating and air conditioning, it seems like we've always had problems with. And we've had contractors come back in to work on it and just cannot seem to get it right. KLEE: Is that centralized for all the buildings? MILLER: No. KLEE: One system? Or each one -- MILLER: It is. But I think you would probably agree, the more buildings you have, and you're going to multiply the problems. KLEE: Spread out the heat -- right. MILLER: You're going to multiply the problems, the heat and air conditioner problems, with the way a lot of the buildings are designed. But they were, at the time, supposed to be state-of-the-art systems that would have automatic shut-off at certain time and then would come back on at certain time, where the temperature would be regulated. KLEE: Save energy and everything. MILLER: Save energy and everything. And that hasn't quite worked out. But in terms, I think, of the quality of the buildings, I still -- I really like the design. I think they did a good job including a lot of glass areas where there's a lot of light that can come in and -- KLEE: Was this -- this water feature, you said you saw the original farm. Was there a pond out here in -- MILLER: No. KLEE: -- the original? They -- MILLER: No. My understanding was that was designed as a retaining pool to drain this area here. In fact, these parking lots, that was all built up. It seems strange to me how they did that originally, but that was a lot lower -- where the parking is, that was a lot lower originally. They pulled in dirt to build that up, to drain it all this way. And even these buildings, for years we had a real problem with water pooling between the sidewalk and the front doors. For whatever reason, there's a little slag right in there. And as you'll see now, they've done a lot of work on additional drainage right there. But there were times where, if it rained hard, you'd have to walk through water six inches deep just getting from the sidewalk into the buildings. KLEE: You know, I -- this subject was a little controversial or whatever. But Dr. McDannel left amid some controversy. I don't know how many, six, seven years into his tenure maybe? MILLER: It was in '93, I think, '92 or '-3. No, no. Actually, it was about six years in. KLEE: The question I had about that was more about, it's -- the advisory board took a more active role than, I think, probably has ever happened before or since. What happened there? I mean, just without getting into a lot of details -- or we'd be happy to have the details too, but I mean -- MILLER: Well you know, I can -- you know, I might have been more out of the loop than I should have been in a leadership position. But I kind of suspected that -- you know, there was some things that were -- this college, as I said, early on, you know, it seemed like 24 hours a day there were activities going on, and I know that Dr. McDannel was here a lot. I don't know a lot of the details of what was going on there. And in fact, when I realized the advisory board was having some concerns and there was meetings, it was the kind of thing that I felt like it was best not to know. KLEE: Right, right. MILLER: And I felt like at that point, if there's problems with Dr. McDannel, that Ben Carr or Dr. Wethington would call the leadership team together and let us know. And really, to me, that really never happened. I guess I was looking for that leadership team to give us some direction, and at that point, I was saying, you know, "I'm just going to do my job." And that's what -- that's how we operated anyway, everybody was doing their job. We did have leadership team meetings, but there was obviously no discussion -- those leadership team meetings, we kind of focused on getting the job done and offering classes and getting people registered. So I remember talking to some people at that point and some questions were asked about what was going on, and I just had to tell them, "I'm sorry, but by design, I don't know exact- -- I can't shed light on that." And I don't, to this day. People might think I'm just avoiding the issue or it might be naive of me, but I was -- I did not witness or know directly of anything that created a problem that caused him to leave. KLEE: I guess what happened was the advisory board had some meetings, and then Ben Carr, I guess, was acting -- chancellor, I guess was the term they used then, or I don't know what they were doing. But, you know, a transfer took place. MILLER: Yeah. And I think some of the advisory board members probably communicated directly with Dr. Wethington at that point, suspected there were problems, and then I'm sure Dr. Wethington did his investigation and realized that -- you know, like me and student affairs. If one student comes in to complain about a teacher, you know, I'll listen and I understand what they're saying. But -- you're not alarmed, but if 15 students out of a class of 20 come in, then, you know, you take it to the next step. So I think the volume of what was going on and the amount of people that were concerned about activities or alleged activities or -- that led them to do a closer look. And then Dr. Wethington at that point tried to work that out to everybody's best advantage, but knew that there was a change in leadership needed. KLEE: I know our deans have to attend advisory board meetings. Do they make you -- the deans here go to advisory board meetings? MILLER: We do attend. KLEE: I'm curious about, over the years, who are some of the people that have stood out in the community that, you know, are continued supporters of the college? MILLER: Well, as I mentioned, Dr. Chandler has to be at the top of the list. Michael Fiorella, his portrait is also here in the boardroom, and he was, early on, on the Citizens Committee and then also on the board of directors, as well, on the foundation, has been a constant leader in one role or another. John Hager has been -- now, he, not so much in terms of elected leadership on the board of directors or the foundation, but certainly, you know, gave support and encouragement for higher education in Owensboro, and we always knew that, you know, we were supported by him. I'm just trying to -- Roger McCormick is -- I see his picture right there too. He was more or less kind of a quiet person behind the scenes early on, after we started and got the college going, not so much a visible leader in the community. Malcolm Bryant is another person that I mentioned. David Atkisson was a former mayor of Owensboro, probably the youngest mayor we'd ever had. He was the mayor at, like, 28 years old, and later moved to Birmingham and was the director of the Birmingham Chamber of Commerce. Now he's back in Kentucky as the Kentucky -- he's the executive director of the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce. KLEE: I guess that's where I've seen his name. MILLER: Dave Atkisson, yeah. He was very much a kind of visionary and a leader and was very supportive of the college, as well. But those are some of the people. KLEE: Right. Now, one of the things that community colleges started getting into later was fund-raising. Are there some families or institutions here in the community that, when Owensboro's having a fund-raising effort, they're key players or people that you look to to get things rolling or lend support? MILLER: John Hager has to be at the top of that list, as well. He always has supported us, you know, with his encouragement and through the newspaper, but also through his contribution to our -- to every campaign we have. Anytime there is a need for financial support in an organized campaign, he's been there. And I would say he's been the key person there. KLEE: Okay. Any banks or companies that have really stepped up? MILLER: Well, right now -- and this has been the last ten years -- the Owensboro Medical Health System is our local hospital group here, is really now the major -- the top employer in Owensboro. And they have -- as far as partnerships and providing funding for faculty positions, especially in the allied health area, they've been a key supporter through the years. And then I'm trying to think of other corporations that have come through. Once again, I think the health area. KLEE: Let me ask, how has the -- how did the community or the culture of the community help shape the college and its culture and its nature? MILLER: Uh-huh. You know, I think -- you know, here's a little interesting tidbit, as far as the culture goes. We have a really nice River Park Center down right on the river that -- for, you know, the performing arts, really active and well supported. Originally, there was a discussion of putting a performing arts center on this campus. And when this original plan was made, in fact, I think there was a designated place for that. But the city and the Citizens Committee and the leadership of the college agreed that probably we would not need one here and then also downtown. So -- but I think the -- I would say that most of the people that support the college, there's a direct relationship to the support of that River Park Center and getting it funded and active. And so I think there's -- for a city this size, having -- we have three major arts centers and museums, that I think is very strong, very strong support in this community. And I'm not sure -- outside -- the River Park Center has had a relationship with our theater department here where we use the facility down there. It's always been real cordial. We've had our graduation ceremonies there before KLEE: So the community part -- the community sees this as just one piece of the puzzle for the whole community. They don't look at it stand- alone. ----------(??) MILLER: Not at all. And especially, I look at some other communities. I know, for example, Henderson has a really nice fine arts theater there, and Madisonville, and some of the other community colleges. I think in those communities, that probably is the -- that's the center for the fine arts and performing arts, whereas I don't think that's true for the college here. It's more of a -- KLEE: So what the college -- what the community already had or what they wanted to put someplace else affected what kinds of things were offered here. MILLER: Exactly. We have a humanities building. We've got the label right on the front. And -- but -- and in fact, the lecture hall is named after Don Blandford, the Don Blandford Lecture Hall. There was some discussion early on about making that a lot -- putting some more funding into that where you -- we could have full theater -- or performances there, concerts and that kind of thing. And it just really -- it just wasn't a -- so that tells you there it wasn't a priority to do that on this campus. KLEE: What about the effect you've seen on this community from the college? In other words, you know, 20 years ago, 23 years ago, there wasn't a college here, and now there is. What impact do you think it's played in the community and the region? MILLER: Well, just that on-to-college rate. Within four or five years, after the college was here and offering classes, that on-to-college rate started just leaping upwards. And you know, really, I think that people do feel an ownership of the college. I mean, they feel free to -- if there is -- you know, if there is a problem they're having with an academic -- with a teacher or if there's any problem at all, they'll call any of us just to -- maybe not complain, but just to say, "I know you've worked at the college, and you'd know how to direct me to get this solved." But people feel real comfort in calling the president's office, or calling my office or the counseling office to, you know -- like I say, they're real patient. I've found that really interesting, that people -- they'll preface things like, "I don't like to complain," or, "This is not a big deal, but this has happened. Can you help me find a solution to this or who should I talk to?" But I think that in itself says that people feel really comfortable that it's a part of the community and pretty accessible. KLEE: No real town-gown split. I mean, people from the community are comfortable coming out here? MILLER: Yeah. In fact, we're -- we don't have a lot of available meeting rooms and big, nice areas for big groups to meet in. But we stay really busy all the time just with our -- like we have a -- what we call our small dining area, where you can have small group meetings. And we rarely charge. I don't remember the last time we charged anybody to meet on campus and that kind of thing. And our classrooms, we have a good partnership with -- Dana Corporation is -- you were talking about financial support, but Dana Corporation has -- with our welding program, has bought a lot of nice equipment for our welding students and for our program to use. They come in at 6 o'clock at night and do training from 6 o'clock at night until 6 [o'clock] the next morning. So you know, that kind of support. But they just -- and we encourage that. You know, that anything they need, we'll bend over backwards to make sure that we -- especially when they're providing a lot of the equipment. KLEE: After Dr. McDannel, there was a Dr. McGuire here? MILLER: Uh-huh, yes. KLEE: What kind of -- which direction did he take the college? MILLER: He was a -- Dr. McGuire really brought us along in a lot of positive areas. He, I think, was a little bit more structured in his management style. And I would say the management team was -- you know, we -- even though, I -- working with Dr. McDannel, I think I had a good relationship with him and felt like he understood me and gave me a lot of freedom to do what we wanted. But I think that we took the next step in our organizational structure by -- because, you know, you can only do that brush fire -- KLEE: Seat-of-the-pants. MILLER: Yeah -- seat-of-the-pants so long, and then you need to have structure and strategic planning, so -- KLEE: And the college had grown and settled down a little bit. MILLER: Right, exactly. And that's when I think our strategic planning -- and of course, SACS accreditation doesn't -- they don't wait around long before they're visiting. And you have a -- you have to have a team to get that organized. So I think that that was his big advantage there, that he brought along the planning structures and a lot of experience that he had had from other college systems that would kind of bring us into the 20th century. KLEE: Now, did Dr. Addington come right after him or was there somebody in between them? MILLER: Actually -- and I'm trying to think. Pat Lake was -- after McDannel left, Pat Lake was an interim for maybe a year before John McGuire was hired. And then after John McGuire left, David Brauer came over from Henderson for about six months until Dr. Addington was hired. So that was kind of the sequence. KLEE: And it's 2007, and you're going to have an announcement for a new president, I guess, next week. MILLER: Should have. KLEE: They had essentially three -- you've had three, you know, full- time directors or presidents. MILLER: That's right. KLEE: The 1997 split with UK, you know, you've talked about UK allegiances in the community and here. How did that play and how is it playing out? MILLER: Well, we had a lot of -- a big -- a lot of discussion with the community, and I'd say that a lot -- it was kind of evenly split. A lot of people -- a lot of unknown fears about leaving. I mean, it would be different if we were moving from one structured organization like UK to another structured organization like Western, another regional university. But to create a whole new administrative structure such as KTCTS, and people still -- a lot of people still don't get that. They don't even know the name of it or the title of it. Just the fear of the unknown, fear that our classes would no longer be accredited, or there'd be transfer problems that -- you know, the original thought was a loss of prestige and credibility. And there again, of course, you were around through it all, too. There was that period of transition where a lot of those things proved to not be a real problem. And still though, even though we've been Owensboro Community and Technical College now for many years, I'd say 90 percent of the people that I talk to talk about OCC. "What's going on at OCC?" It's hard to change that, but for -- I can truly say now for several years that students coming here and enrolling, there's no problem with the perception that, I'll take these classes and I'll have to worry if they'll transfer to UK or Western, that the transfer and the credibility and the prestige of the classes, I don't think, has suffered much at all ----------(??) the original. KLEE: There is a separate technical -- there was a separate technical college here somewhere in the community, is that correct? And where is that physically located? MILLER: Actually there's two campuses. The southeast campus is behind Daviess County High School right here down the road. KLEE: Right across the street, uh-huh. MILLER: Most of those programs were high school programs offered -- that was actually an area technology center. And then the adult programs, most of them were at the downtown campus at, like, 15th -- the 1500 block on Frederica Street. So we still have those. We have the main campus here; we still have the southeastern campus. In fact, that's one of the hats I wear is that they -- we wanted a campus dean to be over there to provide direction, so I serve as campus dean at the southeastern campus, as well. So it's sometimes kind of hard to -- yeah. And then the downtown campus as well. So all three of those now, those students can go the track they want to, if it's diploma or associate degree level, and get that. KLEE: Last question. I addressed this just a little bit before on how the college has changed the community. Student success stories? Do any of them stand out in your mind or anything in general about student success stories? I mean, I guess, you know, there are nurses at the hospital that came through here and that kind of thing. MILLER: Yeah. And I'm not sure that I remember the names, but the success stories I remember are students that tell us later on that they drove out here -- these are old- -- sometimes nontraditional students in their 30s and 40s. They drove out here and parked right next to the admissions office, sat in their car for about 30 minutes just getting up the courage to go in there, and just to find out -- you know, they wanted to be an accountant or they wanted to be a nurse, and this is the first step in how to -- can I even do this? You know, doubting their own abilities. And then, once those students -- and this is in hindsight -- you know, they'll tell you that, once I got in there, all these forms seemed to be crazy, and it was a hassle filling this out, but after that first semester and I realized that I could do this, you know, kind of the joy they have. And I don't know if you remember, we used to have the Great Teacher awards. And there used to be -- I forgot what it was now, but there's a -- and it might not -- we had a student in our radiography class that was going to be recognized as one of the outstanding community college students. I'm not sure if it was a systemwide thing. But he had to travel to Lexington to be recognized in this program, and he had never worn a tie and a shirt. And I remember he was saying, "Mr. Miller, can you teach me how to tie this tie?" And so you know, the day he was leaving, I came in and said, "Here. I -- it's one of these things, I'm not sure if I can show you how to do it, but you watch me. I can tie it myself." You know how it is with a tie sometimes, if you have to tell somebody how to do it. And so we sat there, and I said, "Okay. Follow me each step." And so he learned to tie that, and we put him in a van with some faculty members that were going up there. And he was just scared to death to be in that recognition, didn't even know how to tie a tie. We taught them how to do that. And actually the radiography teacher at the time asked me, said, you know, "You're a guy. Can you teach him how to tie this? I don't really know." KLEE: It shows you how far you take students sometimes. MILLER: Exactly. KLEE: And how far they travel. MILLER: We had a student last year that won a scholarship to Columbia University. KLEE: Gee. MILLER: We've got another student that's trans- -- going to be also enrolling at -- maybe at Harvard. I think it's incredible, some of the transfer stories. KLEE: Right. Well, I really appreciate you talking to me. MILLER: Sure. I enjoyed it. Thank you. Oral history with Larry Miller, who started in student affairs at Owensboro Community College in 1986. Interview highlights the initial tensions among the college, Brescia University, and Kentucky Wesleyan. Miller explains why Owensboro needed a public college and describes how the community advocated its establishment. Concludes with the selection of the building site, early memories of administrators and faculty, and student success stories.