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2007-02-13 Interview with Jim Kerley, February 13, 2007 CC001:2008OH011CC25 00:46:46 History of Kentucky's Community Colleges Oral History Project Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries Madisonville Community College Hopkinsville Community College Jim Kerley; interviewee Adina O'Hara; interviewer 2008OH011_CC25_Kerley 1:|9(4)|22(11)|36(1)|67(3)|83(3)|100(4)|113(5)|136(6)|154(12)|168(9)|182(6)|205(4)|218(5)|230(9)|243(8)|267(6)|284(2)|301(6)|314(3)|327(5)|342(10)|360(3)|380(6)|402(7)|416(13)|432(1)|447(4)|464(8)|486(15)|514(1)|537(4)|557(10)|573(7)|586(11)|602(1)|620(11)|633(1)|644(7)|664(2)|679(8)|710(5)|731(7)|747(8)|762(3)|775(10)|788(9) audiotrans CommuColl interview O'HARA: This is an interview conducted by Adina O'Hara with Jim Kerley at his office at Bluegrass Community and Technical College in Lexington, Kentucky, on February 13, 2007, for the Community College oral history project. The demand for higher education in Hopkins County resulted in the legislation of a community college in Madisonville in 1968. As a result, Madisonville Community College became a part of the University of Kentucky Community College System. Because you were appointed chief academic officer and dean of academic affairs at Madisonville Community College in 1986, you can explain the growth of this community college from an administrator's standpoint. KERLEY: Yeah, I came in 1986 -- actually, I think it was around the last of October or so of '86. Had been at Union College in Barbourville, Kentucky, but my goal was always to go to a community college. So I was really thrilled about getting that chance to go there to work at a community college. When I first got there -- I came from a four-year college, private college, so I was used to a campus. And I guess my first -- when I first got there for the interview, I was a little surprised it wasn't a developed campus. There was one building, and the building was very odd-shaped. I don't know, it was like in a bunker, almost, like in a covered ground, like, and the building was there. It really didn't -- you had to almost drive under, because I think I drove on top, and it was like I drove on top of the roof. So they just had that one building there when I first got there. And now you look, after all those years, 20-plus years, that there's really a developed campus, beautiful campus with an auditorium and library resources and everything else that they have, as far as newer facilities. So it really looks like a college campus. Then, it didn't. And I guess pretty typical of a lot of community colleges, community colleges start in all kinds of places, you know, store-fronts and everything else, or one building and that's all they had. So again, that's one memory that I have, as far as the Madisonville Community College when I first arrived there. But what I found when I went there too, was just a passion for people that loved the community college and great teachers. I was so impressed with their teachers there that really cared about the teaching and really enthusiastic about moving the college forward in a lot of different ways. Tell me what -- that's just my first initial look at it. O'HARA: That was -- that goes great with one of my questions about the facilities. KERLEY: Right. O'HARA: Now, when you arrived, is it in this -- was the building, the one building, in the same location it is now? KERLEY: Yes. O'HARA: Okay. KERLEY: Except I think they've built on top of it now. It was more -- it was almost -- it looked, again, like a bunker or like a basement or a fallout shelter, almost. It was not attractive at all. O'HARA: I can see how -- I've been to Madisonville ----------(??) year, and -- KERLEY: Yeah, you go down a -- O'HARA: You go down that hill. KERLEY: Yeah, I think I came up on the top end of it, and I said, "Where's the campus?" (Kerley laughs) There was no -- it didn't look like a campus at all. And my impressions were not that positive when I first came, because I came from a -- more of a developed, four-year college campus. And -- but what changed my mind -- and at first I said, "Gosh, do I want to leave my position now and go to a community college that has no campus?" (O'Hara laughs) But once I started talking to people, they just blew me away, as far as their love of their teaching and just very talented individuals there. And I think that's what I've seen over the years. We just have a really dedicated group of faculty members and staff members that care about the college, care about the mission. O'HARA: And speaking of the faculty members, were the -- what was -- were they local or were they coming in from different parts of the state or the nation? KERLEY: I think at that point -- I think most of them were local. I think at Madisonville, anyway, the majority of them were local faculty members coming from -- what I recall, some of them had been high school teachers, and the college opened, and probably pretty typical -- I think even in Hopkinsville where I went, a lot of folks came from the high school. The college opened, they advertise they have a college, and the ready source of teachers came from the high school, traditionally, I think, particularly in Madisonville and Hopkinsville, what I recall. And then after that, I think -- and now we're at the point where we have people coming in from across the whole country and doing national searches. I don't think national searches were done as -- quite as much then, in the earlier -- it's been more the last 15-20 years, we do -- we're pushing out more national searches. O'HARA: Now, what was the typical qualifications for a faculty member at the community college during your tenure? KERLEY: Yeah, I don't think it's changed that much, as far as SACS. It's been pretty well gen-ed, teaching, a master's degree -- you had to have a master's degree to teach the gen-ed transferable classes. And then the technical programs, depending -- we normally we had, I think, bachelor's degrees -- even when I first started, we had bachelor's degrees to teach in the technical programs. That was before we had the technical schools and community colleges combined. I think that's changed a little bit. Now we have folks that have associate degrees and experience in a technical field, and they can teach, they're still qualified to teach. We require them to go on for a bachelor's degree, but you can hire them now. But then we didn't have the technical -- the full technical component combined with a community college. O'HARA: And that's a -- that leads into another question I had. Area technology centers offered technical diploma and certificate-level programs to postsecondary populations across that state at the same as the community college were going. KERLEY: Right, right. O'HARA: In Madisonville, was there any cooperation among the community colleges and area technology centers? KERLEY: Yeah, great cooperation -- O'HARA: Really? KERLEY: -- what I remember. When I first got there, I was very impressed. Dr. Joyce Logan, I think, was -- she had been there for a long time. She's now at the University of Kentucky, teaching, researching, but she was the director, what I recall when I first got there. They had a fabulous advisory board set up. We had some joint-type programs in -- I think in the health programs. So there was tremendous cooperation. That's my -- in that area, I'm not sure that's true in every area. But in that Madisonville area, it was great cooperation, and we had joint committees. I think right away I was on a -- various committees, as far as that local technical set-up there. And they would meet with us often, and I remember them coming to the school a lot and the directors. And a lot our faculty cross-sectioned with them, I guess, as far as cross-teaching. So we saw a lot of that going on early on like that, and then I thought the cooperation was fabulous in that area. I can't say that in every area. O'HARA: It seems to differ across the state. KERLEY: Yeah, it probably does. But the -- O'HARA: Jefferson had a lot of cooperation. The other areas didn't. KERLEY: Did not. No. But there -- and I think in some areas there was competition, because there were some similar kind of programs. And -- but I think there it was just set up well. Because -- and I give a lot of credit with people like Joyce Logan. And I think John Gray -- John Gray was a guy that was chairman that I recall -- chairman of the advisory board at Madisonville Community College. And John Gray had been there probably since the founding of the college. I know he was. He worked in the coal industry, one of the large companies. And so it was his goal always -- I remember him talking to the college president. At that time at Madisonville, it was Dan Stumpf. He was there about 18 years total, I think. He was there when I first came, and he was probably the second president. I think Dr. Massey was the first president of Madisonville. But John Gray was heavily involved through all that time. And he was a business leader, but he loved the college, and he loved the vocational-technical schools too. And he was one of the primary ones that said, "You guys get together, need to work together." And so as -- and he was a pretty powerful leader. You had some of those, I think, you know -- definitely during the start-up times, you had some pretty strong leaders that really pushed it from the community, and John Gray definitely was one of those people in Madisonville. Bill Deatherage was probably the one at Hopkinsville who was one of those strong community leaders, bank president, and one of the original ones to help pull the college together. And he sort of had the same philosophy as John Gray. So I think that's worthy to mention that, because you did have those key business community leaders that took a strong interest in the community college, and I think helped community college to be shaped, and that they kept that focus on the community, which is part of our name, which I love that as part of our name, the community. We are a community -- the community's college. And I think that -- it was very true in Madisonville and Hopkinsville to -- as far as meeting the needs of that community. O'HARA: The story of Madisonville's embodiment of the community college ideal was unique in Kentucky, because in the beginning, in 1960, Madisonville, like you said, the strong community leaders got together and said -- KERLEY: Right. O'HARA: "We want higher education in Madisonville." KERLEY: Right. O'HARA: In 1960. And of course Henderson Community College, in '59, you know, a governor had gotten one just 40 miles north. KERLEY: Yeah. O'HARA: And then Hopkinsville was in the works, so Madisonville was the last one to formally become a community college. But there was this group of community leadership already developing as early as 1960. And they created the Madisonville Cooperative Education School. And basically what it was is, they got Kelly Thompson of Western, Ralph Woods of Murray, and A. D. Albright of UK together and said, "We want to create a cooperative, and we'll let you use our high school and some other community buildings to offer classes." And then that, eventually when they got the legislation through, parlayed in. But could you explain Madisonville Community College's relationship with the state regional universities, like Western and Murray, during your tenure? KERLEY: During my time -- this is my recollection -- that it wasn't as strong as it was today, as far as the cooperation. Very strong in that area, as far as the area technical part of it, but what I recall is that we had some major problems. At one point when I was there, Kern Alexander, who became president later on at Murray State University, he was at Western for a period of time. And to be candid, I think he was very territorial and also encroaching on community college territory and offering classes, like, in -- in what I remember, Muhlenberg County, which was the Madisonville area, as far as service area. And Western would be offering classes right around us, in those 100- and 200-level classes, like English 101 or Math 109, whatever. And it was pretty competitive. And I remember several meetings and heated meetings with the -- I think, at that time, Council of Higher Education, that they had to intercede and said, "Look, you guys need to work together." They pretty well told us and told the university, "You guys need to work together." And then I think they did define service areas and boundaries and agreements. But I remember with Western and Murray State -- the Murray State University was better at that particular time to work with than -- Vi Miller, that I recall, that I worked with at Murray State, she was the dean of continuing education at that time. Then she went on to, I think, be secretary of education. She was in the Patton administration, and now I think is in Tennessee. But then she was dean at Murray State University. She was very good, that I recall, to work with, from her angle. But there were still a lot of -- at that time, there was a lot of disputes, as far as boundaries: Where can we teach classes? And encroaching on each other's boundaries, like, so that's where the Council of Higher Education at that time, I think, played a key role. They were always stepping into disputes with community colleges and the regional universities, particularly Western at that time. Murray State was a little bit better. It depended on the leadership a lot. Kern Alexander went to Murray Sate, and there was contention then with his leadership some. But other parts of the state that I recall also had -- there was a lot of dispute. It wasn't a smooth, seamless higher education system. It's much better today, in my opinion. O'HARA: That's good that the cooperation is hopefully a little better. I see two-plus-two programs, like, from Madisonville -- KERLEY: Right. O'HARA: -- I think in cer- -- in fields. KERLEY: Yeah, I think now they've got -- Hopkinsville and Madisonville have more like a regional focus. And they seem to be working very well with all the universities, as we are here in Lexington. O'HARA: It's really interesting, Madisonville's story, because they started at the beginning trying to get that cooperation from the beginning. KERLEY: They did, they did. That was their goal. And yeah, it was very difficult. (O'Hara laughs) It was difficult. It was easier with the area tech, that I remember, but there were some major disputes, because I remember hearing that and being involved with it quite a bit. Part of my job at the time was to work with off-campus and to build off- campus sites, like in Muhlenberg County and I think Webster County. But I remember it was very contentions a little bit in the earlier days. It was the goal of everybody working together, but in fact it didn't always work as smoothly as some people might think. In the beginnings, it didn't, the beginning 15 or 20 years. It took a while. But today I think we've arrived completely, where there seems to be really great cooperation. O'HARA: I did find that program additions in nursing and mining, a capstone program, were established between 1977 and 1981 with Murray, so like you said at that time, there seemed -- I found evidence of more cooperation. KERLEY: I tell you, I remember there was with Murray State more cooperation, you're absolutely right, with them. And then the mining was -- it's amazing, when I went to Hopkinsville, it was a totally different community and culture, almost, than Madisonville. Madisonville had the mining -- they were very strong in mining, and they did start the program. And it was a great program when it was set up, to address the needs, as far as mining. And it shows you early on that they addressed those community -- that was a community need. You know, the mining was really booming at one time there. It's not now as much, but then it was booming. And the community college sort of stepped in to help, as far as training and everything else. They had a fabulous program for a while. O'HARA: Now, what did Hopkinsville's needs -- what were their needs and how did they differ? KERLEY: They didn't have the mining; they didn't have -- there was different industry that I recall. The big thing was agriculture. They were a huge agriculture area there, huge. Lot of land. It was like a dividing line -- when you crossed over to -- from Hopkins County to Christian County, it was like a dividing line. It was a totally different, almost, community than Madisonville, from my point of view anyway. Again, a lot of large farmers. So they had -- we developed, like, a farm program, like a farm management program when I was there. And even -- not only management, but also utilizing technical programs and technology they would use on the farms. So that was one thing. That's a -- you know, a big contrast with mining in Madisonville and more agriculture-oriented in Hopkinsville. But it's -- the point is, I think, the community college in those days, and still today, the community and technical college meet the needs of the local areas that they serve, and very, very different from one community college to the other. Yeah, so agriculture was a big thing. They were very big -- you had more theater emphasis at first, I think, at Hopkinsville. We had, like, a Round Table Park that was a very big thing where we developed that over the years. It had been developed by the previous president, the founding president, and the faculty there, and then I continued to work on that. So that was a strong emphasis, the -- you know, the cultural arts were very, very big in Hopkinsville when I first arrived there, so we did a lot in those areas. We had things like -- we had, like, a Round Table Park magazine that had a lot of poetry and short stories in it. And that was a major emphasis, as far as the community. They would be invited out to the Round Table Park. And again, it was developed behind the campus, but it was a real strong community support for that. And also Hopkinsville was different because they had Fort Campbell and a strong military emphasis and influenced the culture of that community college and also the community too. So that was very different than Madisonville. So early on, they had great support. The community college reacted to the need to help the military get access to higher education, and Hopkinsville worked closely with, particularly, Austin Peay State University as a partner early on to help provide those courses for the military. O'HARA: Now, your tenure at Hopkinsville Community College -- during your tenure, did you have the -- did you have classes offered on base at Fort Campbell? KERLEY: Yes, we did. We did offer -- and we expanded those class offerings, and we also -- the buildings were -- again, typical of a lot of community and technical colleges, you offer classes -- you know, the philosophy was we offer classes wherever, we didn't care. Some of them were dilapidated buildings, and some of the classes were -- when we first offered at Hopkinsville were old temporary World War II buildings that were meant to last maybe five to seven years, and then we were still using them in the 1990s. Very dilapidated. And actually in one case, we had a fire and lost some of it. So it was very unsafe conditions. During that time, we did lobby. I was involved, along with the community there and the military, to lobby for a new building at Fort Campbell so we could offer -- an educational facility. If you go there now, you'll see a beautiful education facility. Well, it hasn't always been like that. We used to offer classes in all kinds of places, and a lot of people now would say, "Gosh, how can you offer classes in those places?" Well, you know, you've provided the need, that's access. You're being true to your mission, and that's what we were doing. So -- and I think a lot of colleges across the whole state have done similar things, different, but they've started in store-front and shopping centers -- O'HARA: Sure. KERLEY: -- and all kinds of places. You take it to the community, and whatever their needs are, you do it. I think that's sort of the philosophy of how community colleges started in Kentucky. And still continues with that, you know, to some degree. We still are working in off-campus sites and everything else. O'HARA: It's important. And I do get to go visit. The education center's really nice. KERLEY: Isn't it nice? O'HARA: It's very nice. And in comparison, I haven't been to Fort Knox a lot, but they use more of the -- whatever facilities they already had on base. They didn't have as much of a development, I don't think, or a push to get an actual education center. KERLEY: Well, we pushed it. I pushed it a lot myself, and then community people. And the military at first, they had it as a priority, but they had other buildings they were pushing. But I worked a lot with our, I remember, Congressional people at that time, just to really push it hard. Hubbard was a -- who's now not there, but he was a Congressman during my time. There was another person before him, I think, that I'd work with. So they got hold of it and kept pushing to get it on a priority list, as far as buildings, at the federal level. And we just kept pushing it up, and finally got the funding for it. It was an enormous -- lot of trips to Washington D.C., lot of letters, but it really -- because I really -- I knew -- and then Austin Peay, particularly Austin Peay State University, worked with us a lot too, and also the military, to get it going. It was so needed, just so needed. And now you go there, and it's a beautiful facility. It's just neat to see that and to be part of that. O'HARA: It is. You've definitely helped accomplish a lot there, because when I go to visit, most of the staff -- a lot of the staff and a lot of the students are military, but there are also the spouses and the children and -- KERLEY: That's right. O'HARA: -- the whole community. KERLEY: That's right. O'HARA: It's very, very important to them. And speaking of meeting the needs of the community and the military, did -- were you involved in setting up a different schedule than the traditional academic calendar year for the military, because they come and go and -- (O'Hara laughs) KERLEY: Yeah, yeah, we were involved with that. And you know, flexibility, I think that's just a key thing that I think has been important. It's been a key word that I've used a lot in, I guess, helping to lead colleges, is flexibility. We need flexibility, that these folks are maybe here for a short period of time, then they have to go somewhere else, anywhere in the world, so we need to be flexible with our scheduling. And I remember talking to faculty a lot, that we need to amend how we offer classes. It can't be just the 16-week classes. So yeah, so early on we talked a lot about that and having those -- like mini-terms. We even offered mini-terms that were, in some cases, as low as two weeks, we would pack in 16-week classes. Then we'd have four-week classes. And so it was just a variety to meet the needs of military. Again, I think that's been the philosophy as far as community and technical colleges, that we meet the needs of our clientele. And that's the way it worked with the military, so we had to do that. So we did push that a lot. And they -- at first the faculty were a little skeptical, I think. Then after a while, they bought into it. And then we also had full-time faculty and staff assigned. When I was there, we -- before, I think, it was just more adjunct. And we actually hired full-time faculty and staff to be at Fort Campbell, and we expanded that, and a director of Fort Campbell campus. So we expanded that a lot. I know they still have that, but that was important too, to have a full-time presence at the Fort Campbell site. O'HARA: Instead of just traveling back and forth. I think that this was the community and technical college, and particularly because of the military base and everything, you all set the stage for what other private or four-year state institutions are now doing in Kentucky, because I've watched just in the last seven years of working with the military, that traditional four-year institutions that are private are now offering one-month modules and different types of things that the community colleges have been offering for decades. KERLEY: Well, and I think community colleges led with that, that high flexibility. At one point universities would just say, "No, we're not going to do that. We're stooping down, and we're not going to jeopardize, you know, our classes in any way or integrity of our classes." And well, I think they were wrong on that. I think community colleges had the belief, well, we've got to be more nimble to meet the needs of our community, whether it's military or coalminers or whatever else. So I think that's just -- but now it's more accepted with -- you're right, with universities, and everybody's really doing that a lot more. O'HARA: Well, I think they're seeing how the community and technical colleges are meeting the needs, and so students are going to them and students are finding what they need there. And speaking about being flexible, at Madisonville, when they very first started in 1960, I was surprised to find that all the courses at that time, in 1960, the first year, were offered after 3 p.m. KERLEY: Yeah, see, that's interesting. I had forgotten that. You're right. That's probably -- they offered more as evening classes, and a lot of non-traditional students in the very beginning would take classes that way probably. And then it flipped, where we offered a lot of day classes, and we sort of let -- I think at one point we let go of the night classes more and weekend classes, and we had to push that back. I remember pushing that, off-campus sites and night classes and those kinds of things. We pushed a lot during the mid-'80s or so when I was there, '86 to -- up until '89 or so. O'HARA: It's interesting to see those circles where you're -- KERLEY: Yeah, yeah. O'HARA: -- going back around to renewing -- KERLEY: Well, we started hiring more full-time faculty and kept adding faculty over the years. And I think a lot of full-time faculty wanted to teach more on a regular schedule and not necessarily at night. And so I think it shifted back. Then we had to shift it back again, back to a more balanced day and night and weekends. O'HARA: Now, at -- in Hopkinsville, was it similar? How did -- was there always night classes or just traditional? What was ----------(??)? KERLEY: What I recall, we didn't have a lot of night classes. We didn't have very many off-campus sites. We offered some classes at Fort Campbell. We expanded that a lot, you know, during the -- during the time I was there, I know it expanded a lot, as far as course offerings, and then getting the new building at Fort Campbell. So we really expanded it a lot. But no, not a lot of weekend classes, not a lot of night classes, so we pushed that a lot more. I pushed it pretty heavy. I have always done that. I've always believed in off-campus, I've always believed in the flexibility, night, weekends, anytime, anywhere philosophy. And so we did push that a lot, that I recall. When I was there, I pushed it pretty heavily, that expanded a lot more balanced times -- different times when we offered classes. O'HARA: You mentioned these off-sites, like Muhlenberg Campus. KERLEY: Right. O'HARA: Like I've watched -- now there's a new building at Muhlenberg Campus, right? KERLEY: Right, right. O'HARA: But before that, you were saying in the '80s, when you were there, you already had initiatives and classes -- KERLEY: Yes, yes. O'HARA: -- being offered. And were those more in community buildings than -- KERLEY: Community buildings, high schools, wherever we could offer classes. You just scrambled sometimes to get a place to offer classes. It could be anywhere. We've offered in the church buildings, yeah, schools, we offered classes at the YMCA site, just wherever we could find sites. Yeah, yeah. O'HARA: That's so interesting to see how -- that's how the community college originally started, and then you see the off -- you know, the off-site extension areas doing the same thing. KERLEY: Yeah. And I think that's been the last ten, twelve years, where you've had more off-campus sites developed for community colleges, actual campuses. Like we have -- here in Lexington we have several off-campus sites, but in the earlier days you didn't see that as much. It was more centrally -- then when you went off campus, you did that at the high schools or anywhere you could find a spot, store-front operations. O'HARA: Now, there's permanent presence there. KERLEY: Yeah, neat to see that. O'HARA: A whole new stage in community college development, I think. KERLEY: Yeah, yeah. Yes, it's a different stage. That's exactly right. It's evolved into that, where you -- where now the communities are expecting, I think -- Muhlenberg, or in our case, Lawrenceburg, Danville, Winchester, they expect those permanent campuses to be there in their own community. They're not satisfied with the store-front operation anymore. O'HARA: Right, right. They want something -- KERLEY: More permanent. More like a campus, their own college campus. They take a lot of identity with that, too, I think. So it's evolved a lot, where I think community and technical colleges started off, like in Madisonville and Hopkinsville, in one site location, and then they kept spreading their wings out, outward. O'HARA: Meeting more needs too. KERLEY: Meeting more needs and getting more people involved, as far as higher education, I think. That was a key thing, continuing to bring access. And we still need to do that. They still need -- you know, we still need a lot more people getting a college education in Kentucky. So it's -- I think we've continued with that. O'HARA: Speaking of the community and the sense of pride in that ownership of the college, I always find it interesting to talk about the culture, which you touched on at Hopkinsville, but also student activities. I found at Madisonville, over the years -- it didn't say specifically when -- it said they included basketball and soccer teams. During your tenure, was there any sports? KERLEY: Not -- it wasn't organized with scholarship sports, but I remember the -- we had -- Madisonville, Hopkinsville, and several schools joined together. It was very strong intra-mural competition with the community colleges. That was very strong, from -- yeah, even before I was there, they had that. So yeah, very strong. I remember Carl Barnett was very involved at Madisonville. He eventually became the dean of student affairs. But he was very involved, and his folks in student affairs were -- I know a guy named Stan was head of financial aid, he helped with the basketball intra-murals. So they had different people that helped with it in Hopkinsville. And then there would be -- like every spring, there would be, like, competition with other community colleges. And so they would have, like, basketball and all kinds of competition, almost like a little mini-Olympics with the community colleges. When I got to Hopkinsville, there was a very strong emphasis there too with intra-murals. And we had a director, which a lot of colleges didn't, but we had a -- I remember the guy, Eldridge was his last -- I forgot his last name -- first name, Eldridge Rogers, for many, many years was the director of student activities. And so he got students very involved in intra-murals and all types of things at the college. Very active. We offered a lot of physical education classes and tennis and things like that, where students were involved a lot. So you had those -- a lot of those outside-type things going on there, and that was a pretty important part of those colleges. O'HARA: It gives you a sense of the college campus, the extracurricular, the clubs and the programs and the community ----------(??). And now, did -- at either Madisonville or Hopkinsville, did you bring in lecturers? Some colleges did lecturers. Like you said in Hopkinsville, it sounds like they had their own unique program that they developed. KERLEY: Yeah, they brought, like, visiting poets in. I remember when I was there we had visiting artists, and we'd have, like, artists that would put up their works. And then we'd have, like, tea, and they would explain their -- tea and cookies, and they would explain their artwork and the meaning behind it. So that was very strong at Hopkinsville, the arts. In my -- from my earlier days there up until I left, it was extremely strong, very important to that community, very important to the faculty and staff. And I don't remember it quite as much, as far as Madisonville bringing in speakers, as much -- as far as the art piece, or for the student piece, but I'm sure some of that was going on down there, yeah. O'HARA: Well, you have shared a vast amount of information with me about both Madisonville and Hopkinsville Community College, the similarities, the differences. You've also given me a broad -- you know, really emphasizing what the community and technical college mission is. KERLEY: Yeah. O'HARA: Are there any other questions that I haven't asked that you wish I had? Or any other information that you'd like to share? KERLEY: No. You know, there's just -- what I remember too, they were just very passionate -- when I went to both schools, just very passionate faculty and the staff that really cared about their college. And the community, really taking a lot of ownership in those colleges. It was just so strong. It was -- I think that's just a part of what community and technical colleges are. They do have a lot of support in their local communities, and again a lot of ownership in the communities, as far as the college. And they would come to us a lot if they needed programs or training with industry. We did a lot of work with industry at both sites. I remember in Hopkinsville we had just a lot of input with industry, did a lot of training there. And even to the point where industry came to us and said they wanted a nicer facility to do training, and that's when we -- early on when I got there, we started working on the concept for the regional technology center that's there today. And that came from industry saying -- and again, that's just another example of where things pop up locally and it grew. "Okay, let's figure out what we need to do. Let's -- ." We found out we need a building, and it took us, probably, at least seven years to get it funded, a long, long haul to get the funding. It was tough to get a building. It's easier these days, I think, but in the '80s, early '90s, they had a lot of budget problems. It was just difficult to get new buildings. So we tried, and I know we went to Governor Jones at one point, and he gave us some planning money. We thought we'd get the building early on -- early in the 1990s, and it really was up until, gosh, probably the '96, '97 session before we got it, and we'd worked almost the whole decade of the '90s to get that technology center. But the community and industrial people were so strongly behind it, they kept driving it. We raised money to get it, and then eventually got state money to do it, but that's just interesting to see all that evolve. O'HARA: That's an interesting -- I'm glad you brought that up, because I had forgotten to ask about that, because the other community colleges don't have a technology center. And am I correct in saying that it's located on the campus, on the main campus in Hopkinsville? KERLEY: It is located in the Hopkinsville main campus. Right, right. O'HARA: And what was the decision -- was that to keep it all together? KERLEY: Yes. Our goal -- and you know, some thought you could -- I think some people might have thought we might be better off -- there was some discussion to put in, like, an industrial park or something like that. But our goal, we -- you know, to use our resources and to really build it right on the campus made a lot more sense. And we did, and I think people were, you know, happy after we did it. But there was a lot of discussion during my time about that regional technology center. Lots and lots of meetings, lots of road trips to Frankfort, talking to the governor, lieutenant governor, legislators, getting close two or three times, and then budget problems, and then it was taken out of the budget, then we'd go back again and try to get it back in. So there was a lot of that, but always the community was heavily involved. It was something they drove too, and again, took a lot of ownership, I think, helping to support it. Eventually we did get it, but -- O'HARA: Was it in any way a cooperative project with the area technology centers? KERLEY: Yeah. At first, it wasn't, but then evolved into that. So when it was built, it was built on our campus with a cooperative -- to be a cooperative with the technical -- at that time it was Kentucky Tech, I guess. It was a cooperative facility with Kentucky Tech and the community college in Hopkinsville. O'HARA: Interesting. KERLEY: Yeah, yeah. And a lot of interesting discussions then, you know, things they wanted, things we wanted. So we to -- we just had a lot of good discussions. (Kerley laughs) O'HARA: That reminded me, when I was reading Tim Cantrell's history of Madisonville, he mentions that in trying to get the community college in Madisonville, one of the other things the community was really, really pushing for was a health technical building. KERLEY: Right. O'HARA: And they got -- I believe they got it all through at the same time, so they could get both. But like you said, the community was really pushing for both. KERLEY: Right. O'HARA: Both of these communities were. KERLEY: Yeah, they were. O'HARA: It was important to them to have the community and the technical features. KERLEY: Yeah, they did. We had the technical programs and the community college portion of it, but then the technical schools -- or Vo-Tech were doing their thing. And it made -- to me, when we brought it all together, it does make sense today, but then it seemed to operate somewhat separately. But in Madisonville there was good cooperation, and when I was in Hopkinsville, I thought there was good cooperation with the technical side. Different entity with the community college, and it was very important for us to work together. And we had a lot of joint meetings and advisory groups where we involved each other with. So that seemed to work over all very well. O'HARA: That's fascinating. KERLEY: But there was still dissension some with -- you know, sometimes with regional universities. That part wasn't quite as seamless, in my recollection. Today it's much better, but then there was some problems with it. O'HARA: Well, Dr. Kerley, thank you for sharing -- KERLEY: You're welcome O'HARA: -- all this information with me and with fellow researchers in the future that will hopefully be able to use this. Is there any other information that you have? KERLEY: No, just -- you know, just a -- I appreciate being able to talk to you, because it's -- I've really enjoyed my time, as far as the Kentucky experience and seeing the community college -- and you know, even my time and I'm sure people before us, where you had a lot of the founding presidents, we -- a lot of us, my generation of presidents, followed people that had been founding presidents. Like in Hopkinsville, there was a founding president, Tom Riley. And so we followed -- I followed him, and he'd been there for 22, 23 years. So we took their foundation, what they had laid out, and so we built up -- we build on that, and off campus, and spreading it out more, and probably spreading the schedule more, and really building that concept, what they had started. But kept the same -- it's amazing, though. We've kept the same sort of core values. The mission has pretty well stayed the same, of open access and caring for students. So that hasn't changed that much. Even today it hasn't changed that much. So I sort of was that second generation, and now you see third and fourth generations, sometimes even more than that, at other community -- and they're bringing in new ideas, as far as more high tech and technology and distance learning, and -- which is -- you know, for me too, I've evolved into a lot of those kind of things too as a president. But those -- and those are future things we still have to deal with, I think. The next generation of college presidents really have to deal with the virtual colleges and, again, technology and meeting all those kinds of needs, and the changing world. I think that's the challenge with the globalization, where we are dealing with that with our business and industry, and even our curriculum, it's changed our curriculum. So that's the real challenge for this current generation of presidents and also future generation of presidents. But it's sort of evolved. And even Internet, you know, for me, just a quick -- I remember it just started at Hopkinsville in the -- probably late '80s or so, the Internet just started -- probably not Internet, but email then, and it was just so crude how we did it. You had to go through several -- seven or eight steps before you could actually send a message. And it -- I remember Dr. Wethington was the chancellor of the community college system then, and he said, "You guys need to learn how to use the emails." And we didn't -- a lot of us at first didn't want to. It was so dern crazy, how you had to go through the thing, and awkward. It's just like archaic now, how -- if we were to compare it to today where we want fast, instant message. But when it first started, I was at Madisonville. And then at Hopkinsville, it sort of grew where we started using it more. But it was early days, and it probably was'91, I guess, the Internet came into effect. So we started using all that information to help us, and how all that really impacted our classes was just tremendous, and how we impacted our communication. That's a key thing too, that it just really changed our communication. I remember when I first when to Madisonville, then when I first went to Hopkinsville in '89, you still did a lot of memos to faculty and staff or individuals, and now you seldom do that. It's all -- you have list serves, and you'll send out messages to people via email and other ways. But it's amazing how technology has changed. And I vividly remember that, you know, going from the days where we did a lot of things with the typewriter. Even when I first went to Madisonville, and even Hopkinsville, we still had electrical typewriters, which today are sort of archaic. It's like the T-Model today. (O'Hara laughs) So I don't know, you know, all that just really, really has changed. I remember at one point being really excited about getting a real fancy electrical typewriter that did a lot of neat things and had memory in it. And I was real excited about that, but again, today it just seems like that is so old fashioned. We would (O'Hara laughs) -- how did you ever use that? O'HARA: Imagine where we'll be in ten years. KERLEY: Ten years. And again, that's the next generation of presidents and other people, administrators, faculty, staff that -- how they're going to change. The projections are in the next five -- [End of Tape] Oral history with Jim Kerley, administrator at Madisonville and Hopkinsville Community Colleges in the 1980s and 1990s. Interview highlights include campus construction and founding faculty. Kerley discusses the transfer relationship between community colleges and state and regional universities; the colleges’ sports- and arts-related amenities; and changes in technology.