You have found an item located in the Kentuckiana Digital Library.
2007-06-13 Interview with William Turner, June 13, 2007 CC001:2008OH018 CC 32 01:13:01 History of Kentucky's Community Colleges Oral History Project Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries Hopkinsville Community College William Turner; interviewee Adina O'Hara; interviewer 2008OH018_CC32_Turner 1:|12(3)|23(4)|32(8)|43(6)|53(9)|64(1)|79(8)|90(10)|103(6)|113(7)|125(5)|139(1)|149(7)|159(2)|172(1)|183(1)|194(7)|210(9)|235(12)|252(9)|262(12)|282(6)|301(3)|316(1)|337(9)|360(12)|387(7)|423(3)|441(2)|460(7)|488(5)|515(13)|527(6)|549(6)|564(8)|580(3)|604(6)|617(7)|633(9)|658(4)|675(8)|716(7)|754(1)|766(6)|784(7)|811(8)|824(11)|847(6)|865(8)|879(7)|901(2)|934(15)|969(3)|985(2)|997(3)|1007(1)|1015(9)|1024(2)|1036(10)|1050(4)|1067(1)|1076(8)|1089(9)|1107(3)|1118(1)|1137(1)|1148(8)|1162(7)|1179(6)|1201(5)|1218(8)|1243(2) audiotrans CommuColl interview O'HARA: This is an interview with William Turner in his office at the Historical Society in Christian County, Hopkinsville, Kentucky on June 13, 2007, for the Community College Oral History Project, conducted by Adina O'Hara. Mr. Turner, the demand for higher education in Christian County resulted in Hopkinsville Community College opening its doors in 1965. Because you were hired as a professor of history at Hopkinsville Community College in 1971, you can explain the growth of this community college from the faculty's standpoint. TURNER: Well, first of all, I'm delighted to be with you. Thank you for the invitation for the interview. And it might be helpful, as you have just touched base briefly with my affiliation with the community college, my teaching career started in 1963 as a high school history teacher at Christian County High School, which just happened to be across the field from the 67-or-so-acre campus, which was acquired for the construction of Hopkinsville Community College. And so in September of '65, when HCC opened, I was still teaching history at Christian County High School, but watched the first building literally come out of the ground, the blue brick building, the Academic Building, we call it. And then was employed as a history instructor at the community college by Dr. Tom Riley in the summer of 1971. So my affiliation with the college officially began the 1st of September in 1971, six years after the college had opened. And I was there 32 years, full-time, until I retired in 2003, and then continued to teach the Kentucky history class (240), at our local Pennyroyal Area Museum on Monday nights until 2006. So that's the span of my time. Now, from the faculty viewpoint, I need to go way back. And I don't know how much Mr. Adams has covered of this, but Hopkinsville has been a college town, so to speak, since 1849. In 1849, the Christian Churches, Disciples of Christ in Kentucky, established South Kentucky Institute, a two-year prep school for young ladies. And it remained a girls school until 1881, when it became co-ed. South Kentucky College operated on Belmont Hill, the highest point in downtown Hopkinsville. And in 1908, the board of trustees, made up principally of leaders in the Christian Church all over Western Kentucky, elected to rename South Kentucky College, McLean College, M-C, capital L-E-A-N. The school was named for Archibald McLean, who was president of the Foreign Christian Missionary Society. And the trustees of South Kentucky College figured, rightly or not, that to change the name, removing a geographic-tie name, to a name that was known throughout the Disciples of Christ denomination, would enhance the enrollment. It didn't. This was in 1908. In 1914, after--across the years of South Kentucky and McLean, three fires had destroyed the main building on campus. Then in 1914, the trustees of McLean College effected a merger with Transylvania University. And Transylvania at Lexington took in the currently enrolled students at McLean College in 1914, and honored their tuition payment to McLean College, and allowed them to come to Lexington and to graduate actually as graduates of McLean College that spring of 1914, even though the school was out of operation. And so that was the first of our colleges here, South Kentucky, from 1849 until 1914. The second institution of higher learning, the Baptists, not to be out done by the Campbellites, as the Disciples were sometimes called, the Baptist faith organized Bethel Female High School here in 1854. And it, like South Kentucky, was a prep school for girls. They studied the proper body language, as we would say, of that time, the culinary arts, how to enter and exit a carriage without showing their ankle, and such things as this. It was, you know, the antebellum, pre-Civil war period of education, a finishing school for girls. Well, immediately, the institute was converted, with application for a charter to Bethel Female College, and it remained Bethel Female College, then, from the late 1850s until about 1917. During that time period, like a lot of the colleges across the land, they added the third and fourth years of academic offerings. And Bethel, even for a time, offered the master's degree, the MA degree-- O'HARA: Wow. TURNER: --in a little school like that, with enrollment never over fifty. The graduating class would be ten or twelve each year, with two or three taking a master's degree. Now, remember, this was long before the Southern Association, and these two colleges that I mentioned to you had no accreditation whatsoever. They didn't worry about accreditation in those days; you had that sheepskin to hang on the wall. In 1917, the school name, through a charter revision, became Bethel Woman's College. And it remained Bethel Woman's College until 1951, operating very successfully, except for a brief closure during World War II, when the rooms in the dorms were rented out to military couples from nearby Camp Campbell. When the school closed in '42, it had a debt over it of about $60,000, which would be several million today. And by the time World War II was over and the military couples evacuated the building, then the debt had been liquidated through rent to the military couples. They had raised $60,000 in three years to pay off the debt, and so Bethel opened still as an all-girls school in '45. '51--1951, Bethel became co-ed. And there's where this fellow entered the picture, because as a Hoptown High graduate in '59, then I did two years at Bethel for an associate in arts before transferring to Austin Peay at Clarksville. Now, Bethel would close in 1964, and there were many factors that entered into its closing. One, the Baptist denomination in Kentucky established Kentucky Southern College at Middletown, which no longer exists. And the Kentucky Baptists began to drain money out of the budget of Bethel and Campbellsville and Georgetown to help undergird Kentucky Southern. Well, Bethel got the most direct hit, because it was the smallest. And so the removing of supporting--part of the supporting funds -- not all of them, but part -- was a substantial factor in Bethel closing. Now, the Baptists here tried to make a big deal over the fact that the community college was coming, as a reason to close Bethel. As a former student at Bethel and then teaching at Christian County High School at the time all of this transpired, I never felt like that the coming of the community college was such a factor in closing this Baptist denominational school; it was the removal of funding. And then as the enrollment dropped at Bethel, Southern Association put them on probation. Well, you know, that was the kiss of death. And so in the spring of '64, after 110 years, Bethel closed. There was a year, '64-'65 academic year, that we didn't have a college here, with Bethel closing in '64 and HCC opening in September of '65. Now, the coming of the community college to Hopkinsville -- and I'm sure that Mr. Adams has covered this far more thoroughly than I could -- but in thinking over the years, as I was 21, 22 years old when the newspaper articles here began to refer to the possibility of a community college coming to Hopkinsville, this community rallied in big order for it. This community has always been a big UK supporter, especially in basketball. And so Bethel, as a denominational school, had never been a great hit in the community, because of the rigid, mule-blinder interpretation of life that many of the Baptists gave toward young people. By example, the rules and regulations at Bethel upon the students was unreal by today's standards. It wouldn't last 24 hours. And so this community looked upon the legislation in '62 that established the community college system as an opportunity that Hopkinsville had never experienced the likes of before. And so from the time the announcement was made in late '62 or early '63 that a community college was coming to Hopkinsville, this community rallied with great interest. And if I remember correctly, the stipulation from--in the legislation required the local community to raise the money to buy the land to deed it to UK. And to my knowledge, the college campus today is still legally owned by the University of Kentucky. O'HARA: I would not be surprised. TURNER: I am sure that is the case. I have a copy of the deed--of the original deed. Now, if a subsequent deed came in '98 or after, I've never heard of it. So that's why I'm of the opinion that UK still owns the college campus. And so the word was out that we would have to have a fundraising drive to buy the land. And the man chosen to chair that committee was a life-long and beloved resident, a wholesale florist, Mr. John O. Metcalfe, M-E-T-C-A-L-F-E. Mr. Metcalfe led the drive to raise the money to buy the campus to deed it to UK. The campaign opened Labor Day weekend. By December, $67,000 had been raised. Now, we're talking 1963 terms, not 2007 terms. And raising $67,000 in three months should be indicative of the commitment of local people to the coming of the community college more than anything that I could address. And the golden nugget, in this fellow's opinion, was the affiliation with the University of Kentucky, because UK affiliation in this community was magic, mainly through the basketball program, also because we had a great number of UK alumni in this community who got out and really beat the bushes, so to speak, to help Mr. John raise the money. And so in December of 1963, a deed was enacted transferring about 67 acres, and $1,000 an acre was big money for land for this community in the '60s. But a deed was drawn, transferring the campus from the owners, a Mr. and Mrs. Emmett Hayden, who owned the brickyard that was a part, at one time, of that general area, deeded that land to the University of Kentucky. Now, in addition to that, local utilities provided free installation to a point on the campus. I can't remember the exact amount of money, but I think that the in-kind contribution of utilities amounted to around $200,000. I may be a bit off on that figure, but I know it was a large sum of money. Therein was another indication that the boards of our various utility entities were so staunchly supportive of a branch of the University of Kentucky coming to Hopkinsville. We felt geographically we were the place for it. The nearest one was Henderson. Owensboro would come later. Madisonville would come later. And admittedly, there were those of us in the community at the time those two schools were established -- Madisonville really more than Owensboro -- that made us wonder, are we getting community college-poor? That's mighty close, because each new one that was established cut out a piece of the pie of our recruitment capability. And I could literally sit here and talk with you until dark about recruitment, because that was one of the big responsibilities placed upon faculty and staff. Everybody was a recruiter. Every one of us became a P.R. person for Hopkinsville Community College. And we had a president in Dr. Tom Riley, who lived and breathed Hopkinsville Community College's affiliation with the University of Kentucky. And his magnetic personality, as well as Johnny Adams, made real converts out of us. Of course, I wasn't an original faculty member, but we were six years out when I joined it. And so in the heart of my professional career at the college, we, the faculty and the staff and the student body, felt a very deep, kindred spirit with the University of Kentucky. Now, the faculty were expected to recruit. And we did. On an individual basis or collectively, we went into the schools for Career Day programs or we had PTA meetings in the high schools all over this area. And we as individual faculty members and staff members and the president would go and get up and extol the virtues of coming to the community college. And I could, blind-folded, still tell you the four-point program that we stressed in that particular direction. One was location, near home; two, the limited cost, which was certainly a contrast; three, you can get here anything you can get in a liberal arts program in any senior university in the country, at least that's what we were told. And fourth, it was an opportunity for us as a faculty and staff to go out into the community and become P.R. people, and hopefully some of that public relations emotion rub off on the students. Now, I had a special opportunity that every new faculty member didn't have in going to the community college. You see, Christian County High, where I taught, and the community college campuses joined. And so when I went to the college to teach in '71, the first thing you see when I walk into a class of 50 or 60 students, are students I've taught before-- O'HARA: Wow. TURNER:--at County High. And so I went with my built-in reservoir of support. And the second year, the same thing, because I'd taught high school juniors. And so any degree of success and contribution that I could have made at the Community College was based upon those two groups of students. And in those days my nickname was "Daddy Will." It became "Old T" or "T-Bird" later on, because I guess you could say -- and these two could vouch for it -- I'm a different teacher. And those two groups paved the way for building my reputation at the college to always have overflowing classes. In the latter days there, they moved me into the auditorium. They asked me if I would do that and I said, "Yeah. The auditorium will hold 550, and so I'll just take one class, have them all at one time." Well of course, the powers-that-be didn't agree to that, but they did allow me one extra class. So the semesters I taught in the auditorium and had over 100 students, then they would cancel one of my five class requirements down to four. O'HARA: Wow, you've had a long history. I mean, you were talking about how you only came there in '71, but I feel like you were there all along. TURNER: My heart was. O'HARA: You were watching it. You were watching it being built. TURNER: Watching it develop. And also at the time that this was going on, I was working on my master's degree in history at nearby Austin Peay. And for my master's thesis, I did a history of higher education in Christian County. This is one reason why I sat there and rattled like a freight train about South Kentucky and Bethel-- O'HARA: I love that. TURNER: --and then into the community college, because they were chapters in my thesis. O'HARA: And I asked--John mentioned this morning--mentioned Bethel. But he didn't have the details at all. And so this was perfect. You just covered a century for me. TURNER: Well, I tried to. O'HARA: It was just wonderful. TURNER: I tried to. Now, Bethel's peak enrollment the last year was 85 students in the spring of '63--fall--in the fall of '63, because it closed in the spring of '64. In the fall of '65, when the community college opened, we had an enrollment in the range of 330 students, so that immediately made the community realize that the draw appeal of the community college with UK back there in the background, on the landscape, on the horizon, had a great effect in drawing students. By example, when Bethel was in operation, they didn't draw many students out of Trigg or Todd. LaDonna's from Trigg, and had she been living in the Cadiz area in 1965 when the community college opened, she would have come. Because she did come, you know, a generation later. And so the community college at Hopkinsville drew from Caldwell, Princeton; Trigg, Cadiz; Todd, Elkton; and to a lesser degree, Muhlenberg, Greenville, and then of course drew heavily from within Christian County. There's another footnote I want to mention to you. In 1950, a survey was run in this community, and only thirty percent of our high school graduates were going to college in 1950. The next year, '51, the Hopkinsville Rotary Club initiated the Rotary Radio Auction, and went around and solicited businesses and individuals to donate goods and services to put on an auction on the radio and raise money for a revolving student loan fund. Now, 2007, dating back to 1951, in 2007 the Hopkinsville Rotary Club raised $310,000 in one week. We're the largest fund-raising club of any club in all of Rotary International around the world. Eight million dollars has gone into a revolving loan fund for students to go to college. O'HARA: That's incredible. TURNER: Now, the percentage of those not going to college is creeping back up now, but we got the percentage of those students not going to college down to twenty percent of the two high schools, Hopkinsville High and Christian County High. So I have to mention the Rotary Auction -- we just call it the Rotary Auction now -- as the financial spark plug that has made it possible for so many students to attend college. And by the way, the club does not designate to what college the student will go. O'HARA: Really? TURNER: At times, we at HCC have wished that stipulation was in there, because that would ease our load of recruitment. And I would say of all of my years at the college, the single item agonized over most, except the big one, was recruitment, of having to--knowing it was our responsibility to go out in the highways and byways and bring them in. In fact, some of us were even accused, when we turned in recruitment lists, that we may have been to the local cemetery and copied names off of tombstones. We didn't do that, but we were accused of it. Now, have I approached what you were looking for? O'HARA: Oh, you have covered far more than what I'm looking for. TURNER: Well, you need to tell me to be quiet. (Turner laughs) O'HARA: No, no, no! I mean, you've covered far more than I had questions for, I should put it that way, looking for, yes. Oh, I tell you what. I'm sure you've got a book on this; this is great stuff. TURNER: Well, master's thesis is the particular thing with a chapter on each one. I failed to mention to you -- and I should -- as we looked at the history of higher education in Hopkinsville and Christian County, I failed to mention an African-American institution. O'HARA: Hm. TURNER: In 1899, two African-American Baptist Associations of churches came together and organized M and F College, Hopkinsville M and F College. I can tell by the look on your face, what in the world does that stand for? Male and Female. And that college still operates today. It changed its name in 1965 to Hopkinsville College of the Bible. It has an enrollment of not more than 100 students. It's never been accredited. It has graduations. It gives certificates, not recognizable diplomas. But in the history of the African-American people in this community, M and F, now Hopkinsville College of the Bible, has filled a vital role in helping African Americans, because remember that our public schools weren't integrated until 1958. Bethel was not integrated until the very end. Of course, South Kentucky was never integrated. Hopkinsville Community College in '65, opened integrated. I don't remember how many African-American students there were. But--so I needed to mention Hopkinsville College of the Bible. And by the way, I always like to add this when we're talking about the history of Hopkinsville College of the Bible. They have never sought, nor have they ever received, one dime of any federal financial help. Tell me how many schools around fit in that category. O'HARA: Wow! Wow! That is unique. I like seeing this whole landscape. This historical landscape is really framed. I want to look at your dissertation now. TURNER: All right. Now, do you have some other route we want to go? O'HARA: I do, I do. You mentioned watching the construction of the blue building. TURNER: Mm-mm. O'HARA: Can you describe the evolution of that campus over time? How quickly did the buildings go up? TURNER: Chris, would you take that top picture off the wall for me up there? Can you reach it? And that can answer her question. When I left, I, of course, was very honored to receive a plaque of my 32-year service and the UK Alumni Association Great Teacher Award twice. But I also wanted an aerial view. And I didn't necessarily have you in mind, but this is perfect. O'HARA: Yes. TURNER: Because when I went to the college to teach, the blue brick building was the only one there. This parking lot was here. All of the rest was mowed grass. O'HARA: Wow. TURNER: In 1967, the administration and classroom building was constructed. Have you been on campus? O'HARA: Yes, I was there this morning. TURNER: Okay. '63, '67, the library in about '69, and then in the late '80s, the auditorium building, and then in the early '90s, the tech center. So the campus grew from one--from two buildings when I went there in '71--no, I'm correct, there were two. When I went in '71, the administration building and -- that's the administration building -- and the classroom building were there. These three were added after I came. O'HARA: Wow. In the--in '68--or I mean, in the late '60s was when a lot of that federal funding came through for campuses--that went to community college campuses-- TURNER: Administration building. O'HARA: --explains that. TURNER: Mm-mm. Now, when we built the library -- and I don't know that-- LaDonna, you were already gone, weren't you, when we built the library? LADONNA: No, the library was there. TURNER: It was there when you were there. Okay. And of course, it was there--when Chris was there, they were building the tech building, I believe, right? CHRIS: Just starting to break ground as I left. TURNER: Okay. When we occupied the library, classes were cancelled for two days, and -- with Dean Ellis Hartford's approval -- and faculty, staff, and students formed a human chain from the old library to the new one. And in two days we moved the library by hand. Did you all know that? O'HARA: No! That-- TURNER: We stood in line and just handed books. And there was a person taking them off the shelf in proper order and a person over in the new library in proper order, so by the end of the second day, the library was moved. O'HARA: And what a sense of community spirit! TURNER: Mm-mm. O'HARA: I've never heard of a story like that. That's fascinating. TURNER: And I just wonder if that's ever been done anywhere else. CHRIS: I've never heard of it. O'HARA: I haven't come across that story yet. TURNER: How else would you move a library, really now? O'HARA: But to get all the students and the faculty and staff involved, it makes you--you know, it gives you a real sense of-- TURNER: You feel a part of it. O'HARA: --of ownership, yeah. TURNER: Yeah. And we had some faculty members, you know -- you find them everywhere -- who were born on the wrong side of the bed, who didn't want to cooperate, but most of us did and we had a ball out of it. You know, the college furnished refreshments, and we just had a good time. O'HARA: I think that's just so neat. I love aerial views, too. TURNER: Oh, we've had a lot of experiences that I could relate to you that were fun, but we'd better to stay to your questions. O'HARA: Oh, it's really about your story. And you've just--one thing I wanted to ask about, Mr. Adams said it wasn't during his tenure, but I want to know about the whole relationship with the Fort Campbell military base, and how that came about, as far as you know, if it was established before you arrived-- TURNER: The relationship between HCC and Fort Campbell came just as I was arriving. I'm going to stay '71 into '72. And I'm sure that we were a pilot program, along with Elizabethtown and Fort Knox, that would be my guess. Because these would be the two military bases closest to community colleges in Kentucky, to my knowledge. Correct me if I'm wrong. O'HARA: No, you're correct. You're the only two. Fort Knox had its own community college for a while, so the E-town story is a little different, in that Elizabethtown wasn't allowed on their campus or on their base for a while. But about that time was about the same, I think. TURNER: I was not directly involved in any phase of the Fort Campbell development. Now, our Dean of Academic Affairs at the time, Dr. Brooks Major, was the principal individual working, to my knowledge, with Fort Campbell. I was a young rookie and busy with five classes with about 300 students. I was at the community college 32 years and taught over 14,000. I'm real proud of that. O'HARA: I would be. That's incredible. TURNER: Very proud of it. And wherever I go throughout Kentucky, I run into someone that, you know, has put up with me, as I put it. And so I was purely a casual observer on the Fort Campbell deal. I never went down to participate in any of the programs of organization, and I never taught down there, though I have a number of friends who have taught off and on at Fort Campbell all through that association. But I was not personally involved with it. O'HARA: Well, that helps me give a timeframe to that whole development down there. I find it fascinating, because the number of veterans right now, you know, receiving G.I. Bill benefits and going to Hopkinsville Community College is the highest in the state. It's, like, 800. TURNER: Really? O'HARA: Yeah, you would not believe. TURNER: I did not realize that. O'HARA: It's always been the highest. TURNER: Would you excuse me? I brought a drink back from lunch so I can wet my whistle. O'HARA: No problem. That gives me time to look up for my next question here. Some community colleges had transfer agreements with the regional institutions as well as the University of Kentucky. What was the relationship between Hopkinsville Community College and the state's four-year institutions during your tenure? You've talked about UK, so there was no problem with transferring to UK? TURNER: Oh, no. Not to my knowledge. And there was no problem with students transferring to Murray. Chris, by example, transferred to Murray, and I never heard him say there was any problem relative to grades. CHRIS: No, Austin Peay and Murray both had a clause that stated that anything from Hopkinsville Community College would transfer, as long as you had the associate's degree. Now, there were some classes that were separate that did not transfer that you would have to get a substitute class for that, but for the most part, everything did transfer. O'HARA: That's real good. I mean, because during-- TURNER: --And, and that's what I remember. We always had an excellent relationship with Murray and Austin Peay. And, um-- O'HARA: --What about Western? TURNER: Western as well. O'HARA: Good. TURNER: I, I don't recall any particular problem involving transfer of students to any of those institutions. I, admittedly to you since I am a graduate of Austin Peay, both bachelor's and master's, I was drawn in that direction and never hesitated to put a good word out, and of course Austin Peay, from the early fifties to the present time, has always offered reciprocity and a waiver of out of state tuition. Now, that has gotten to be a thorn with some of the Kentucky people, and this was a part of the factor of the governor and Dr. Kern Alexander bringing a branch of Murray State to Hopkinsville. And isn't it interesting how they built it on 41-A, the road to Clarksville, the road to Austin Peay? From my general observation, and I have no statistics or research to back this up, um, the existence of the Murray, uh, campus out here on 41-A has not made any difference whatsoever in the Christian County enrollment of students at Austin Peay. O'HARA: Well, um, yeah. I've passed it and, and noticed that it was, um, there, but I hadn't-- TURNER: --But, you see, Austin Peay was firmly established in the minds of our people here. When I finished at Bethel, by example, because of, uh, monetary restraints and because I didn't want to get very far from home, it was a natural I was going to Austin Peay, and you better believe in the early sixties, I was mighty thankful for out of state tuition waiver. O'HARA: Oh yeah. Well, that makes all the difference right there. TURNER: And, of course, uh, Christian County, Kentucky, historically for fifty years has supplied the second greatest number of students at Austin Peay behind Montgomery County which is Clarksville. O'HARA: Well, that only makes sense geographically and, and the relationship over the years. Well, it's interesting. I'm glad to see that, that Hopkinsville has had such a good relationship with, with all of the schools; with all of them. Um, while we know the outcomes of those early decades at HCC, um, I don't know the internal dynamics of growth and change. What programs did Hopkinsville Community College offer that were unique to itself, to its community that differed perhaps from Madisonville, although that came later? Um, most, most colleges created their own niche. TURNER: Yes, they did, and, and this is a challenging question. The first thing I would mention that made Hopkinsville Community College unique before Madisonville came along was our nursing program. You see, Jenny Stuart Memorial Hospital, Hopkinsville's medical facility, established a school for training nurses in 1922. O'HARA: Wow. TURNER: In 1960, Jenny Stuart School of Nursing closed, and Jenny Stuart through, uh, an agreement with Murray State had the students who were earmarked to go into the Jenny Stuart School of Nursing to go to Murray, and I know that firsthand because my wife to be was in that group and transferred to Murray in 1960 and did another year's work before she transferred, and this was an agreement between Jenny Stuart and Murray, and she transferred to Louisville General Hospital to finish her nurse's training. And so it was, let's see, I went to the college in '71. Uh, we were seeing the development of a school, of a department of nursing there by 1975 if not earlier, and offhand, I can't remember what year Madisonville Community College opened but it was in-- O'HARA: --[Nineteen] '68, I think. TURNER: Was it '68? So I'm sure they were working on, I can remember when they were working on the development of a nursing school at Madisonville because of the meetings that were held down here with our group. That's the first big one that I remember. Uh, I can't name for you specific units that were different because of being in Hopkinsville, but I think of the law enforcement program-- O'HARA: --Oh. TURNER: --and how popular it was for, well, it's still going, but-- O'HARA: --Now they've got criminal justice. TURNER: --for some years it was really going. O'HARA: Hmm. TURNER: And then we entered--(clears throat)--I remember into an agreement, uh, I presume with UK that for a period of time, maybe two or three years, we had a dental hygiene department here, and they set up in a building on North Main for students who were going to become dental hygienists, hygienists. O'HARA: Interesting. Yeah. TURNER: To, uh, to go there and then it moved on somewhere else. Um, I remember in my latter days there how pleased I was to see the effort of Wayne Hunt, a local agri-businessman, and others organize the agricultural program at the college which we have now very actively going. You know, Christian County is a big agricultural county, and though the enrollment is not great in our ag department, it's certainly made up of, uh, fine, outstanding young men and women who grew up on farms generally and want to go back to the farm, so to speak, with what training they can get here. Um, oh, let's see. O'HARA: I've got a follow up question for you that might take you to follow up on that. Um, area technology centers, um, prior to House Bill 1, 1997, area technology centers, um, offered technical diploma and certificate level programs, um, sometimes to post-secondary populations even though they are primarily secondary in nature. Was there, um, during your tenure at Hopkinsville Community College, especially in the seventies, in the early years, was there any coordination between HCC and the area technology center to offer any of these, um, industrial or, or, um, the type of programs that the local industries wanted? TURNER: Oh, boy. My mind was so immersed with those three hundred students teaching history-- O'HARA: --(Laughs.) You were in history class. TURNER: --that I must admit to you I wasn't paying as much attention as maybe I should have. I know without a doubt that we had some sort of arrangement for some technical courses. I do remember that. I can't tell you anything more specific relative to who taught them and where they were, but yes. Yes, we did have them. I'll say this for Dr. Riley, in his twenty-seven year tenure at the college, he never let one rock remain in its place in an attempt to recruit and in an attempt to get students to, uh, to the college. And so anything that came down the pike, any of these things you've mentioned, I guarantee you Dr. Riley was like a bee on a June Bug. O'HARA: And he developed it? TURNER: To develop it even if it was a small effort and even if it didn't last. I'm sure I can't name them, but we had some programs that came and went. O'HARA: Sure. That might have met a local need for a little bit and then they didn't need it anymore. Um, I just find it fascinating to try to trace, uh, prior to 1997, what communities worked together with their area technology centers, um, because I've found some areas did a lot and then others did not. Um, but it appeared, um, looking at Mister-- Dr. Riley's background coming out of agriculture that he probably headed then in that direction. TURNER: Yes. He would. Uh, one other thing I didn't mention along this line, though it's not heavy academically, but you're familiar with the Donovan Program? O'HARA: Yes, I am. TURNER: And in, oh, goodness, 1973 or four, in my early days at the college, Dr. Riley came to me and said, "William, let's see what we can do with the Donovan classes at the Senior Citizens' Center." And so from about '73 until about '77 or '78, I taught afternoon classes at the Senior Citizens' Center, and we got the enrollment up to one hundred. O'HARA: Wow. TURNER: And I was teaching U.S. history, Kentucky history, U.S. government, intermingling local history with all of it. I don't know whether you know it or not, but local history is my long suit. I never got up in any class that I didn't integrate what was going on in Hopkinsville and Christian County at the time Lincoln was shot or that the battleship Maine was blown up, and I found that a golden nugget to motivate students in class to keep them awake, to keep them tuned in. I say on, uh-- O'HARA: --Well, they relate to that. They, they understand it. It's-- yeah, it's their lives. TURNER: And I found that probably the most successful thing I ever did, and Donna's one of my former students so she could agree or disagree. Uh, but, and also to stop right in the middle of class and either tell a joke or hear some student tell a joke. O'HARA: (Laughs.) So those are the tricks? TURNER: They're the tricks to me and Paul Harvey, and I guess I could humbly say that was a particular reason why my classes were always closed, always packed-- O'HARA: --I would love to sit in on one right now. TURNER: --because they knew. They knew what they were going to expect, and they, just like all students, inquired, you know, what's she like or what's he like as an instructor. You certainly had some idea what I was like before you walked into my class. DONNA: First year, no. TURNER: You didn't? DONNA: No. Being from Cadiz I had never heard of William Turner. TURNER: Yeah. But you soon found out. DONNA: Very quickly. O'HARA: And took every single one of his classes, I bet. DONNA: Every one. O'HARA: That's, I have done that. TURNER: And then you told everybody else. DONNA: Mm-hm. TURNER: Uh, a student is a teacher's best sales gimmick. O'HARA: You're absolutely right, and you, you knew what they wanted and, and made it interesting. TURNER: I always said to students, "If there's something you don't like about me or this class, you come tell me, we'll get it straight. If there's something you like about me or this class, go tell somebody else so I can have a job next year." And I would tell young teachers that coming in, especially out of college, that, uh, "Remember that you have a job because these students here, and they determine whether or not you stay." O'HARA: That's absolutely right, and you said how important that was. TURNER: And you can recall for me instructor after instructor you had and put them in different categories. O'HARA: I've already lined them all up in my mind. TURNER: Uh-huh. O'HARA: Because I'm a history major from Berea. TURNER: Really? O'HARA: Uh-huh. TURNER: Berea? O'HARA: Yeah. Dr. Lambert. Isn't that bizarre? William was our, our Mr. Turner. TURNER: Uh-huh. O'HARA: So, yeah. He was a great guy. I'll tell you what. Really enjoyed those lectures. They were wonderful. Well, um, another follow up question, for a local community--you've kind of touched on this--there were cultural and economic benefits involved in community college development. Some of the community colleges promoted cultural activities by bringing in national and state lecturers. Other had a niche in arts and crafts. Others, uh, were very active in the, you know, the local, um, rotary clubs and things like that. What did Hopkinsville Community College do during your tenure to participate actively and provide things for the local community? TURNER: Number one. The Festival of the Arts. The Festival of the Arts started in the late 1960s and had a full run through Dr. Riley's tenure, uh, at least into the late eighties, and the Festival of the Arts was always held in October. And it included a quilt show, a musical performance of some type, the annual viewing of a perfectly beautiful chrysanthemum bed of multiple colors that came from Mr. John Metcalf, the wholesale florist, who led the campaign to raise the, two hundred thousand, uh, the sixty-seven thousand dollars to buy the campus. O'HARA: Wow. TURNER: We had various musical entertainments; among them in particular, Marshall Butler who is, um, a concert pianist, native of Hopkinsville, much of his career in New York City. Came back here in '65 and taught at the college, taught music appreciation or introduction to music until 1990, and every year and continuing now at '92, he has an annual fall piano recital. O'HARA: Oh. Incredible. TURNER: The Festival of the Arts is history, but Marshall's piano recital--he missed one year recently--but they continue. He's a personal friend of both of us. O'HARA: How neat. TURNER: And comes by here frequently. O'HARA: Wow. TURNER: And, um, also I say this very humbly, through that period of the Festival of the Arts and continuing until I retired we would have what we called the Annual Expo and give it the year--you know, Expo '75, Expo '80, whatever--and in the halls of the academic building, we would hang sixteen by twenty enlarged photographs of old Hopkinsville with, uh, ID labels, and that was a great draw for people to come out to the college and see the pictures. And, uh, as I said, we did that until I retired. O'HARA: I love visuals. I love them. TURNER: You cannot beat visuals. O'HARA: No, you can't. TURNER: So the Festival of the Arts was-- O'HARA: --Hopkinsville. TURNER: --a big event. Um, also in the seventies, and this was a one- time deal, we had a big-- [Tape 1 ends; tape 2 begins.] TURNER: --1975 we had, um, a vicious debate in the community over countywide zoning, which we don't have yet because a local attorney and a local rural merchant joined forces to defeat any action of our fiscal court to enact countywide zoning, and so we had a big forum at the college. And one of the CBS anchormen, and his name will come to me, came and chaired this forum, and, uh, it all but got out of hand. People's emotions were a fever pitch. The rural people who didn't want it were just adamant, very vocal and for a little bit could have been physical, and I think that was an unspoken lesson to our college leadership maybe to stay out of potentially hot social issues. But it certainly-- it was held at the college. I was one of the topic moderators in one of the smaller groups and was mighty glad when that day was over. O'HARA: I bet. But it was, uh, NBC covered it? TURNER: I can't remember which-- O'HARA: --A broadcaster came down? TURNER: --but a national broadcaster came and anchored it. O'HARA: That's pretty impressive. Wow. TURNER: And, and I'll come up with that name for you. O'HARA: That's, but that's big time. TURNER: Now, um, the college never turned down an opportunity in my era there to be involved in the community in any and every way that it could, and that was not only through the leadership of Dr. Riley--(sniffs)--but later on Dr. Kerley, of whom I am very fond. I understand he's gone to Florida. O'HARA: He has, just recently. TURNER: Mm-hm. And Carl Burnett was an interim president for us for a time, and, uh, then Dr. Bonnie Rogers, and that's another chapter in the community college history, and now by Dr. Jim Selbe, a very personable fellow that the community has come to accept. And, and, uh, I think he's making a real contribution to the college. O'HARA: That's good. That's good to hear. Uh, one more question on, uh--well, I have two more questions--but one more on, on, um, activities. Some of the community colleges, since you were around, even if you weren't a faculty member in the late sixties, what I've found that I find interesting that I didn't catch on my dissertation is that several of the community colleges had basketball or baseball teams in the late sixties, and I just find this fascinating and was wondering did Hopkinsville participate in anything? TURNER: We had the great fortune at HCC of having Eldridge Rogers, who's still living, and Eldridge Rogers was, uh, college events coordinator, and he came from a strong, uh, athletic background. And in the late sixties, he organized the HCC intramural program, and for a period of at least twenty years every spring we had the Community Colleges Intramural Program. Have you heard of that? O'HARA: No. Not the established intramural program. TURNER: All right. It included a considerable number of the state community colleges. I don't know how many or which ones, but I can remember at its height, we would have a weekend of intramural games and there would be seven or eight community colleges represented. O'HARA: Wow. TURNER: And as I remember, in the earlier years they always came to Hopkinsville. I think in the latter years we went other places, but Donna, do you remember the intramural program when you went to college? It was going in the spring, and they had all sorts of athletic events. Um-- O'HARA: --Do you recall some of the more popular ones? TURNER: --Mm-hm. Basketball-- O'HARA: --I would figure with UK and basketball, you'd have to play. DONNA: Probably golf. TURNER: Golf, bowling, tennis. O'HARA: Were there championships and awards and all that kind of stuff? TURNER: Yes, and awards. Trophies. They'd been into it in a big way. What was the, what was the game that was in the rec room-- DONNA: --Foosball? TURNER: --and it had bars and little people. DONNA: Foosball. TURNER: Foosball. O'HARA: They had foosball competitions? TURNER: MM-hm. O'HARA: Wow. Interesting. TURNER: We had foosball tables. I forgot. I wonder what's become of them. They'd be in, uh, museum items now, but we had foosball. O'HARA: Now those were defined as intramural. Do you recall any intercollegiate level? TURNER: No. None. O'HARA: And I wasn't--I've always been curious whether, you know, UK, uh, would allow that or, or if it just wasn't a desire. TURNER: I have no idea. Uh, I would say that our intramural program was the baby of Eldridge Rogers. He breathed life into and he kept life into it for a long time, but like so many other things, like our Festival of the Arts, it ran its course, and was time to come on with, with something different. O'HARA: Do you think Mr. El-- El-- TURNER: --Eldridge. O'HARA: --Eldridge would be, uh, available for an interview? TURNER: I certainly do. O'HARA: Great. I'd love to get his contact information from you when we're done. TURNER: Uh-huh. Uh-huh. O'HARA: And, um, that would be wonderful, and, uh, also, um-- TURNER: --Now he was there longer. Eldridge went to the college in '67, and we retired together in '03. So he would have a perspective from the student activities viewpoint that would be priceless, and you by all means should interview him. O'HARA: Okay. I'm definitely going to put him on the list. TURNER: And he's been in poor health since he retired. O'HARA: Hmm. Well, I will try to contact him as soon as possible. TURNER: He lives at Cadiz. O'HARA: Cadiz? Oh, I love Cadiz.--(laughs)--Well, um, um, this is kind of my closing question. The relationship between UK and its community colleges was unique across the nation, which you're probably aware of. That was the focus of my dissertation, was the uniqueness of it and why the legislation was passed. What were the benefits and the drawback of Hopkinsville Community College's relationship with the University of Kentucky? You've talked about some of those benefits; recruitment was just outstanding. Um, uh-- TURNER: --I was waiting for this question. From the time you called me, this question is the one that loomed in my mind, and you can tell that Donna is sitting in a rapt attention to see how I'm going to approach this. Remember that we all view any situation from our own perspective. O'HARA: Certainly. TURNER: The way we see it, and when I would talk about hot social issues in history all the way from slavery to abortion, I would say to the students and in this gesture, "Be careful when you pass judgment upon what others have done. Before you do it, look through their glasses and then you may find lo and behold that you view it differently." Now, we come to the matter of UK versus KCTCS. You must remember that I had a long run of UK indoctrination. I have talked to you about how this community related to the college and, from my viewpoint, gave it a bosom hug--(whispers)--because it was UK. O'HARA: Mm-hm. TURNER: And on the other side of the coin, I came to realize from my perspective as a history professor on the community college level that there were many ways in which University of Kentucky, from my observation, treated the community colleges like stepchild, all the way from funding to the approval of programs. The approval of programs got to be a real grit in our craw because it took so long to get UK approval to implement any program or any class. Meanwhile, we were missing students because they were going to other places where they could get these programs or these classes. On the other side of the coin, there was an emotional mystique in the community and among some of us on the college faculty, and that included Dr. Kerley who felt very strongly the tie with UK. So we had been treated like stepchildren, so our salary has been considerably lower than community colleges and the landmark, the, uh, benchmark schools around, but you must remember that I, as a native, a country and a small-town boy in this community, was able with two master's degrees to make a decent living for me and my family by teaching at the community college. True, I had a farm to back me up; as some faculty members would remind me, they didn't have a farm, but my thinking about all of this goes back to Harry Truman's quote, "If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen." But a lot of people don't adhere to that theory and so a number of us on the faculty and Dr. Kerley cast our lot with UK, and we politicked and we campaigned with our state senator and our state representatives. And I will admit to you that I politicked with my students in class, and that was very unethical. I shouldn't have done that, but I had worked under Dr. Tom Riley for nearly thirty years and every breath he drew was for the good of Hopkinsville Community College, slash, UK. So I was indoctrinated. I never attended UK. I'm not an avid basketball fan, but I sure am loyal to UK because I felt like that UK, that affiliation with that name emotionally did wonders to the students who went there and to the people in the community who supported it. Now some of our faculty jumped ship, which is typical, and that's okay. That's what's built America-- O'HARA: --Mm-hm. TURNER: --and supported KCTCS. I will never forget the governor coming to Hopkinsville to indoctrinate the faculty, staff and students of the valuable asset it would be to transfer to KCTCS, and the faculty and staff and student body booed the governor. That made me know that those of us who supported UK had done our homework because I will humbly admit that probably a number of students went the way I suggested because I suggested it and they had faith in me, and I took that stand after a lengthy study and thought-provoking sessions alone. O'HARA: And knowing the history. TURNER: Knowing the history and knowing the, the magic of UK, even if the salaries weren't as good, even if UK didn't treat us like some thought they should, I still felt like that the identity with UK in word-name recognition was much more beneficial than the unknown letter conglomerate KCTCS because when we began to talk about that in the community people said, What the hell is that? What does that mean? Well, KCTCS didn't have a basketball program. (Laughs.) KCTCS didn't have a one-hundred plus years of tradition, plus the fact that in Kentucky, we're slow to change. You know, Mark Twain said once, "When I get old and am about to die, I'm going to Kentucky because there, there's a slowing backward. It'll take the death angel ten extra years to find me." Now that's no great compliment. O'HARA: (Laughs.) TURNER: Well,-- O'HARA: --It depends on which way you look at it. TURNER: --we were assured by our political friends including none other than former Governor Ned Breathitt from Hopkinsville, the only governor we've ever had; the governor was very instrumental in us getting the community college. He was on the UK Board of Trustees at the time-- "William," he said, right in my office at the college, "don't you worry. It'll never happen." Well, you and I know that the game of politics in Kentucky is more forceful than anything else, and it came. In the process of it, I got so worked up over it that I had a spell with my heart that slowed me down a whole lot, and I lay there in the hospital bed and thought, "What the hay? Why do I let myself get so worked up over this?" And she will tell you, though I'm a passionate person, I'm not one who endorses with great energy every issue that comes down the street. But I sure did put my heart, soul, and body in that. And I came out of the hospital, not changed in my attitude of support for UK, but in the belief, Well, it's going to be, I might as well just accept it and go on. I'll never forget the reaction of the class when we spent a day or two at different times talking about all of this. It was more important than history. It involved their academic accreditation. And I shall never forget the reaction when one of the students said, "T, does that mean that UK won't be on our diploma?" And I said, "No, it won't." Whew, mercy! That was when Dr. Kerley walked by -- and he and I have a great friendship -- and he said, "Mr. Turner, what are you doing to them now?" I said, "Well--." And I knew I was on safe ground with him, and I said, "I'm just reminding them that UK won't be on their diploma." And he just kind of dropped his head and walked on. It was fortunate for Dr. Kerley that he got the job as president of the community college at UK. It saved him, because he was certainly on the outside looking in with the Governor and the political and educational leaders who were making the transition. Now, I realize -- and you correct me on this if I'm wrong -- that Kentucky was almost alone, in that its community colleges were under the state flagship university. O'HARA: You're absolutely correct. There's only two similar ones, Hawaii and Alaska, and it was not the same set-up. It was the only time that a flagship, land-grant institution directly--their same board governed a community college system. TURNER: Uh-huh. Well, as I remember, the first president--not the first. As I remember, the incoming president at UK, Dr. John W. Oswald, who was president at UK when the community college program was established, was from California. And they had a community college system, but it must not have been under the University of California. O'HARA: No. It had its own governing board. TURNER: Okay. And so let me be broad-minded enough, since I realize that my voice is going down in history, to realize that--and to say that I recognize the fact that the old order changes. Nothing stays the same. And what has built America? It has been the motivation to explore the new, the unknown, the undone, to see if it will work. Even though we don't like it, some of us don't. LaDonna's sitting over there agreeing with me. No, we want things to stay as they are. And yet I remember from William Cullen Bryant, in Thanatopsis, I believe, "Be willing to change, lest one good custom should corrupt the world." As far as my teaching was concerned, and certainly my paycheck was improved when we went with KCTCS -- I got quite a handsome raise and I was appreciative of that. But I felt like the students had been shortchanged when UK was taken off their diploma. And I realize -- and you correct me on this -- that Kentucky wanted to be in the mainstream, and so that was why--one of the factors that brought the community colleges away from UK. O'HARA: I'm sure that was important. My dissertation focused on the '62 legislation, so there are some new dissertations coming out on the '97, which I'm looking forward to reading. TURNER: It will be very interesting, yes. I'm sure you are. O'HARA: Because I've been following it very closely. But if you don't-- I'd like to share with you, sort of, the conclusion of my dissertation. TURNER: Okay. O'HARA: And the question in my dissertation that I guess I asked and sought an answer for was why Governor Combs chose the University of Kentucky as the governing body for the community college system in the 1962 legislation. And my conclusion was that, given the time and the place, given the--setting the context of Kentucky, of Kentucky politics, of the regional institutions, of the importance of UK to the people of Kentucky, I believe that Governor Combs chose the University of Kentucky because he could create a system of community colleges instead of regional colleges, four-years, with a bunch of branch campuses that were community colleges. He wanted to unite the state and make an academically sound system. TURNER: And there was no vehicle like KCTCS at that time to take it. O'HARA: No. And he didn't have--right, exactly. And he--actually they considered that, but it didn't have name recognition. It couldn't be assured financial stability in the long term from Governor to Governor. And it had no foundation. It had no academic expertise already in place to assure its academic success. So UK provided it symbolism, first off all, that was key to recruitment and key to getting the actual legislation passed, getting enough legislators on board to pass this legislation. UK provided it with financial stability; it ensured academic quality. So my conclusion of my dissertation was that in those initial years, the community college system survival depended upon the University of Kentucky in the 1960s. And from there on, I leave it to the others. TURNER: Do you think that UK ever wanted the community college system under its responsibility? O'HARA: I did explore that question. And there--in my dissertation, there is a little bit on that. What I gathered from interviews was that the faculty weren't interested. TURNER: They never were. O'HARA: Not interested. Administrators, yes. Administrators saw the usefulness--some administrators saw the usefulness of having their arms out in the state. TURNER: Enrollment. O'HARA: Enrollment. But the faculty actually lobbied against it somewhat and also felt--some staff members and faculty felt that the community colleges would take money away from the main campus because when it came time for capital construction--in my dissertation there's this several chapters, smaller chapters on--sections on this whole 1962 to 1965, trying to find out, Okay, is the legislature going to fund these schools, these colleges campuses? TURNER: They had no guarantee of it. O'HARA: And they kept on telling UK that they had to fund them, and then UK kept on saying, "Oh, you all passed the legislation. You're going to fund them." So that's why nothing opened until '65. TURNER: UK never, of course understandably, wanted any of their budget taken out for the community colleges, no. And I can see that. O'HARA: Yeah, understandable, if you were on the main campus and they were going to cut into your academic budget. TURNER: Absolutely. And look what a long tradition historically UK had established, you know, back to the land-grant college days. Yeah. And let's face it, there is strong rivalry, even to the point of jealousy, among these institutions. That just goes with the territory. O'HARA: Oh, yes. I explored that in a political chapter that I had on the regionals and their different ideas that they proposed and legislation that they got passed to try to get their own community college system. Fascinating story, it's just a fascinating story. So I find it great that I can follow the progression, the evolution, and see how things change over time, and yet some things don't. TURNER: And out of it, hopefully, we will have a better system of education. I'm just a product, a victim of my time, pretty well locked in on what I think works, and thus reluctant to change. I will make you this prediction: The day will come -- whether it will be nationwide or just in Kentucky, I don't know -- but I think the day will come when there will be a transition to another governing agency for the community colleges. O'HARA: It's almost inevitable over time. TURNER: Mm-mm. Nothing stays the same. And that's all right. We must look at it that way. Number one, it's going to be anyway. And secondly, it gives us the opportunity for refreshing ideas, new ways of seeing things. O'HARA: I've always told myself, anything worth keeping will remain hopefully, you know, in our character. TURNER: Excuse me. And anytime a new proposition comes along, there are naturally going to be the leaders that are going to be condemned or praised. And that's why the Governor and Dr. Alexander were in the forefront of that particular situation. O'HARA: Well, are there any questions that I have not asked that you wish I had? TURNER: Gracious ghost! (Laughs) I believe you've covered the waterfront, Hon. O'HARA: Well, I think you have! I've really, really enjoyed your history. TURNER: Well, I've enjoyed being able to share, because, as you know, I don't get asked questions like this every day. And with the passage of time, my knowledge and fine-tuned ideas of what happened will fade. This is the importance of this oral history program. I'd like so much for you to see Eldridge Rogers and talk to him. O'HARA: Brooks Major, do you have a contact for him? TURNER: Oh, yes. I surely do. O'HARA: I tried to look him up online and couldn't find him, so I was hoping you could point me in the right direction. TURNER: Mm-mm, I surely can. Dr. Major is at 79 now. He was Dean of Academic Affairs from shortly after '66 until '90. O'HARA: Oh, he'd be a great interview. Wow. TURNER: He surely would. And he is far more articulate than I. O'HARA: Oh, I don't know. You were excellent. TURNER: And he could just flow on and on like a river about his involvement. O'HARA: Everyone has there own unique thing to add. Yours is the history. That rich history of Christian County has just filled in so many gaps for me. TURNER: Well, I hope so. O'HARA: Thank you so much, Sir. TURNER: You're welcome. O'HARA: I really appreciate your time. TURNER: You're welcome, you're welcome. [End of interview.] Oral history with William Turner, history professor at Hopkinsville Community College from 1971 until 2003. Interview begins with Turner summarizing history of higher education in Christian County, Kentucky. Highlights include the history of Bethel College, affiliation with the University of Kentucky until the mid 1990's. Turner discusses the growth of campus enrollment and construction, student transfer issues, as well as the transition of the college into KCTCS. insert here