You have found an item located in the Kentuckiana Digital Library.
2007-03-29 Interview with Joan Hoffman, March 29, 2007 CC001:2008OH133 CC 55 00:46:07 History of Kentucky's Community Colleges Oral History Project Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries Henderson Community and Technical College Joan Hoffman; interviewee Adina O'Hara; interviewer 2008OH133_CC55_Hoffman 1:|12(5)|22(9)|35(5)|49(2)|66(2)|85(6)|96(8)|115(2)|130(10)|150(1)|170(10)|189(12)|206(8)|226(3)|250(2)|263(5)|275(10)|288(13)|308(1)|334(6)|359(7)|389(4)|411(9)|447(1)|460(6)|490(7)|515(12)|534(6)|556(6)|576(8)|593(7)|608(11)|625(3)|648(2)|662(9)|697(4)|719(8)|742(4)|758(2)|777(3)|793(6)|828(2)|848(8)|860(10)|872(3)|885(11) audiotrans CommuColl interview O'HARA: This is an interview with Joan Hoffman at her office at the First Methodist Church in Henderson, Kentucky, conducted by Adina O'Hara on March 29, 2007, for the Community College Oral History Project. Ms. Hoffman, the demand for higher education in Henderson County resulted in the creation of a University of Kentucky center in Henderson, in, that opened its doors in 1960. Because you were a graduate of that first class at the Northwest Center, please tell us about your experiences at Henderson Community College. HOFFMAN: I graduated from high school in the spring of, uh, 1960, and, um, looked very forward to, uh, attending the Northwest Center as it was called at that time, uh, because, uh, I wanted to become a teacher, and, um, I knew that I would need, um, four years of college at least but did not have the, uh, financial resources, um, to make that happen. So the fact that the college opened its doors that fall and I started in as the, as a charter student with forty-some odd other students, uh, that year, uh, was, uh, like a miracle, um; like an answered prayer really that, um, I had a way to receive that education. Uh, not only was it a place to go, it was a marvelous place to be for a student. We had an, an unusual collection of, of, um, of professors and teachers who truly cared about students and were proud of being a part of opening, um, a new institution. Um, in fact I, I found a mentor, uh, there in those, uh, first couple of years by the name of, of--he went by Buddy--but it was E.L. Overfield, and, uh, he guided me, um, encouraged me and even after I left the Northwest Center after two years and went on to UK would write letters of encouragement. And, uh, it, it was just an atmosphere of, uh, of learning, first of all, of academics but also of, of caring for, for students. Uh, we all experienced that, and when we get together, when so-, oh, some of us who were in that class get together we, we talk a lot about that, that, uh, those first two years at the Northwest Center. O'HARA: It's a very special time to be the first of something; to be the part of a ground-breaking experience. Tell me, how did you find out about the Northwest Center? Um, were there publications? Um, what, what was your first memory of ever hearing about it? HOFFMAN: My first memory was someone coming to, uh, Henderson City High School, um, early in my, in my senior year and, and saying that if there were students who were graduating that year, uh, who wanted to attend that they felt like it would be finished by that time and they would be accepting students, and, uh, that was just music to my ears, um, because I had, uh, I had worried about, you know, where I would go and how I would do that. And, uh, so that's, that's how I heard, and also our, our community newspaper, The Gleaner, uh, carried many stories about the peop-, the comm.-, the early committee who worked to, with the governor and, and university to bring it here. So I'd read those and then I'll never forget the picture in the paper of, of Bill Sullivan and, and Dr. English and the others who were digging that first shovel of dirt out on the hill, and maybe that's when it got to be called the hill--still is called that--um, breaking ground for, uh, the building of, of the, of the college, and, uh, it was, it was a bright day, uh, when I read that in the paper and, and realized it was really going to happen. O'HARA: So describe the first building and--was it open when your classes first began, and--? HOFFMAN: Yes. The, uh, the administration building that is, still is the main building of the campus there, uh, was open and I believe entirely, maybe there were some rooms in the basement that might not have been quite finished, but they were soon finished up. Um, at-- well, we thought it was just marvelous, and now that I look back, you know, with all the other buildings there I, um, it must have looked like a lonely building on that hill. But it, it really looked good to us, and I'll never forget walking in the front doors, um, walking up the steps and walking in and realizing I was in college. (laughs) O'HARA: And, um, all your classes were held in that building? HOFFMAN: Yes. O'HARA: And the administrators were in that building? And because it was so small and tight knit, can you describe the administration at that time? HOFFMAN: I can. Um, Dr. Alderman, Louis C. Alderman, was, um, the, the first director of the college and then it was called director because of being, because of the association with the university. You couldn't call them president because the university had a president. Uh, so Dr. Alderman was the director, and he was, um, he was like a father. (laughs) He, uh, he was very interested in, in the academic achievement of each student, and we were such a small group, it was, it was pretty easy to do that if you were certainly inclined that way. We had, um, a financial officer who, who was very helpful, um, and as I say, the, the faculty was just outstanding. Um, I, I got a very good, um, base, um, basis for, uh, learning how to study and, and how to learn even though I'd been, you know, a roughly good high school student. College is always an adjustment, but they, they cared and they worked with us and, uh, they had high expectations. It wasn't that they, you know, let us slide, and we, like--you know, because a lot of students were like that, but they had very high expectations and, um, held us to a high standard. And there were many in our group who went on to UK, and, and all those who did, did well. I felt like I had a good background in everything that I took including foreign language, uh, the sciences, uh, and my chosen field was English. And, and I certainly felt that I was, had a great opportunity to be prepared in that field, and, and then the closeness of the students was, um, just a wonderful opportunity to get to know people. You see, at that time we had two high schools. There's a county high school and a city high school, and so a lot of us from city had only heard about the, the guys from the county. You know, it'd, we'd been big rivals. O'HARA: Oh. HOFFMAN: So it looks like maybe coming to school there together might not have been good. We might have been, you know, bitter or, or still competitive in an unhealthy way, but it wasn't like that at all. We became friends and, uh, very close friends many of us; lifelong friends. O'HARA: And it brought the county together in essence. HOFFMAN: It brought the county together even before the, the schools, you know, merged if you--well, they didn't merge 'til '76--so, it did that. Um-hm. O'HARA: Tell me, um, you've spoken of these faculty members. My understanding is that the community college had very high academic requirements for faculty members. Um, where did the faculty members come from and do you remember what their degree attainments were? HOFFMAN: Um, I can, uh, remember a few. Um, the person I spoke of earlier, E.L. Buddy Overfield, uh, was a local person, and, uh, most of the faculty members, I guess, were brought in from other places. But he, he was one of the locals; uh, very fortunate to have him. Uh, he had, um, an advanced degree from Vanderbilt University, uh, in English, uh, and he had been down there at, when Robert Penn Warren and, and some of the other great writers were, were teaching at Vanderbilt or at least holding seminars and, uh, so he had just a wealth of knowledge. Now what that degree was, I--it was not a doctorate so I'm assuming it had to be a master's, but-- O'HARA: I think that's what the requirement was, which was a very good for that time period. HOFFMAN: It was. O'HARA: Excellent. HOFFMAN: And then my--the other English teacher that I had that had a lot of, um, influence on me, too, was Ronald Butler, and Ron had come, uh, Mr. Butler--(laughs)--now I call him Ron--but, he had come from West Virginia. He was a graduate of Marshall University, um, and I know at, I'm pretty sure at that time he already had a master's. And he was a, a great literature teacher; great writing teacher, composition. He was, that's where I learned, you know, whatever writing skills I have--(laughs)--I have to attribute to Ron Butler. Um, he was very good, and he--to show you what kind of interest that these people had in their students, uh, at lunch-time--(clears throat)- -see, we didn't have a cafeteria or anything. Of course, I didn't have a car, so I was pretty well stuck out there. I'd either bring a sandwich or get something out of a vending machine, and he would have students come up to his room and he, he was, uh, just so interested in music, especially German music. And, um, Schubert, and he would play classical recordings for us during lunch. And we'd eat-- O'HARA: Oh, how neat. HOFFMAN: --and then we'd listen and then we'd talk about it and then that would lead to things in literature, and, you know, he didn't have to do that. That was his lunch, too. O'HARA: But that's the essence. HOFFMAN: That's the, that you know, that's what went on at community college, and that's part of what made it so special. Another local person was Dorothy Tapp, and she taught, um, biological sciences. And I, everybody loved Dorothy, uh, Ms. Dorothy, and, uh, she was excellent. She was from here. Now where her degrees were from, I do not know, but she was a very well-educated lady; uh, very articulate, could have taught anything. It just happened to be biological sciences. Um, so, uh-- O'HARA: Interesting. HOFFMAN: --tho-, those three, uh, and then, well, I have to mention Arch Lacefield. Arch taught Spanish, and, uh, I took two years from him. I'd had two years in high school, and I went on with Spanish at university when I got there thinking I might get a minor in it. Then when I realized that I might have to teach my minor sometime, I decided--(both laugh)--I decided not to do that. But, uh, because of his, uh, tutoring and, and really help with speaking and learning the language, um, I did, I did fine at UK in that. O'HARA: When you started the Northwest Center was it advertised as a two-year program or were there ever hopes of it becoming a four-year or ever discussion of that early on? HOFFMAN: Oh, out in the community you'd always hear people say, well, you know, this is such a good thing, why, why don't we make it a four-year school? But I understood the, the, uh, the connection with the university. These, these were centers out in the state that worked to feed the, the four-year program, and then as it turned out, um, with going to more technical programs and two-year programs, you know, that's really its role. That's, that's its function, so I never was disappointed that it didn't--uh, but I don't know whether I need to mention this or not but--uh, Murray, of course, now has a regional campus here for the third and fourth year, uh, level of, of academics so, and for master's degrees, so what that has done, I think, is tremendous because a student can go there, you know, freshman and sophomore year, can then go right here in Henderson at, on the regional campus. O'HARA: And never have to leave. HOFFMAN: Never have to leave, and there's so many non-traditional students now who need, you know, a, a degree, who need to go on with their studies, and they can do that now even through the master's degree. My daughter is a teacher, and she is getting her master's of, uh, education through Murray State University. O'HARA: That is wonderful the way it's worked out. HOFFMAN: Yeah. It has. So, you know, even though the Northwest Center did not grow into a four-year institution, at this point, we do have those opportunities for students now. O'HARA: When you transferred to the University of Kentucky, was your- -because, um, the Northwest Campus was a part of the University of Kentucky--was the transfer very clean and easy? HOFFMAN: Very clean, and we were told that from the very beginning. Uh, they didn't discourage from, uh, students from transferring other places, but at that time, I really think it would have been more difficult to go even, even to state schools like Western or Murray. Um, I'm, I'm not sure everything would have transferred at that time because it wasn't that, um, they don't have that system of, of, uh, flowing from one to the other like they do now. Um, it was, it was very easy to transfer to UK. O'HARA: My understanding, um, I think is that they actually even have, use the same class names and the same class. HOFFMAN: Yes. Yes. O'HARA: So that, I mean, it was a match for a match which made it very-- probably made you feel really good because you were ensured-- HOFFMAN: It did. O'HARA: --that you didn't have to take anything again. HOFFMAN: And I'm sure there were people who thought, um, 101, English 101 at community college wasn't really the same class as 101 on campus, but I guarantee you it was or in some cases maybe even better because our class sizes were, were small and, uh, we had the attention of the professor and it, it was good. O'HARA: And I think that's been well-established. Community colleges were brand new in the 1960s, and when anything's brand new it's brought into question. But the fact that you can go to a community college and get that personalized--it's like going to a liberal arts college that has that small student, teacher ratio, and that personal attention that you got in those early years is even greater than anyone's getting now. Um, you know, it's different than being in a lecture hall of science with five hundred other students and the teacher doesn't even know your name at a major university, so, um, it has definitely proven itself over the years and there is no question anymore of the quality of that. Um, do you recall there being any, um, student activities that you all started during those first couple of years? Could you tell me about some of those initiatives? How they got started? What was your favorite? HOFFMAN: We did. Uh, the one--maybe they did this in all the community colleges and should have if they didn't--we started a student council, and I'm sure that was probably promoted through the administration. But I just remember our getting together and some of the people had been leaders in the senior class of city and county, and, and, uh, we started a student council and elected officers. Um, I think I was, uh, either vice-president or secretary that first year. I can't really remember. It's in that annual. Um, Jerry Peyton was the, uh, president of the student council. (clears throat) I get e-mails about five times a week from Jerry Peyton just trying to sort of gather the troops and see what's happening to this person and this person who was at Northwest Center back in 1960 so, and we're going to have a big, uh, picnic in July of, uh, county, yeah, county, really county graduates but, but--(clears throat)--a lot of them are people who went on to community college. Um, so the student council thing was, was really good because it sponsored some activities, uh, some, uh, games and just some dances, uh, that we might not have had if, if it hadn't been, you know, for that organization. We also had, uh, BSU on campus, Baptist Student Union, and at that time--I, I grew up in the Baptist church- -and so, uh, but, but a lot of students there went and, you know, they weren't Baptist. It just was, it was a place to go, and we, in, and in the second year a building was even built down the hill. It wasn't on the campus, but it was, like, the Green River Valley Association- -Baptist Association building. But we were able to have BSU meetings there, and I remember going down there and having, you know, we'd all take our lunch and have BSU meetings. And, uh, it was just, it was good camaraderie and good fellowship, and, um, oh, I remember one dance that we, uh, we, the student council sponsored. Uh, the language teacher that I told you about, Arch Lacefield. Uh, Arch was a saxophone player, and he played jazz and blues and that kind of thing and, and had a small band. Some of 'em were from Evansville and some--and so he brought the band and played, played at the dance. And we did it like a coffee-house, and that was sort of big in, you know, in the sixties. O'HARA: Yeah. And they're big now. (laughs) HOFFMAN: Yeah. I know, but yeah--if you stay around long enough everything comes back. But I remember we had, you know, candles on the tables and we, it's sort of a hippie kind of atmosphere, and they, you know, they played music and it was neat. O'HARA: Where was this held at? HOFFMAN: It was in a room in the--I guess it's, let's see what is that now? Maybe it's a lecture room now. It was--we called it like a community room or-- O'HARA: But it was in the administration building? HOFFMAN: It was in the administration building down in, on the lower level. It had, at that time it had sort of a stage in it when we would have convocations. It was the convocation room. That's what it was. O'HARA: Oh. HOFFMAN: We'd have convocations, and speakers, uh, they'd do that from the stage and, and the chairs were there. We had, I guess, some graduations there. No, we didn't. We had graduation at, uh, out in the, uh, outside under--up by the lake. O'HARA: Oh, neat. HOFFMAN: Yeah. O'HARA: Beautiful. You mentioned convocations. Were those--tell me about them. Were they required or-- HOFFMAN: Not that I remember. Uh, there would just be occasionally, you know, it wasn't weekly or anything, but occasionally there, the college would plan a, a program and invite, you know, people from the community could come and students were, um, asked to come, not, you know, not, it wasn't a demand, and, uh, had some outstanding speakers. One was, um--oh, I can't think of his first name. It's, it was, it's Winston Churchill's brother who happened to be an alcoholic, and he was, uh, inebriated at the time and, but it made for--(laughs)--a very interesting evening. O'HARA: I'll bet. HOFFMAN: Uh, but, I, I just remember him as one of the speakers, but we did have convocations. O'HARA: I, I went to Berea, and we had convocations but they were mandatory. HOFFMAN: Yeah. Because Berea is a, it's church related. O'HARA: Yes. HOFFMAN: Yeah. Right. And you, you'd expect that. O'HARA: So I was surprised to find that you all had that. Was that, was your early convocations, um, inviting the community in like that, was that, like, the beginnings of sort of, like, your fine arts center now? I mean, those early lectures and-- HOFFMAN: I never thought about that, but, um, I guess, I guess you could, you could look at it that way. Uh, right now at, through the college we have what they call the Preston Lecture Series, and that really may have been an outgrowth of that because, you know, they still bring in, um, speakers and, uh, and it really is for the whole community as well as the college. So some good things came out of that. Yeah. O'HARA: That's fascinating. Such early strong roots. HOFFMAN: Right. O'HARA: Wow. HOFFMAN: And that came from good leadership. I mean, you don't have that with just mediocre leaders. O'HARA: Um, my understanding is all the presidents or all the directors of the community colleges, I think, were required to have doctorates at that time, um. HOFFMAN: Dr. Alderman certainly did and, of course, Marshall Arnold came. O'HARA: UK had very high standards-- HOFFMAN: Yes, they did. O'HARA: --for their professors and their directors. HOFFMAN: And there's been a lot of longevity, uh, with the directors. Just, you know, Dr. Alderman, Dr. Arnold and Pat Lake. O'HARA: Dr. Lake. HOFFMAN: Yeah. Dr. Lake are, are the three in, since 1960. O'HARA: That's impressive because I, I haven't looked at the whole system and analyzed it that direction, but there's only been three? HOFFMAN: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. That's-- O'HARA: --in forty-- HOFFMAN: --I thought, am I forgetting something? O'HARA: No. No. You're right, in for-, over for-, it's almost fifty years, I mean, that longevity is very impressive. The stability in this community, um, and the community raising the money to get it is just, um, I know most communities did that, but Henderson was definitely a leader in that area. Um, I was very impressed to find in the UK Board of Trustees minutes from September of 1957 that, um, Mr. Sullivan and Hecht Lackey, the mayor at the time, um, they put together a package--actually a brochure--on what they foresaw as their college in Henderson and they took it to the UK Board of Trustees with a bunch of community members. But that brochure used the term community college for the very first time in Kentucky. HOFFMAN: Did it really? O'HARA: The first time I--that's the earliest documentation of the word community college that I could find, and so, I mean, it's just fascinating. HOFFMAN: And what they were trying to do is, is give words, give a label to what was really going to happen, and that's what they did. It's a college in this community. O'HARA: The community coll-,-- HOFFMAN: Community college. O'HARA: Community college. And they embraced that ideal just so early on even though it was first called the Northwest Center. HOFFMAN: Right, but the university did that. O'HARA: But that was, yeah, an external thing. I found a picture. I wish I, I--I didn't have it in this information, but it was a sign that was posted, you may have seen it, that said Northwest Center on it that was, um-- HOFFMAN: That was out on the lawn there? O'HARA: Probably. HOFFMAN: Yeah. Oh, yeah. I remember that. O'HARA: Yeah. I found a newspaper clipping, but it was just very interesting. It was neat, fascinating stuff. HOFFMAN: But you were speaking of the, of the community support. It has, it has never failed. The community support has always been there for, uh, this college and, uh, when, when the idea for a fine arts center, uh, that came through, like, some town meetings that people got together and said, you know, we need, uh, you know, a center where we can have drama, and, and, you know, several things where ideas were put forth on something downtown or, you know, whatever. And, but the, the thing that kept coming back as the, the ideal thing was to have it at the college for lots of reasons; for maintenance, for--I mean, it was, it was just, it was the thing to do. And this community came forward and made that possible, too, through, I think it was, like, three million, uh, at that time, was, you know, a whole lot of, a whole lot of money. O'HARA: It's a lot of money. HOFFMAN: Um, it wouldn't have happened without that community support, and, uh, people still go out there and, and at performances and I see them looking around. And you'll hear people say, people say, um, gosh, I can't believe this is in Henderson, you know, even after all those years. O'HARA: They bring in, um--not only are the students involved and the community, but they bring in, um, national and international, I think, Mr. Sullivan was telling me he just went to the first, um, opera. HOFFMAN: Opera. I was there, too. O'HARA: And he said it was excellent. HOFFMAN: It was. O'HARA: Was it Bavarian or-- HOFFMAN: Yeah. Marriage of Figaro, Mozart's, um, opera, and it was wonderful. One of the first operas ever been shown or produced in Henderson. O'HARA: That is so neat. I've never been to an opera. HOFFMAN: I hadn't either, and I will be sixty-five soon. Uh, my grandson is very interested in music and, um, sings in the chamber choir and he, oh, he was just ecstatic about it. He's seventeen, and I took my eight-year-old granddaughter because even though she wouldn't understand all of it--I didn't either--but the joy of seeing that and, and appreciating that kind of music was just something I didn't want her to miss. So we went and they had, um, a sign or a sort of a smart board kind of a thing, um, computerized, and it would have the, the major lines, the, the big lines that needed, you needed to know in order to understand the story. O'HARA: Oh, how helpful. HOFFMAN: They were up there, so you could glance up and say, oh, that's, that's why, that's why they're laughing. (laughs) O'HARA: I would need that. HOFFMAN: Yeah. That's why they're upset, and, uh, it, it, was just, it was wonderful. O'HARA: Oh, now you've got me itching to go see one. HOFFMAN: Yeah. It was good. O'HARA: That is neat. That is neat. But one thing that struck me about Henderson since the beginning, and I just put this all together speaking with you, was back in the 1950s, before they took anything to the UK Board of Trustees, the Henderson Education Committee did research. I don't know if it was Mayor Hecht Lackey or if it was Mr. Sullivan, but they did their homework before-- HOFFMAN: I think. Um-hm. I'm sorry. O'HARA: Oh. HOFFMAN: They were all a part of that, I'm, I feel sure. Um, Bill and, and, uh, Mr. Lackey and, and Dr. English was, uh, was a driving force, too, and he was a physician here. Uh--(clears throat)--I'm sure they were all involved in, in the research part. O'HARA: And the research part, I think, is critical because, like, for the fine arts center--talking to Dr. Lake this morning--I realized they went and looked and saw what other communities are doing and borrowed the best ideas, I guess, in and outside of the state and, and really made the best focal--it seems like a magnet, that fine arts center, from the way everyone--and I've, you know, read about it in the KCTCS news and heard all about it and stuff. Well, tell me about did they start a, uh, newspaper of any type at this, at the college while you were there? HOFFMAN: It actually--maybe we had a, just a little thing that was just a mimeograph kind of thing that went out, so I couldn't really say that was a newspaper. But the, um, The Hill, um, came out soon after that, and, and it just gets prizes all the time and when they, you know, had- -when they, uh, had the association that governs all that, when they do their awards the, our paper just gets-- O'HARA: Rave reviews? HOFFMAN: Yes, they do. O'HARA: I've heard the last ten years I think they've gotten awards. HOFFMAN: It's excellent. O'HARA: That's really nice. I, I'll be just interested. I've asked of the other people I've interviewed about the relationship between Henderson and Owensboro. Of course, Owensboro did not have, uh, a community college until 1986. HOFFMAN: Um-hm. O'HARA: But while you were a student or while you've been involved with the community college over the years, what has the relationship been between the two cities? I call it a healthy competition for status and resources. (laughs) HOFFMAN: Thank you. O'HARA: (laughs) HOFFMAN: That's very positive, uh, and it has been a positive relationship. (clears throat) Maybe, maybe it all goes back to, uh, many years ago since the forties, I guess, or maybe even went back to the thirties. Um, Owensboro and Henderson were rivals in sports. The high school in Henderson and the high schools in Owensboro were rivals, and it got, you know, at times as rivalries do it could get pretty nasty, pretty bitter. And so the towns, because--I think it's because of that--have always sort of competed, and that's okay. That's healthy, but there's always been something at their, you know, Owensboro's over there on the other side of the Green River and we're here and-- O'HARA: A little tension? HOFFMAN: Yeah. So when, when we built our college, uh, we--I think that must have been the intent of the leaders that we would draw from Daviess County, and that's not unreasonable. It's only thirty miles away. O'HARA: Yes. HOFFMAN: But Owensboro, the town, was, was growing faster than Henderson; still is. Uh, probably a little bit more progressive, and they demanded their own college. We fought it some, but, you know, they, they needed it and, obviously, um, the college here could not have taken care of all the students that have gone through there. I mean their, their--they have a, a very big, um, campus and, uh, student enrollment, and that was needed there. But at the time there was a little, um, dissension, um--(clears throat)--because we desperately wanted to see this college grow and felt like that was part of our market area and that would help us grow, but as it's turned out, it's fine. However, when, when they decided that they needed a nursing school that, that was a problem as far as we were concerned because we had been told that--in fact, we had been promised--that when the nursing school was established at Henderson Community College, there would not be one in Owensboro. O'HARA: There's no need for one in the region at that point. HOFFMAN: That's right. And it started happening, and we could see that was in the stars. And so we asked, uh, the person who had told us, who had made that promise to us to a meeting, and I remember personally asking him if he remembered making a promise that we would have the nursing school in this area. And he said, "Yes, but I didn't realize the promise was forever." And, um, at any rate, uh, they have a nursing school. We have ours. We're, we're doing well, they're doing well and hopefully we're serving the region in, in the way that we should. O'HARA: But Henderson has a very unique story about the nursing program, as you well know. It was the first community college to have a nursing program in the--even prior to, I want to say, like, '63, '64. I'm, we're talking right after you graduated really. I mean, does that sound about right? HOFFMAN: I think so. O'HARA: And, um, it was also the first two-year program that did not go on to the university that was offered, I believe, in the entire system. HOFFMAN: Really? O'HARA: Um, at least it was the most dominant one, but I know you all offered it first and it has such a rich tradition here. And the other community colleges modeled their nursing programs, um-- HOFFMAN: Is that right? I wasn't aware of that. O'HARA: Yeah. I did some research on that, and it was just a fascinating story because nursing--and to this day--is still in critical need. HOFFMAN: Yes. Yes. O'HARA: We're always shortage of nurses, so it was, it was one of the founding programs of Henderson Community College and it was very--I can understand why you all would want to keep that. Um, you mentioned sports, and you were--I, I enjoyed--it made total sense, you know, just coming off the Sweet 16 here. You know, we get very much into our sports, um, um, in Kentucky. I was wondering was there ever any form of sports while you were a student those first two years? I'm talking about, it didn't even have to be competition between colleges, although I found out an interesting story about that, but, you know, did people just decide to go play softball or create little leagues around the campus or anything like that? HOFFMAN: I remember some of that. It just, uh, you know, in the spring or the fall, uh, you know, guys being out throwing a baseball or kicking a ball around or whatever, but I, I can't remember organized kind of things, uh, until later. And then I remember they developed the field down there for, um, for, uh, baseball, and, um, and they had, uh, later they did have some, uh, basketball teams that, um, competed against other community colleges. Uh, but those early two years, I don't, I don't think there were unless I've, in my senility, I've forgotten. O'HARA: No, I'm sure you're right. It usually takes a couple years to get things going, and they had enough on their mind. HOFFMAN: (laughs) They did. O'HARA: Yeah. They did. Um, well, I had the opportunity to, uh, to inter-, to interview, uh, Dr. Charles Shearer-- HOFFMAN: Oh, I know Charlie. O'HARA: --the president. And, and he, he was the one who pointed me--I had not, I'm serious, I had not heard anything about the basketball program in the community colleges until I interviewed him, and he brought it up and--because he was coaching. He was, like, the assistant coach, I guess, the first year and the second year he coached in the late sixties, but I found it fascinating because then there were several colleges, community colleges and then they also competed against some junior colleges. Were you able to attend any of those games or can you tell me anything about, uh, those, uh-- HOFFMAN: See, I guess at that time, uh, when did you say? Probably the late, the-- O'HARA: Late sixties. HOFFMAN: Late sixties. O'HARA: I'm thinking. HOFFMAN: See, I was back here teaching, uh, just gotten married, had two babies. O'HARA: You were busy. (laughs) HOFFMAN: So I probably wasn't, uh, going to any of the games, but I'm sure I probably, I read, you know, about them in, in the paper and so forth. O'HARA: Found that, yeah, it was interesting. It kind of--I haven't found anything past the sixties of recollections like that, but, but, uh, I guess intramurals have developed since then and, like, you mentioned, some fields. HOFFMAN: Which is good. Yeah. Right. O'HARA: Well, it brings unity and the students, um, have a sense of, of ownership, and they can participate in different activities and such. Um, during your--those first two years, uh, were classes offered primarily during the day or in the evening? HOFFMAN: Uh, primarily, uh, during the day. I believe maybe that second year there were some--there might have been some at night in the first year but, but very few. Mostly it was, it was day. O'HARA: And was the population, uh, predominantly traditional students such as yourself? HOFFMAN: Uh, at that time it was. Uh, we had--I can remember two to three, what I considered, adults. I mean, I guess as an eighteen-year- old, I was an adult, but, but, uh, older, older folks who had started their education many years ago and had to stop for one reason or another. And, and this was an opportunity for them to come back, and I remember a couple of those were in, um, um, education. They, they wanted to continue and get their degrees, and, and a couple of them did. Uh, but mostly, uh, traditional students. O'HARA: It's interesting to see that growth and development. HOFFMAN: It's, it's really changed. O'HARA: Demographics. HOFFMAN: Yeah. It's changed. O'HARA: Now speaking of your education degree, did you take any education classes at Henderson, at the Northwest Center, or was it just your general education? HOFFMAN: I did. I, I took mostly general education as most freshmen and sophomores do, but, uh, they offered, uh, like a music, it--I have to say this before I get into that--I started out in elementary education, and so, uh, one of the classes they offered was music in the classroom, elementary music. So I took that, and I think I took the art and, uh, human growth and development. Um, at least those there and maybe another that I can't remember. O'HARA: That's a pretty good selection. HOFFMAN: Yeah. It was. (clears throat) This mentor that I talked to you about, E.L. Buddy Overfield, said to me one day about the end of my freshman year, and he'd say--when he really wanted to talk official to me he called me Ms. Frills. "Now, Ms. Frills, you know, you really should teach high school." Said, "You love literature, and you, you should do that." So I, you know, all that summer I thought about it and thought about it. When I came back in the fall, I, I changed to secondary ed and, um and then went to UK and, and really got into the English. And, um, and it was, it was the right, it was the right thing for me to do. I don't know how he knew that and I didn't, but, um, um, I think the question was, uh, courses I took there, that, in education. But--(clears throat)--because, I actually majored in English. I didn't really major in secondary education because I wanted my degree to be in my subject field. O'HARA: Um-hm. HOFFMAN: Um, I, uh, the--everything I took at, at community college, uh, in literature, humanities, uh, history--my minor was history--um, of course, was the, the basis for when I got to UK to take, you know, the more intense, uh, courses. So I, I was fully, fully prepared. O'HARA: That sounds neat. I started out in elementary ed, too. (laughs) HOFFMAN: Did you really? O'HARA: Yeah. I took about the same classes, yeah, to start off. So, yeah, I understand and decided I wanted to go for higher education. That's very interesting. Um, during your--maybe not, I don't know about the early years--um, well, we'll go ahead and address the early years, those first two years while you were a student. Was there ever any cooperation with the area technology center at that point? Uh, Henderson has their own local. Uh, it's not a part of Kentucky Tech, in, it's, uh, part of the high school that they offer-- HOFFMAN: Oh, the, the vocational school? O'HARA: The vocational school. Yeah. Was there ever any coordination during those two early years or even after that? HOFFMAN: Hmm. I'm sure after that, uh, it wouldn't, wouldn't have been too long to where that they were. When I started teaching at Henderson County High--that's where I did my teaching when I came, why, why I taught in '65 and '66 and then I had my children and went back to county high in '70--um, there was a great deal of cooperation between the area vocational school and the college, and that was 1970. O'HARA: Okay. HOFFMAN: So how much before that, I'm not sure, but I know by '70 there was a-- O'HARA: Well, that's pretty impressive. HOFFMAN: --a real partnership. Yeah. O'HARA: Well, good, because at that point the vocational school started post-secondary students in--as well as secondary students. HOFFMAN: Right. Well, see, in '60 there was not vocational training here. O'HARA: Oh. There wasn't? I, I don't have the dates on when that started. HOFFMAN: I don't know what year. I should remember what year. O'HARA: It's probably in the sixties. Maybe '67 or something? HOFFMAN: It wasn't there in '60. O'HARA: Okay. That explains a lot. So that nursing program was the very first career oriented program probably. HOFFMAN: Yeah. I hadn't thought of it in that way O'HARA: Interesting. Well, I'm sure there's something I have overlooked, but I think I've made it through all of my major questions. Um, is there anything that I have not asked that you wish I had or you would like to tell me about? HOFFMAN: Hmm. (pause) I guess the, something that's been, um, a, a very proud part of my life is, is education in, in general and specifically, uh, my association with the community college. Just to tell you just a little bit more personally. I don't know how much room you have left on your tape-- O'HARA: Oh, I've got plenty. HOFFMAN: --but it doesn't matter. (laughs) O'HARA: Yeah. It's plenty. HOFFMAN: Uh--(clears throat)--when I was five years old, I was one of the youngest children in the neighborhood. I grew up in the east end of town, very poor neighborhood, but for some reason I wanted to go to school so badly. And so when all of the bigger kids would go, on the first day of school when they would go by with their notebooks and their pencils and going to Audubon Grade School three blocks away, I, my grandmother said that I would sit on the steps of the, on the front porch and cry because they were going to school and I couldn't. I've always wanted to go to school, and I, I've always enjoyed learning and I love teaching school. Uh, I taught and was administrator. I retired as vice-principal, uh, after twenty-seven years, um, and it was just the most wonderful part of my life. Um, I love teaching, and to, to continue to have a relationship with community college, uh, being on the board of directors for many years and now on the foundation and helping with fund drives and, um, just trying to be a liaison between the college and the, and the community is--you know, some people don't have the right idea about what, what is out there and why it's there and, and, uh, what it can do for people. Um, uh, it's just, it's just been a joy to be able to try to spread that, that good news about the college. Um, there is something very exciting about a community that has a college, and I'm sure with a four-year school it would make it even more, um, vibrant. But the community college has, has been so good for Henderson. The, I, when I served as mayor, uh, you know, I, I realized once again how important that is, uh, when you talk to industry, uh, away from here and, and try to attract them to your town. Having a community college that, that was really good at, at, um, training and helping industry in lots of different ways, it was a, it was just a great, uh, point to be able to, to bring to, to those, uh, industries. So I got a whole new vision of what the college wh-, uh, the value of it in this community when I was in office, so just through all of that, uh, the community college has played such an important part, you know, in my life and in the life of this community that I'm just so grateful to those first folks who had that vision of a community college and did the work to get it here. O'HARA: That's a wonderful story. You give me chills just thinking about how much you've given the school and how much the community's given you. I mean, how much you--it's just a reciprocal relationship, and the passion that you have is so obvious. Like you said, I think why these interviews are so critical and so important is because people like yourself and Mr. Sullivan and Dr. Lake and others have that history, and we have to know where we came from in order to understand where we're going and to understand what the objectives are. And I think that future researchers from Henderson and throughout the state and the nation are going to find your-- [End of interview.] Oral history with Joan Hoffman, one time mayor of Henderson, Kentucky and one of the first graduates from Henderson Community College in 1962. Interview begins with Hoffman recounting why she selected the college known then as the Northwest Center. Hoffman describes her first day of classes at Henderson and faculty and administrators who were crucial to her experiences at the college. Student activities and courses offered while she was at Henderson are also discussed. She details the relationship with the University of Kentucky and the college's current relationship with the Regionals in the area. The interview concludes with a discussion of past college presidents as well as the need for the college and the community support provided as Henderson was being established. insert here