Interview with Wendell Butler


  • Identifier1977 OH 006
  • Date2/2/1977
  • InterviewerEllis, William E.
  • IntervieweeButler, Wendell
  • DescriptionMr. Wendell Butler is a native Kentuckian born in 1912. He received his B.A. at Western Kentucky State College and his M.A. at the University of Kentucky. He served in the Kentucky State Senate from 1947-51. from 1952-55, 1960-63, and in 1968 he has served as State Superintendent of Public Instruction. From 1964-67 Mr. Butler served as Commissioner of Agriculture. In 1968 he was a delegate to the Democratic National Convention. He has been a member of the National and Kentucky Education Associations.
  • LocationFrankfort, KY
  • Duration:59:46
  • Time Summary0-5 Introduction
    24-29 First recollections of Martin
    29-61 Martin's involvement in Kentucky politics; The development of the Minimum Foundation Program; Martin's decision to run for State Superintendent of Public Instruction
    61-82 Difficulty in amending Kentucky constitution prior to implementation of Minimum Foundation Program
    82-90 Implementation and funding of Minimum Foundation Program
    91-109 Controversy between Martin and Chandler concerning surplus property division; Martin's chairmanship of Combs' gubernatorial campaign
    109-118 Butler's opinion that State Superintendent should be appointed
    119-128 Superintendent's involvement in politics; close relationship between education and politics in Kentucky
    128-147 Reaction to Martin's chairmanship of Combs' campaign
    147-212 Martin's effectiveness as a politician; Martin's background as a good preparation for presidency of Eastern; Martin's selection as president in April, 1960; Accomplishments of his presidency
    213-229 Recollections of Martin's tenure as Commissioner of Finance; how Martin's financial expertise aided his administration at Eastern
    230-261 Circumstances surrounding Martin's selection as president of Eastern
    273-320 Martin's relationship with Board of Regents; Martin's reaction to student protests of late 60's and early 70's
    320-350 State Superintendent of Public Instruction's role in overseeing state regional institutions
    350-366 Evaluation of Martin's leadership of Eastern
    366-385 Martin and the Council on Public Higher Education
    385-298 Recollection of regional institutions achieving university status in 1966
    398-422 Role of regional universities in Kentucky
    422-444 Controversy over continuation of Eastern's development of law enforcement program
    445-524 Martin's relationship with other Kentucky political leaders: Clements, Combs, Chandler, Breathitt, Nunn, Ford, Carroll, Perkins
    525-545 Martin's expertise in financial matters
    545-556 Martin's relationship with the press
    556-616 Characterization of Martin's personality; Martin's main contribution to education in Kentucky-in field of higher education
    642-684 Assessment of Martin's strengths: vision, planning, discipline, as a leader and education administrator
    710 End
  • Restrictionsno
  • RightsContact Special Collections and Archives, Crabbe Library, Eastern Kentucky University for reproductions, rights and permission to publish.


“Interview with Wendell Butler,” William H. Berge Oral History Center, accessed February 1, 2023,