Interview with Harry Sparks

  • Identifier1977 OH 039
  • Date10/12/1977
  • InterviewerSmith, David
  • IntervieweeSparks, Harry
  • DescriptionMr. Harry Sparks is a native Kentuckian born in 1907. He received his A.B. at Transylvania College and his M.A. and Ed. D. at the University of Kentucky. From 1934-41 Mr. Sparks served as Superintendent of Irvington, Kentucky schools. He worked as professor of Education at Murray Kentucky State College from 1948-52 and he served as Superintendent of Public Instruction of Kentucky from 1964-68. Mr. Sparks held the position of President of Murray Kentucky State University from 1968-73 and was named President Emeritus in 1974. Among the awards he has received were the Distinguished Alumnus Award of U.K. in 1969 and the Civilian Service Award by the U.S. Army in 1971. Mr. Sparks has served as President of the Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools.
  • LocationRichmond, KY
  • Time Summary0-19 Introduction
    21-194 First recollections of Martin; relationship with Martin prior to Martin's election as Superintendent of Public Instruction; Martin's role in the Minimum Foundation Program; Martin's expertise in the financing of public education
    195-280 Martin's decision to seek office of Superintendent of Public Instruction
    280-429 Major problems facing education in Kentucky in the 1950's; development of higher standards for teaching in public schools; comments upon desegregation in Kentucky schools
    430-482 Sparks' evaluation of Martin's effectiveness as an administrator and as Superintendent of Public Instruction
    483-627 Sparks' recollections of Martin's activities in the gubernatorial campaign of 1959
    627-695 Recollections of Martin's tenure as Commissioner of Finance; increased appropriations for education
    695-781 Martin's relationship with KEA; Martin's strengthening of the personnel of the Department of Education
    781-853 Recollections of Martin's selection as President of Eastern; Sparks knew that Martin would be selected and support of Wendell Butler would be attained
    853-883 Martin's interest in the administration of the regional institutions when he was Superintendent of Public Instruction
    883-1031 Martin's qualifications for the presidency of Eastern; reaction of others to Martin's selection; Sparks' opinion of former policy of having the Superintendent of Public Instruction serve on the Boards of Regents and Trustees of the states' institutions of higher education and his desire to see the Superintendent of Public Instruction become an appointed position
    1031-1131 Sparks' relationship with Martin when Sparks was Superintendent of Public Instruction; Sparks' comments on the purpose of the Board of Regents; effectiveness of the Board of Regents
    1131-1205 Martin's effectiveness as President of Eastern; his capabilities as a planner and administrator
    End of side one
    0-159 Martin's effectiveness in the Council on Public Higher Education
    160-440 Martin's support of, and belief in autonomy for the regional institutions; Martin's, Doran's, Sparks', and Nunn's collaboration to prevent an appropriation of public funds to the University of Louisville before it became a state institution
    443-556 Characterization of relationships and the competition among the regional institutions and the University of Kentucky
    556-606 Martin's role in the attainment of university status for the regional state colleges
    606-808 Characterization of of the relationship between politics and education; percentage of state funds appropriated for public education; refining aspect of competition among state's institutions of higher education
    808-863 Martin's relationship with other University presidents; Martin's effectiveness as President of Eastern
    863-908 Sparks' characterization of Martin's personality
    909-1027 Sparks' reaction to Martin's candidacy for the Kentucky State Senate; Sparks' comments on his own unsuccessful attempt for the Senate in 1975.
    1027-1099 Martin's chief contributions to education; Sparks' comments upon the period of the 1960's and early 1970's
  • Restrictionsno
  • RightsContact Special Collections and Archives, Crabbe Library, Eastern Kentucky University for reproductions, rights and permission to publish.


“Interview with Harry Sparks,” William H. Berge Oral History Center, accessed July 13, 2024,