Interview with Dero Downing

  • Identifier1977 OH 041
  • Date10/21/1977
  • InterviewerSmith, David
  • IntervieweeDowning, Dero
  • DescriptionMr. Dero Downing is a native Kentuckian born in 1921. He received his A.B. at Western Kentucky Teachers College and he received his M.S. and Ed.S. at George Peabody College. Mr. Downing was awarded an honorary L.L.D. at Murray State University in 1972. From 1946-56 he was a teacher and coach at College High School in Bowling, Green, Kentucky. Mr. Downing served as Dean of Administration, Dean of Business Affairs, University President of Business Affairs, and President of Western Kentucky University. He has also served as a member of the Committee on Higher Education and the Council of Public Higher Education.
  • LocationBowling Green, KY
  • Duration:59:49
  • Time Summary0-0:40 Introduction
    0:40-1:40 Downing's first recollections of Martin
    1:40-4:40 Downing's relationship with Martin when Martin served as Superintendent of Public Instruction; Downing's background as an educator; Martin's association with Western when he was Superintendent of Public instruction
    4:40-6:30 Major problems facing education in Kentucky during the 1950's; How effectively Martin dealt with these problems
    6:30-10:50 Downing's knowledge of Martin's involvement with the implementation of the Minimum Foundation Program. Martin's ideas for improving the office of Superintendent of Public Instruction. Downing's speculations on why efforts to make office an appointive one have failed.
    10:50-12:40 Downing's recollections of Martin's decision to become chairman of Bert Combs campaign organization
    12:40-15:0 Downing's recollections of Martin's service as Finance commissioner; Martin's experience in finance made him well qualified for the post
    15:0-17:0 Martin's selection as president of Eastern; decision was anticipated and applauded. Martin was particularly well suited for the job.
    17:0-26:45 Downing's opinion of Martin's administrative abilities. Comparison of Martin with Kelly Thompson; belief that intense competition exists among state's educational institutions is vastly overstated; competition does exist, but it is of a wholesome and beneficial nature. Tremendous leadership provided by all of the presidents of the state's regional institutions during the late 1950's and the 1960's; the massive responsibilities and challenges they faced in transforming their institutions from small state colleges to regional universities. 26:45-30:40 Further comments on the competition that exists among the regional institutions. Martin brought a new sense of pride and excellence to Eastern when he became president. Martin was a good man for the time. Compared to Kelly Thompson.
    30:40-35:25 Leadership qualities of Presidents Martin and Thompson; qualities provided a margin of difference that is very noticeable. Strong support that Dr. Martin received from his administrators
    35:25-41:50 Movement to achieve university status for Kentucky's regional state colleges. Recognition to what had been achieved. Opposition to the proposed change in status.
    End of side one
    0-5:50 Downing's opinion that Martin was correct in strongly supporting a large measure of autonomy for the regional institutions. History will prove Martin to have been correct in his desire to preserve autonomy
    5:50-10:45 Downing's characterization of Martin's personality
    10:45-11:45 Martin's main contribution to education in Kentucky: his commitment to education at all levels.
    11:45-13:30 Final comments
    end of interview
  • Restrictionsno
  • RightsContact Special Collections and Archives, Crabbe Library, Eastern Kentucky University for reproductions, rights and permission to publish.
  • IndexerAaron Moore


“Interview with Dero Downing,” William H. Berge Oral History Center, accessed July 15, 2024,