Interview with Kelly Thompson


  • Identifier: 1977 OH 042
  • Date: 10/21/1977
  • Interviewer: Smith, David
  • Interviewee: Thompson, Kelly
  • Location: Bowling Green, KY
  • Duration: :52:37
  • Time Summary: 0:55-1:35 First Recollections of Martin
    1:35-2:25 Thompson's lack of knowledge concerning Martin's role in Minimum Foundation Program
    2:25-3:30 Why Martin ran for the office of Superintendent of Public Instruction
    3:30-4:20 How Martin's candidacy was received by educators throughout the state
    4:20-6:40 Major problems facing education in Kentucky during the 1950's and how Martin dealt with them. Martin was very effective in ending antipathy and apathy towards education
    6:40-9:20 Thompson's knowledge of reactions to Martin's decision to become involved as chairman of Combs campaign. Some educators expressed surprise, but Thompson remembers no condemnation from educators. Decision proved to be a wise one for Martin.
    9:20-10:20 Thompson's recollections of Martin's service as Finance Commissioner
    10:20-15:00 Thompson's relationship with Martin when Martin was Superintendent of Public Instruction; Martin was excellent administrator and organizer; took an active role as ex-officio chairman of Western's Board of Regents. His education and experience enabled him to alleviate the problems educators faced
    15:00-17:25 Thompson's recollection of the reactions to Martin's selection as President of Eastern. Martin's selection was "a natural event."
    17:25-21:00 Thompson's evaluation of Martin's administrative abilities. Thompson's and Martin's predecessors had struggled during a period of "higher educational poverty." Upon their accession, Thompson and Martin faced tremendous challenges.
    21:00-22:45 Main problems that Thompson faced in transforming Western from a small state college to a regional university
    22:45-27:45 Martin's expertise in fiscal management. Martin's role in developing increased bonding capacity of the state's institutions; prevented institutions from strangling in the tremendous enrollment increases. Martin deserves more credit than anyone in masterminding this
    27:45-33:15 Martin's effectiveness as a spokesman for Eastern on the Council on Public Higher Education. Co-operative competition that existed among regional institutions; total picture of higher education placed ahead of the interests of any institution
    33:15-36:30 Thompson's opinion of how Martin viewed the Council on Public Higher Education's attempt to curb the autonomy of the regional institutions
    36:30-40:40 Thompson's recollections of the successful effort to attain university status in 1966. Opposition to the granting of university status
    40:40-43:30 Martin's relationships with other university presidents
    End of side one
    0-1:50 Thompson's desire not to characterize Martin's personality or his relationship with the press
    1:50-3:00 Martin's main contributions to education in Kentucky: his development of Eastern
    3:00- Thompson's final comments; his respect and admiration for Martin
    End of Interview

  • Restrictions: no
  • Rights: Contact Special Collections and Archives, Crabbe Library, Eastern Kentucky University for reproductions, rights and permission to publish.
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“Interview with Kelly Thompson,” William H. Berge Oral History Center, accessed April 2, 2020,