Interview with Kelly Thompson

  • Identifier1977 OH 042
  • Date10/21/1977
  • InterviewerSmith, David
  • IntervieweeThompson, Kelly
  • DescriptionMr. Kelly Thompson is a native Kentuckian born in 1909. He received both his B.A. and M.A. from Western Kentucky University. He also received an honorary degree LL.D. from Morris Harvey College in 1957. From 1935-44 Mr. Thompson served as Public Relations Director and from 1946-54 he served as Assistant to the President at Western Kentucky University. In 1955 Mr. Thompson was made Acting President and from 1955-69 he served as President of Western Kentucky University.
  • LocationBowling Green, KY
  • Duration:52:37
  • Time Summary0:55-1:35 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

  • Restrictionsno
  • RightsContact Special Collections and Archives, Crabbe Library, Eastern Kentucky University for reproductions, rights and permission to publish.
  • IndexerAaron Moore


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