O'HARA: This is an interview with Dr. Judith Rhoads at her office inMadisonville, at Madisonville Community College conducted by Adina O'Hara on March 30, 2007, for the KCTCS Oral History Project. Dr. Rhoads, the demand for higher education in Hopkins County resulted in the legislation of a community college in Madisonville in 1968.
O'HARA: As a result, Madisonville Community College became a part of theUniversity of Kentucky Community College System. Because you came to Madisonville Community College in 1977 as a faculty member--
RHOADS: -- [Nineteen] '76.
O'HARA: Thank you.
O'HARA: [Nineteen] '76 as a faculty member and, um, later to become theacademic dean and, and now the president, you can, um, describe the development of Madisonville Community College's development over the last several decades. 1:00
RHOADS: Okay. Basically, I came in 1976 and, um, as a faculty member,and I served on the Board of Trustees for the University of Kentucky from '89 to '91. And, uh, prior to that, or after that, I became an American Council on Education fellow and was in a national leadership, uh, group. And after that I went to Owensboro Community College as academic dean. And I've now been back as president for-- I'm in my ninth year as president.
RHOADS: So, but, um, basically, um, in the old days, um, in 1976 we metin a very small room. There were few faculty. We had approximately six hundred students and now we have four thousand students, so the college has grown dramatically in the number of students and the number of programs over the years and had a huge impact on this community. 2:00Um, so we have 212 employees, full-time employees now, and we have about ninety part-time faculty members.
O'HARA: Tremendous growth.
RHOADS: Tremendous growth over the, over the years.
O'HARA: When you first came, your very first, um, experience here atMadisonville, what buildings were already standing when you--
RHOADS: --Okay. When I came here, uh, the Gray Building was two storiesand did not have this third story on it, and it was built between two hills. And because, uh, the legislature didn't provide enough money for the building, they cut the size of it a little bit and made it smaller, and that's why we have the concourses coming in, um, which have been replaced, uh, three or four times at huge amounts of money. So, um, on the top of the building there were wooden slats, and you entered from the second floor and took the elevator down to the first 3:00floor. Uh, when I was hired, they were already out of space, and so there were four people in a sm-- in a small, um, in a small classroom all sharing that classroom for an office. So they were already out of space. They were already out of space then, so that gives you, gives you an idea. Basically, this building, even though it's served the college well over the years, has had multiple problems. Instead of putting, building another building, they put on a third floor to the building, which, which you're on now, but basically the, um, the floor pulled away from the building twelve or fourteen inches, um, when the building sunk and they had to jackhammer up the floor and pour a new floor. Uh, because of the concourses, the way they were constructed, it caused the steel beams in the end of the building to rust out. They 4:00had to go back in and replace it. Also, the block kind of fell off the building and the windows were falling out, and they had to, uh, replace it with brick. So the building looks much better than it ever has. The big, this large, large building looks much better than it ever has, and it won an architecture award at the time it was built. So--
O'HARA: --What a story of a building. (laughs)
RHOADS: Yeah. Yeah. And, uh, Bill Logan will tell you that he knewfrom the beginning it wasn't gonna work the way they did it, and it's just like building a dam; uh, instead of putting a building on a hill, it was built in, um, between two hills.
O'HARA: Have they ever considered, um, just knocking it down and--
RHOADS: --Oh, no.
O'HARA: --and rebuilding it?
RHOADS: This is, this fifty-five, sixty thousand square feet. It'sunbelievable. It is, it is, it's the largest space in the college.
RHOADS: No, they just kept, uh, kept changing and fixing the structuralissues, yes, over the years.
O'HARA: Now tell me what, what was Bill Cox's role?5:00
RHOADS: Bill Cox, um, you'll get two different stories. You'll get onestory from Bill Cox and you'll get another story from Frymire, but they were both in the legislature in the time. Bill was in the House. Bill was in the House. Uh, Frymire was in the Senate, and Louie Nunn was governor at the time. And Louis Nunn wanted a sales tax passed, and he couldn't get enough votes for his sales tax. So he basically called Bill in and told him that he would approve the college if he would vote for the sales tax. So they call it the on bended knee syndrome there, so Bill voted, voted for it. But Frymire says we would have gotten it whether he had voted for it, whether he had voted for it or not, but, uh, I don't think he was reelected after that, you know, people that voted for the sales tax. So Bill has a story, uh, to tell about the governor and how he called him in and that kind of thing, so, um--
O'HARA: --Well, I will definitely check with, um, Mr. Cox, and he's6:00in Louisville?
RHOADS: He's in Louisville. He works, uh, out of Frankfort, uh, forthe County Government Association or something, but he does live in Louisville. Right.
RHOADS: And his son is the mayor now here. He,--
O'HARA: --Oh, really!
RHOADS: --Bill was the mayor here for a while and now his son is themayor with two or three in between. Okay. Mm-hm.
O'HARA: Um, the story of Madisonville's embodiment of the communitycollege ideal was unique due to its beginning as the Madisonville Cooperative Extension School in the early 1960s. Uh, Kelly Thompson of Western, Ralph Lewis of Murray, and A. D. Albright of the University of Kentucky all worked with local community leaders, um, such as Richard Frymire and Bill Cox, um, to establish a cooperative education school before the community college was legislated, of course. Um, can you explain Madisonville Community College's relationship with the state's 7:00regional universities, uh, throughout your tenure here? Because I think it has an interesting beginning.
RHOADS: Yes, it has an interesting beginning, and basically, uh, peoplestill talk about the trailers. There are people in the community that, um, many became school teachers or head of businesses and et cetera that are still in the community that started out in the trailer. So you still hear, you still hear about--(laughs)--you still hear about the trailers. Uh, over the years the relationship with Murray has been much stronger than the relationship with Western. This is considered Murray's territory.
RHOADS: Okay. So, um, over the last ten or twelve years, Murray StateUniversity ha-- or maybe nine years, Murray State University is on this campus, and they have about seven hundred students on this campus. And they offer, uh, several undergraduate degrees and several masters 8:00degrees on this campus. So, um, basically we provide space to them at no charge and we do everything we can to help them succeed because they do not offer the one and two hundred level classes in Madisonville. So if a person needs a one or two hundred level class, they refer them back to us. So when they start a new program, it causes our enrollment to jump. So right now we have a-- it's on the front page of the newspaper today that KCTCS is, or Madisonville Community College is asking for a building in the legislature that will house Murray State on our campus, but it will belong to Madisonville Community College. And if you'll look at the paper today, there's a big article in the paper today about the first architectural drawings.
O'HARA: Interesting. I'll definitely take a look--
RHOADS: Yeah. Yeah. So, uh, there's a real strong relationship withMurray. Um, Dr. Dunn, the new president, is coming in today, and I 9:00have a day scheduled for him that from, uh, nine thirty to four o'clock this afternoon that he's meeting with community people. The goal is to raise the level of education in the community with two-year degrees and four-year degrees. So by cooperating with each other, you help the community and help economic development and the quality of life in the community, and it helps our students. So with Murray, we have a very strong relationship, have a very positive relationship with Western. That was not always true. Um, when King Alexander was president-- not King; his father, Kern, was president of, uh, Western, he came in to Muhlenberg County offering one and two hundred level courses, and there was a major fight and a major standoff, et cetera. But right now with the new president at Western, we have a very good relationship with the regionals to help, it helps everybody, and if you'll notice when you came in, we just changed our sign that says Madisonville Community College, Murray State Extended Campus. 10:00
O'HARA: I did notice that.
O'HARA: I only come down about once a year, so I didn't know--
O'HARA: --how new it was. So it's brand new?
RHOADS: Mm-hm. Right. Right. So we have a good, we have a, we have agood relationship.
O'HARA: That's great. Because of the cooperative beginnings atMadisonville, credits earned at Madisonville Cooperative Education School were transferable to any of the three colleges involved. Um, and you've sort of already touched on this, but just to elaborate, how has the relationships between Madisonville Community College in the four years as far as transfer credit evolved in the decades that you've been here?
RHOADS: It's gone through cycles. It's gone through cycles. Um,when I first started, um, in 1976 and taught psychology, basically University of Kentucky wouldn't accept our psych 110, and, um, uh, we had trouble transferring even to the University of Kentucky. Uh, so 11:00some, it would depend on the professor, on what they though. Well, we do a better job of teaching than they do, so we won't take it. So we went through years of kind of fighting for transfer, and then we went through a period of time that, um, basically there was a statewide summit. Shaughnessy, a legislature-- legislator, got into it, and we came up with a transfer agreement, a block agreement, forty-five hours and sixty hours, and that worked for a good while, but if you don't keep it up year to year then it starts to dissolve. So you hear little things about transfer, but we don't hear many things here. But you do, you do hear it across the state, and, uh, so you can look for a common numbering system like they have in some co-- some states. There are ways to solve the problem, but the problem still exists. It's always how severe it is depending on the cycle that you're in.
O'HARA: And that sounds like your-- each individual college'srelationship with that university, like you,--
RHOADS: --Makes a difference.
O'HARA: --you have a very positive relationship so you've developed--
RHOADS: --Yes. Yes. Yes, and if I have a problem, if we have a12:00problem, I pick up the phone and call the president. Yeah. So we have a very positive relationship.
O'HARA: As far as the numbering system that you mentioned, uh, do youthink in the future there is any chance that the, uh, all the state schools will be on the same numbering system?
RHOADS: Um, they would lobby against it.
RHOADS: Uh, yeah. They would lobby against it, so, you know, there maybe some improvement but they will lobby against it.
O'HARA: It won't be easy. (laughs)
RHOADS: No. It would not be easy.
O'HARA: Well, we know the outcome of those early decades at MadisonvilleCommunity College. Uh, we do not know the internal dynamics of growth and change. What programs did Madisonville or does Madisonville Community College offer that some of your, uh, nearby community colleges-- Henderson, Hopkinsville, Owensboro-- programs that they don't offer? But you have your own special niche.
RHOADS: Right. Um, basically my predecessor, Dan Stump that was herefor twenty years, uh, was very aggressive in getting programs for 13:00Madisonville Community College, so that is, that is really to his, to his credit. So this college has always had more programs than the colleges around us. Um, also Loman Trover-- I don't know if you've heard Loman Trover's name. We have Trover Health Systems here that employs twenty-two hundred people. We have a four hundred bed hospital. We have a regional health center here. It's called Rural Health, uh, in a, in a rural area, but in '68 when the college-- you might want to go talk to him-- when the college was formed, um, he was part of the, he, he helped lobby for the college and was extremely involved. He also lobbied for a health campus, and you couldn't grow a, you could not grow a, um, rural health center unless you had the workers. So he got the, the health, this health campus approved. We 14:00have ten accredited health programs that most of them no one else in western Kentucky has those programs. We'll serve thirty-five counties. We have respiratory care. We have 192 RN students in the program. We have twenty-five nursing instructors. Uh, we have about fifty or sixty in the LPN program. We have x-ray technology, clinical lab technician, uh, physical therapy assistant, occupational therapy assistant and just, um, Surg Tech, first, um, first assist. We have all of those programs. We have six or seven hundred people on a campus next to the hospital, and that is a huge niche in, um, in growing the area and serving the area. And that was because of Loman Trover, and you might want to go to his house. He would love to talk to you. He lives in Earlington, and he's on oxygen but he's mentally, um, pretty alert. And he can 15:00tell you about the beginning of the, beginning of the college and his role in the college, and he was on the board when I was selected as president and advocated for me to, um, to be president. But, um, health programs, we are, um, we are indeed fortunate and this whole are is indeed fortunate to have the programs that we have. Um, that and, um, we were the first college in the state of Kentucky to consolidate with a technical college. We were the very first one out of the box, and, um, it's worked exceptionally well. It's been good for the college. It's been good for the community. It's been good, it's been good for our students, but we were the first out of the box. So, um, so we're, you know, we're pretty excited, excited about that, but also, uh, we have twenty-nine programs. We have the technical programs. We, 16:00we are loaded with programs. Yeah, we really, we really are.
O'HARA: Speaking of the health programs that you offer and thatinitiative back in 1968 to get a health campus--
O'HARA: --basically next to the hospital--(clears throat)--was that, at,in '68, was that a part of Madisonville Community College at the time?
RHOADS: No. No. That was, um, called the voc-- I'm not sure what theycalled it; I've forgotten what they called it, but it was part of the technical college. And we did not combine until, like, uh, 2001 or 2000 that we combined. But what we had on this campus, we had a huge, huge nursing program, and we had physical therapy assistant. And then when we combined with the technical college, our, the programs here went over to that campus. But Trover Foundation, uh, in the mid- eighties, uh, gave this college 1.5 million to double the size of our 17:00nursing program, so anytime that we started a new program-- physical therapy, occupational assistant--Trover provide, has provided money to help get those programs started. So they have been a tremendous partner. They've been a tremendous partner.
O'HARA: It sounds like that's the reason why your transition, uh, withthe merging of the community and technical colleges was so smooth. I mean, being the first one, I was impressed with how smooth the-- at, at least from an outsider standpoint.
RHOADS: Oh, well good.
O'HARA: And how smooth it went through and it was sort of a model forthe system. But it was, it sounds like it goes back to these community ties and, uh, cooperation that's been there. Was there cooperation between, um, the vocational school and the community colleges prior to the legislation--
O'HARA: --in 1997?
RHOADS: Yes. With the health pro-- some health programs. Some healthprograms, and John Gray-- this building's named after John Gray-- he advocated for those partnerships between, between those programs. 18:00But, uh, basically the consolidation came from-- it wasn't a top-down consolidation; it was ground-up. We had nineteen committees, and we set up the committees according to accreditation standards and asked very specific questions. And then they had so much time to get the answers back to me and the cabinet, and we did ninety-five per cent of what the faculty thought we should do. So that's the reason it went so smooth.
RHOADS: --That's the reason it, it was, um, yeah-- it worked, it worked,it worked exceptionally. It worked exceptionally well. If I had told the nursing faculty here to go over to that campus, they'd still be mad, but when they told me they thought they should go, then they're happy.
O'HARA: You empowered them.
RHOADS: Well, it, it w-- it was good. It was good. It was a lot ofwork, and, um, but anyway, it's been good. It's been good.
O'HARA: The first year the Madisonville Cooperative College extension19:00program began all of its classes, they were held after 3 PM. Um, during your tenure when you first started at Madisonville Community College, was it primarily teaching during the day or the evening or both and what was it, were you, uh, was the population, student population basically traditional or, or nontraditional or what was the--
RHOADS: --Basically it was day and evening, day and evening just asit is now; not any different than it is, is now that we have a full, classes are full in the evening and classes are pretty full, pretty full in the days. So there's really not much, much difference with that at all, and the population has always been mixed. It's always been-- we're getting more seniors right out of high school than we have in the past probably, but the average age is twenty-seven. And, um, last year we got thirteen valedictorians, and, uh, basically having 20:00Murray on our campus helps people see that they can get their four-year degree right here. So, um, so we're getting more students, and things, the way things have changed is that many years ago you expected the top fifteen or twenty per cent of a class to go to college. Now, nationwide, it's sixty-six to seventy per cent are expected to go and to continue. So that has been a change is the expectation of who goes. We're in the knowledge economy, so either you get two years of post- secondary education or you work for minimum wage. Eighty per cent of all new jobs will require two years of college education or more, so, uh, it's not that the students can't do it. It's that people haven't expected them to do it.
RHOADS: Yeah. So-- or used different teaching methods to help them, howthey learn, and to help them learn.
O'HARA: And now the expectation is definitely there.21:00
RHOADS: Yeah. It's definitely there.
O'HARA: A permanent site for a college campus in a new and largerbuilding was completed in March, on March 12, 1973. Um, that was prior to you coming to Madisonville. Are you a native of Madisonville?
RHOADS: Yes. Well, we've been here since '74. Which building, are youtalking about this building?
O'HARA: Um, I think so.
RHOADS: This is the first building.
O'HARA: This is the only building. Was it ever located, like, a lot ofcommunities would, um, initially started some of their campuses out of old high school buildings and stuff like that.
RHOADS: No. It went from the trailers here.
O'HARA: And what, what were the trailers? Could you describe that--
RHOADS: --Well, the trailers, um, there was a building that they usedthat ended up, um, uh, it's now our adult ed building, but over by where the trailers were located they did, they did build a moderate- 22:00sized building that was used for several years, um, and it's still, it's still there, it's still there and then we moved to this one.
O'HARA: And was it on this property?
RHOADS: No. It was, it was, uh, behind Browning Springs Middle School.
RHOADS: Yeah. Yeah.
O'HARA: So those were the early roots. I'm always--
O'HARA: --fascinated by campus development--
RHOADS: --Mm-hm. Good!
O'HARA: --and growth and transition.
O'HARA: Interesting. So during your tenure when you came here, this wasthe only building. Is that right?
O'HARA: So you saw the whole campus grow.
RHOADS: That's right.
O'HARA: Into the beautiful, large campus it is today.
O'HARA: Student activities over the years, um, have included everythingfrom sports teams to, uh, choruses,--
O'HARA: --um, to lecturers; different, things that the students wereinterested in.
O'HARA: Academic clubs, academic teams. Um, I was interested tofind out interviewing, um, some of, of the early administrators and 23:00assistants that there was actually, some of the campuses had basketball teams in the late sixties.
RHOADS: Oh, this one had a basketball team, and there was an article inthe paper a couple of weeks ago, uh, reminiscing of the history of that team and told about the players and who they were, that they're still in the community. They played other community colleges. They played the Job Corp. Uh, we had coaches. Yeah.
RHOADS: Yeah. Yeah. It, yeah, there w-- it was a, it was a funarticle. It was a fun article in the pa-- in the paper. Uh, and Stan Lewis was our coach, was one of our coaches. Tommy Clayton who, um, worked for Old National Bank was promoted to Evansville. He was, like, second in line at Old National. He just retired and moved to Florida, but he was one of the coaches. And, uh, it went through all the people that played and, yeah, and they had the famous story where, uh, they were playing the Job Corp. Stan Lewis, who was Financial Aid 24:00Counselor, African American, wonderful guy-- he left the van running because it was so cold so when the players came out from eating after the game that they, uh, wouldn't have to get into a cold van. And they came out and someone had taken the van, had stolen the van, and, yeah. And they eventually found it. Job Corp students drove it off, so anyway, yeah. Well, I didn't know it; they thought it was a prank, but they eventually found it, they found the van. But anyway, that, those are some fun stories.
O'HARA: There's always some. Do you recall what years the team wasput together?
RHOADS: Hm-mm. It was in the, it was in the paper. I can't, I can't--yeah, it was in, it was, it was, it was in the paper recently, uh, Keith Cartwright's column that he writes. Um, probably over a weekend; he writes a column over the weekend, and he reminisces about sports and teams. And he wrote an article on, uh, on that, on that team. And we 25:00do have some old annuals that have, uh, the different things, uh, the pictures of the people. Um, we do have some old annuals, and it has the different events and that kind of thing. Uh, but now we have, um, we have Madisonville Community College Singers. We have about probably ten or twelve clubs. Um, I'm having the, the, uh, Student Leaders at my house Tuesday night for a, uh, celebration of student leadership and the different, different clubs at the college. Um, so, um, just a variety of things. We have a s--, um, a research conference here for students, uh, and a faculty member will sponsor a student and they will do a research project and they'll present it on a poster. And then there's a contest. I'll give you a copy of the, the booklet. We have that. Um,-- 26:00
O'HARA: It sounds unique. I haven't heard of that.
RHOADS: No. It's pretty neat. It's pretty neat, so-- We have a varietyof things for students.
O'HARA: Were there other sports during, uh, your tenure or--
RHOADS: --Oh, they had ping pong tournament. That's not really a sport,but they had ping--they had big ping pong tournaments. I remember that. Uh, uh, we had a tennis team.
O'HARA: I thought I'd heard ----------(??).
RHOADS: We had a tennis team. We had a tennis team.
O'HARA: And, and the sports as far as-- is there still intramuralsif students want to just, um,--RHOADS: Uh, we work with the YMCA for basketball and that type of thing, but it's nothing like it used to be. Yeah.
O'HARA: Interesting.--(coughs)--Excuse me. For a local community, thereare cultural and economic benefits in, involved in community college development. Some of the colleges promoted cultural activities by arranging for lecturing,--
O'HARA: --lecturers to come in, um, musicians to appear at the communitycolleges. What are some of the, um, ways that Madisonville Community 27:00College served the local community other than its traditional programs?
RHOADS: Um, today we have Women's History Month, and we have aspeaker in the Student Center on Women's History Month. We have, uh, exploring different cultures. We had someone come and speak on, um, Mu-- um, um, the Muslims. Uh, that's c-- that's constant that we have different, different speakers. We also have our Fine Arts Center, and that's a story within itself. We have about thirty-two thousand people a year that attend events there. And we have summer arts academy for children, three weeks in June and we bring in a professional choreographer and director. And they study, um, theater in the morning, and in the afternoon they produce a play. And at the end of the week, they produce a play for the community, so, um, we will 28:00have about eight thousand children a year come through that center to see plays from, um, Louisville and Lexington. We get grants from the Kennedy Center, Crayola, all over--
RHOADS: --Yes, it's huge, and then we have, uh, we'll give you a copyof the brochure-- uh, we had Tosca last Friday with about-- that's, uh, an opera with a full orchestra. Uh, we've had the Louisville Orchestra fairly frequently. We have Three Dog Night coming. We have Clifford the Big Red Dog coming. Uh, we have quite a, quite a series, and the budget is part of the college. In Henderson, it is not.
RHOADS: It is not. It is part of, it is part of the college here.
O'HARA: Now, how did that, um,--
RHOADS: --If they don't make, if they don't make it, it comes out of thecollege budget.
RHOADS: Bottom line.
O'HARA: Bottom line.
RHOADS: Bottom line. And lots, lots to do with art, that type of thing.
O'HARA: It sounds like it has, um, long-reaching effects.29:00
RHOADS: Oh, it does.
O'HARA: It ranges everything from school children, um, all the way up tobringing, you know, national-- state and national performances.
O'HARA: Really neat.
RHOADS: We do. We do.
O'HARA: Well, Dr. Rhoads, those were my specific questions. Are thereany other unique stories you'd like to share?
RHOADS: The Fine Arts Center is a unique story. Um, Anne Baker who isfrom Norfolk, Virginia, decided that we did not have the arts in our community, and she spent fifteen or twenty years working on the Fine Arts Center. She, um, devel-- had a, um, group called the Community Improvement Foundation, and they talked to people about leaving money in their wills for a Fine Arts Center. And, uh, someone did leave a huge amount of money that helped us match state money to get the, to get the center here, but it's a, it's a long, long story. And then 30:00Glema Mahr-- it's named after her-- uh, left a million. Also, I'd like to say the community is very, very supportive of this college. We have the top fundraising effort in the entire state. We've raised almost nine million dollars in the last three and a half years for the college.
RHOADS: And so, uh, the community is very, very supportive financiallyand otherwise of this institution.
O'HARA: And it's shown, uh, through the campus growth as well as itsnumber--(Rhoads clears throat)--and the range of programs.
RHOADS: And its range of programs, and, um, we're turning dirt on a newtechnology building. Um, it's called, uh, Brown Badgett Energy and Advanced Technology Center, and, um, and today we have a meeting on the, uh, proposed, proposed building for Murray State on our, on our campus. So, um, we continue to grow. We are--(clears throat)--one 31:00of the top in the nation-- I mean, one of the top in the state with the amount of grants we get. We get about ten million in grants every year, so we have a lot of programs going to help with student success. Uh, that kind of thing, so anyway we're pretty proud of where we're going and what we're doing.
O'HARA: And a lot of that has to do with your leadership. I, I wasreading, um, in my research about some important grants that you helped--
O'HARA: --bring to the college, and it, it really made a big difference.
RHOADS: We're excited. We're excited about it. We really are, but, uh,anyway those are some other people to talk to. Do you want to talk to people within the college or, um,--
O'HARA: Um, if there's, um-- the, the focus is, is the people, um, fromthose really early years to capture those and then move forward,--
O'HARA: --so occasionally you may have a faculty member or staff memberwho has been here forty-three(??) years or--
RHOADS: --Linda Thomas has been here forty years. Um,--32:00
O'HARA: --And what does she do?
RHOADS: She is the head of nursing. She is the head of, um, she is thehead of nursing. Joe Gooch in sociology and history has been here as long. Uh, Jawana Kittinger, or Jawana Brown now, uh, she worked in the business office and now works in the library at the health campus. She's been here that long as well.
RHOADS: So they've all been here. Yeah. But those are people to talkto as well.
O'HARA: Dr. Rhoads, thank you so much for your time.
RHOADS: You're welcome. You're welcome.
O'HARA: We really appreciate it.
[End of interview.]