Interview with Lewis W. Cochran, January 14, 1986

Project: University of Kentucky Oral History Project

Interview Summary

Lewis W. "Bud" Cochran retired from the University of Kentucky in June, 1981. He was asked in March, 1982 to accept the position of Dean of Educational Services at Kentucky State University. He realized that "the whole administrative structure had literally disintegrated" at KSU, and there was "a total absence of written policy". He recalls that he was not totally aware of the situation he was facing or what lead to it until he started work. He talks about his first six months in office and his assessment of the academic program. Cochran was told many times that "presidents of historically black institutions operate on a fairly strong, central, authoritative presidency model, there is little delegation and assumption of responsibility in the ranks, and the tendency is for the important decisions to be made by the president's office". Cochran recalls the controversy which "developed over whether the institution would have a black or white president", and that President William A. Butts came to KSU in 1975.

Cochran recalls that Governor Julian M. Carroll was supportive of KSU, and that Carroll and Butts had a good working relationship. He talks about the high percentage of out-of-state students, since this was due to the race situation in Kentucky and alumni had to seek employment elsewhere, but sent their children back to KSU. In 1978-1979, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools "cited certain deficiencies", and desegregation in the state "became a more pressing issue". Cochran was not advised of this matter in the beginning, so the annual federal report was not submitted on time. This oversight led to a year's probation with a possible lost of federal funds. In addition, the Office of Civil Rights announced it would visit Kentucky, and issued a report critical of predominately white universities and their percentages of black faculty and students. In 1980, Governor John Y. Brown, Jr. requested that the Council on Higher Education initiate a study of the future of KSU. Cochran notes that this was the first real focus on the status of KSU as "a major element in the desegregation of higher education".

Although at one point Cochran considered recommending that the school be closed, he still saw a need for KSU, because he felt that Kentucky is still not yet ready to be "a socially integrated state". Cochran notes that desegregation actually hurt KSU because black students were being siphoned off to the larger institutions with scholarship funds. In December, 1981, "Plan Eight", a revised mission for KSU, was approved. Cochran talks at length about this, in particular the changes in the liberal arts emphasis. He mentions the development of the Whitney Young college of Leadership Studies in 1983. Cochran nearly resigned from KSU at one point. He discusses the Raymond Burse administration and the current funding situation.

Interview Accession

1986oh044_af283

Interviewee Name

Lewis W. Cochran

Interviewer Name

Terry L. Birdwhistell

Interview Date

1986-01-14

Interview Rights

All rights to the interviews, including but not restricted to legal title, copyrights and literary property rights, have been transferred to the University of Kentucky Libraries.

Interview Usage

Interviews may be reproduced with permission from Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, Special Collections, University of Kentucky Libraries.

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Interviews may be reproduced with permission from Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, Special Collections, University of Kentucky Libraries.

All rights to the interviews, including but not restricted to legal title, copyrights and literary property rights, have been transferred to the University of Kentucky Libraries.

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Cochran, Lewis W. Interview by Terry L. Birdwhistell. 14 Jan. 1986. Lexington, KY: Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries.

Cochran, L.W. (1986, January 14). Interview by T. L. Birdwhistell. University of Kentucky Oral History Project. Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries, Lexington.

Cochran, Lewis W., interview by Terry L. Birdwhistell. January 14, 1986, University of Kentucky Oral History Project, Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries.





Persistent Link for this Record: https://kentuckyoralhistory.org/ark:/16417/xt798s4jpv20