Interview with Thomas D. Clark, January 14, 1987

Project: University of Kentucky Oral History Project

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Interview Summary

In this interview, Dr. Thomas Clark discusses the political atmosphere surrounding the University of Kentucky. He first addresses the revision of the Kentucky constitution during the 1940s and states that many people opposed the revisions even though they did not know much about the constitution. Clark was appointed by Ned Breathitt to be historian of the convention during which a new constitution was drafted. Clark recounts the animosity and tension around the debate. Clark believed that Kentucky could live up to its potential under a modern constitution. Clark also explains that he tried to stay away from politics while at the university and how important it is to separate politics from academia.

Clark describes the governors of Kentucky while he was a professor at UK. Clark sees Simeon Willis, who served as governor during the mid-1940s as a man with real integrity. He states that Willis kept Kentucky politics calm during the war years and gained the respect of both parties. Clark, though, questions Governor Earl C. Clements' tactics, but adds that Clements always accomplished what he set out to do. Clark describes Governor Lawrence Wetherby's stance on immigration in Kentucky, and talks about how Wetherby brought in the Elizabethtown-Louisville toll road which provided a major link in the north and south in Kentucky. Clark states that Wetherby was not very aggressive but brought leadership to Kentucky when it was needed. Clark also sees Governor A. B. "Happy" Chandler as a major contributor to the state through upgrades to the highway system. He described Chandler as a "political animal."

Clark describes three stages that the university went through during his time there. By 1940, he states the University of Kentucky had ceased to be an old university. Then, from 1945 to 1950, the university was revolutionized with the increased enrollment of the G.I.s. The new, mature students forced a revision of courses and curriculum. Clark then saw the university's mission start to focus more on research, teaching, and service to the state.

Interview Accession

1987oh005_af298

Interviewee Name

Thomas D. Clark

Interviewer Name

Terry L. Birdwhistell

Interview Date

1987-01-14

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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Clark, Thomas D. Interview by Terry L. Birdwhistell. 14 Jan. 1987. Lexington, KY: Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries.

Clark, T.D. (1987, 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.

Clark, Thomas D., interview by Terry L. Birdwhistell. January 14, 1987, 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/xt7dz02z5w3c