Interview with Betty Kirwan, September 22, 1977

Project: University of Kentucky Oral History Project

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Interview Summary

Betty Kirwan talks about her life with her husband, Albert D. Kirwan. They were married in Louisville, Kentucky in 1931, where her husband was admitted to the Court of Appeals, and practiced law during the Depression. He also taught English and was Assistant Football Coach at Louisville Male High School, his alma mater. He later became head football coach at (DuPont) Manual High School, which caused a "big furor" due to the schools' rivalry.

The Kirwans moved to Lexington, Kentucky in 1938, where A.D. interviewed with University of Kentucky President Frank L. McVey and the UK Athletics Board for the position of Head Football Coach and was hired. Mrs. Kirwan recalls that football was suspended at UK during World War II, and after the war, her husband decided to teach History rather than coach due to changes in recruitment practices. Mrs. Kirwan mentions her husband's relationship with Adolph Rupp, UK's basketball coach. Her husband was Chairman of UK's Athletics Board and the National College Athletics Association (NCAA) Infractions Committee. President Herman L. Donovan granted Kirwan a year's sabbatical to work on his Ph.D. at Duke University, and he received a fellowship for his second year from Duke. Mrs. Kirwan explains they did this despite two children and a meager budget. In 1947, Dr. Kirwan returned to UK and became Dean of Men.

Mrs. Kirwan discusses the integration process at UK and in the Lexington community in 1949. She recalls there were issues of academic freedom at this time with the rise of McCarthyism. She discusses the basketball point-shaving scandal of 1951-1952. Mrs. Kirwan remembers Donovan's support of the decision to place a football player on probation rather than suspension at the insistence of William Townsend and Paul "Bear" Bryant. She recalls the circumstances surrounding Bryant's decision to later leave UK. She also talks about the integration of the basketball team.

Mrs. Kirwan talks about Frank G. Dickey's appointment as UK's President. Dickey appointed her husband Dean of the Graduate School in 1960. She remembers the situation with Gladys Kammerer, a UK faculty member, who publicly criticized the A. B. "Happy" Chandler administration and was asked to leave. Mrs. Kirwan also talks about President John W. Oswald.

Interview Accession

1977oh068_af072

Interviewee Name

Betty Kirwan

Interviewer Name

Terry L. Birdwhistell

Interview Date

1977-09-22

Interview Keyword

Ab Kirwan

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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Kirwan, Betty Interview by Terry L. Birdwhistell. 22 Sep. 1977. Lexington, KY: Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries.

Kirwan, B. (1977, September 22). Interview by T. L. Birdwhistell. University of Kentucky Oral History Project. Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries, Lexington.

Kirwan, Betty, interview by Terry L. Birdwhistell. September 22, 1977, 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/xt7kpr7mqg4t


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