Interview with Lewis W. Cochran, October 8, 1985

Project: University of Kentucky Oral History Project

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Interview Summary

In this interview, Lewis W. "Bud" Cochran discusses the early history of the establishment of the University of Kentucky as a research institution. He recalls that UK's Chandler Medical Center was first major campus construction other than the College of Agriculture that "had any significant research space built into the building." Cochran discusses the formation of the UK Research Foundation (UKRF). He mentions Merle Baker, with the College of Engineering, who was the first "faculty background" Executive Director. Cochran was also on the UKRF Board for several years. He recalls that support was first given to this project in 1959 by the Governor Bert T. Combs and Lieutenant Governor Wilson Wyatt Administration, and UK's College of Agriculture. He remembers Frank G. Dickey was UK's president during this time. He talks at length about how Spindletop Farm was acquired and developed, the formation of the Spindletop Research Board, and the selection of the first Director. In 1964, Governor Edward T. "Ned" Breathitt made the research facility completely independent of state government. Cochran remembers that the state never gave enough for the yearly operating budget, and that it needed to be at least half million per year over a five year period, or the project would not succeed. In 1961, $3.5 million was allotted for capital expenses such as building, equipment, and personnel. He recalls they ended up with a "building that was elegant, elaborate, but inefficient." He talks about Beardsley Graham, the first Director of the Spindletop research facility. Cochran recalls that interest in the facility continued with Governor Louie B. Nunn's administration into 1969, and that W. T. Young and Albert Clay raised support money from Kentucky industry to keep it going. He remembers that Kettering Laboratory expressed an interest in locating near UK, but that plan never materialized. Cochran discusses the final period from 1970-1975, when George Evans became Chairman. The facility was finally shut down in 1975, rented for office space, and the focus shifted from laboratory to "paper and pencil" applied research. Cochran discusses UK's College of Engineering status during this time, its relationship to other major university programs, and how the College was almost eliminated. He recalls that as far back as the 1940s and 1950s, there was a "need to move UK into the present century." He remembers an internal academic revolution occurring nation-wide to develop comprehensive, graduate level universities, and some institutions are still struggling with this.

Interview Accession

1985oh219_af278

Interviewee Name

Lewis W. Cochran

Interviewer Name

Terry L. Birdwhistell

Interview Date

1985-10-08

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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Cochran, Lewis W. Interview by Terry L. Birdwhistell. 08 Oct. 1985. Lexington, KY: Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries.

Cochran, L.W. (1985, October 08). 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. October 08, 1985, University of Kentucky Oral History Project, Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries.





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