Colored Scholarship - University of Kentucky, Senior Class of 1908
In 1908, the Kentucky Legislature passed the bill that changed the name of State College to Kentucky State University, today know as the University of Kentucky. In addition to the name change, the Legislature appropriated $500,000 for the college and two normal schools. During that same period, there was an attempt by the 1908 senior class at Kentucky State University to provide an endowed scholarship fund for African American students to attend the school. According to the yearbook, The Kentuckian 1908, p. 135, "Closing the year we received a staggering blow by the refusal of the college authorities to accept a gift of $75,000 from the class, to endow a colored scholarship."
If it was not meant to be a joke, then the class was very much ahead of the times; State University was still segregated in 1908, with no African American students. There is no mention of the offering in the archived papers of then President James K. Patterson nor in the Board of Trustees' archived records. Though the University had received an increase in appropriations from the state, $75,000 would have been a lot of money for that time period; an equivalent amount in the year 2010 would be a little more than $1.6 million.
The 1908 senior class leaders were Thomas R. Bryant, Class President; Helen L. McCandless, Vice President; Hattie Boyd, Secretary; James F. Battaile, Treasurer; and Ruben M. Holland, Class Representative. The Kentuckian 1908 is available at the ExploreUK website, with the list of senior officers on p. 133 and photo imges are on p. 134.