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Former UK President Frank Dickey Dies at 91

Media Contact: Dan Adkins, (859) 257-1754, x228 

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Aug. 7, 2009) - Frank Graves Dickey, who served from 1956 to 1963 as the University of Kentucky's fifth president, died Friday after a long illness. He was 91.

Dickey presided over the university during the period when UK launched its medical school and during the construction and opening of the UK Albert B. Chandler Hospital. Planning for the school, which included the colleges of Medicine, Dentistry and Nursing, as well as the hospital, had begun in 1954 under then-President Herman Lee Donovan, but Dickey helmed the effort to marshal legislative support and saw the project to completion.

Dickey rose to the presidency after having served as dean of the UK College of Education, of which he was an alumnus, from 1950 to 1956. In that post he directed the college's off-campus and field service educational program, working with Kentucky public school teachers, administrators and school board members. The UK Patterson School of Diplomacy and International Commerce also opened during his presidency.

He was appointed to the UK presidency in June 1956 at age 38, the youngest person ever to attain that position.

“The University of Kentucky family has a heavy heart today,” said UK President Lee T. Todd Jr. “Patsy and I send our best to Betty and the entire Dickey family. We have had the good fortune to get to know the Dickeys over the years, and I will certainly miss the fantastic advice and good counsel that President Dickey provided me.

“Even though the University lost a historic figure today, UK and the entire Commonwealth of Kentucky will never forget the legacy he left. President Dickey will forever be remembered for creating and establishing the UK Medical Center, an accomplishment that has impacted education, health care, and economic conditions throughout Kentucky.”

In addition to launching the university's medical school, Dickey oversaw a period of significant increase in campus enrollment and campus facilities. The opening of off-campus Extension centers provided the basis for the creation of UK's Community College System in the mid-1960s.

He left UK's presidency in 1963 to become director of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, where he served until 1965. From 1965 to 1974, he headed the National Commission on Accrediting of Colleges and Universities, and from 1974 to 1976 was provost of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. In 1976, he became vice president of an educational consulting firm.

A native of Wagoner, Okla., Dickey earned his bachelor's degree from Transylvania College in 1939. He earned both his master's degree in arts and sciences (1942) and his Ph.D. in secondary education (1947) at UK.

Upon his graduation from Transylvania, Dickey served as a teacher in the Lexington public school system until 1943. He entered the armed forces during the Second World War, attaining the rank of master sergeant before his discharge in February 1946.

Dickey returned to Lexington and became an instructor in the UK College of Education in secondary education and administration. Within two years, he was named chief administrative officer of the university's Bureau of School Service.

In 1964, the UK College of Education opened Dickey Hall, named in his honor.

Dickey was inducted into the College of Education's Alumni Hall of Fame in 1989. He was inducted into the University of Kentucky Hall of Distinguished Alumni in 1965. In 2002, Dickey received Omicron Delta Kappa's Laurel Crowned Circle Award, the national collegiate leadership honor society's highest honor, at its national convention. At the time, he was only the seventh member of ODK to receive the award in the society's history.

Also in 2002, Dickey and his wife, the former Elizabeth "Betty" Drymon of Lexington, presented the College of Education with a new endowed scholarship for graduate students. The Frank G. and Elizabeth D. Dickey Endowed Graduate Fellowship in Education assists exceptional students enrolled in any of the college's masters or doctoral level programs.

Dickey married his wife in 1940. Also surviving are three children, sons Frank Dickey Jr. of Lexington and Joseph Dickey of California, and daughter Ann Elizabeth Haynes of Lexington.

Services will be held Saturday, Aug. 22, 2009 at Crestwood Christian Church in Lexington. Visitation will be 1 to 3 p.m., with the service following.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to the Frank G. and Elizabeth D. Dickey Graduate Fellowship in Education at the University of Kentucky College of Education.

Page last updated: 11/19/2013 2:32:12 PM