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Barry University Oral History: Patrick Lee



                 Dr. Patrick J. Lee

     Today is May 29, 1986. I am Sister Eileen Rice in Dr. Lee's office.


Sister Eileen: Dr. Lee, when were you born?

Dr. Lee: I was born November 30, 1942.

Sister Eileen: Where?

Dr. Lee: In Richfield Kentucky.

Sister Eileen: Tell me a little bit about your family. Were there many people in it? 

Dr. Lee: I come from a family of six children, four boys, two girls. All of us were raised in Grayson County, Kentucky. It's a very small community. We were educated in a Catholic School in Grayson County, St. Joseph's Grade School, St. Paul's High School.  I Graduated with a class of twelve. From there I went on to Rushland College in North Brook Kentucky which was operated by the same order of Ursuline Nuns from St. Joseph, Kentucky. They taught me eighth grade until high school and I got an academic scholarship, otherwise I would not have been able to go to St. Joseph. I went off with my Academic scholarship to be a History leader. I did very well in my first semester classes and a French teacher that I had came to me in the first semester and said to me, "I can tell you're bored.  Why don't you let me teach you by myself with Sister Maurine, why don't you let me teach you with another girl, you can go ahead of the other classes." So she took the two of us separately and for the rest of the year we were able to do two years of work in one year. So, the French came very easily to me and that's why I left my History major for a French major and kept a History minor because I've always loved History.  So I stayed there from 1959-1963, graduated in May of 1963. I graduated from there, got some National fellowships, Woodrow Wilson, and decided to attend graduate school in Porter where Sister Marie because I felt like I needed to get a professional degree in England. With those fellowships I should go through her and with those scholarships, you can decide where you wanted to go.  I did prefer a Catholic education. 

     There was a big difference coming from a small town in Kentucky to a big city like New York. I remember going on a train.  But, I went to New York and Chicago because I had to go to a Danforth Conference for all first year fellows on Lake Michigan.  In the summer before I went on to New York before classes began.  So, a trunk was packed and I got on a train and was able to go to Chicago. I went up there for the week fellowship with a Denver fellow and got back on the train and went across from Chicago to New York. 

     So, as a bordem for three years doing coursework, I got a full-ride scholarship doing dissertation year in Paris. Thanks again to my professors, Sister Marie who had done some work in scholarships who told me all the things I should do.  So, I went off to Paris for that year doing research and came back in '67 to begin teaching.  I had not finished the dissertation, but had done all the research. I started teaching at Prussia, taught Prussia from '67-'71. French taught there and twiddled along on my dissertation.  I finally decided that I better get it done. I was procrastinated and really brooding about, physically brooding about what to do with this time. It was all they were waiting for.  I had gone back to France a couple times in between to do more research. I finished it and defended it in the Fall of '70, or Christmas of '70. It depends and the degree was actually awarded in February of '71. 

     Then I went on the big job market thinking I needed to go to a larger school and do all this research in careers. I went through the MLA job search thing. That was in New York that year.  I had offers from I guess four or five schools. One of the big ones, a State University System of New York, Lafayette College in Pennsylvania was one. All of them offered more or less the same money, but I ended up choosing to go to the University of Georgia because they probably had the best library at the time. So, I went off to Georgia to pursue my research in my teaching careers.

Sister Eileen: After that?

Dr. Lee: After that? After teaching that for many years, I really had a longing to get back to my roots which was Catholic Education. It was really all I had other than that Spanish which was all I had known. I remember seeing an add in a chronicle for an Academic Deanship at Delmontady College. I had recently gotten involved in administrative things within our department. Sure it wasn't as large as a public college, but it had just as many factors and I was in charge of the undergraduate program. I was the office faculty member who was in charge of all the curriculum stuff like getting a new course approved through the administrative channels at a university like that isn't easy. I got the first revision through the language department in thirty years. 

     At any rate, I sent out an application and low in behold, I was one of four or five who were interviewed. I don't know why, or what exactly were the decisions from the material. Once I got there I went through the interview with the committee and was invited back to an interview with the president. The president and I hit it off. He knew as I was being hired as he was being hired. 

Sister Eileen: How long were you there?

Dr. Lee: I was there for three years. Father Toben decided to leave higher education and go back to administration in Iowa. He wanted to be back to ____. They asked me if I would be the acting president. They sort of said that I could be president if I wanted and I would basically be the president of the '80's, '90's, and near future in 95% fund raising and 5% college administration. I truly enjoyed what I was doing with the academic faculty and students. So once again I looked into the Chronicle of Higher Education and an exceedingly small ad for Barry College stuck my eye. 

     I first learned of Barry, well I was well-informed most of my Catholic Higher Education and I knew where Barry College was.  I had met Sister Trinita at a Southern Association meeting that I attended with Father Tobin back in Fall of '78. She along with another religious who had come to Mass in October and asked if we were going to heaven. We went on December the 8th for Holy Day of Obligation or whatever it was called. 

     I met Sister and we talked about Barry. Barry had the recognition of being, still at that time, a college for girls, that's the impression that we had. When I saw the ad, I asked Louise, my wife, "Florida would be an attractive place for you to go?" It had to be an attractive place for her. It had to be South and she refused to go North. She spent many years of her youth in the Orlando area before coming home. So once again I said there had to be something there. I had developed some credentials in higher education. I was chosen to be one of the five, I don't know how many they interviewed, to get here. So, I came down here to be interviewed with Sister Jeanne and Charlotte, she flew down to interview me and one other person who was up for election. We hit it off. It was just a matter of days before she called back and said she made the decision.

Sister Eileen: So you had never visited the campus?

Dr. Lee: Oh yes.

Sister Eileen: Well you came down that time.

Dr. Lee: Yes, I came down alone and was interviewed on campus with Dr. Marie Luionese, Dr. Riley was chairman. Dr. Martin was my coach from the airport. 

Sister Eileen: What was your impression when you first came to Barry?

Dr. Lee: I went back and told Louise that the physical, it looked like a resort. I did not know it was an institution for education.  There was a Chapel there, but it could be a resort in St. Augustine that belongs to a church. I interviewed in May, almost this time of year, a little bit earlier. Right after graduation, maybe it was a week after graduation. The place was not deserted, there were a lot of people around. Everything you could think probably went wrong like not getting hot water for a shower. 

Sister Eileen: Did you stay in The Villa?

Dr. Lee: No, I stayed right here in Dalton-Dunspaugh. I don't know if I didn't know how to operate the shower properly or if it was turned off. 

Sister Eileen: They were probably cleaning the equipment.

Dr. Lee: After that portion I went back and said that I really wasn't sure about this. But then Sister Jeanne called and said she wanted to talk to me. It was really Sister Jeanne's power of persuasion and her vision of what could be convincing. 

Sister Eileen: So then you came here. Would you like to compare what Barry was like when you first came here to how it is as you see it now?

Dr. Lee: Well in July of 1981, Barry was an institution of about 2000 students. Twenty one something in all as I recall in August and September of '81, my first class. I have to think back to exactly how many schools it was divided into. About half of what it is now, we have Arts and Sciences, Social work and Education.  There was four, and Business.  So we had five, so six at that time and three schools had been added. It was already a more complex academy than Belmont which is what I had been used to because I had a layer of Deans to work with that I didn't have at Belmont.  It was much more complex. It was a university structure. That's what I remarked to Sister Jeanne. When the course of doing my history lessons on the institution, I read that the original intentions of Sister Jeanne had talked about that. It was a sort of mutual agreement to try to go to a university planning session with the first person who wrote it down on the first boarding system. Structurally administratively, it was a complex institution. It was a university.  With the addition of the other schools and of course the doubling of the enrollment, it was a much bigger and complex institution than it was at the beginning.

Sister Eileen: What do you think are Barry's strengths and weaknesses? Strengths first.

Dr. Lee: Having been asked that question before, there is no question in my mind that it's the people. The people who work here. No question. Historically the strength has been in the Adrian Dominican Sisters. To this day, in my opinion, the image, the good image, the image of excellence that Barry enjoys in the community of South Florida is based on the work of the Sisters for the last 46 years now. The quality education the Sisters gave and the dedication and the image that they gave this place much more so than what has been done in the last five years or even ten years, since we became coed, is placed in quality of education.  That quality, that image is from longstanding tradition. It's not something that comes overnight. Too many have tried that. It's something that has to be built on reputation. A reputation takes time to build. It could be destroyed quite easily, but it takes time to build. So there is no question in my mind that the greatest strength comes from the Adrian Dominican Sisters. I don't think that could be said enough, it needs to be repeated.

Sister Eileen: Today are there strengths in addition to that? Are there specific areas in which there are great strengths?

Dr. Lee: Well, I think each of the schools has its own strengths or it would not have been identified as a school. The school of Arts and Sciences which was very common to the original heart and soul of the institution. It has marvelous faculty members, great strength right there I think. Traditional arts and sciences, there is no question about that. Without Arts and Sciences, Barry would not be Barry. So, that has to be said up front. Social Work is quality faculty so we could be proud of that. The School of Nursing, a long tradition there of high quality of excellence.  It shows a great strength in our graduate school. All over South Florida, they saw that. The School of Education, same thing, our teachers are prized. The school of Business is growing. Every year it gets stronger, its reputation gets better. No question about that. The Biology and the things that have grown out of Biology, the Bio-med area and Podiatry built on the traditional strengths that have been in Arts and Sciences. Adult and Continuing Education. Well, the need was there. Every demographic study showed us that the need was there for the growing population.  Over 24 year olds who wanted higher education and separation of the schools' students proved to be accurate. Computer Science is the youngest and has its strengths. I think it is innovated in what it is doing in bringing technology into the classroom and preparing teachers for classrooms in the future. It makes it a little worth while and it has developed a national reputation in some areas. 

Sister Eileen: What about the weaknesses? What would you say are the weaknesses at Barry?

Dr. Lee: Maybe the lack of endowment. It's not to say that money would solve everything, let's face it, money would solve a lot.  If we had a larger endowment, we would not have to continually raise tuition to the extent that we do to pay back what we raise and so forth. We could draw off the endowment to help pay for operating costs. If we had more money we could finish off the building that we need so we could have adequate classes and classrooms for everyone. If we had that gym, we could have space for the people in recreation and we could have graduation on campus and do a lot of things that we want to do. In many ways there is not much that we have that money couldn't solve. 

Sister Eileen: Could you think of anything else you would like to add?

Dr. Lee: Well, just to say that they have offered the most exciting five years of my life and they have certainly gone the fastest of any five years of my life. Never dragged. Never a dull moment. As I say to Sister Jeanne a lot of times how deeply appreciative I am for the confidence that she had in me and in me being her chief faculty officer. She has a great deal of confidence and trust and I hope I never betray that trust. 

Sister Eileen: Thank you very much Doctor Lee. 

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Frances Sciurba