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UK's Eighth President Otis A. Singletary Dies

Contact: Mary Margaret Colliver or Ralph Derickson

Photo of Otis A. Singletary
Otis A. Singletary

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“I knew him from the time I was a faculty member in the UK College of Engineering as a man of impeccable integrity."

- UK President Lee T. Todd Jr.

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (Sept. 20, 2003) -- Otis Arnold Singletary, 81, a native of Gulfport, Miss., husband of Gloria Walton Singletary, and the eighth president of the University of Kentucky, died this morning at his home in Lexington, Ky.

He is also survived by three children, Bonnie Singletary Robertson, Winston-Salem, N.C.; Robert Scot Singletary, Greenville, S.C.; and Kendall Singletary Barret and husband Max, Lexington; four grandchildren, James David Robertson, Jill Robertson Stokes, Jeffrey Lee Robertson and Addison Singletary Barret, and four great-grandchildren.

Visitation will be from 4 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 23, at the W.R. Milward Mortuary on Broadway in Lexington. Services will be at 3 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 24, in the Concert Hall of the Otis A. Singletary Center for the Arts at Euclid Avenue and Rose Street on the University of Kentucky campus.

Officiating at the services will be Terry Birdwhistell, Charles Roland, Andrew Oppmann, and Mark Bryant. Serving as casket bearers will be Don Clapp, Fran Curci, Henry Clay Owen, Ray Hornback, Terry Birdwhistell, Ken Weaver, Mark Bryant and Dr. John Gurly. Serving as honorary casket bearers will be Ansel Braseth, Sam Readman, George Griffin, William Sturgill, Sen. Wendell Ford, Horace "Sonny" Wallace, L.D. Gorman, Charles P. Roland, Moses Gaines, Gordon Hood, Gov. Edward T. Breathitt, Gov. Louie Nunn, Bill Huls and Frank Ramsey. Burial will be in the Lexington Cemetery. Memorial contributions may be directed to the Otis A. Singletary Center for the Arts, University of Kentucky, Lexington, Ky., 40506-0241.

Singletary, an expert on the Mexican-American War, was named the eighth president of the University of Kentucky in August 1969. He served 18 years in the presidency, retiring in July 1987. Upon his retirement, the UK Board of Trustees conferred on Singletary the title of President Emeritus.

During his 18-year administration (third longest in UK’s history), more than 60,000 students earned degrees, representing more than 57 percent of the degrees awarded at UK during its entire history to that point.

The UK campus witnessed more than $250 million of new construction between 1969 and 1987, including the Otis A. Singletary Center for the Arts, Markey Cancer Center, Gaines Center for the Humanities, and Gluck Equine Research Center. The university’s library doubled its holdings from one million to two million volumes, and UK implemented a program of selective admission.

Also during the Singletary years, the number of individual donors and the amount of the gifts they gave grew substantially. In 1969, gifts to UK totaled $1 million and by 1987 had grown to $20.5 million. In 1969, 76 UK Fellows (people who give or pledge $10,000 to UK) gave $3.7 million in donations. By 1987 the number of UK Fellows had grown to 1,778 and they contributed $36 million.

“Dr. Singletary’s loss is great not only for the University of Kentucky, but the entire Commonwealth of Kentucky,” said UK President Lee T. Todd Jr. “I knew him from the time I was a faculty member in the UK College of Engineering as a man of impeccable integrity. Since I have been in office, Dr. Singletary has been extremely supportive and shared with me several bits of his wisdom that helped him guide the institution during his tenure. I have found those bits of wisdom even more valuable as my tenure extends, and I know they are things that I will use and cherish for years to come. Patsy and I consider Otis and Gloria Singletary to be our dear friends, and they have provided us with much encouragement. His contributions will long be remembered, particularly by the thousands of people whose lives have been touched by Dr. Singletary. He was loved and revered by all who worked closely with him and knew him best."

Singletary was born Oct. 31, 1921, in Gulfport, Miss., the son of Otis Arnold and Mae Charlotte (Walker) Singletary. He received his education in the Gulfport public schools, at Perkinston Junior College in Perkinston, Miss., Millsaps College (B.A. 1947) in Jackson, Miss., and at Louisiana State University (M.A. 1949, Ph.D. 1954) in Baton Rouge, La.

He served as an officer in the U.S. Navy during both World War II and the Korean War and served as a commander in the U.S. Naval Reserve. Singletary held positions as instructor in Louisiana State University's Extension Division from 1949 to 1951, in the Navy Supply Corps School in Bayonne, N.J. in 1951 and 1952, and in the Naval ROTC Unit at Princeton University from 1952 to 1954.

He joined the University of Texas History Department in 1954 as an instructor and subsequently held the rank of assistant professor (1957-58), associate professor (1959), and professor (1960). The University of Texas Students’ Association honored him in both 1958 and 1959 with its Teaching Excellence Award. He was awarded the Scarborough Teaching Excellence Award in 1958.

He also served as associate dean of Arts and Sciences at Texas, from 1956 to 1959, and assistant to the president during the 1960-61 academic year. Singletary authored two books: “Negro Militia and Reconstruction” and “The Mexican War” and numerous scholarly articles.

Singletary became chancellor of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro in 1961. During 1964-65 Singletary took a leave of absence to direct the Job Corps, Office of Economic Opportunity, during the administration of President Lyndon Johnson. He resigned from the university in 1966 to become vice president of the American Council on Education. During 1968-69 Singletary served as executive vice chancellor for academic affairs in the University of Texas System.

Singletary served on the NCAA Presidents’ Commission and chaired the Board of Directors of the College Football Association. He also served as vice-chair of the Southern Regional Education Board, president of Phi Beta Kappa, and director of the Federal Reserve Bank, Cleveland.

For further information about Singletary, go to http://www.uky.edu/Libraries/Special/
uarp/UA/UKhist/PresBio/SingBio.htm
.


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