In the 1950’s, University of Kentucky President, Herman L. Donovan, attended a seminar with pioneering leaders in the field of gerontology. Following this experience, Dr. Donovan became a strong advocate of higher education for retired persons, “Intellectual life cannot be ignored…Education is a life process.”
In 1964, on the recommendation of then UK President John Oswald, the Board of Trustees approved the Herman L. Donovan Fellowship for Senior Citizens, waiving tuition for adults 65 and older.
In the Fall of 1964, twenty-six Donovan Fellows, ranging in age from 65 to 84 joined traditional UK students on campus for the first time. In 1967, Mrs. Amanda Hicks became the first Donovan Fellow to receive a degree. In 1975, Alfred D.G. Arthurs became the first to earn a Ph.D.
The program gained national attention in 1966 in a TIME magazine article. The national publicity resulted in inquiries from across the nation and many foreign countries.
In 1976, the Kentucky General Assembly expanded UK’s program by mandating that residents of the Commonwealth, aged 65 or older, receive a tuition waiver for academic classes at all state-supported institutions of higher learning.
Today, you will find approximately 100 Donovan Fellows taking classes on the University of Kentucky campus every Fall and Spring semester.