ACTC Presents "Ernie Tucker's Last Lecture"

Ashland Community and Technical College will present Professor Ernie Tuckers Last Lecture Saturday, Nov. 15, at 7:00 p.m. in the J.B. Sowards Theatre at the College Drive Campus.

Professor Tucker retired last spring after 46 years of teaching at the college. His history classes gave two, and sometimes three, generations of students a greater appreciation for the events that we call history.

The free event is open to former students, friends, colleagues and area residents. Ernies Last Lecture will be followed by a reception in the Student Lounge. One of Tuckers famous hats will be auctioned to raise money for the colleges BuildSmart Campaign to renovate the College Drive Campus.

For more information, go to: facebook.com/ErnieTuckerFan Club or contact Dean Willie McCullough at ACTC, email: willie.mccullough@kctcs.edu.

Profile of Professor Earnest M. Tucker

Since 1968, Ernie Tuckers infectious, full-bodied laugh has reminded students at Ashland Community and Technical College that education can be as enjoyable as it is serious.

A Professor of History, he enjoyed the subject, and that too was infectious in his classroom. If you signed up for one of my classes, I was going to try my best to make you a better learner and to get you excited about learning in general and History in particular, Tucker says.

A Louisville KY native, Tucker earned a Bachelors Degree in Economics from Georgetown College and a Masters Degree in history from the University of Louisville. He did post-graduate work at Purdue University and completed the course work for a Ph.D. in history at the University of Kentucky.

He served in the Navy and taught in Louisville public schools before coming to Ashland Community College, an ACTC predecessor, to teach history and economics.

I believe history is important because we are all the end products, for the moment, of a long process of historical development. We study history in order to understand who we are, Tucker says.

He makes history come alive, says student Melissa Music, an education major from Ashland.

In order to spark students interest in history, Tucker had them start personal history projects, perhaps on their families or their neighborhoods. Students often became absolutely absorbed in these projects, Tucker says. Their enthusiasm was catching and history became exciting and personal.

My son and I both took a history class with Ernie Tucker, and we agree that he gave us a gift of learning precious family history we maynot have otherwise had, said Kim Minnehan, ACTC Manager of Advancement. I taped a conversation with my grandmother and my son interviewed my father for our assignments, and those assignments were priceless.

His efforts to make class interesting and to maintain an optimistic, positive approach to teaching and to students were some of the reasons he received the prestigious Great Teacher award presented by the University of Kentucky Alumni Association in 1973 and numerous awards since then.

I was not interested in the success of just twenty percent of my students. I wanted them all to understand that history has been important in determining who we are today, Tucker said.

I had Ernie in class about 26 years ago, and I remember his sense of humor and how well he taught history, saidDeena Howerton, ACTC Practical Nursing Instructor. Being right out of high school, I had never had an instructor who was so laid back and funny in class. He made us smile and enjoy learning history.

In class, Tuckers focus was teaching history. Outside of class, his main focus was talking about history.

Although a transplanted East Kentuckian, he developed an extensive knowledge of areas past. He has given hundreds of presentations to schools and community groups as a college speaker and as a presenter for the Kentucky Humanities Council Speakers Bureau.

His research into folk medicine led to Take a Feather from a Ground Hog: Eastern Kentucky Folk Medicine, a manuscript based on more than 4,000 interviews with area residents on ways to treat sick or injured people or animals.

Completed through a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the manuscript provided materials for one of Tuckers most popular speaking topics- Folk Medicine.

Another speaking topic is the tools and implements used by rural Kentuckians on farms, shops and mines. Tucker has collected hundreds of tools, and he has used those implements to illustrate how Kentuckians lived and worked in late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Several of his tool collections were exhibited in the Mansbach Library Gallery over the years.

Tucker also is an expert on Eastern Kentucky Humor and speaks with humor about his experiences in coming to this part of the Commonwealth.

Ticker retired from ACTC in Spring 2014 but finds himself coming back to campus often. Although not involved in teaching, he retains a keen interest in the comings and goings of his colleagues and former students. He plans to keep exploring Kentucky history during his retirement, particular as embodied in antiques and old cars.

My most rewarding experience as an educator is meeting students, often many years later, who are successful in life. Tucker said. I believe that I am the longest tenured employee in the history of the College and have had more students than any faculty member on record, so there are a lot of success stories out there.

Luckily for his students, Tuckers memory is as long as his teaching career.

After graduating high school in 1987, I enjoyed having a class with Ernie at ACC, saidKellie Allen, ACTC Director of Human Resources. When I was hired ACTC in 1998 and introduced to the Faculty Council,Ernie stood up and said that he remembered having me in class. I was astonished and honored that 11 years later, he remembered me.

Former students, colleagues and area residents who ever attended one of Tuckers presentations are invited to share their experience on the Ernie Tucker Fan Club at: facebook.com/ErnieTuckerFanClub. With an estimated 13,000 students and thousands more who have seen him speak, there are many memories and experiences that should be shared. After all, as Ernie would say, these experiences are also a part of history.