Mahurin Honors College Capstone Experience/Thesis Projects



Additional Departmental Affiliation

School of Journalism and Broadcasting

Document Type



This thesis addresses the Great Depression's impact on public higher education by analyzing developments at Western Kentucky State Teachers College. It also seeks to understand factors leading to the enshrinement of Henry Hardin Cherry as a larger-than-life figure upon his death in 1937. An investigative study into primary materials found that the New Deal projects on campus provided a boost for Cherry's leadership and charisma in his community. The concurrence of his death with the construction of a classroom building funded by the Public Works Administration determined his memorialization for posterity. The building, Cherry Hall, emerged as an institutional symbol and attached the college's identity to the character of its founder. The results provide insight and discussion to the New Deal's implementation in a local context. In the case of this research, historical memory often highlights the achievements of great individuals while downplaying the role of government assistance, underscoring a tension in public higher education between the need for public funding sources and confidence in private support.

Advisor(s) or Committee Chair

Patricia Minter


History | Other Education | Public History | United States History