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James Kennedy Patterson

British academic

Died when: 89 years 142 days (1072 months)
Star Sign: Aries


James Kennedy Patterson

James Kennedy Patterson (March 26, 1833 – August 15, 1922) was an academic who served as the first president of the University of Kentucky.

His family immigrated from Scotland to Indiana in 1842 when he was nine years old.He pursued what meager educational opportunities were available in his new home, and eventually attended Hanover College, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1856 and a Master of Arts degree in 1859.

He briefly taught at Stewart College in Clarksville, Tennessee, but left the area when the Civil War forced the college to suspend operations.

He became the principal at Transylvania Academy (part of what is now Transylvania University) in Lexington, Kentucky in 1861.When Transylvania was merged with Kentucky University and the newly formed Kentucky Agricultural and Mechanical College in 1865, Patterson became a professor at the new institution, and was eventually given charge of the constituent Agricultural and Mechanical College.

Financial difficulties and denominational differences affected the separation of the Agricultural and Mechanical College from Kentucky University in 1878, and Patterson became the president of the independent Agricultural and Mechanical College.

He lobbied the Kentucky General Assembly to pass a property tax to benefit the college in 1880, and successfully defended the tax against repeal in 1882 and against attacks on its constitutionality before the Kentucky Court of Appeals.

Patterson continued to expand the resources and the curriculum of the college, and in 1908, he oversaw its transition to university status.

At that time, the university was known as "State University: Lexington, Kentucky"; today it is the University of Kentucky.Patterson continued as president until his retirement in 1910.

During his career, Patterson was afforded many academic laurels.He was appointed as a delegate to the International Congress of Geographical Sciences in 1869 and to the British Association for the Advancement of Science in 1890.

He was chosen as a fellow of the Royal Historical Society and the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, and received numerous honorary degrees from various institutions of higher learning.

Patterson died August 15, 1922.Patterson Hall, a dormitory at the University of Kentucky originally built for women but now coed, and the Patterson Office Tower, the university's administration building, are both named in his honor.

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