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Seamus Carey

Seamus Carey

Renee speaks with Dr. Seamus Carey, president of Transylvania University, about the school's history and mission and the value of a liberal arts education.
S14 E17 Length 26:57 Premiere: 1.25.19

Transylvania University President Seamus Carey

A dozen years before Kentucky became a state, students gathered at the newly chartered Transylvania Seminary to pursue studies in religion, arts and sciences, law, and medicine. As the first college west of the Allegheny Mountains, Transylvania established a reputation as a place for high-quality education on the western frontier, training those who would go on to be U.S. vice presidents and senators, governors, and ambassadors.

Now, more than 230 years later, Lexington’s Transylvania University continues to gather accolades as one of the best four-year colleges in the country. It’s also a school that remains steadfast in its commitment to liberal arts education at a time when many universities emphasize preparing students for a specific job in today’s market.

“I look at liberal arts education as not just about workforce development or developing workforce skills,” says Transylvania President Seamus Carey. “I think liberal arts education has always done that, but liberal arts education is also about building a life.”

Carey appeared on KET’s Connections to discuss the value of liberal arts studies and his leadership of Transylvania as the school’s 26th president.

Although Transylvania is a private college, it doesn’t just cater to the children of wealthy families. Carey says a fifth of the school’s nearly 1,000 students are eligible for needs-based federal financial aid, and almost all students at Transylvania receive some kind of assistance.

Still, Transylvania loses many prospective students to its cross-town competitor, the University of Kentucky, according to Carey.

“If you’re an in-state, Kentucky student, [UK] is a great value,” he says. “However I think we are as well, for different reasons.”

Carey says 70 percent of Transylvania students graduate in four years, so they’re not accruing additional debt by taking five or six years to complete a degree. He says the average graduate leaves Transylvania with about $22,000 in debt. Only 2 percent of his graduates will default on those loans, says Carey, compared to the national average of 11 percent. For graduates in Kentucky, he says the default rate is 15 percent.

“What that tells us is that our students are not only getting out of Transylvania and getting jobs, they’re getting good jobs and they’re able to pay back their loans,” he says.

Carey attributes that post-graduation success to the work his faculty does with students, and to a mentoring program that pairs school alumni in Lexington with young students just getting started at Transylvania. Those mentors help the students explore career opportunities and networking options in their chosen field of study.

“I want our students to pursue things they’re interested in because if they do that, they’re going to be better at it,” Carey says. “They’re going to be better students, they’re going to get better grades, they’re going to open up things that they might not even have imagined of when they came to college.”

The Value of a Liberal Arts Education
Success in today’s workforce doesn’t come only from a science or technical degree, according to Carey. He still firmly believes in the benefits of a liberal arts education.

“The idea that liberal arts colleges are not a good value is sometimes, I think, taken too far,” says Carey. “It is expensive in a lot of instances, but you’re getting a different sort of education.”

Liberal arts training, says Carey, gives students the tools to make better decisions in a multitude of life situations. He contends the current trend to encourage younger and younger children towards a specific workforce opportunity can smother creative thinking in students and harm the social fabric of the nation.

“The exposure I want to give is to what’s inside a person,” says Carey. “That exposure comes through the imagination that’s in dialogue with literature and poetry and science… To me that’s where the American creativity and the American spirit has always come from.”

In fact, Carey says that what he views as a current lack of respectful civic discourse has been caused in part from a devaluation of higher education. He says education shouldn’t be a partisan issue, even though some politicians and pundits try to make it into one.

“It’s hard to have a successful, flourishing democracy without an informed citizenry,” Carey says.

A Beacon for Civility
Carey himself is a prime example of how life-changing a liberal arts education can be. The son of Irish immigrants, Carey grew up playing basketball on the streets of the Bronx.

“That was a fun, competitive time,” he recalls. “There were no referees, there were no parents, and there were no arguments… If you fouled somebody, you gave them the ball.”

A first-generation college student, Carey was on track to become a New York City firefighter. But near the end of his undergraduate studies at Vassar College, where he majored in economics, he realized his true passion was philosophy. He got his master’s degree and Ph.D. and then served as a philosophy professor for nine years at Manhattan College, before becoming a dean at Sacred Heart University in Connecticut. A leadership-training program connected him with Transylvania, and Carey was hired as president in 2014.

“It was a little nerve-wracking coming from New York to a small city,” he says, “but I’ve really fallen in love with a lot of the people here and certainly our school. I love our school.”

As Carey moves into his fifth year in Lexington, he wants to continue to build diversity on campus. About 20 percent of students are persons of color, and he says there’s still work to do in diversifying the faculty and staff. Carey has also shepherded several construction and renovation projects on campus to make dorms and academic buildings places that foster interactions among students and with faculty.

One avenue Transylvania won’t pursue, according to Carey, is to offer courses and degrees online. He says those programs only become economically viable when they are offered on a large scale.

“We’re just not situated to do that,” says Carey. “The value of our education is in the face-to-face, personal relationship and the dialogue between the faculty and the student… So we want to be really good at what we do and control the costs as best we can, and I think we’ve been doing a reasonably good job at doing that.”

This academic year, Transylvania launched a campus-wide civility initiative. The school has hosted a range of speakers, workshops, and cultural activities around the theme of civility. The effort will culminate in late March with a speech by best-selling author Salman Rushdie.

Carey says he wants Transylvania to be a “beacon of light” around the idea of civility. He says public discourse these days too often focuses on somebody being right, instead of being open to understanding and learning about the views of someone else.

“And in order to learn, you have to have an element of humility because you have to acknowledge that you don’t know yet what you have to set out to learn,” he says.

“If a society is going to evolve and get better, learning has to take place,” says Carey. “I think college campuses are models of that and so we try to demonstrate that on a regular basis.”

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Connections

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Each week, host Renee Shaw and a variety of interesting and engaging people - including business leaders, entertainers, authors, celebrities, and more - explore a broad array of topics impacting Kentucky and the world.

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50th Anniversary of the March on Frankfort - S9 E22

Renee discusses the 50th anniversary commemoration of the 1964 March on Frankfort with historians and participants including: NAACP Louisville leader Raoul Cunningham and former state Senator Georgia Davis Powers.

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Aaron Thompson - S9 E26

Aaron Thompson, executive vice president and chief academic officer of the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education, discusses the state budget for higher education and the impact on student tuition.

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Early Childhood Development Initiatives in Louisville

Renee Shaw speaks with Kevin Fields, president and CEO of the Louisville Central Community Centers, Inc., and pediatrician Dr. Beverly M. Gaines, president and CEO of Beverly M. Gaines M.D. and Associates, about a collaboration to enhance early childhood learning experiences.

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Filmmaker Elizabeth Helm-Frazier

Renee Shaw talks with film producer and veteran Elizabeth Helm-Frazier about the only all-Black Women's Army Corps (WACs) battalion to serve overseas during World War II. The 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion was sent to Europe to clear a backlog of millions of pieces of mail, ensuring American troops received letters from home. A new documentary called "The Six Triple Eight" honors their legacy and service.

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Dr. Janet Taylor - S9 E29

Renee speaks with Dr. Janet Taylor, psychiatrist, certified life coach, and national commentator on work-life balance and mental health issues.

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Djuan Trent - S9 E30

Former Miss Kentucky Djuan Trent talks about her decision come out as a gay woman, reaction from family and friends, her activism in advancing gay rights and marriage, and more.

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Hasan Davis - S9 E31

Renee speaks with former Kentucky Commissioner of the Department of Juvenile Justice, Hasan Davis, about recent juvenile justice reform. Davis was featured in the recent PBS Frontline program "Prison State," about Kentucky's correction system, and interviewed for KET's follow-up program, Prison State: A Kentucky Community Conversation.

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Prison Reform In Kentucky - S9 E32

Renee continues the discussion about Kentucky prison reform recently highlighted on the PBS Frontline program "Prison State." Her guests are: Mark Bolton, director of the Louisville Metro Department of Corrections; Sheila Schuster, Ph.D., clinical psychologist and mental health advocate; and Ray Larson, Fayette County Commonwealth's Attorney.

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Connections

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Ted Strader - COPES - S9 E33

Ted Strader, the director of the Council on Prevention and Education: Substances, Inc. (COPES) in Louisville, discusses how partnering agencies with the corrections system can help former inmates with successful re-entry into society.

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Colene Elridge - S9 E34

Renee speaks with human resources professional and life coach Colene Elridge, better known as Coach Colene, owner of Be More Consulting.

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Rape Culture - S9 E35

Renee's guests are Mae Suramek, executive director of the Bluegrass Rape Crisis Center and Rus Funk, executive director of MensWork- Eliminating Violence Against Women.

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Betsy Johnson, Saundra Ardrey

Host Renee Shaw speaks with Kentucky lawyer, Betsy Johnson, who once argued a case before the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Then, Renee speaks with Western Kentucky University Political Science professor Saundra Ardrey about the legacy of Justice Ginsburg, the centennial anniversary of women's suffrage, and racial unrest in light of recent police-involved killings of African Americans.

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Mental Health Courts - S9 E36

Kelly Gunning, director of advocacy and public policy, NAMI Lexington (National Alliance on Mental Illness), and Public Defender Jon Landon, discuss mental health laws in Kentucky.

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Dr. Timothy M. Houchin - S9 E37

Renee speaks with Lexington psychiatrist Dr. Timothy M. Houchin about attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Houchin is a board-certified adult, child/adolescent, and forensic psychiatrist, and the founder and president of 360 Mental Health Services in Lexington.

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Connections

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Charisse Gillett - Lexington Theological Seminary - S9 E38

Renee speaks with Dr. Charisse Gillett, president of the Lexington Theological Seminary. Dr. Gillett is the first woman and first African-American selected to lead the seminary.

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African Americans and Mental Health - S9 E39

Renee speaks with Sycarah Fisher, associate professor in the College of Education at the University of Kentucky, and Shambra Mulder, an assistant professor in the School of Education at Kentucky State University.

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Wil James - S9 E40

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Dr. Robert Hilgers - S9 E41

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Judi Jennings - S9 E42

Renee's guest is Judi Jennings, former executive director of the Kentucky Foundation for Women, feminist art advocate, and writer.

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Marta Miranda - S9 E43

Renee speaks with Marta Miranda, chief empowerment officer of the Center for Women and Families in Louisville.

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SWAG - Sisters and Supporters Working Against Gun Violence - S9 E44

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Frontier Nursing University - S9 E45

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Tanya Torp and Holly Houston - S9 E46

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Chris Rabb - S10 E1

Chris Rabb, author of Invisible Capital: How Unseen Forces Shape Entrepreneurial Opportunity, explores how behind-the-scenes factors - human, cultural, and social capital - affect whether a business will be successful.

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Vershawn A. Young - S9 E20

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Early Childhood Development Initiatives in Louisville

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History Maker; Tuskegee Airmen History - S9 E14

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Middle Class Struggles and Poverty - S9 E13

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The Forgotten Minority - S9 E12

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Human Trafficking - S9 E11

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Diabetes Prevention and Control - S9 E10

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Kathy Werking; Jim Embry

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Innocence Project - S9 E9

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Pop Culture and Commodification of Women - S9 E8

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Ruth Brinkley - KentuckyOne Health - S9 E5

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  • Wednesday July 21, 2021 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Malcolm Ratchford - S9 E4

  • Tuesday July 20, 2021 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday July 20, 2021 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Tuesday July 20, 2021 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday July 20, 2021 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Roszalyn Akins - S9 E3

  • Monday July 19, 2021 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Monday July 19, 2021 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Monday July 19, 2021 2:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Monday July 19, 2021 1:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Monday July 19, 2021 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Monday July 19, 2021 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Kentucky Public Health Commissioner Dr. Steven Stack

  • Saturday July 24, 2021 4:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Saturday July 24, 2021 3:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Sunday July 18, 2021 4:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Sunday July 18, 2021 3:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Sunday July 18, 2021 8:00 am ET on KETKY
  • Sunday July 18, 2021 7:00 am CT on KETKY
  • Wednesday July 14, 2021 11:30 pm ET on KET
  • Wednesday July 14, 2021 10:30 pm CT on KET
  • Wednesday July 14, 2021 6:00 pm ET on KET
  • Wednesday July 14, 2021 5:00 pm CT on KET
  • Sunday July 11, 2021 6:00 pm ET on KET2
  • Sunday July 11, 2021 5:00 pm CT on KET2
  • Sunday July 11, 2021 12:00 pm ET on KET
  • Sunday July 11, 2021 11:00 am CT on KET

Betty Baye - S9 E1

  • Friday July 16, 2021 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Friday July 16, 2021 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Friday July 16, 2021 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Friday July 16, 2021 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Marcie Timmerman - Mental Health and Wellness - S13 E43

  • Thursday July 15, 2021 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Thursday July 15, 2021 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Thursday July 15, 2021 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Thursday July 15, 2021 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Tiffany Manuel - Affordable Housing - S13 E42

  • Wednesday July 14, 2021 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday July 14, 2021 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Wednesday July 14, 2021 2:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday July 14, 2021 1:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Wednesday July 14, 2021 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday July 14, 2021 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Shining a Spotlight on Epilepsy - S13 E35

  • Tuesday July 13, 2021 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday July 13, 2021 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Tuesday July 13, 2021 2:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday July 13, 2021 1:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Tuesday July 13, 2021 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday July 13, 2021 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Criminal Justice Reform - Cherise Fanno Burdeen - S13 E34

  • Monday July 12, 2021 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Monday July 12, 2021 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Monday July 12, 2021 2:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Monday July 12, 2021 1:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Monday July 12, 2021 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Monday July 12, 2021 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Sarah Taylor Vanover - Early Childhood Education

  • Saturday July 17, 2021 4:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Saturday July 17, 2021 3:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Sunday July 11, 2021 4:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Sunday July 11, 2021 3:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Sunday July 11, 2021 8:00 am ET on KETKY
  • Sunday July 11, 2021 7:00 am CT on KETKY
  • Wednesday July 7, 2021 11:30 pm ET on KET
  • Wednesday July 7, 2021 10:30 pm CT on KET
  • Wednesday July 7, 2021 6:00 pm ET on KET
  • Wednesday July 7, 2021 5:00 pm CT on KET
  • Sunday July 4, 2021 6:00 pm ET on KET2
  • Sunday July 4, 2021 5:00 pm CT on KET2
  • Sunday July 4, 2021 12:00 pm ET on KET
  • Sunday July 4, 2021 11:00 am CT on KET

Dr. Donna Grigsby - S13 E28

  • Friday July 9, 2021 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Friday July 9, 2021 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Friday July 9, 2021 2:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Friday July 9, 2021 1:00 pm CT on KETKY
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Kosair Charities Face It Movement; Terry Brooks - S13 E25

  • Thursday July 8, 2021 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Thursday July 8, 2021 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Thursday July 8, 2021 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Thursday July 8, 2021 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Child Marriage Laws in Kentucky - Donna Pollard - S13 E24

  • Wednesday July 7, 2021 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday July 7, 2021 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Wednesday July 7, 2021 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday July 7, 2021 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Remembering Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. - S13 E23

  • Tuesday July 6, 2021 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday July 6, 2021 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Tuesday July 6, 2021 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday July 6, 2021 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Educational Innovation - S13 E21

  • Monday July 5, 2021 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Monday July 5, 2021 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Monday July 5, 2021 2:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Monday July 5, 2021 1:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Monday July 5, 2021 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Monday July 5, 2021 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Boone Co. Judge Executive Gary Moore

  • Saturday July 10, 2021 4:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Saturday July 10, 2021 3:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Sunday July 4, 2021 4:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Sunday July 4, 2021 3:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Sunday July 4, 2021 8:00 am ET on KETKY
  • Sunday July 4, 2021 7:00 am CT on KETKY

The Demands and Rewards of Fatherhood

  • Saturday July 3, 2021 4:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Saturday July 3, 2021 3:30 pm CT on KETKY
Top

Season 14 Episodes

The 'I Was Here' Project

S14 E36 Length 27:42 Premiere Date 8.4.19

Mike Runyon and Sherita Miller; Wendy Kobler

S14 E35 Length 26:57 Premiere Date 7.28.19

Filmmaker Lynn Novick

S14 E33 Length 28:27 Premiere Date 7.14.19

Brent Hutchinson; Christine Thompson - Education

S14 E32 Length 27:37 Premiere Date 7.7.19

Lieutenant Governor Jenean Hampton - Youth Mental Health

S14 E31 Length 26:32 Premiere Date 6.2.19

Julie Cerel - Youth Suicide Prevention

S14 E29 Length 26:32 Premiere Date 5.19.19

Dale Suttles - Sunrise Children's Services

S14 E28 Length 27:33 Premiere Date 5.12.19

Education in Rural Eastern Kentucky

S14 E27 Length 28:13 Premiere Date 5.5.19

Joshua A. Douglas - Voting Rights Reform

S14 E25 Length 26:32 Premiere Date 4.21.19

Jay Box - Ky. Community & Technical College System

S14 E24 Length 26:32 Premiere Date 4.14.19

Author and Life Coach Colene Elridge

S14 E23 Length 26:19 Premiere Date 4.7.19

FIRST STEP Act - Criminal Justice Reform

S14 E22 Length 27:44 Premiere Date 3.31.19

Cheryl A. Oldham

S14 E21 Length 26:38 Premiere Date 2.22.19

Linda Hampton - Early Childhood

S14 E20 Length 29:47 Premiere Date 2.15.19

Donald Mason

S14 E19 Length 26:34 Premiere Date 2.8.19

Community Action Council; First 5 Lex

S14 E18 Length 28:53 Premiere Date 2.1.19

Seamus Carey

S14 E17 Length 26:57 Premiere Date 1.25.19

Michael Benson

S14 E16 Length 27:32 Premiere Date 1.18.19

Dr. Aaron Thompson

S14 E14 Length 28:13 Premiere Date 1.11.19

Mary Todd Lincoln and Lincoln Lexington Walking Tour

S14 E13 Length 28:55 Premiere Date 12.14.18

Youth Suicide

S14 E12 Length 29:22 Premiere Date 12.7.18

Jean Schumm and Amanda Gale

S14 E11 Length 28:22 Premiere Date 11.16.18

M. Christopher Brown II

S14 E10 Length 28:02 Premiere Date 11.9.18

Frank Harris

S14 E9 Length 25:17 Premiere Date 11.2.18

U.S. Rep. Andy Barr

S14 E8 Length 29:16 Premiere Date 10.26.18

Amy McGrath

S14 E7 Length 29:02 Premiere Date 10.19.18

Kevin Chapman - Youth Mental Health

S14 E6 Length 28:47 Premiere Date 10.12.18

Carol Cecil; Resa Gonzalez - Youth Mental Health

S14 E5 Length 26:03 Premiere Date 10.5.18

Joe Bargione - Youth Mental Health

S14 E4 Length 28:57 Premiere Date 9.28.18

WKU President Timothy Caboni

S14 E3 Length 28:40 Premiere Date 9.21.18

Dr. Neeli Bendapudi

S14 E1 Length 28:47 Premiere Date 9.14.18

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