Long-Term Policy Research Center
John R. Hall to Receive the Vic Hellard Jr. Award for Public Service

Press Release Date:  Friday, November 09, 2007  
Contact Information:  Michael T. Childress (michael.childress@lrc.ky.gov)
800-853-2851 or 502-564-2851

 John R. Hall to Receive the Vic Hellard Jr. Award for Public Service


FRANKFORT, KENTUCKY (October 29, 2007) — John R. Hall, former CEO of Ashland, Inc., who rather than rest on the laurels of a distinguished career in the private sector rose to prominence as one of Kentucky’s most influential civic leaders, has been chosen as the recipient of the 2007 Vic Hellard Jr. Award for service in the public interest. Awarded annually by the Board of the Kentucky Long-Term Policy Research Center from among nominees submitted by the public, the Vic Hellard Jr. Award recognizes an individual for contributions to the public good through his or her life’s work and honors its namesake, the long-time director of the Legislative Research Commission.

Hall, who began working as a chemical engineer for Ashland Inc. in 1957, went on to become president of Ashland Chemical Company in 1971, Executive Vice President of the corporation in 1974, and Chairman and Chief Executive Officer in 1981, a post he held until his retirement in 1997. Hall has tirelessly worked to advance education in a variety of capacities, including his groundbreaking work as a founding member of the Partnership for Kentucky Schools, a group of Kentucky’s most prominent corporate leaders who worked to advance the reform of elementary and secondary education by advocating for the passage of the Kentucky Education Reform Act in 1990 and subsequent changes.

“Change is the only thing that you can be sure of, and there is only one thing that can prepare you for change, and that is a strong education foundation,” Hall has observed. “Education is the only way to break the cycle of poverty. People can’t pull themselves up by their bootstraps if they don’t know how.”

Hall has also remained dedicated to his alma mater, Vanderbilt University, as a member of its Board of Trust since 1987 and chairman for a four-year term. He graduated magna cum laude from Vanderbilt in 1955 and served as co-captain of the 1954 football team. 

Presently, Hall serves, along with two prior Hellard Award winners, on the Council of Postsecondary Education; on the Board of Curators of Transylvania University, just one of seven public and private institutions that have granted Hall honorary degrees; as Co-chair of ConnectKentucky since its formation in 2002 to advance broadband Internet access across the state; and as Chairman of the Commonwealth Fund, which works to raise sustaining funds for Kentucky Educational Television.

Brian Mefford, chairman and CEO of ConnectKentucky, hails Hall’s contributions to education in all its forms, “As a strong believer of education as the great equalizer of all people, Mr. Hall is an advocate for the dignity of all Kentuckians, encouraging each individual to make a meaningful contribution to this state and themselves. Mr. Hall serves as a humbling example of the impact one man can make among many.”

Hall’s philanthropic work has also had a far-reaching impact. He has served in leadership roles for institutions that help enrich and even save Kentucky lives, including service as chair of the Blue Grass Community Foundation; president of the Markey Cancer Foundation, on whose board he continues to serve; and chair of Leadership Kentucky. 

In the private sector, Hall serves on the board of directors of GrafTech International Ltd., and the United States Enrichment Corporation, and also served for a number of years at JPMorgan, CSX Corporation, and Humana Inc., influencing the business decisions of some of the state’s most prominent corporations. Hall’s reputation for business acumen extends well beyond the borders of the Commonwealth to which he has contributed so much time and personal energy. He is a former chairman and councilor for life of The Conference Board, a prestigious national economic and business forecaster, and a former member of the Board of Directors of the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.

Given in recognition of service in the interest of Kentucky’s future, the Hellard Award is given in memory of Vic Hellard, Jr. and in honor of his long and distinguished career of public service. As Director of the Legislative Research Commission, Hellard was a tireless champion of legislative independence, considered by many to be the cornerstone of modern governance in Kentucky. He is also credited as the principal architect of the Kentucky Long-Term Policy Research Center. At the time of his death in 1996, Hellard, who had retired from his LRC post, was serving as a member of the Center’s Board, contributing substantially to its guidance and efforts to shape a vision for the future of the state and a system for evaluating progress toward its realization.

Previous winners of the Hellard Award are: Judge Anthony M. Wilhoit (1997), retired Chief Judge of the Kentucky Court of Appeals and now Executive Director of the Kentucky Legislative Ethics Commission; Joseph W. Kelly (1998), chairman of the Kentucky Board of Education from 1991 until April of 1998, a period of far-reaching change for education in Kentucky; Mary Helen Miller (1999), a retired state government executive whose career began in the classroom and went on to include high-level posts in both the legislative and executive branches under two governors; veteran journalist Al Smith (2000), a former newspaper publisher, editor, and reporter, and one of the state’s most engaging and enduring media personalities; renowned Kentucky State Historian, the late Dr. Thomas D. Clark (2001), author of more than 20 books, recipient of countless awards, and the founder of the Thomas D. Clark Foundation, a private, nonprofit foundation that provides financial support for the University Press of Kentucky; Virginia Fox (2002), long-time Executive Director of Kentucky Educational Television, who helped bring public television into the Kentucky classroom and the 21st century, and, until her second retirement, Secretary of the Education Cabinet; Walter A. Baker (2003), a Glasgow attorney with a distinguished career of public service as a legislator and judge; Robert M. (Mike) Duncan (2004), an Inez banker with a national reputation for public service; William H. (Bill) Hintze, Jr., who served as Deputy State Budget Director under five Kentucky governors; and Sylvia Lovely, who as President of the NewCities Foundation and Executive Director and CEO of the Kentucky League of Cities, has made building a better Kentucky from the town corner up her life’s work.

To register for the Center’s conference, “Making Money Matter: Maximizing Student Achievement with our Investments in Education,” where the Hellard Award will be presented on November 13, in Lexington, go to the Center’s web site at: http://www.kltprc.net/conference2007.htm or contact the Center at 800-853-2851 or 502-564-2851 for further information.

The Kentucky Long-Term Policy Research Center is a state agency dedicated to research into trends and issues that are likely to influence the future of the state. Created by the General Assembly in 1992, the Center is governed by a 21-member board and has a mandate to increase knowledge about issues on Kentucky’s horizon, guide planning efforts throughout state government, and engage citizens and policymakers in preparing for the future.