August 31, 2020

Namesake of iconic Red Barn says farewell to U of L

By Zoe Watkins- 

Recently, the Director of Red Barn Special Programs, George Howe, announced his retirement and will be leaving on Sept. 1. His time on campus has been long and adventurous, and his work has touched most everyone on campus.

Though Howe worked for the university for many years, he was not originally a full time student. He said that he only took one course through the school which was Philosophy of Education. Howe attended another college elsewhere, but not that too far away.

“I went to college in Ohio at a school called Muskingum College in New Concord, Ohio. I got my master’s degree at West Virginia University in Morgantown, West Virginia in 1969. I graduated from undergraduate at Muskingum in 1965,” Howe said.

Howe came to work at U of L through his contact here, Gary Steely. Steely was working as the Dean of Students at the time.

The two met at a conference back in 1969 at the University of North Carolina. It was through Steely that Howe learned about the creation of a new position, Director of Student Activities.

“I kept in touch with him, and they advertised it and I got the job. I started in July 1970 which is the day U of L went into the state’s system,” Howe said.

Howe explained that his time at the university was filled with many different positions. He started his career as the Director of Student Activities back in 1970, and was the first one to have that position. Afterwards, he explained he was as well that first director of the Student Activities Center before settling down into his position of being the Director Red Barn Special Programs in the late 90s.

His duties would change quite a bit across the years due to switching positions. Originally, Howe explained that he along with some others helped plan activities in the Red Barn such as movies, concerts, and barbeques.

“It became a popular building for the university, and we didn’t have the Student Activities Center until 1990, so that is all we had,” Howe said.

It was through these efforts that in 1991, Howe mentioned that the university was picked out of several schools across the country to be published in a book which featured the Red Barn. U of L was chosen as being one of the most excellent out of class experiences for students.

Howe said his time at the campus was like a dream come true and enjoyed every minute of it.  Some of his fondest moments that he mentioned was a live show in 1980 at the Red Barn for Dan Folgeberg who debuted his song “Run for the Roses” for the 160th running of the Kentucky Derby.

“It was a great experience and I got to work with so many student and faculty and staff,” he said.

Even though he is sad to be retiring, Howe still has some parting words left to those he will miss.

“Search your heart and search your soul, and be thankful of being apart of U of L. If you are in such and in so doing, please consider making a gift not used go to your own school. Please consider making a gift to U of L as part of your routine which you can do with the help of Allison Commings, the Director of Student Affairs.”

Photo Courtesy of U of L News

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