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Transylvania recognizes civil rights attorney who helped integrate the university

 Lula Morton Drewes and Pat Molloy

Lula Morton Drewes '67 greets Patrick
Molloy '63 at Transylvania's opening
convocation in September 2013

LEXINGTON, Ky.—Patrick Molloy, Transylvania University class of 1963, has followed an instinct for justice his entire life. The Lexington-born attorney served most of his career as a federal prosecutor who championed civil rights.

On May 24, Molloy will return to his alma mater to receive an honorary doctorate during Transylvania’s commencement ceremony on the lawn in front of Old Morrison. The award recognizes his efforts to integrate the campus of the historic liberal arts institution.

His sense of civil justice—instilled by his parents—motivated Molloy to take an action in the racially-charged early sixties that would bring profound change to Transylvania University and to the lives of many, including fellow honorary doctorate recipient, Dr. Lula Morton Drewes.

“As a student I looked around and saw no African Americans,” Molloy recalls of the Transylvania campus of his junior and senior years. “Myself and one or two others including [President’s Award honoree] Mike Mitchell decided to go see Dr. Irvin Lunger, the university president to say ‘Mr. President, we’re concerned that in this day and age there ought to be representation of minorities in the student body.’”

 Lula Morton Drewes and her mother

Lula Morton Drewes, right, with her mother

Lunger agreed, instructing Molloy and Mitchell to find an individual with the courage and determination to become the first African American to pursue a degree at Transylvania.  “We got some references and one of them was [Bryan Station High School student] Lula Morton. We went to her house and sat down with her and her family. We were impressed. She and her family agreed that she would apply to Transylvania. The rest is history. We could not have found a better individual to go through that and come out amazingly successful.”

Lula Morton Drewes graduated from Transylvania in 1967 and completed a doctorate in clinical psychology at Vanderbilt University. She has enjoyed a wide-ranging career as a psychologist, teacher, speaker, writer and wellness coach in the U.S. and Germany, where she currently lives.

Unbeknownst to Morton at the time, the scholarship awarded to her had a secret benefactor: Pat Molloy, who had just graduated from Transylvania himself. “I paid a good bit of it. My mother also kicked in and helped, and between the two of us we covered the tuition and books. It just struck me as the right thing to do.”

While Molloy describes the household of his formative years as “color-blind,” in close proximity was a very different reality. Downtown Lexington in those years featured segregated public facilities such as whites-only and blacks-only water fountains. “And the old Ben Ali Theater had a third balcony that was blacks-only. The first level and the first balcony were whites-only. And Joyland, the amusement park, was whites-only,” he recalled.

Given the atmosphere of the times, Molloy’s activism on behalf of integration might seem surprising. In the Molloy household, however, it was expected.  “When I was a kid growing up on a farm out Russell Cave Road, the only people who worked on our farm were African Americans,” he explained. “There was a kid who was obviously very bright, and he graduated from high school at the end of World War II. My father encouraged him to apply to Tuskegee. He did, and my father paid his way through. Maurice Ripley Jr. is his name, and Maurice went on to have an incredible career with the United States Air Force. He was not in the original Tuskegee Airmen, but he was in the second generation.”

Molloy went on to his own distinguished career. He has served as an assistant U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky; assistant commonwealth’s attorney in Lexington; commonwealth’s attorney for the 22nd Judicial District of Kentucky; U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky; assistant U. S. attorney in Houston, Texas; executive assistant U. S. attorney in the Southern District of Texas; acting principal deputy director, Executive Office for the United States Attorneys, in Washington, D. C.; chief of special prosecutions, health care fraud, in the Lexington U.S. attorney’s office; and chief of criminal prosecution of the Prison Litigation Unit in the Eastern District of Kentucky.

He has also taught Criminal Trial Advocacy under the Justice Department’s Overseas Prosecutorial Development, Assistance and Training Program in Romania, Bulgaria, Albania and Uganda. He has served on more than twenty evaluations under the Department of Justice Evaluation and Review Program.

Mr. Molloy and his wife, Nanci, currently reside on their farm near Nonesuch in Woodford County.

commencementThe awards presented to Patrick Molloy, Lula Morton Drewes and Michael Mitchell at Transylvania’s commencement ceremony cap a year-long celebration of 50 years of integration on the campus, titled Still Overcoming: Striving for Inclusiveness. Numerous speakers, panelists and cultural events have shed light on issues surrounding civil rights and wider diversity issues.

Nearly 250 students will be awarded the Bachelor of Arts at Transylvania’s commencement, which begins at 9:30 a.m. on May 24.

5/10/2014

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