By Marcie McDowell/Staff writer

Eastern will say “goodbye” to history professor Mary Ellen Klatte when she retires after the fall semester. When Klatte came here in 1970, five people shared an office in a basement with only one phone and one typewriter. In 1976 the social science department moved to the third floor of the Keith Building.

Klatte remembers the professors drawing numbers out of a hat to determine who would stay in which office. She said she feels very lucky to have selected her office.

“This is a great view,” Klatte said. “I can see the leaves changing on the trees and the weather coming in.”

The social science department joined the history department in the early-’90s. Soon after Klatte developed interactive television courses for pre-industrial world civilization and industrial world civilization.

Klatte has also enjoyed teaching the women in American history course. Every semester she teaches students how to do the Charleston, a dance from the Roaring ’20s.

“Women in American history is just a delight,” Klatte said. “One of my students said, ‘Dr. Klatte is a hoot. We learned how to do the Charleston.'”

Klatte added she enjoys being in the classroom and the interaction with students.

Klatte has seen many changes on campus over the years. She said there are a lot more automobiles. When she attended Eastern as a student there were only one or two girls on her floor with a car. Klatte says the proliferation of automobiles is a reflection of our society and the technology.

“I think the technology is a wonderful Pandora’s Box that has opened great opportunities for people,” Klatte said.

After Klatte’s retirement she plans to continue promoting her new book. “Kentucky Woman: The Life of Verbie Cantron Cantrell,” a biography she wrote about a southern woman who came to Eastern in the 1930s.

Klatte said she might write another book after retirement. She would also like to travel in the United States and have extended stays rather than short weekend trips.

Getting more exercise is on her list of activities as well.

“I used to ride my bicycle quite a bit, and I’d like to get back into that,” Klatte said.

Klatte grew up in central Kentucky and graduated from Eastern with a degree in social sciences. She then taught public school in Northern Kentucky for five years.

Klatte said she is not sad she is leaving but said she has never been sorry for the time she spent at Eastern.

“I love my students,” Klatte said. “I have a real warm positive feeling about them.”

Reach Marcie at

progress@eku.edu