Herman Lee Donovan was born in Sardis, Kentucky on March 17, 1887. He is a widely recognized educator particularly within the state of Kentucky. He began his teaching career teaching in a one-room rural school in 1905 when he was eighteen years old. From 1908-1910 he was the principal of a small consolidated school in Paducah. He continued his service to educational institution within Kentucky by carrying out several different positions in numerous schools throughout the state. He was superintendent of Wickliffe County (1910-12), assistant superintendent of schools in Louisville (1914-1919), Superintendent of Schools in Catlettsburg (1920-1921), Dean of Eastern State Teachers College (1921-923), Professor of Education at Peabody College (1925 – 1928), President of Eastern State Teachers College (1928-1941), and President of the University of Kentucky.
Mr. Donovan has successfully improved the institutions under his direction. The Eastern State Teachers College experienced its greatest growth, while he was its president. At the University of Kentucky, Mr. Donovan succeeded in transforming the university into an agency serving the whole people of the commonwealth. He made it a center of research, conference, planning and encouragement for improvements important to Kentucky. He advanced the program of veteran’s education and provided facilities for unprecedented numbers of students at the University.
In 1948 Berea College awarded Herman Lee Donovan the honorary degree of Doctor of Laws.
Smith, Louis. “Letter to the Members of the Honorary Degree Committee.” March 15, 1948. Print.