There will be a public forum on Monday, Feb. 6, to discuss the proposal in the Kentucky State Legislature to include the University of Pikeville in the state university system. The forum will be held from 10 a.m. to noon in Booth Auditorium, Record Memorial Building.
The National Center for Higher Education Management Systems (NCHEMS) has been selected by Gov. Steve Beshear to study the feasibility of House Bill 260, which would bring the University of Pikeville into the state university system with a goal of making college more accessible and more affordable for students from Southeastern Kentucky.
Consultants from NCHEMS will attend the forum, in addition to meeting with UPIKE students, faculty and staff, as well as educators and business and community leaders from a 12-county area. The state conducted similar reviews before expanding the university system to include the University of Louisville in 1970. The study is expected to take six to eight weeks.
If HB 260 passes, the University of Pikeville would become Kentucky’s seventh regional four-year university with a primary service area, including Pike, Leslie, Magoffin, Letcher, Harlan, Perry, Bell, Martin, Johnson, Floyd, Breathitt and Knott counties. According to the bill, the multi-county coal severance tax revenue derived from participating counties would drop the University’s tuition from $17,050 to about $7,000, bringing it in line with other regional institutions.
“The goal of this legislation is to help students obtain a high quality, affordable baccalaureate degree without having to leave this region,” said University of Pikeville President Paul Patton. “The bachelor degree attainment rate for the 12-county Southeastern Kentucky District is 86 percent lower than the rest of the state. State support will cut our tuition by more than half and substantially increase the number of students achieving a bachelor’s degree. All of Kentucky will benefit from the increase in intellectual capital.”
“The students of Southeastern Kentucky are not being adequately served by the existing state university system,” said Patton. “This is not the fault of any state university. It is simply a geographical and demographical anomaly,” said Patton. “I would encourage everyone to attend the public forum where they can ask questions and learn more about the opportunities of this very important development for our region.”