The University of Pikeville is proud to have former Kentucky Governor Paul E. Patton as our first chancellor. As the school’s 19th president (2009-2013), Patton’s leadership transformed the University of Pikeville. His tenure includes a historic move from college to university status, implementation of the first master’s degree programs, an MBA and Master of Science in Sport Management, record enrollments and the opening of the Coal Building, a $40 million educational facility for the Kentucky College of Osteopathic Medicine.
Patton was the first Kentucky governor in nearly 200 years to serve two successive terms (1995-2003). A national leader, particularly in education policy, Patton was known as the “higher education governor.” He proposed and championed the successful passage of Kentucky’s Higher Education Reform Act in 1997, an effort that has been recognized as a model of progressive higher education policy. He also made substantial improvements in Kentucky’s pre-school and adult education programs, as well as successfully maintaining the momentum and funding for the Kentucky Education Reform Act. Patton served as chairman of the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education from 2009-2011.
“My belief in the power of education to change lives remains strong,” Patton said. “The University of Pikeville is perhaps the most important institution in Eastern Kentucky. This has been my major philanthropic effort for 30 years or more and serving in this role will continue that.”
A member of the University of Pikeville’s board of trustees for nearly 30 years, Patton has also served as a Distinguished Visiting Lecturer in Public Policy and Leadership at the university. Since its inception more than a decade ago, Patton has been a leading supporter of the University of Pikeville-Kentucky College of Osteopathic Medicine, describing it as a “true Kentucky effort and a true Kentucky success.” Following his second term as governor, both Patton and former First Lady Judi Patton, a University of Pikeville alumna, established offices on campus, recreating the governor’s office as an historical exhibit available for students, historians and other visitors.
Patton was born in the mountains of Eastern Kentucky, the son of a teacher and school cafeteria worker who instilled in him the value of education, honest living and hard work. A 1959 graduate of the University of Kentucky with a degree in mechanical engineering, he spent 20 years building a successful coal business before turning to public service. He has served as chairman of the National Governors Association, the Southern Governors Association, and state’s co-chair of the Appalachian Regional Commission, as well as Kentucky’s Deputy State Transportation Secretary, leader of the State Democratic Party and three terms as Pike County judge/executive. In 1991, Patton became Kentucky’s Lt. Governor and made history by also serving as Secretary of the Economic Development Cabinet.