University of Pikeville

147 Sycamore Street
Pikeville, Kentucky 41501
(606) 218-5250


To glimpse the future, first view the past.

Edna Fugate – Director of Library Services


1800s – Foundation


Founders William Condit, James Hendricks and Samuel Alderson arrive in Pikeville to scout for a new school since the area had no high school and limited grad schools.

Construction began upon the arrival of Reverend David Blyth, the first principal of the new school, who generously used his own money to finish the school’s construction.

historical photo of pikeville college institute in early 1900s

Students not only helped with construction, but they also made the bricks.


Pikeville Collegiate Institute opened on September 16, 1889, with 125 students.

1900 – 1930s


Dr. James Record established the Training School for Teachers to raise the standards of education available to all students in Central Appalachia. Teachers from all over the area were given the chance to learn and gain the knowledge to pass the teacher certification tests. With the school’s success came the need for higher levels of education.


The name of the school was changed to Pikeville College.


The original seal for the college and the college song were both created by Reverend George Carmichael, the physics and chemistry teacher.


Students have been instrumental at times in the construction of buildings. Students took it upon themselves to build a gymnasium. The Bears first played in a gym of their own construction. The structure was destroyed in a fire in 1946 and replaced in 1948 with a WWII airplane hanger.


First reference to our athletic teams as The Pikeville College Bears.

1940 – 1960s


James Francis gave the school the money to purchase May Far. President A.A. Page knew how to plant and tend a farm, and students were taught how to carry out farm labor for work-study. This solved the food shortage issue by providing the school cafeteria with fresh meat and vegetables. It also served as a model farm and helped to modernize agricultural techniques in the area.


The G.I. Bill greatly increased enrollment after WWII. Dean Rediford Damron led the program for veteran re-entry into civilian life.


All of the area’s lowlands, including downtown Pikeville and lower campus, were hit by a devastating flood. The school served as a safe harbor for the community.

Later that year, Pikeville College awarded its first 37 baccalaureate degrees.


Students once again supported building efforts on campus and provided labor for the construction of the Marvin Student Center.

1970 – 1980s


Pikeville and surrounding areas experienced one of the worst floods in area history. The upper campus was one of the few areas spared. The water was about 18 feet above the flood plain and caused $1.5 million in damage to the gym alone. During the crisis, many residents were housed and fed at Armington Science and Learning Center.

Students and faculty came together to rebuild the school and community.


The Elizabeth Akers Elliott Nursing Program was established. The first class of 20 graduated in 1985.


The Pikeville Cut-Through was completed in 1987 after 14 years of work. The second largest civil engineering project in the Western Hemisphere brought great change to the area, providing flood control and improved travel.


Centennial Celebration – This year marked 100 years of commitment to education in the mountains of Central Appalachia. A hot air balloon sat atop the Administration Building during Founder’s Week events before taking off across Pikeville.

1990 – 2010s


Pikeville College School of Osteopathic Medicine was founded.


The first class of physicians graduated from PCSOM.


PCSOM becomes the Kentucky College of Osteopathic Medicine.

Championed by President Paul E. Patton, the board of trustees recognized the institution as a university since it included undergraduate and professional programs. Students and alumni voted on the new name of the institution to become:

It was an era of unprecedented growth in athletics that saw the department expand from five sports to more than 20, including football, bowling and volleyball. Success in the department included national tournament appearances in nine sports and the institution’s first four national championships.

Today – Our Present


The university created the Coleman College of Business


The Patton College of Education was established


Kentucky College of Optometry was established.

HPE Evening sunset photo


The College of Nursing and Health Services was established and included the Elliott School of Nursing and the School of Social Work.


University President Burton Webb announced the addition of the School of Dental Medicine and Bear Mountain, an acquisition of 220 mountain top acres for UPIKE Athletics, to include football, soccer, tennis, cross country, track and field, archery, softball and baseball. In addition to the UPIKE athletic programs, the space plans to offer the community a playground, room for tailgating, walking and biking trails.

Campus as it sits – 2020

graphic of UPIKE becoming a university book being on sale now.

Picking up where Pikeville College Looks to the Hills by Alice Kinder left off, Becoming a University – The Story of UPIKE tracks UPIKE’s history from 1989 to 2021. From starting a medical school to becoming a university and establishing Kentucky’s only optometry school, UPIKE’s expansion and growth in the past almost 40 years have been historic. With the information gathered from carefully traced board reports and more than 30 interviews, learn from the key decision-makers who helped UPIKE overcome adversity and create the university we enjoy today.

All of the proceeds of this book go to providing scholarships for students to continue the story of UPIKE.