UPIKE Commencement ceremonies set for May 7

The University of Pikeville (UPIKE) will honor students earning degrees in undergraduate, graduate and health professions on Saturday, May 7, at the Appalachian Wireless Arena in downtown Pikeville. The ceremony for the Kentucky College of Osteopathic Medicine (KYCOM) and the Kentucky College of Optometry (KYCO) will take place at 9:30 a.m., and the ceremony for the College of Arts and Sciences, the Coleman College of Business, the College of Nursing and Human Services and the Patton College of Education will take place at 2 p.m. Graduates and families who would prefer to celebrate virtually will be able to watch any of the ceremonies via livestream on UPIKE’s Facebook page.

The keynote speaker for the health professions ceremony is William Thomas Betz, D.O., MBA, FACOFP, dist. Early in his career, Betz served as a family medicine physician and medical director at several hospitals but first began his tenure at KYCOM in 1998 as the associate dean for clinical sciences and chairman of the department of family medicine, where he served until 2006. Serving at KYCOM during its earliest years, Betz made a significant impact and lent his expertise to the program’s formation. From thedesigning, implementation and evaluation of clinical programs to faculty development, Betz left his mark in KYCOM history. Betz then returned to KYCOM in 2009 to serve as senior associate dean for osteopathic medical education and chair of the department of family medicine.Betz even served as acting dean for the 2016-2017 academic year. He then continued his career with the American Osteopathic Association (AOA). There, he used his extensive experience in the field to serve as a physician executive consultant, which he continues now with Betz Consultants, where he is the chief executive officer. 

Betz has been a member of numerous professional organizations and has a passion for not only the health of a community but its growth and development through service. Betz has served in many philanthropic efforts during his career through the Chamber of Commerce, with Ambassadors for Christ Ministry, Boy Scouts of America as well as other organizations. 

Betz has been the recipient of UPIKE’s Faculty Emeritus Award, KYCOM’s John A. Strosnider, D.O., Memorial Lecturer and the Lifetime Appreciation Award, Distinguished Fellow Award from the American College of Osteopathic Family Physicians, and inducted into the Kentucky Institute of Medicine as well as many other honors. 

The keynote speaker for the graduate and undergraduate programs will be Brigitte Blom, president and CEO of the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence. Blom has been an education leader for more than 20 years, spending time in public service and professional public policy, maintaining a steadfast commitment to improving the quality of life for Kentuckians through increased education outcomes and opportunities.

Before joining the Prichard Committee, Blom was director of public policy for United Way of Greater Cincinnati, focusing on early childhood policy. Blom spent a decade as an elected member of the board of education in rural Pendleton County and is the former vice-chair of the Kentucky Board of Education, where she served from 2008 to 2014. Blom has worked in policy, research and advocacy on education, poverty, and state taxes and budgets – including work for universities in Ohio and Kentucky and the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland. She holds undergraduate degrees in economics and international studies and a master’s degree in public policy from the University of Kentucky Martin School.

In 2019, Blom was recognized as one of 50 Notable Women in Kentucky Politics and Government by the Kentucky Gazette. In 2018, under her leadership, the Prichard Committee received the 24th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. award from the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.

For more ceremony information, visit upike.edu/commencement.