Debate about UPIKE continues in Frankfort

By: Katie Roach Email
By: Katie Roach Email

The House Education Committee in Frankfort continued their hearing Tuesday morning about whether UPIKE should become part of the state public university system.

Last Tuesday, the committee heard from from UPIKE President Paul Patton about why UPIKE should be added to the state system.

Now, Morehead State University President Dr. Wayne Andrews is trying to convince the committee that House Bill 260 is not a good idea.

Many people agree that a public university in eastern Kentucky is a good idea, but the question lies in how to fund it and if it is even possible right now.

"It becomes an issue of how much public money is available, and how do we spend it to get the biggest bang for our buck," said Dr. Andrews.

He agrees that educational attainment in the mountains needs to improve and that too many people are in poverty, but he says Morehead has already been working towards those goals.

"The way to continue the momentum that we started is to add to the network that is in place, the system that is in place, and not invest in the creation of another public university because it will cost far more than just coal severance money," said Dr. Andrews.

He says eastern Kentucky has a great system of private and community colleges, and things like distance learning and collaboration with community colleges needs to be focused on.

"He has actually helped make our case, and I want to quote him, 'no single institution can do this by itself,'" said Representative Leslie Combs who supports HB 260.

She says this is about improving educational opportunities in eastern Kentucky, but Dr. Andrews says there is a cheaper way to achieve that.

"To create another public institution and everything that goes with it, seems to be, with scarce public resources, not the way to do it. Put the money on the students in the form of a transferable scholarship," said Dr. Andrews.

Arguments are expected to continue next Tuesday.

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