Public forum held to discuss UPIKE

By: Angela Sparkman Email
By: Angela Sparkman Email

Dozens of people voiced their support to make the University of Pikeville a state university.

The consultants asked by the governor to study whether UPike should be a public school visited campus on Monday to gather input.
They held a public forum when they arrived.

Dozens of students, staff, Pike County officials, and business leaders spoke in favor of making UPike a public university, claiming it is needed to reduce tuition and grow the local economy.

Some University of Pikeville students told the panel they have a hard time paying the 17,000 dollars in tuition. They say making UPike a state school and reducing tuition would help.
"That will enable more people to stay in our region and grow our economy," said Paul Patton, President of the University of Pikeville.

Some parents told the panel they send their children to state schools several hours away.

"What I call the brain drain from eastern Kentucky is where people, when they leave here to go to school, they do not come back here, so the brightest and the best are leaving eastern Kentucky," said John Doug Hays, whose children went to state universities.

The Southeast Kentucky Chamber of Commerce representatives told the consultants the Chamber supports a state university in Pikeville.
"That creates a work force for future industry. That creates a work force for opportunity. We need a trained work force. That's one of the biggest challenges when we've been looked at by many companies, they look at the work force opportunities. That's a struggle. We have to have trained, educated skill work force here, and we can do that if we have an affordable four year university," said Brad Hall.

In recent weeks, several Eastern Kentucky Judge-Executives said they are opposed to using coal severance funds to make UPike a state school. The Pike and Knott County Judge-Executives were the only ones to speak at the forum. They told the panel they are in favor of it.
"I can't name one single project that would take precedence over helping to make the cost of education for their children in this twelve county area more affordable through state funded public university close to home," said Thompson.

The consultants wrote down almost everything that was said.

"A very strong theme of this is affordability of education that is nearby, close to home, accessible," Aims McGuinness said.

The president of Morehead State University Wayne Andrews recently said higher education in Kentucky cannot afford another public school.

Those conducting the study say they will be objective and consider all opinions from all parts of the state as part of the study. They will evaluate how it will affect all parts of Kentucky.
The study will take five weeks.

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