UPIKE could become a public university

University of Pikeville is discussing making the private university part of the state's public secondary education system.

It is a proposal that could mean big things for one eastern Kentucky college. Discussions are underway about making the private Presbyterian University of Pikeville a part of the state's higher education system.

Governor Paul Patton who is also the president of “UPIKE” said that talks are continuing about making the school a state funded university, which means tuition would go down and opportunities would go up.

The University of Pikeville whose name changed in July of this year might be achieving an even higher status.

“Eastern Kentucky has to be brought up with the rest of the state in economic opportunity and educational attainment,” said Patton.

A state supported school is what Governor Paul Patton said this region needs to do just that.

The governor said that if it joins the eight other institutions in the state it would not only boost the academic program, it could make it more accessible to certain students because it would be more affordable.

“We could drastically reduce the amount of cost to our students and if we educate them here in the mountains they are more apt to stay here and grow our economy after they finish their college education,” said Patton.

Gov. Steve Beshear has been asked to support a push to make the private University of Pikeville a public school.

Governor Beshear acknowledged Wednesday that he is considering the best approach to determining the feasibility of the proposal.

Proponents say Kentucky's mountain residents need a four-year
state university closer to their homes than the two nearest them,
Eastern Kentucky University and Morehead State University.

Democratic House Speaker Greg Stumbo of Prestonsburg endorsed
the idea of moving the University of Pikeville into the state
system to help pull the state's Appalachian region out of poverty.

The proposal is coming at a time of severe budget woes. Beshear
has been warning that more budget cuts are ahead for the state.
The annual cost to attend the school is more than $16,000 compared to around $7,000 for other state funded schools. The legislature would have to approve making Pikeville a state university, but Patton said he believes it would create opportunities.

“I think it is the most important thing to connect eastern Kentucky since the mountain parkway was built 45 or 50 years ago,” said Patton.

The last four year university to be added to the state system by the legislature was the University of Louisville.

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