After two prominent eastern Kentucky leaders pushed for the private University of Pikeville to become a state-supported institution, Governor Steve Beshear announced Tuesday that a study on the feasibility of adding the college to the state system will begin immediately.
Over the past few weeks, former Governor Paul Patton, who is now president of UPIKE, joined House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestongsburg, in lobbying for the change, which could come during the upcoming General Assembly and take effect fall 2012.
But other university officials said adding another school to the system was a major policy decision that required more study.
In a news release, Beshear says he will request proposals this week to hire a consultant who will conduct the study and review a variety of issues such as educational needs in eastern Kentucky, economic impact of including Pikeville University and the impact of the proposal on the existing system of state universities.
“The University of Pikeville meets a regional need for quality education in Appalachia, and the school’s growth illustrates its potential as an economic driver in the area. Universities are economic drivers in their regions, producing well-educated and trained students who are prepared to enter the workforce,” he says.
The state conducted a similar review before expanding the university system to include the University of Louisville in 1970. The study is expected to take six to eight weeks.
Other issues of concern are identifying transitional issues that should be considered including changes in policy, financial administration, personnel issues, ethics and open meetings and records compliance, procurement issues, academic standards, accreditation, facilities and other related issues.
President of the Council on Postsecondary Education Robert King submitted a letter to the governor this week identifying issues that should be reviewed and offering assistance in the review process. He recommended that the review be conducted by an independent party because of a potential perception of a conflict of interest because Patton still serves as chairman of the CPE
The governor’s office will select the consultant but will utilize the CPE in the review process.
The governor reiterated that many Kentucky students attend schools based on proximity to their homes and remain in the region after graduation.
Founded in 1889 by Presbyterians, the University of Pikeville is a private college that enrolls about 1,100 full time students from 80 Kentucky counties, 35 states and 16 foreign countries.