NEW INFO: Stumbo Pegs Higher Ed Funding on UPike Status

By: WSAZ News Staff, The Associated Press Email
By: WSAZ News Staff, The Associated Press Email

UPDATE 11/26/12
FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) -- House Speaker Greg Stumbo says he won't support an increase in higher education funding until the University of Pikeville is a state school.

The Prestonsburg Democrat believes making the school a four-year state institution is the best way to improve access to higher education for students in Appalachia.

University President Paul Patton, a former Kentucky governor, promoted adding the school to the state system nearly a year ago, but the idea ran into opposition and a compromise plan failed in the Senate.

Gov. Steve Beshear then authorized a pilot scholarship program for students in nine eastern Kentucky counties. Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education spokeswoman Sue Patrick said the council wants to make sure everyone in the state has equitable access to higher education.

UPDATE 3/15/12
PIKEVILLE, Ky. (WSAZ) -- University of Pikeville officials are supporting the compromise to provide scholarships instead of making UPike a state supported school.

The House passed HB 260 89-7. It would provide up to $6,000 grants per year to students attending several private colleges in eastern Kentucky.

The money would come from coal severance funds intended for economic development.

UPike President Paul Patton said it is not what they wanted, but they are pleased with the compromise.

"Our objective is to increase, in fact double the number of people in this region that are getting bachelor degrees, and this bill actually has the potential to do that. We here at the University of Pikeville are hoping to be an integral part of it.”

Patton says the goal is still to make UPike a state supported school in the future.

UPDATE 3/7/12
FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) -- The House Education Committee has approved a proposal to fund scholarships for Appalachian college students with revenue from a tax on coal mined in the mountain region.

The proposal is a spinoff from an earlier recommendation to turn the private University of Pikeville into a public university to
boost educational levels and spur the economy. That idea has been withdrawn.

The scholarships would be available to eastern Kentucky
residents who attend the University of Pikeville, Alice Lloyd
College, Clear Creek Baptist Bible College, the University of the
Cumberlands and Union College.

UPDATE 3/1/12
PIKEVILLE, Ky. (WSAZ) -- A compromise about making the University of Pikeville a public school is being worked out behind the scenes in Frankfort.

The Lexington Herald reports the latest potential plan would use coal severance tax dollars that had been envisioned for UPIKE to fund a new financial aid program for aspiring students in coal-producing counties.

A study by a national consultant on the feasibility of making UPIKE a public school is due on March 15th.

UPDATE 2/29/12
FRANKFORT, Ky. (WSAZ) -- 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.

UPDATE 2/22/12 @ 12:15 p.m.
FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - Speaker of the House Greg Stumbo is asking for spending records of Morehead State University's president and regents.

Stumbo filed an Open Records Act request on Feb. 17 seeking the travel expenses and other records of President Wayne Andrews, his staff and the 11 members of the Morehead Board of Regents.

That was the same day the regents voted for a resolution opposing a bill sponsored by Stumbo that would make the University of Pikeville a public institution.

The university said it is against the measure on the grounds that it would divert coal severance tax dollars and could hurt Morehead's enrollment and programs.

UPDATE 2/17/12
MOREHEAD, Ky. (AP) -- Officials in Rowan County are taking a stand against a proposal to add the private University of Pikeville into the state's higher education system.

They say the proposal will not only hurt Morehead State University, which is located in Rowan County, but would hurt the economy in the area as well.

Rowan Fiscal Court held a special meeting Wednesday to pass a resolution that urges legislators to reject a House bill that would include UPike in the state system.

Lawmakers are expected to discuss the bill next week.

UPDATE 2/6/12 @ 5 p.m.
PIKEVILLE, Ky. (WSAZ) -- The push to include the new University of Pikeville as a state university is meeting some opposition. The issue is now before the Legislature, with millions of coal severance tax dollars on the line. reports from Monday’s public forum -- held at what's now called "UPike."

“We need help from the outside ... ” One by one, they came to the microphone, making pleas to the consultants who will report back to Frankfort.

They were students, teachers, alumni -- all saying that after a century of far Eastern Kentucky educational neglect -- making “UPike” a state university would be a godsend and end a long-running brain drain.

“You can't go to Lexington and build a network and come back to Pikeville and get a job,” student Justin Prater said.

Alumnus John Doug Hays said, "The best and brightest are leaving eastern Kentucky.”

Dr. Mary Simpson, the dean of the nursing school, said, "The greatest increase we've had in the last few years are males coming into nursing by retiring from the coal industry.”

The millions needed to finance state university status and expansion would come from the multicounty coal severance tax fund.

But several eastern Kentucky judge-executives from outside the Big Sandy Valley firmly oppose using coal severance tax money for the University of Pikeville. Some say it will take away from their infrastructure funding and will not really help them at all.

Pike County’s judge-executive says all would benefit from a state university in Pikeville

“We can pick up all these other counties in 15 or 20 years," Judge Wayne T. Rutherford said. "The missing link has been an educated workforce.”

The consultants say they will not be a rubber stamp for the “UPike” proposal. But they say they will assess need, impact and if this is this the best way to spend coal tax money.

As a state-funded school, the University of Pikeville would set up satellite campuses at community colleges throughout greater eastern Kentucky.

UPDATE 2/2/12 @ 2 p.m.
PIKEVILLE, Ky. (WSAZ) -- A public forum has been scheduled to discuss the proposal in the Kentucky State Legislature to include the University of Pikeville in the state university system.

The forum will take place Monday, Feb. 6 from 10 a.m. to Noon in Booth Auditorium, Record Memorial Building.

The National Center for Higher Education Management Systems (NCHEMS) has been selected by Gov. Steve Beshear to study the feasibility of House Bill 260, which would bring the University of Pikeville into the state university system.

Consultants from NCHEMS will attend the forum.

If HB 260 passes, the University of Pikeville would become Kentucky’s seventh regional four-year university.

According to the bill, the multi-county coal severance tax revenue derived from participating counties would drop the University’s tuition from $17,050 to about $7,000, bringing it in line with other regional institutions.

"The goal of this legislation is to help students obtain a high quality, affordable baccalaureate degree without having to leave this region,” said University of Pikeville President Paul Patton. “The bachelor degree attainment rate for the 12-county Southeastern Kentucky District is 86 percent lower than the rest of the state. State support will cut our tuition by more than half and substantially increase the number of students achieving a bachelor’s degree. All of Kentucky will benefit from the increase in intellectual capital.”

UPDATE 1/27/12 @ 11:14 a.m.
FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) -- A Colorado firm has been awarded a contract to study a proposal to make the University of Pikeville a part of Kentucky's higher education system.

The National Center for Higher Education Management Systems will be paid $84,400 to conduct the review.

University of Pikeville President Paul Patton, a former governor, has been pushing the proposal among lawmakers. He said creating a public university in central Appalachia would allow more people from the impoverished region to earn college degrees, which, in turn, could bolster the economy.

Some local officials in the region have voiced opposition to Patton's proposal to use coal tax revenue to cover the costs.

Gov. Steve Beshear announced weeks ago that his administration would hire a consultant to review the proposal.

UPDATE 12/27/11
FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) -- Former Gov. Paul Patton has resigned his seat as chairman of the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education to avoid a conflict of interest in his push to have the private University of Pikeville added to the state's system of public universities.

Patton, the university's president, announced his resignation from the council on Friday.

The Council on Postsecondary Education will have an advisory role on the issue of whether the state takes over the Pikeville campus, which includes an osteopathic school of medicine.

Gov. Steve Beshear has ordered a study of the proposal to add Pikeville to the state's higher education system. A consultant will be hired soon to lead that study.

Supporters say a public university in Appalachia would provide an educational and economic stimulus to the state's mountain region.

UPDATE 12/27/11
FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) -- Gov. Steve Beshear has ordered a study to look into the advisability and feasibility of adding the privately run University of Pikeville to the state's public university system.

Beshear said Tuesday the study will begin immediately to determine whether existing public universities can meet the educational needs of eastern Kentucky residents.

In a statement, Beshear said the University of Pikeville's growth shows its potential as an economic force in the state's Appalachian region. But he said it's prudent and necessary to weigh the issues.

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.

The proposal is coming at a time of severe budget woes.

PIKE COUNTY, Ky. (WSAZ) -- Officials at the University of Pikeville are discussing making the private university part of the state's public secondary education system.

University of Pikeville President Paul Patton said the change would lower the cost of attending the school, making a college education more accessible to the people of eastern Kentucky.

Gov. Steve Beshear has been asked to support a push to make the private University of Pikeville a public school. He said Wednesday 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, with the governor warning that more budget cuts are ahead for the state.

Currently tuition costs more than $16,000 per year at the university.

Other universities supported by the state average about $6,500 to $7,000.

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