Morehead State's President "in disbelief" over U. of Pikeville proposal and says plan raises questions

01/30/2012 06:54 AM

The proposal to make the University of Pikeville the ninth state university could end up costing the other eight public institutions general fund dollars down the road, while at the same time duplicating programs and services, said Morehead State University President Wayne Andrews.

Andrews said he was blindsided and “in disbelief” in December when he first learned of discussions to potentially add the 1,100-student school in Pikeville to the university system.

Morehead State University serves 22 counties across Eastern Kentucky. And eight of those counties would be turned over the University of Pikeville, according to the proposal filed in the General Assembly by House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, and Rep. Leslie Combs, D-Pikeville.

“They would like to have some near exclusive responsibility for those counties,” Andrews said (That part of the discussion is 1:00 to 3:45).

The University of Pikeville “is a nice little school in the mountains” that does offer an osteopathic medical college and a program in religion that would be different from what Morehead and other schools, Andrews said. He said all the other programs and the University of Pikeville would duplicate what Morehead State offers.

And even though the legislation calls for using $13 million-a-year in unallocated multi-county coal severance tax funds for 12 Eastern Kentucky counties, Andrews said the bill leaves it open that the University of Pikeville could get general funds later on — just like the existing eight public four-year universities.

Gov. Steve Beshear announced in December he would study the feasibility and affordability of the proposal. The state selected the National Center for Higher Education Management System to examine the proposal. The organization did work with Kentucky in 1997 during the higher education reforms under Gov. Paul Patton, who now serves as the University of Pikeville’s president.

Andrews said southeastern Kentucky isn’t the only area in Kentucky that would like to be home to a four-year public university.

“I think you could make the same case in other places in the commonwealth. So there’s a question that really needs to be examined as a public policy issue: Do we need a ninth comprehensive university? And if we need it, where should it be placed as opposed to saying, here’s the place and let’s put it there,” Andrews said (4:45).

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