Wednesday, February 29, 2012

UPike Compromise Considered

  • {Frankfort, Kentucky}...Western Kentucky University President Gary Ransdell said Wednesday a compromise on the issue of making the University of Pikeville a public school is in the works. Ransdell says the potential plan would use coal severance tax money that had been envisioned for UPike to fund a new financial aid program for aspiring students from coal-producing counties. All eight public university presidents were scheduled for a conference call with Robert King, president of the Council on Postsecondary Education, on Wednesday afternoon to discuss the matter. Ransdell says there is discussion about using coal severance money to create a loan forgiveness program/financial aid program, and, if a student gets one of these loans, locates or relocates to the region, the loan would be forgiven. Representative Carl Rollins, chairman of the House Education Committee, said he had seen three versions of the compromise, two from the Council on Postsecondary Education, and he thought a final version might be ready for a vote when his committee meets Tuesday. The compromise is being crafted because of growing opposition to House Bill 260, the bill to make UPike the state's ninth public institution, at a time when the other eight are facing 6 percent budget cuts. Representative Leslie Combs, who is co-sponsoring the bill with House Speaker Greg Stumbo, said she wasn't sure the original bill could make it out of committee or the House. Combs and UPike President Paul Patton said this week they would want any compromise to require students to attend college in coal-producing counties.