Tuesday, February 28, 2012

UPike Debate Continues

  • {Frankfort, Kentucky}...The House Education Committee in Frankfort continued a hearing Tuesday morning about whether the University of Pikeville should be added to the state system. Morehead State University President Dr. Wayne Andrews told the Committee many people agree that a public university in eastern Kentucky is a good idea, but the question lies in how to fund it and how much public money is available. Andrews said that in fiscal year 1999, state support for higher education was $1.17 billion, while today it totals $979 million. If Governor Steve Beshear's budget is approved, that figure will be down to $916 million in 2013. Dr. Andrews said he agrees that educational attainment in the mountains needs to improve, but he says Morehead has already been working towards those goals, and the way to continue the momentum started is to add to 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. Andrews said instead of using money to convert the Pikeville school, money should be used to give students scholarships they can apply toward any state university. Eastern Kentucky University President Doug Whitlock was supposed to have spoken at the hearing, but the committee ran out of time, and he will have an opportunity to speak next week. Whitlock says he likes the idea of creating a scholarship program. Representative Leslie Combs, who supports HB 260, quoted Andrews saying, "no single institution can do this by itself."