SOMERSET, Ky. -- U.S. Rep. Harold "Hal" Rogers and Governor Matt Bevin joined state and local officials, and leaders of Somerset Community College (SCC) to announce four university partnerships that will allow local students to earn a bachelor’s degree through the new University Center of Southern Kentucky in Somerset. The university partners include: Eastern Kentucky University (EKU), Western Kentucky University (WKU), Morehead State University (MSU) and the University of Kentucky (UK).
The new University Center of Southern Kentucky (UCSK) will open with the fall semester of 2019 on the campus of Somerset Community College (SCC), allowing third and fourth-year students to continue pursuing their degrees close to home.
“I believe that if we can keep just one generation of our brightest students here at home to earn a college degree and make a good living, we could transform the future of Southern and Eastern Kentucky,” said Congressman Rogers, who helped launch UCSK. “The average college student graduates with a debt of $29,800, the highest in U.S. history. In addition to providing a great college education, UCSK will help drastically reduce student debt right out of the gate.”
“This is an exciting day for students in the Lake Cumberland region, who will now have an opportunity to obtain a bachelor’s degree while continuing to live and work in the communities they love,” said Gov. Bevin. “I applaud the ingenuity and vision of Congressman Rogers and Dr. Castle, and I am grateful for the program’s public university partners for coming alongside Somerset Community College to make this program a reality.”
The University Center of Southern Kentucky is one of only a handful of collaborative institutions of its kind nationwide. Serving as an important link for community development and individual opportunities, the University Center provides partnerships, educational programs, an interactive "hub" for student use and student learning resource support services.
“We are proud to partner with SCC. The partnership between EKU and SCC has always been strong, but this opportunity allows us to build upon the existing success of the partnership with EKU and SCC producing highly-skilled graduates into the workforce,” said Dr. Michael Benson, President of EKU.
WKU will bring it’s SKyTeach program, a nationally-recognized bachelor completion program which leads to middle grades math and science teacher education. Students can earn a teaching certificate in middle grades math education, middle grades science education, or be dually certified in both.
“Education is key to economic viability. That is especially evident as we strive to prepare students for their roles in the K-12 classroom to educate those who will be our future," said Dr. Corinne Murphy, Dean of WKU’s College of Education and Behavioral Sciences. "This partnership will improve access to additional educational offerings. By bringing the SKyTeach program to Somerset, WKU will not only impact the lives of the students who seize this opportunity, but also the lives of generations of students to come who will benefit from the education these future teachers will receive.”
Program details will be announced by each university as they continue working in coordination with the University Center of Southern Kentucky.
“This partnership with SCC and the other partnering universities is yet another way MSU is demonstrating our continued commitment to access and affordability for the citizens of Southern Kentucky,” said Dr. Jay Morgan, President of MSU.
Students will be eligible for enrollment in the Fall 2019 semester for EKU, WKU and MSU. Degrees through UK will be available in the Spring 2020 semester.
"As the University for Kentucky, we are excited to partner in this important initiative and grateful to Congressman Rogers for his unwavering support and strong servant leadership,” said UK President Eli Capilouto. “We know that working in partnership and collaboration is the best way to build a better future for the Commonwealth; this center speaks to that shared vision.”
After completing a two-year degree at SCC, students will be able to choose from the partnering university of their choice and have access to student support services to complete a four-year degree at the Somerset campus.
“SCC is proud to partner with EKU, Morehead, WKU and UK at the University Center of Southern Kentucky, which will extend our reach and better serve the residents of the Southern Kentucky region,” said Dr. Carey Castle, President and CEO of SCC. “Our goal is to provide access to education that leads to careers and continued education, and the University Center of Southern Kentucky is an excellent way to do just that. SCC students in the surrounding counties will benefit from convenient access to an excellent education while they travel a seamless pathway to a bachelor’s degree and beyond. It’s a win-win-win for SCC, the four-year universities, and students.”
For more information, contact Trent Pool, Director of the University Center of Southern Kentucky at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Reprinted from The Sentinel Echo.