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Shaughnessy Uses Basketball to Create Discussion Over Higher Ed Graduation Rates

A state Senator from Louisville has come under fire for trying to legislate that the University of Kentucky and University of Louisville play each other in basketball and football.Democratic Senator Tim Shaughnessy has filed a bill that includes language that requires UK and U of L to play each other every year. But Shaughnessy says that’s not the point of his bill.Instead, the senator points to the other language in the bill, which requires Kentucky’s eight public universities to track graduation rates and  then improve on those rates. It also holds university presidents and trustees accountable.“There is a trend going across the nation of where state by state is stepping forward to require their state universities to graduate students on time and at a lower cost," Shaughnessy said in a floor speech this week.  "And that is a trend that has not come to Kentucky.”Shaughnessy has proposed the graduation rate portion of his bill for the last two years, but never got a hearing for it. He says he added the part about athletics to draw attention to the problem.Of Kentucky’s eight public universities, Murray State has the best four-year graduation rate at 33 percent.The remaining graduation rates for public universities are:

  • University of Kentucky: 29 percent
  • Western Kentucky University: 21 percent
  • University of Louisville : 19 percent
  • Morehead University: 15 percent
  • Eastern Kentucky University: 14 percent
  • Northern Kentucky University: 10 percent
  • Kentucky State University: 10 percent

“We can have a state university in every county across this commonwealth," Shaughnessy says, in reference to a proposal to add the University of Pikeville to the state system. "And we can built the most magnificent campuses, but these types of graduation rates within that model is just unacceptable. It just doesn’t make sense, our people deserve better.” 

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