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WKU President Gary Ransdell: UPike Addition to Kentucky System Would Be Costly

The president of Kentucky's third largest university said adding Pikeville University to the state system would be financially cumbersome for the state, although House Speaker Greg Stumbo says he won't personally support new funding for higher education until UPike is admitted.Western Kentucky University President Gary Ransdell said he doesn't expect much the General Assembly to spend much time discussing higher education in the 2013 session. And he says its unclear how much of this issue will linger into 2014, when legislators make a new biennial budget."I understand Speaker Stumbo's desire to raise the level of public higher education in the Pikeville region, but I also know the financial profile of higher education in Kentucky well enough to know that that would have to come at the expense of the other eight public universities and the KCTC system," Ransdell said." So, just from a financial standpoint, it would be a very difficult thing to do -- because it would be a very expensive thing to do."Ransdell said he's concerns are wider than the fact that a ninth state university may mean another split in the state's higher education budget.

UPIKE has facilities needs on its campus that would be costly, too, Ransdell added."There's just so many dynamics to that move that could have serious long-term financial consequences," he said.Still, Ransdell said Kentucky higher education officials will continue looking for ways to improve access in Eastern Kentucky without adding it to the state system.

Joseph Lord is the online managing editor for WFPL.