SOMERSET, Ky. — Site preparation work began Monday in downtown Somerset to make way for the expected location of the main campus of the University of Somerset, Kentucky’s first private research university, the board of directors announced.
Crews with local contractor Weddle Enterprises have begun demolition of the structures on the property located off South Vine Street, between West Market and South Main streets, as anticipation builds for the future four-year institution.
“We are excited to see the transformation of the site and the beginning of what we expect will be the University of Somerset’s main campus,” said Somerset Mayor Alan Keck, who also serves as US board chairman. “As we march toward the welcome warmth of spring and seasonal rebirth here in the beautiful Lake Cumberland region, it’s exciting to look forward to a day in the near future when students will walk tree-lined paths to their classrooms, pondering their plans to make a difference in the world.”
US will be a traditional university centered upon face-to-face instruction and student interaction. It will be an academically rigorous liberal arts undergraduate university with a select offering of master’s degrees and Ph.D. programs.
Degrees will include artificial intelligence, homeland security, molecular engineering, nanotechnology, data science and other cutting-edge fields, as well as more traditional offerings in English, education, mathematics, political science/government, business/economics, biology, chemistry and physics.
The expected US campus location holds unique historical significance within the community. Somerset was established in 1801 as the seat of Pulaski County near the site of adjacent Town Spring, the primary water source for early settlers. A nearby Kentucky historical marker notes that a traditional local adage stated: “Whoever drinks from the Old Town Spring will have wisdom and will always return to Somerset.”
A Bluegrass Research Alliance feasibility study found that a local four-year university would yield $128 million in annual economic impact for the area. The report also estimated that a university would also create approximately 1,000 jobs (both short-term construction and permanent) and draw from a pool of 15,000 college-ready students in the immediate region.
Members of the University of Somerset Board of Directors include: Alan Keck (chairman), Demetrios Haseotes (vice chairman), Alton Blakley, Jeffrey Edwards, Chris Girdler, Teresa Trimble Hail, and William A. Wilburn.