Twelve public and private Central Kentucky universities plan to share information and resources and coordinate programs in an effort to improve educational achievement and economic opportunity for residents of the region.
The Bluegrass Higher Education Consortium formed in February includes Asbury University; Berea College; Bluegrass Community and Technical College; Centre College; Eastern Kentucky University; Georgetown College; Midway College; Morehead State University; Kentucky State University; and the University of Kentucky.
All 12 are regionally accredited, fouryear institutions. Their presidents signed a charter BHED agreement at the Bluegrass Tomorrow organization’s annual breakfast meeting Feb. 29 at Keeneland.
Perhaps the most significant longrange goal is to develop a universitycenter sharing model similar to Oxford University that is to include faculty exchanges, academic course sharing, credits transfer, library sharing and more. President Bill Crouch of Georgetown College, whose school has an ongoing relationship with Oxford, introduced the concept here.
BHEC goals include forming an academic chairs academy; training to credential more college-level teachers; collaboration with area superintendents, business leaders and economic development professionals; asset mapping of academic programs and resources; and collaboration on student professional readiness and international study opportunities.
BHEC also wants to build partnerships with other organizations and educational institutions.
President Doug Whitlock of EKU and President Augusta Julian of BCTC, both Bluegrass Tomorrow board members, are co-chairs of the new consortium.
“The presidents have been talking about this kind of collaboration for a long time,” Whitlock said.
Bluegrass Tomorrow’s Innovision 2018 study, released in 2008, had compared Lexington and the Bluegrass to 22 other similar regions with a core flagship university.
“We ranked poorly in six-year graduation rates, college readiness and highschool graduation rates,” Whitlock said. “We knew we had to do something to begin to move the needle on those statistics.”
Another realization was that communication among university presidents mostly regarded funding and other legislative action.
“College presidents rarely communicated with each other about how we could improve the region academically and economically,” Julian said. “We also discussed that there was not enough communication and collaboration with business leaders and superintendents.”
Research and surveying conducted to develop initial goals and objectives was done with support from the Bluegrass Area Development District and the Council for Postsecondary Education.