WKU partners with UPIKE

Leah Brown

WKU is collaborating with the University of Pikeville to help meet healthcare needs in the eastern end of the state.

The two universities announced their partnership Thursday, Aug. 28. 

WKU will be extending three health-related master’s degree programs to the students of UPIKE. 

WKU President Gary Ransdell said, “What is particularly interesting is the fact that you have a private institution and a public institution partnering and that’s rare in Kentucky.” 

UPIKE President James Hurley asked if WKU could help facilitate the provision of better healthcare in eastern Kentucky, according to Ransdell.  

WKU had all the degree programs the university was looking for in a partnership. 

John Bonaguro, dean of the College of Health and Human Services at WKU, said there is a shortage of health professionals, particularly in speech pathology, social work and health care administration, in the eastern Kentucky area.

“We’re able to deliver programs that would help them fill some of those vacancies for those health professions,” Bonaguro said. 

WKU will now offer programs in communication disorders and healthcare administration. Both will become available in the fall of 2015. WKU will also offer a program in Master of Social Work at UPIKE, available in the fall of 2016. 

“It makes sense that we would go in and offer these degree programs in Pikeville,” Ransdell said. “It’s easy for them. They don’t need to worry about accreditation. It works well for both institutions.”

All of the classes are offered online. Ransdell said both sides will benefit. 

“Pikeville wins and we gain value from it as well,” he said. “It’s a pretty neat collaboration.” 

UPIKE established the Kentucky College of Optometry in 2014, the first optometry school in the state and 22nd in the country. UPIKE will also be offering WKU students the opportunity for careers in optometry. 

“I expect we will continue to explore possibilities in the future with the University of Pikeville,” Ransdell said.