HCTC hosts meeting with regional four-year partners, discusses plans for continued collaboration | HCTC

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HCTC hosts meeting with regional four-year partners, discusses plans for continued collaboration

From left to right, including college affiliation: Dan Hendrickson (EKU), Dr. Chris Schroeder (MSU), Dr. Tanlee Wasson (EKU), Dr. Dan Connell (MSU), Dr. Jennifer Lindon (HCTC), Terry Gray (EKU), Dr. Deronda Mobelini (HCTC), Dr. Ella Strong (HCTC), Tommie Ann Saraga (Lindsey Wilson College), Donna Roark (HCTC) and Tammy Duff (HCTC).Hazard Community & Technical College (HCTC) recently hosted a meeting with the University Center of the Mountains (UCM) leadership team, consisting of founding regional four-year university partners to discuss plans in the wake of Senate Joint Resolution (SJR) 98 (2023) and 132 (2024)

SJR 98 (2023) directed the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education (CPE) to study placing a four-year university in southeastern Kentucky. CPE identified the Kentucky River Region, which includes HCTC's primary service region of Breathitt, Knott, Lee, Leslie, Owsley, Perry and Wolfe counties, as an optimal location for an increased university presence. 

SJR 132 (2024) builds upon CPE's findings, directing CPE to conduct a feasibility study on transforming HCTC into a four-year university. If passed by the legislature and signed into effect, SJR 132 would produce a report by the end of this calendar year.

The meeting facilitated the partners’ discussion of plans for the future of the UCM. The UCM facility opened for bachelor’s and master’s degree course meetings on the HCTC campus in Hazard in 2004. Since then, the partnership and offerings have expanded to include select doctoral programs. HCTC is working with four-year partners to explore expansions of existing programs and services, along with the creation of new degree pathways for HCTC’s service area. 

"UCM is a first-of-kind collaborative effort. As we continue to discuss an increased university presence in our service region, we simultaneously reflect on the great work UCM has done in this feat," Dr. Jennifer Lindon, HCTC president and chief executive officer, said. "Since its inception in 2004, UCM has allowed educators, healthcare leaders, criminal justice professionals, counseling providers and countless others in numerous industries to remain close to home while completing their undergraduate and graduate studies."

During the meeting, UCM partners showed appreciation to Dr. Dan Connell, assistant vice president at Morehead State University (MSU) and MSU representative for the UCM leadership team, as he is retiring this spring. 

"Dan has been a steadfast leader serving MSU and HCTC's service region and the UCM partnership with integrity, wisdom and dedication to supporting our students' efforts to move forward in reaching their higher education attainment goals," stated Dr. Deronda Mobelini, former executive director of the UCM and current HCTC chief student affairs officer. 

Dr. Connell highlighted UCM's exemplary work and expressed gratitude. 

"It has been my pleasure to partner with HCTC over these many years. The administration, faculty and staff have been dedicated to student and community success," Dr. Connell commented. "The University Center of the Mountains is a national model. It has been great to watch the UCM grow and to witness students realize their dream of a bachelor's, graduate or professional degree. I am excited to watch the future of the UCM and I look forward to celebrating the twentieth anniversary of the UCM later this year."

Planning conversations for the celebration of UCM's twentieth anniversary are underway. More information is forthcoming.