PIKEVILLE — Pikeville College has officially become the University of Pikeville.
Former Gov. Paul Patton, who is now president of the institution, choked back tears as he made the announcement.
Patton said programs offered by the school are growing and that the change is necessary for the future of central Appalachia. He said education opportunities must exist if the economy in the region is to grow and expand, the Appalachian News-Express reported.
The university's undergraduate school must maintain 1,000 students in order to remain viable, and admissions have nearly reached that goal. Last year, the school had 925 students, up from fewer than 700 a few years ago.
Patton and other administrators spoke to a crowd of faculty, staff, alumni, students and supporters earlier this month to discuss the school's progress as it changes its name.
The name of the Pikeville College School of Osteopathic Medicine also has changed to the Kentucky College of Osteopathic Medicine. The undergraduate and graduate programs will be run under the College of Arts and Sciences.
University Vice President Dr. Boyd Buser said nearly 700 physicians have graduated from the osteopathic medical school, and a new building under construction will allow the school to produce even more doctors for an area that has a great need.
"Over two-thirds of those graduates are practicing in primary care specialties. We have been remarkably successful in achieving our mission," he said. "Our new name ... reflects the expanded outreach of our mission and the areas we serve."
Tom Hess, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, highlighted the school's Masters in Business Administration program, which starts this fall, and he said a film and media arts program is under development.
"The college will be an incubator," he said. "Programs will be evolving and changing."