Presidents of 12 Central Kentucky colleges universities have formed the Bluegrass Higher Education Consortium to work to improve college readiness, work-force needs, lifelong learning and economic development opportunities in the region.
The consortium was announced Wednesday at the annual meeting of Bluegrass Tomorrow, an 18-county regional planning organization.
"We're not ever sure where this may lead, but (with) the power of leadership of 12 university presidents, we can do anything," Bob Rumpke, executive director of Bluegrass Tomorrow, told an audience of about 150 members.
Economic development potential and quality of life issues are inextricably tied to educational achievement, he said.
Schools in the consortium are Asbury University, Berea College, Bluegrass Community and Technical College, Centre College, Eastern Kentucky University, Georgetown College, Midway College, Morehead State University, Kentucky State University, Sullivan University, Transylvania University and the University of Kentucky.
In a signing ceremony, presidents of six of the schools were present to sign the charter agreement. Rumpke said he had personally taken the document to the other presidents to get their original signatures.
Goals of the newly formed group include establishing faculty exchanges, course sharing, transfer of credits and shared departments. All member schools would have access one another's libraries and special collections.
An early project that has been discussed, Rumpke said, was an educational summit among consortium members and public school superintendents to begin work on identifying best practices for preparing students for college.
Centre College President John Roush said after the meeting said the presidents would look at mutual benefits that cross over "public and private, large and small schools, graduate and undergraduate programs, but that ultimately make a difference in the lives of students."
"My guess is it will take a while to get some traction, ... but whatever is done has got to be built around quality," Roush said.