Former Gov. Paul Patton is new Pikeville College president

PIKEVILLE — Former Gov. Paul Patton has been named president of Pikeville College.

Patton took the position without salary and said he plans to serve for a couple of years, until a longer-term president can be found.

"I've got a pretty good state retirement," Patton said. "This has been my major philanthropic effort for 30 years or more, and this will continue that."

The college Board of Trustees announced Wednesday that Patton will replace Michael Looney, who resigned for health reasons at the end of July after only eight months on the job.

Boyd R. Buser, dean of the college's school of osteopathic medicine, was named interim president last week, and the school had expected a longer search process for a replacement, board chairman Terry Dotson said.

He said Patton approached him Tuesday with the idea, and the board unanimously decided it was a good one.

"We think it's kind of a coup," he said.

Patton has been a Pikeville College board member for nearly 30 years. As governor of Kentucky from 1995 to 2003, he championed the Kentucky Higher Education Reform Act in 1997. Earlier this year, he was named chairman of the state Council on Postsecondary Education, and he said Wednesday that he expected to resign from that post.

"There's nobody that's done more positive things for education in Kentucky than Paul Patton," Dotson said.

Patton, who will start work on Friday, called Pikeville College "perhaps the most important institution in Eastern Kentucky."

"I just want to make a good college better," he said.