Pikeville College to borrow $25 million to expand medical school

PIKEVILLE — Instead of a $4.5 million renovation of an apartment building to expand its medical school, Pikeville College will borrow up to $25 million in federal rural development funds to build a nine-story building.

School officials announced Tuesday that they still hope to raise about $5 million in private donations, partly from several foundations, including $500,000 already granted by Louisville's James Graham Brown Foundation. But construction difficulties such as ceiling heights in the building pegged for renovation and the availability of loans from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's rural development program, made a new building more feasible, they said.

The building, designed by college board member and Lexington architect Chris Chrisman, will face Pikeville's main downtown road, Hambley Boulevard; the main road through campus, Sycamore Street; and the college's iconic "99 steps." It will house lecture halls, a gross-anatomy laboratory and 12 specialized examination rooms for clinical skills training, as well as a new campus cafeteria.

Pikeville's College of Osteopathic Medicine hopes to grow its enrollment from 75 students per class to 125. President Paul Patton said he thinks growing the enrollment will allow the school to pay off loans without raising tuition.

The expansion, with the planned renovation of a campus apartment building, was announced in October. The board voted Friday to construct a building instead. Construction is expected to start in September and must be completed by May 2012.

"This is a good, firm, solid investment in this school and this region," said college board chairman Terry Dotson.