Governor Patton at University of Louisville Founder's Day: April 3, 1997

…Somewhere along the way we need to have the wisdom and courage to make fundamental change to improve the job opportunity of our people.

I was reading today a report by the Prichard Committee that I think was published around 1984. It identified fundamental problems in Kentucky in our education system in two extremes: the doctoral research, in the concentration of intellectual energy that will make an economy dynamic and without which an economy will never be able to reach really high plateaus, and on the technical/community college education end, which is something we must have more of to cause our existing industries to grow and prosper.

You know I find that some twelve or thirteen years later we have the same problems. It was amazing how that report paralleled the findings that we have made in our study. While I read the report some twelve or thirteen years ago I forgot about it. Only today did I review it and wonder with marvel how similar our findings were and our solutions were.

The solution of giving each of our institutions the opportunity to pursue their particular niche in this comprehensive system of higher education/postsecondary education that we need in Kentucky under the guidance of the Council on Higher Education to serve all of our state, all of our people, all of our industry.

This is not an endeavor that government will win alone. This kind of endeavor must have government, but it must have the people, it must have businesses, it must have community involved in every aspect, particularly the leadership role. You know as we try building Kentucky, state government can't do it. All we can do is help communities do it. We must do it one community at a time and certainly the premier community in Kentucky is Louisville and Jefferson County.

I am impressed with the kind of leadership you have had in this community over the last 10 or 12 years. And I have been involved statewide and followed such things and am beginning to understand things. What it really takes to grow and economy, what it really take to make a prosperous community.

Some I guess a year or so ago this community developed the, what I guess is called, the Boyle Report, that I assume many of you have read. And I was reviewing this document and there were three or four things I thought might be helpful to review. One thing about this document, and it is a little bit unusual because it gets right down to the nitty gritty, it gets right down to the specifics. It tells you all certain advantages that you all have that you ought to take advantage of and certain problems that you have and that you need to try to steer away from or correct.

Let me go through some of those. It talks about a group of area that you were better or worse than competing states. Research and development - only two states were in worse shape than Kentucky. Thirteen competing states were in better shape than Kentucky. Then it talks about what we must do, it talks about upgrading educational resources and mentioned skills training and academic research capacity. Talks about the other things that we need to do- gradually shift business attraction, focus in regions to increase technology orientation. Talks about some of the minuses. This one will really surprise you. It says the challenge of reforming higher education in Kentucky is politically daunting.

Talks about the school system, Jefferson County, the average public school system is getting better. In Louisville colleges and universities are providing good undergraduate education, but do not have outstanding graduate programs or substantial research initiatives. Talks about particular industries that are not represented in the region because the regional business climate is not competitive for these kinds of business activities. The three principle shortcomings that limit the regions ability to attract these facilities are the labor force that lacks sufficient technical and profession skills, academic resources not here to provide skills training and continuing education opportunities for workers in critical occupations and you see the absence of a significant academic research capacity in any of the key disciplines.

Very revealing document that all leaders of Kentucky could read because one way or the other it applies to all of the state. This is what we need to do if we are going to move Kentucky and Louisville, Jefferson County forward and we must move Jefferson County forward. It is the economic engine that drives our economy.

Fortunately you have in this community the vision, courage, and leadership and the willingness to try something different. Early this year, this university published this document - A Challenge for Excellence. And it again goes into detail about what the University of Louisville can do in partnership with this community, and the state, to move itself to the level that it needs to be. And just last month Dr. Shumaker sent me this letter, dated March 26th, that goes into even more detail about what specifically the University of Louisville would like to do and the kind of assistance it needs from the state. It talks about a program of about 400 or so million dollars invested over the next several years that will move this university, and this community, to a different level. It talks about a partnership, about a 50/50 partnership, between the private sector generating money from several other ways and then generating state support.

And so I am here tonight to say that I endorse that concept. I believe it is doable, I believe it's reasonable and I believe that the state can handle it's part of that obligation.

You talked about doing it in ten years and certainly I want to be your partner and do it in ten years. I think it ought to be our goal to do it in ten years, but I can tell you that I know we could do it twenty years. And I will set the state on a path with your support that will allow us to do that.

So again, let me again congratulate all of you for your support of and leadership of the University of Louisville. And I look forward to working with you in partnership.


Q: Louisville fit into the plan?

"Concentrating on helping the University of Louisville be the research university in limited fields would be an important part of that plan."

Q: Governor how soon do expect to be putting some of this extra money toward the University of Louisville?

"We obviously want to do a good faith appropriation during the special session, but the major focus of our effort will materialize in the regular budget of the 98 session for the next biennium."

Q: Where is money coming from?

"Our Empower Kentucky program to improve efficiency in state government will free up about 100 million dollars in the second year of the next biennium. It is my desire to devote virtually all of that money to postsecondary education. We are implementing six tax cuts, we are saving the people of Kentucky 300 million dollars which means we have no growth revenue. But by making state government more efficient we can save about 100 million dollars."

Q: Is technology going to play a role?

"In fact the major part of that saving does come from putting technology in state government and giving our employees the same kind of tools to work with as private industry has allowing them to become more efficient. Do there job more productive.

Q: Governor are you trying to send a signal to University of Kentucky?

"I think that we are trying to send a signal that when institutions are innovative and really look for substantially different ways to do things that they will find the state being a very, very strong partner."

Q: What do expect from JCC

"Well I do owe the people, staff and faculty at the community colleges a detailed explanation. In some areas there have been people who are willing to listen and in others that can't get beyond the emotionalism to look at the hard facts. I do owe them an explanation, but I owe the taxpayers of Kentucky an efficiently operated system of postsecondary education. That particularly program will tremendously improve the efficiency of the system I said tonight. This is essentially what the Prichard Committee recommended some twelve or thirteen years ago."

Q: A way of rewarding UL?

"I think it certainly is a way to say this is the kind of innovative thinking we would like to have all of the universities make. It does appear that the University of Louisville's leadership is really willing to think, to act out of the box. And those are the kinds of things we are going to have to do if we improve education within our means we are going to have to do it differently and that is what I have been talking about. That is why other people that have studied this subject understand that we have to do it, we just can not continue to do the same old thing, what we have always done."

Q: Misconceptions from where?

"Well there is certainly a tremendous amount of misinformation and we are doing all that we can to set the record straight. But it does appear that there are just some people who don't want to see the situation as it is because in one meeting I can make a statement that this is absolutely not going to happen and then someone will come up and say that program is going to do that. So there are some people who just don't want to change and there is no amount of rational explanation that is going to get through to them. But I think that is not the majority.