An investment in the future of northeastern Kentucky and the fulfillment of a dream, envisioned by the Kentucky General Assembly’s approval of the Higher Education Reform Act of 1997, were among the laudatory phrases repeated by several speakers on Monday.
Gov. Steve Beshear and members of the legislature from the FIVCO Area Development District spoke at Monday afternoon’s dedication of the new $35.8 million Technology Drive building of Ashland Community and Technical College at EastPark, the large industrial park that includes parts of Boyd, Greenup and Carter counties.
The structure is the second building dedicated on ACTC’s EastPark campus, and it brings the total investment on that campus to more than $50 million.
Beshear recalled that day in March 1997 when then-Gov. Paul Patton expressed his vision for higher education in Kentucky that included the separation of the community college from the University of Kentucky and the creation of the Kentucky Community and Technical College System, which in this region combined Ashland Community College and Ashland Area Vocational-Technical School to create ACTC.
As a result of that vision, the Kentucky Community and Technical College System now includes 16 colleges on 67 campuses and has an enrollment of more than 100,000, the governor said.
Some of those students are receiving the first two years of what become four-year bachelor degrees and others are receiving vocational and technical training to provide them with job skills, Beshear said, adding that more than 600 occupational training programs are offered at the state’s community and technical colleges.
Beshear said the 2010 General Assembly’s approval of House Bill 160, which assures undergraduate courses taught at the community and technical college align with courses taught at the four-year state universities, is a fulfillment of Patton’s vision of a seamless education by assuring credit hours received transfer to the state’s universities.