As one chapter in the story of Somerset closes, another one begins to be written.
What is historically known as the beginnings of Somerset, and what once used to be a development called Cundiff Square – named after its developer, C.K. Cundiff – is taking its first steps in becoming the new home of the University of Somerset.
Contractor Weddle Enterprises has begun the demolition of the property’s existing buildings, clearing the way for what is planned to be the home of a four-year, science based university.
The property is located on South Vine Street.
Somerset Mayor and University of Somerset board chairman Alan Keck said of the project,
“We are excited to see the transformation of the site and the beginning of what we expect will be the University of Somerset’s main campus. As we march toward the welcome warmth of spring and seasonal rebirth here in the beautiful Lake Cumberland region, it’s exciting to look forward to a day in the near future when students will walk tree-lined paths to their classrooms, pondering their plans to make a difference in the world.”
According to a press release submitted by the University of Somerset, the school will be centered on face-to-face instruction and student interaction. It is to be an “academically rigorous liberal arts undergraduate university with a selected offering of master’s degrees and Ph.D. programs.”
Planned degrees include artificial intelligence, homeland security, molecular engineering, nanotechnology, data science and other science-based fields. There will also be English, education, mathematics, political science/ government, business/economics, biology, chemistry and physics courses.
“In an era where many colleges tragically have replaced true education with indoctrination, the University of Somerset will be a bright beacon to reimagine higher education,” Keck said. “We are deeply committed to fostering an academic environment in which free pursuit of intellectual inquiry, expression and discussion are held sacred — and establishes an unbreakable connection between faith, knowledge and wisdom.”
The university was announced last October, with the property and surrounding areas being declared a Tax Increment Finance (TIF) district, a special designation which allows the area to use raised tax funding to revitalize an area.
The university's current board consists of Keck, vice chair Demetrios Haseotes, Alton Blakley, Jeffrey Edwards, Chris Girdler, Teresa Trimble Hail, and William A. Wilburn.
The idea of bringing a university to Somerset came from its founding president, the late Dr. Michael Hail.