When we listened as Mayor Alan Keck and his brother, Michael, explained the vision surrounding the University of Somerset, that’s the word that immediately came to mind.
For years, we have heard people talk about how wonderful it would be if we had a four-year (and beyond) university to service Pulaski and surrounding counties.
Now that we know it’s coming, we can only imagine just how it will transform our business sector, our downtown area, our entire community and, yes, our entire region.
The nonprofit research university will be founded in the classic liberal arts tradition of undergraduate education while embracing technological innovation and scientific development.
The University of Somerset will offer a full spectrum of undergraduate degrees in the arts and sciences complemented by a select offering of master’s degrees and doctoral programs.
“We believe in creating an educational environment that fosters an open exchange of ideas and establishes an unbreakable connection between faith, knowledge and wisdom,” said a message from the founding University of Somerset board. “At the University of Somerset, we are empowering spirited leaders and thinkers.”
This will not be an easy undertaking, and the founders understand that. Creating a top-notch university from scratch is a tall order.
It is a mountain — but one that can be scaled with the hard work and dedication of these people and with the support of the community.
We have talked to educators, we have talked to business people and we have talked to politicians — the reaction has been similar from all of them: The University of Somerset will give students aspiring for higher education additional opportunities to realize their dreams without having to leave their community.
It will have an impact on the entire region — we can foresee students from surrounding counties flocking to the University of Somerset to continue their education.
And with a flourishing university centered in the downtown area, Somerset will be transformed (there’s that word again) into a bustling city with that distinct “college town” feel. As a proud member of the downtown community, the Commonwealth Journal welcomes the rejuvenation that is bound to come with a university located here.
We are confident that once the University of Somerset is up and running, it will greatly limit the area’s “brain drain” — that is bright young people leaving our town for better paying jobs elsewhere. We think this great leap in the area of higher education will bring additional high-tech career opportunities into our region, so that our best and brightest will stick around.
We appreciate the leadership of Mayor Keck, one of the university’s founders, for having the courage and the vision to lead our community into a bright new era. And we appreciate the vision of the late Dr. Michael Hail, who dedicated his life to higher education. It’s not at all surprising the University of Somerset was something he envisioned — something that he ultimately helped create. We only regret that Dr. Hail will not be here to witness the historic opening of the university that is bound to become his legacy.
It’s an exciting time to be a Pulaski Countian. Over the next few years, we will see our community grow and flourish like we have never seen before.
THE COMMONWEALTH JOURNAL EDITORIAL BOARD consists of Mark Walker, General Manager; Jeff Neal, Editor; Steve Cornelius, Sports Editor; Bill Mardis, Editor Emeritus; Mary Ann Flynn, Advertising; Shirley Randall, Production; and Christopher Harris, Staff Writer.