PIKEVILLE, Ky. -- James Hurley, who will become president at the University of Pikeville next year, says he has a plan to make the institution a leader in Central Appalachia during the next six years.Hurley told the Appalachian News-Express that the university must take five important steps to achieve that vision.Those steps include continuing to implement a surplus budget, strengthening the school's endowment and financial viability, focusing on recruiting and retaining students, improving the campus experience for students and aiming for education excellence.Hurley will become the first alumnus of the school to serve as its president when he takes the office July 1, 2013. The current president, former Gov. Paul Patton, plans to step down from the role and serve as chancellor at the school.Hurley said his background has prepared him for the upcoming role."As a leader you can't be scared or pessimistic," he said "I'm very optimistic. I've had a lot of experiences to prepare me for the job. My P-12 background, serving as a teacher; a coach; assistant principal; and principal has served me well. It's prepared me for the challenges."He called working for the University of Pikeville "a labor of love."
"Professionally, it was my first love outside my faith and my family," he said. "My hobby is work. I don't have a lot of other hobbies."Hurley said the steps he is outlining to improve the university are just the beginning."These are not the end-all and cure-all but the five most critical," Hurley said.In addition, Hurley says he wants to expand the graduate and doctoral classes that are offered at the institution."I can see the day when this university could easily offer 10 to 12 master's degree programs to meet the need of the region," he said.Plans are in the works to offer more doctoral programs beyond the Kentucky College of Osteopathic Medicine."The medical school has been a proven success. It has proven that if you teach them in the mountains, train them in the mountains, they will establish their profession in the mountains," Hurley said.Other possible schools include dentistry and optometry, he said."We're in the process of conducting a strategic study and we're analyzing the current data. Our Board of Trustees recognizes the importance of the need to address the medical need of the region," Hurley said.