New study reveals nonprofit private colleges add $700 million to Kentucky economy annually

bar charts

Kentucky’s private nonprofit colleges and universities add $700 million to the Kentucky economy each year and are responsible for creating nearly 10,600 Kentucky jobs, according to a new study commissioned by the Association of Independent Kentucky Colleges and Universities (AIKCU).

The economic impact report underscores the public benefits that a healthy private college sector provides to the commonwealth, calling the nonprofit private college sector both “one of the greatest economic and social bargains for the residents and taxpayers of Kentucky” and “one of Kentucky’s primary economic engines.”

Altogether, AIKCU’s 18 members are responsible for 10,588 Kentucky jobs with average salaries of nearly $49,000 per year (inclusive of benefits). The report breaks down the $700 million annual economic activity attributed to the private nonprofit college sector into direct, indirect, and induced economic effects as follows:

  • $404 million in direct effects from the employment of private college faculty and staff. AIKCU members directly employed 6,755 people (4,864 full-time,1,891 part-time) in 2014-15, with average wages (inclusive of benefits) of $53,674
  • $121 million in indirect effects, resulting from the purchase of goods and services necessary for the colleges’ operations. These indirect effects created 1,400 Kentucky jobs, with the average annual salary for these suppliers estimated at $38,915 (inclusive of benefits).
  • $175 million in induced effects resulting from the Kentucky economy’s response to the private colleges, with re-spending of the income received at the direct and indirect stages. This induced spending created another 2,443 Kentucky jobs with an average salary of $40,613 (inclusive of benefits)

These economic effects are felt throughout the state, with 85% of Kentucky’s population residing within a one hour drive of at least one private college. And although these nonprofit colleges are themselves tax-exempt, the report estimates their economic effects generate $24 million in Kentucky state and local taxes and $98 million in federal tax revenue annually.

“While this report doesn’t even attempt to measure our biggest contributions to the Commonwealth — the increased knowledge, civic engagement, and earning power of our graduates — it highlights the critical role our colleges play as employers, nonprofit businesses, and job creators throughout Kentucky,” said Gary S. Cox, president of the Association of Independent Ky. Colleges and Universities.

The AIKCU economic impact estimate employs a more narrow methodology than some other higher education economic impact studies. It does not factor in what the author identifies as “perhaps the greatest benefit AIKCU’s member institutions provide for the state of Kentucky” — the human capital that private college alumni add to the commonwealth’s economy through higher wages, increased tax revenue, improved health outcomes, and other factors. It also excludes the non-recurring economic benefits from capital construction projects; spending by students, alumni and visitors to the colleges other than tuition; the value of research, grant, or community service activities; and of course the many intangible social and cultural benefits these institutions provide their communities.

The AIKCU study was conducted by a practicing economist with more than 30 years experience in the field of economic development and updates a 2014 study by the same author. The report utilizes 2014-15 employment and wage data reported to the National Center for Education Statistics Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (the most current data publicly available). This focus on the institutions’ recurring economic benefits derived from annual operations parallels the process many state governments use to evaluate the appropriateness of economic development incentives for new or existing businesses.

Download the full AIKCU 2014-15 Economic Impact Report.

AIKCU students take home 39 awards in Kentucky Academy of Science 2016 Student Research Competition

The opportunity to engage in undergraduate research is a hallmark of Kentucky’s private colleges. Some of that research was on display during the recent Kentucky Academy of Science (KAS) Student Research Competition, where students from eight different AIKCU member institutions took home a total of 39 awards.

The annual competition recognizes outstanding student research from the Kentucky Academy of Science’s postsecondary affiliates, which include 16 nonprofit private colleges, all 8 four-year Kentucky public universities, and the Kentucky Community and Technical College System. Awards are given for undergraduate scientific poster, undergraduate oral presentation, and graduate oral presentation in each of 19 scientific disciplines.

AIKCU students’ 39 total awards came in the form of 18 first place, 17 second place, and four third place awards. Berea College students received the most awards with 24. Students from Asbury University, Bellarmine University, Brescia University, Centre College, Georgetown College, Transylvania University, and the University of Pikeville also took home honors.

Congratulations to these AIKCU students on their recognition in the following categories of the Kentucky Academy of Science 2016 Student Research Competition:

Agricultural Sciences (Poster Presentations)

2nd Place: Kassandra H. Carter, Berea College

1st Place: Helina Asrat, Berea College

Anthropology & Sociology (Poster Presentations)

1st Place: Kyree Hobson and Simeon Huff, Berea College

Botany (Poster Presentations)

2nd Place: Austin Adam, Bellarmine University

1st Place: Preye Agbana, Brescia University

Botany (Undergraduate Oral Presentations)

3rd Place: Sean Nilan, Berea College


Cellular and Molecular Biology (Poster Presentations)

3rd Place: Meghan Kramer, Berea College

1st Place: Hsuan Peng, Berea College


Cellular and Molecular Biology (Undergraduate Oral Presentations)

3rd Place: Jodi DeJohn, Georgetown College

1st Place: Seth Reasoner, Berea College

Chemistry: Analytical/Physical (Poster Presentations)

2nd Place: Ana Gabriela Mira, Centre College

1st Place: Job K. Limo, Berea College

Chemistry: Analytical/Physical (Undergraduate Oral Presentations)

1st Place: Kyaw “Joe” Hpone Myint, Berea College

Chemistry: Organic/Inorganic (Poster Presentations)

2nd Place: Michael B. James and Kateryna O. Nabukhotna, Berea College

Computer and Information Sciences (Poster Presentations)

3rd Place: Carson Blevins, Bellarmine University

2nd Place: Zachary Eckert, Bellarmine University

Computer and Information Sciences (Undergraduate Oral Presentations)

2nd Place: Aaron Andries, Bellarmine University

Ecology and Environmental Sciences (Poster Presentations)

2nd Place: Olivia Slater and Nina Meneses, Berea College

1st place: Jaylen Beatty, Transylvania University

Engineering (Poster Presentations)

1st Place: Brooke Kennedy, Bellarmine University

Health Sciences (Poster Presentations)

2nd Place: Danielle Upton, University of Pikeville

Mathematics (Poster Presentations)

1st place: Bhavesh Ramkorun, Berea College

Physics and Astronomy (Poster Presentations)

2nd place: Dustin Watts, Berea College

1st place: Tanner Thompson, Berea College

Physics and Astronomy (Undergraduate Oral Presentations)

1st Place: Isaac Vock, Centre College

Physiology and Biochemistry (Poster Presentations)

2nd place: James McCarthey, Berea College

1st place: Marco Santos, Berea College

Physiology and Biochemistry (Undergraduate Oral Presentations)

2nd place: Tatiana Mikhailova, Berea College

1st place: Young Hwan Kim, Asbury University

Psychology (Poster Presentations)

1st place: Alicia Bedolla, Berea College

Psychology (Undergraduate Oral Presentations)

2nd place (tie): Brett Vitkun, Centre College

2nd place (tie): Valerie Zehr, Berea College

1st place: Tiffany Estep, Berea College

Science Education (Poster Presentations)

2nd place: Douglas J. Kelly, Bellarmine University

1st place: Aubrey Melton, Berea College

Science Education (Undergraduate Oral Presentations)

2nd place: Casey Tetidrick , Berea College

1st place: Alexandria Szalanczy, Centre College

Zoology (Poster Presentations)

2nd place: Robin Hauschner and Favour Akabogo, Berea College

Zoology (Undergraduate Oral Presentations)

2nd place: Jillian Kendall, Berea College
For a complete list of categories and winners from the 2016 Student Research Competition, visit the Kentucky Academy of Science site.

Welcome new AIKCU member staff

With a new academic year comes a new group of employees on our member campuses. We’ve attempted to catalog all the new senior campus staff (or relatively new staff, or seasoned employees taking on new roles) below and by highlighting them in bold in our updated 2016-17 AIKCU Membership Directory. The directory includes contact information for all AIKCU member senior staff as well as other important contact information, like AIKCU group listerv addresses and contact information for Kentucky congressional offices.

Welcome to all of these new senior leaders on our member campuses:

Academic Affairs: Linda Strong-Leek, VP for Diversity/Inclusion and Assoc. VP for Academic Affairs, Berea College; Mary Elizabeth Stivers, Provost and VP of Academic Affairs, Midway University; Joanne Berryman, Provost, Spalding University; and Lori Werth, the first ever Provost at the University of Pikeville.

Advancement: David Hutchens, VP for Advancement, UPIKE.

Business Officers: David Wilhite, CFO/Treasurer, Georgetown College; John Dundon, CFO, Kentucky Christian University; Rush Sherman, CFO, Spalding University; Chris Rolph, CFO, University of the Cumberlands; Quentin Young, Director of Business Services, University of the Cumberlands; Barry Bentley, VP for Finance and Business Affairs, UPIKE.

Communications: Keith Spears, Vice President for Communication and Asst. to the President (a new role), Campbellsville University; Samantha Combs, Coordinator of Communications, Kentucky Christian University; Venus Popplewell, Director of Public Relations, Lindsey Wilson College; Marita Salkowski, Communications/PR Director, Thomas More College; Andrew Powell, Senior Director of Communication, Union College

Enrollment Management: Jonathan Sands-Wise, VP Enrollment Management, Georgetown College; Sheree Greer, Director of Admissions, Kentucky Christian University; Jeremy Pittman, VP of Admissions & Financial Aid, Kentucky Wesleyan College; Kelly Gosnell, Dean of Enrollment Services, Midway University; Chris Powers, Assoc. VP of Enrollment, Thomas More College; Holly Sheilley, VP of Enrollment/Student Affairs, Transylvania University

Institutional Research: Jessica Hearn, Director of Institutional Research, Georgetown College; Wesley Whistle, Director of Institutional Effectiveness and Research, Kentucky Wesleyan College

Information Technology:  Bryan Blount, Sr. Director of Information Services & Resources, Kentucky Wesleyan College

Public Safety: Debbie Fox, Director Public Safety, Bellarmine; Isaac Duncan, Safety Officer, Brescia; Bill Wilson, Director of Campus Safety, Thomas More College

And here at AIKCU, Krista Hudson has been promoted to VP for Member Services.

AIKCU members embrace Kentucky Dual Credit Scholarship Program

Twelve AIKCU members have signed on to participate in the new Kentucky Dual Credit Scholarship Program established by Governor Matt Bevin’s June executive order and administered by the Kentucky Higher Education Assistance Authority.

The 12 AIKCU members participating in the Dual Credit Scholarship Program are: Bellarmine University, Brescia University, Campbellsville University, Kentucky Christian University, Kentucky Wesleyan College, Lindsey Wilson College, Midway University, Spalding University, Thomas More College, Union College, University of the Cumberlands, and the University of Pikeville.

In its initial year, the Dual Credit Scholarship Program will allow every Kentucky public high school senior to take two dual credit courses at no cost to the student. The dual credit, where students receive both high school and college credit, may be earned in general education or career and technical education courses.

To enroll students using the Dual Credit Scholarship, participating postsecondary institutions must agree to charge no more than 1/3 of community college tuition, or $52 per credit hour. Several other AIKCU members will continue to offer dual credit opportunities for high school students outside of the Dual Credit Scholarship Program.

AIKCU awarded James Graham Brown Foundation grant to help strengthen private nonprofit colleges through data analysis

JGBF logoFRANKFORT, Ky. – The James Graham Brown Foundation of Louisville, Kentucky has awarded a grant of up to $690,000 to the Association of Independent Kentucky Colleges and Universities to help Kentucky’s private nonprofit colleges and universities engage in a strategic analysis of their core academic operations and enhance their viability.

The James Graham Brown Foundation has long been a major supporter of Kentucky’s nonprofit private colleges. With this grant the foundation sought to look beyond its previous capital and programmatic funding efforts to support a more systemic process designed to improve colleges’ long-term sustainability.

James Graham Brown Foundation president, Mason Rummel, noted, “We were looking for opportunities to assist private higher education in Kentucky achieve greater success. We believe this program will benefit not just the institutions, but will have greater impact on the state and its image.”

Under the three-year grant, AIKCU will partner with The Higher Education Practice, led by Ken Hoyt, PhD, to provide an opportunity for all AIKCU members to engage in the Optimizing Academic Balance (OAB) analysis process. OAB is a data-driven, multi-year process that helps colleges better understand their academic business models. The ultimate goal of OAB is to provide information college administrators and boards can use to “redirect scarce resources to increase enrollment, maximize the value of the curriculum, and strengthen institutional viability.”

“We appreciate the James Graham Brown Foundation’s support of our members’ ongoing efforts to become more effective and efficient,” said AIKCU president Gary S. Cox. “Participating in the Optimizing Academic Balance process will help our members better understand what they do especially well and how they can build on their successes in the most cost-effective manner. We are pleased to partner with the Brown Foundation so that all of our members will have this opportunity to take a deep dive into their data and then use that new understanding to strategically focus their resources on meeting the needs of their students.”

The Optimizing Academic Balance process uses an institution’s own data collected throughout the academic lifecycle – from admissions inquiries to successfully completed credit hours – to develop a thorough understanding of the costs, benefits, and long-term viability of each academic major and the general education program. It helps identify both opportunities for growth and for cost containment, providing colleges and boards with the information they need to assist their long term strategic planning efforts.

This James Graham Brown Foundation grant is designed to remove financial barriers to the process by covering 75 percent of the costs of the OAB process for each AIKCU institution that chooses to participate. The grant also provides additional supports for colleges that need assistance during the internal data collection process.

AIKCU will hold information sessions for members on the Optimizing Academic Balance process and the grant in the coming weeks, with implementation to begin soon thereafter.

The James Graham Brown Foundation is a Louisville-based foundation whose overarching mission is to “cultivate progress and civic pride through philanthropic investments that promote the image of Kentucky and Louisville and the well-being of its citizens.” The James Graham Brown Foundation’s Higher Education Initiatives seek to improve degree/credential attainment and create significant, sustainable improvement in higher education outcomes in Kentucky. For more on the James Graham Brown Foundation, visit

The Association of Independent Kentucky Colleges and Universities (AIKCU) is the nonprofit member organization serving Kentucky’s nonprofit, four-year private colleges and universities. Learn more at

Statement from AIKCU President Gary S. Cox on St. Catharine College closure

AIKCU member St. Catharine College announced earlier today that it will close at the end of July.

The following is a statement from AIKCU President Gary S. Cox, PhD on St. Catharine’s closing:

“St. Catharine College, led by its board and President Gnadinger, has worked tirelessly to address the concerns raised by the US Department of Education and to satisfy the DoE’s demands. I am extremely saddened by the DoE’s failure to act responsibly to resolve what they eventually agreed were inappropriately applied administrative compliance demands. The result is this 85-year-old college, with an educational legacy in the area stretching back 200 years, has been forced to close, displacing hundreds of students, faculty and staff and leaving an educational void in their region.”

SCC is truly a special place and the entire AIKCU family is saddened by this news. Our thoughts and prayers are with the students, faculty and staff affected by the closure.


EDUCAUSE’s Malcolm Brown to keynote AIKCU Technology Symposium

Malcolm Brown, EDUCAUSEMalcolm Brown, Director of the EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative, will keynote the 2016 AIKCU Technology Symposium at Spalding University in Louisville on Friday, June 17.

Brown has been the Director of the EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative since 2009, where he has initiated major ELI undertakings such as its Seeking Evidence of Impact program and the Learning Space Rating System. Prior to assuming the ELI directorship, he was the Director of Academic Computing at Dartmouth College, overseeing a team active in instructional technology, research computing, classroom technology, and pedagogical innovation.

The AIKCU Technology Symposium brings together campus professionals from the fields of of information technology, instructional technology, and libraries for a day of presentations, roundtable discussions, and networking opportunities with peers from other institutions and vendors alike.

The one-day professional development event is offered free to AIKCU members thanks to the generous support of AIKCU’s technology business partners. This year’s premier symposium sponsor is Pomeroy. Additional major sponsors include: Aspect, Blackboard, Bell Techlogix, Creative-image technologies, Crowe Horwath, Mirazon, and Time Warner Cable.

While there is no registration fee, we ask all attendees register by June 10 so that we can adequately plan for conference session seating and meals.

The draft agenda and descriptions for more than 30 concurrent sessions are now available for download. Contact Krista Hudson at AIKCU with any questions about the symposium.

2016 AIKCU Technology Symposium event page

2016 AIKCU Technology Symposium registration

Transylvania University extends Battle of the Bumpers reign

Transy license plateTransylvania University and its supporters have maintained their lock on the AIKCU “Battle of the Bumpers” license plate sales title for the 8th straight year. The annual friendly competition pits Kentucky’s 19 private nonprofit colleges and universities against each other to see whose supporters purchase the most college-branded Kentucky license plates in a calendar year.

Transylvania supporters purchased 923 plates in calendar 2015, generating $9,230 in scholarships for Transy students. Ten dollars from the sale of each Kentucky Independent Higher Education license plate goes to the featured school’s general scholarship fund.

Overall Kentucky Independent Higher Education license plate sales generated nearly $48,000 for student scholarships in 2015.  After Transylvania, Centre College (811), Bellarmine University (612), and Georgetown College (460) were the next highest sellers.

Sales of independent college license plates have generated more than half a million dollars in for student scholarships since their introduction in 2002.

Kentucky Independent Higher Education license plates cost $44 on initial issue and $31 on renewal, with $10 going to the institution’s general scholarship fund. Plates may be purchased at any Kentucky County Clerk’s office. For more information, visit the Kentucky Department of Transportation’s Division of Motor Vehicle Licensing.

Students share the importance of financial aid in #AID4US campaign

#AID4US Logo


READ student financial aid stories

#AID4US: Because Our Degrees Matter is the theme of a campaign underway by a group of AIKCU student ambassadors to champion the need-based Kentucky College Access Program (CAP) and Kentucky Tuition Grant (KTG) financial aid programs.

The “us” in #AID4US isn’t AIKCU or its member institutions. Us is the students, future students, alumni, families, and communities who benefit from Kentucky’s investment in need-based student financial aid.

To underscore the critical role that CAP and KTG play in helping Kentuckians achieve their dreams, AIKCU students are sharing their financial aid stories at (and on Twitter and Instagram).

There you’ll meet students like Haley, a UPIKE junior whose father recently lost his job in the coal industry. State aid is making it possible for Haley to stay at UPIKE to earn her degree so she won’t “have to rely on the ‘boom and bust’ of the coal industry to support myself.” Zach, a University of the Cumberlands chemistry major, says that without state aid “making payments for college would be impossible.” Midway University student Debbie, who returned to college when her children left home, will graduate in 2018 at the same time as her son, thanks in large part to the CAP and KTG grants they both receive. Visit the blog to read these and many other first-person accounts of the importance of financial aid.

Over the next few weeks we’ll be sharing these and other students’ stories with policymakers as we thank them for their support of student financial aid. With 2 out of 3 Kentucky students attending AIKCU institutions full-time receiving need-based state aid, we know there are many more stories out there. We are calling for Kentucky students to join in and share their financial aid stories – email us or use the hashtag #AID4US on social media. Even better, contact your legislators to let them know how CAP and KTG make a difference in students’ lives on your campus.

​We’re sharing these stories with legislators in hopes that in this budget year the General Assembly will fund CAP and KTG at the levels specified by Kentucky statute. Under existing statute, 55% of projected revenues from the Kentucky Lottery are designated to fund CAP and KTG. However, in the last several state budget cycles anywhere from $20-30+ million in lottery revenues each year that should have gone to CAP and KTG have been used to fill other needs in the state budget. Had the programs been funded as directed by statute, about 15,000 more CAP and KTG awards would have gone to students in need last year. [This infographic provides more detail.]

In his January budget address, Governor Bevin admonished this practice of “notwithstanding” the student financial aid statute and pledged to allocate all lottery revenues to education to fulfill the “Powerball Promise.” However, Governor Bevin’s budget provides no increases for the existing CAP and KTG programs. It instead proposes using $59 million of lottery revenues to fund a new workforce training aid program.

We applaud the Governor for directing Kentucky Lottery revenues back to education and don’t oppose the idea of providing student aid for workforce training. However, we hope that the General Assembly will fulfill its commitment to low-income students across the commonwealth by funding the existing CAP and KTG programs at the levels prescribed by statute. Because our degrees matter.

Students gain valuable experience in Frankfort through AIKCU internship

2016 AIKCU Frankfort Interns

The 2016 AIKCU Frankfort Interns. L-R: Michaela Hydon (UPIKE); Alyssa Mattingly (Campbellsville University); David Azcunaga (UPIKE); Kadada Dowell (Campbellsville University); Kaitlyn Abdon (UPIKE); Aleshia Sykes (UPIKE); Mona Branham (UPIKE)


Seven Kentucky private college students are getting a close look at the workings of state government this spring through their internships in the AIKCU Frankfort Semester Internship Program.

The interns were selected through a competitive process and will work approximately 30 hours per week in legislative offices, state agencies or carefully selected organizations tied to the Kentucky political process.

This year’s intern class happens to be comprised of two students from Campbellsville University and five from the University of Pikeville. The interns and their placements are:

  • Kidada Dowell is a senior political science major at Campbellsville University from Radcliff, Kentucky. She is interning with Representative Linda Belcher.
  • Aylissa Mattingly is a junior from Bardstown, Kentucky majoring in psychology and criminal justice at Campbellsville University. She is interning with the Justice & Public Safety Cabinet.
  • Kaitlyn Abdon is a senior business sports management major at the University of Pikeville from Florence, Kentucky. She is interning with the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce.
  • David Azcunaga is a junior from San Salvador who is also majoring in business sports management at UPIKE. He is interning with Representative Johnny Bell.
  • Mona Branham is a senior majoring in business and communications at the University of Pikeville. The Shelbiana, Kentucky native is interning in the office of the Kentucky House Republican Leadership.
  • Michaela Hydon, a senior business administration major at UPIKE, is interning with the Kentucky Retail Federation. Michaela is from Alexandria, Kentucky.
  • Aleshia Sykes is a University of Pikeville sophomore from Elkhorn City, Kentucky. The communications major is interning with the Council on Postsecondary Education this spring.

The AIKCU internship program, now in its 17th year, is designed to give valuable on-the-job experience to students interested in public affairs and expose them to public service as a career option.

A number of former AIKCU interns have gone on to careers in public service, including former interns currently working in U.S. Congressional offices, the Kentucky Legislative Research Commission, and in various branches of Kentucky state government.

Interns are supervised and guided throughout the semester by program coordinator Richard Wilson, a member of the Kentucky Journalism Hall of Fame. In addition to their work experience, they complete two upper-division academic seminars focused on public administration and Kentucky government and politics. Interns may qualify for up to a full semester of academic credit from their home institution upon completion of the program. Interns also receive a stipend to partially cover their living expenses for the semester.

More information about the AIKCU Frankfort Semester Internship program is available at