Kentucky: Council on Postsecondary Education

Council on Postsecondary Education

Press Release Date:  Wednesday, June 08, 2011  
Contact Information:  Sue Patrick
Cell: 502-330-6596

Adults interested in returning to college and completing a bachelor’s degree are getting an extra boost through Project Graduate, a statewide program designed to recruit and graduate former students with 90 or more credit hours. Through fall 2010, a total of 492 former students had completed a bachelor’s degree with the help of high-touch services and incentives offered through the program.

Project Graduate is a collaborative effort between the Council on Postsecondary Education and the state’s public universities.

“We are delighted that our former students are returning to college and finishing their degrees,” stated Bob King, president of the Council on Postsecondary Education. “Our campuses are committed to raising educational attainment in the Commonwealth and this campus-based program is helping busy adults get their degrees while juggling family and work responsibilities.”

One such student is 44-year-old Catherine Blair, a Mt. Sterling resident who will finish what she started more than two decades ago when she enrolled at the community college in Ashland right out of high school. Like so many returning adult students, life got in the way of earning a degree.

“After not doing very well academically there, I entered the workforce doing mostly secretarial type work. I was working at a country club and enjoyed the atmosphere so I decided to go back to college and study hospitality management,” explained Blair.

“I was in my third year of that program when I met and married my husband and my education took a back seat for a long time while we created our family. I was a stay-at-home mom for nearly four years and now that my daughter is school-age, I would like to finish my degree because I feel it will open up more job opportunities, and also, because I know that one day I'll be encouraging my daughter to go to college and telling her how important it is and I feel I should set the example,” added Blair.

Blair is on track to earn her bachelor of university studies degree this summer from Morehead State University, but she admits that she was more than a little intimidated with the prospect of returning to college, especially with the application and admission process.

“Project Graduate is a great program,” said Blair. “Having a knowledgeable advisor walk me through it (the application and admission process) was very helpful. Before calling, I was more than a little intimidated by the whole idea of returning to school, but Jill McBride made the first steps so easy that all I really need to worry about is the class work.”

Launched in January 2008, each campus program has a Project Graduate advocate that specializes in working with adult learners and is an expert with many of the unique needs of adult learners. Campuses offer special incentives such as free applications, priority enrollment, after-hours intake, and academic and career advising. Incentives vary by institution, so prospective students should check with the institution for the specific incentives.

“Consulting with a new Project Graduate participant is like finding a new puzzle to solve,” explained Lisa Cox, director of Eastern Kentucky University’s student outreach and transition office. “Returning adults bring not only a previous academic history, but rich and diverse life experiences that need to be explored during the decision-making process.

One of the unanticipated outcomes has been the number of students who have selected the general studies degree and then opted to specialize at the master’s level in areas such as public administration, business administration and law, said Cox.

Don E. Witt, vice provost for enrollment management at the University of Kentucky, gives the program high praise. “The opportunity to work with adults finishing their college degrees is one of the most satisfying and rewarding experiences. I feel Project Graduate is a true collaboration across all of the public institutions in Kentucky along with the Council on Postsecondary Education. When a group comes together for the benefit of the student – this is an unbeatable and winning combination. Project Graduate represents the best of the Commonwealth and we are proud to be a contributing member!”

For the summer and fall 2010 terms, 145 former students earned degrees. During the same reporting period, 898 former students were enrolled taking 4,136 credit hours and generating more than $1.3 million in tuition revenue. Spring 2011 numbers will be available later this summer.

Former students with 90 or more credit hours should contact the Project Graduate advocates listed below or visit and then click on “Adults.”

  • Eastern Kentucky University—Lisa Cox,, 859-622-8340
  • Kentucky State University—Roosevelt Shelton,, 502-597-6415
  • Morehead State University—Jill McBride,, 606.783.2000 or (800) 585-6781
  • Murray State University—Lisa O’Neal,, 1-800-669-7654 or 270-809-2159
  • Northern Kentucky University—Debbie Poweleit,, 859-392-2403
  • University of Kentucky—Amy Southwood,, 859-257-8725
  • University of Louisville—Carrie Mundorf,, 502-852-4974
  • Western Kentucky University—Rebekah Phillips,, 1-877-WKU GRAD


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We believe in the transformative power of postsecondary education. Stronger by Degrees, the new strategic agenda for Kentucky’s colleges and universities and adult basic education, is powering a stronger Kentucky economy and improving the lives of Kentuckians. To learn more about Stronger by Degrees, visit


Last Updated 6/8/2011