Knox partnership with Union expands; more students to participate in early college

Union College announced the expansion of the Union Collegiate Institute-Early College at a special ceremony in the Sharp Academic Center on Tuesday.

For the past two years, the UCI-Early College program has provided qualified students in the area the opportunity to earn college credit while still in high school. Now, Union College is offering students in the program a scholarship to cover the cost of tuition.

“We are delighted to make this opportunity available” said Dr. David Johns, Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of the College. “The Early College program provides academic challenge through a range of courses, interaction with quality college faculty, and camaraderie with other students. An investment in the lives of these young women and men is an investment in the economic health and the future of the region.”

The UCI-Early College program is designed to provide educational, career and cultural opportunities to local high school students.

“We are excited to be working with Union to expand our early college initiative here in Knox County,” said Kelly Sprinkles, Superintendent of Knox County Schools. “Our first year of offering dual credit classes through Union has allowed our students to take classes that are not normally offered in a high school setting. Students are realizing that they can be Panthers or Wildcats and Bulldogs too, as they get a jumpstart on their college education.

“Union and Knox County are making an investment in the next generation so hopefully they will be prepared for careers of tomorrow,” he continued. “We have found that students are developing positive study skills from their college experience that is transferring over to how they prepare for classes at the high school.”

Frank Shelton, the Knox County Coordinator for Early College added, “The Early College experience goes beyond just attending class on campus. Our students have the opportunity to participate in campus activities and attend campus wide events such as convocation and guest lectures.”

Previously, the program was offered solely through the Knox County School system. Today, Union College not only extended the agreement with Knox County Schools but also partnered with the Barbourville Independent school district.

“We are pleased to extended our relationship with the Knox County schools and to begin working Barbourville Independent,” said Marcia Hawkins, Ph.D., Union College President. “But we do not want to limit ourselves to helping only the students in Knox County. It is our desire to assist all students in our region begin the journey to a college education.”

Founded in 1879, Union College has provided quality liberal arts education in southeast Kentucky. The College has welcomed students from across the country and across the world; however, serving the region is still at the heart of the school`s mission.

In addition to earning college credit, participants in the UCI-Early College program are able to attend all campus activities, such as athletics, concerts, films, and special events.

Applications are now being accepted for spring admission into the Knox-UCI early college program.  For more information on the program or applying, please contact Frank Shelton at (606)546-3157 or via e-mail at