The university was founded in 1889 by the Presbyterian Church as the Pikeville Collegiate Institute. It operated on the primary, secondary and post-secondary levels, although its "college" offerings were not accredited and did not lead to a degree.
In 1909 the school was split into the Pikeville College Academy, which was a private school at the primary and secondary level, and Pikeville College, which was accredited as a junior college, offering the first two-years with an anticipation of students then transferring to another Presbyterian college for a degree. In 1955 the school became a degree granting four-year college in its own right, and in 1957 the academy closed.
The purpose of the osteopathic medical school, while graduates are fully prepared to specialize in any medical field, is to train primary care physicians to fill the shortage of medical care in the rural section of Appalachia in which it is located. Student recruitment is focused almost exclusively on students with a rural Appalachian background. It is one of 29 osteopathic colleges in the country, and one of five in Appalachia.
On July 1, 2011, the school officially changed its name from "Pikeville College" to the "University of Pikeville". Late in the same year, voices were raised in the Kentucky General Assembly in favor of converting the university into a state-supported school. By the end of the following March, proponents abandoned their plans after deeming them politically impossible.
Coal and Record Memorial Buildings on Hambley Boulevard
The University of Pikeville is located on a 25 acres (0.10 km2) hillside campus, overlooking Downtown Pikeville in Kentucky's Eastern Mountain Coal Fields region.
The Armington Learning Center – A building which houses all undergraduate math and science classes, undergraduate labs, various faculty offices, Chrisman Auditorium, the Chrisman Appalachian Research Institute.
The Administration Building – The Administration Building houses the College of Education.
The Allara Library – Dedicated in 1991, the Allara Library contains 3 floors of study rooms, books, a small cache of microfilm and microfiche, and the basement houses the University of Pikeville tutoring lab. The Allara Library was remodeled from the old Pikeville Hospital.
Health Professions Building – This building houses the University of Pikeville Kentucky College of Optometry. Also, the building houses a Chick-fil-A and Einstein Bros. Bagels.
Record Memorial – This building serves as a connection between Hambley Boulevard and University of Pikeville and also contains Booth Auditorium, the Sturgill Board Room, the Elizabeth Akers Nursing Program, the Marguerite Weber Art Gallery, and the Ridenour Dance Studio.
Derrianna Hall – Has always been a female dorm and houses upperclassmen females only.
Condit Hall – Houses all freshman female students. The campus safety office is also located in Condit.
Wickham Hall – Although originally a dorm for female campus residents it now houses all freshman males. The ground floor of the building holds the student lounge.
Page Hall – Page Hall, like Wickham Hall, was originally a residence hall for female campus residents but now is a co-ed Hall and houses clubs and organizations that are registered with affinity housing.
The Kinzer Residential Center – Kinzer Hall houses both male and female upperclassmen campus residents.
Spilman Hall – Located next to Page Hall, Spillman is a Co-Ed dorm that also hold handicap dorms on the first level.
UPIKE South – Formerly a hotel, UPIKE South is the first off-campus housing and is only offered to graduate students.
Gillispie Hall – Located next to Kinzer Hall, Gillispie Hall houses honor freshman student.
College Square Residence Hall – is a co-ed hall located by the campus gym.
Student life and athletics
The Marvin Student Center – The building housed the campus lounge, gameroom, post office, Upward Bound Program, and ROTC/National Guard Offices until it was demolished during the fall semester of 2010. A new building for the medical school called the Coal Building has been built in its place. The new $34 million educational facility is being dedicated on September 15, 2012.
UPIKE's men's and women's basketball teams play at the 5,700-seat Eastern Kentucky Expo Center adjacent to the campus in downtown Pikeville. The Expo Center opened in 2005 and replaced the UPike Gym as the home of the men's and women's basketball teams, although the women's volleyball team still uses the gym. The facility has also hosted the Mid-South Conference basketball tournament.
The following majors are offered at the University of Pikeville:
The university's athletic teams are known as the Bears and Lady Bears. UPIKE is a member of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) and primarily competes in the Mid-South Conference (MSC). The university offers 20 sports; men's sports include baseball, basketball, bowling, cross country, football, golf, soccer, tennis and track & field; while women's sports include basketball, bowling, cheerleading, cross country, golf, soccer, softball, tennis, track & field and volleyball.