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Dr. William Higginbotham receives honorary doctorate from Cumberlands


Dr. Jim Taylor, right, president of University of the Cumberlands, presents an Honorary Doctor of Administration degree to Dr. William J. Higginbotham during the University’s Honors Day Convocation.

WILLIAMSBURG, Ky. — During its recent, annual Honors Day Convocation, University of the Cumberlands bestowed an honorary doctorate upon Dr. William J. Higginbotham, executive director of the Kentucky Coal Academy and a friend of the University, who has made significant contributions to society in the fields of business and education. Dr. Jim Taylor, UC president presented the degree, saying, “Dr. Higginbotham, because of your stellar success, your support and caring for your fellowman, and your commitment to making this world a better place, University of the Cumberlands Board of Trustees voted unanimously to award you the Honorary Doctor of Administration degree.”

Higginbotham holds Bachelor of Arts, Master of Arts in Secondary Education and Master of Business Administration degrees from Morehead State University, as well as the Doctor of Education in Higher Education degree from Indiana University.

His long history in the field of education includes serving at Pikeville College as an associate professor and vice president for Development and Public Relations. He also has served Morehead State University as CEO of the university’s foundation; special assistant to the president for Development and Alumni Relations, assistant dean for development in the College of Education and Behavioral Sciences and the College of Business; and as an adjunct faculty member. As an academic consultant for Johnson County Schools, Higginbotham helped to facilitate the development of instructional centers. Through his business ventures, he has also provided internship and research opportunities for Morehead students in mining and geology.

As a mine owner-operator, principal and corporate officer of successful mining companies and as a mining consultant, Higginbotham been involved in all aspects of coal production: from employee recruitment, training and development to negotiation of labor agreements; from the geological and operational evaluation of mining properties to expanding and improving existing mining operations; and from organizing mine safety training to utilizing satellite imaging to identify geological aberrations identified with mining roof failures. His marketing and negotiating skills have proved invaluable to the companies he has served.

Higginbotham has served the Kentucky Office of Energy as director of the Division of Fossil Fuels and Utility Services and as the governor’s liaison to the Southern States Energy Board.

The creator of the Kentucky Coal Academy, Higginbotham has served as its first executive director since 2005. His goals for this unique partnership between the coal industry and the Kentucky Community Technical College System (KCTCS) are to help provide adequately trained, efficient mine workers; overcome negative images; and to find solutions to ecological issues that will help create an atmosphere of understanding between environmentalists and the coal industry.

Higginbotham and his wife, Melissa, live in Lexington and are the parents of one son and one daughter, Brandon and Brittany Higginbotham.