PIKEVILLE – Seven individuals were recognized during the University of Pikeville’s Homecoming celebration for their outstanding achievements and commitment to the university.
Robbie N. Royalty, M.D., class of 2000, and James R. Hager, D.O., class of 1998 and KYCOM class of 2002, were recognized as Rising Alumni for their professional achievements, pursuit of excellence early in their careers and the commitment and positive impact they have made in service to others.
A native of Jenkins, Royalty attended Pikeville College on a basketball scholarship from 1995-2000, graduating with a degree in biology. He continued his education at the University of Kentucky medical school. Royalty completed a five-year residency in orthopedic surgery at UK. He continued his education completing a sports medicine surgical fellowship at the American Sports Medical Institute in Birmingham, Ala. Royalty now practices orthopedics/sports medicine at Highlands Regional Medical Center in Prestonsburg.
Hager is a native of Eastern Kentucky, graduating valedictorian from Phelps High School before attending Pikeville College and then the Pikeville College School of Osteopathic Medicine. During a residency in family medicine at the University of Kentucky, he earned Resident of the Year honors and was also named chief resident. After his residency, Hager opened East Kentucky After Hours Clinic. A proud alumnus, Hager has served as a team physician for UPIKE athletics and as associate professor in family medicine for the Kentucky College of Osteopathic Medicine.
Andrew Joyce and Rusty Justice were presented with the Honorary Alumni Award. The award is presented to individuals who are not graduates, but whose service reflects the spirit and tradition of the University of Pikeville. Joyce, sports director of East Kentucky Broadcasting, has called football and basketball games for the University of Pikeville since 1998 and also serves as host of UPIKE’s coaches’ shows and “Where the 99 Leads.”
Justice is a managing member of Jigsaw Enterprises and Bit Source, LLC, both located in Pike County. Active in the community, Justice serves on the boards of the Mountain Sports Hall of Fame, CEDAR Inc., Big Sandy Heritage Center, and Big Sandy Community and Technical College.
Judi Patton, class of 1960, and Gene D. Davis, class of 1963, received the Distinguished Alumni Award, presented to alumni whose contributions have enriched the lives of others and who bring honor and distinction to the individuals, their families and the University of Pikeville. While First Lady of Kentucky, Pike County native Patton gave voice to those who do not usually have a voice – victims of child abuse and domestic violence. Among her accomplishments on behalf of women and children, Patton helped create the Governor’s Task Force on Sexual Assault, became the first wife of a governor to serve on the Kentucky Commission on Women and lobbied for legislation to address child abuse, rape, domestic violence and child support. In recognition of Patton’s efforts to establish children’s advocacy centers across Kentucky, Judi’s Place for Kids, the advocacy center in Pikeville, was named in her honor. Patton and her husband, Paul, the 59th governor of Kentucky and chancellor of the University of Pikeville, have four children.
A native of Betsy Layne, Davis was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1957. He completed his service in 1959 and enrolled at Pikeville College in 1960, graduating in 1963 with a bachelor of science degree. Davis, who later earned a master’s degree in educational administration with an emphasis on principalship from Eastern Kentucky University, began his teaching career in 1963. During his 27-year career as an educator, he taught in Kentucky and Ohio and served as principal at Pikeville High School, Betsy Layne High School and Prater Elementary School. He was also superintendent of the Floyd County Schools from 1996 to 1997.
The University of Pikeville Alumni Association also recognized Betty H. Porter, class of 1962, with the Gary Thrash Outstanding Ambassador Award. Named for the alumnus and longtime board member, the award is presented to recipients whose service to the university and alumni association exemplifies Thrash’s dedication to UPIKE’s mission. A Floyd County native, Porter received her bachelor’s degree from Pikeville College, where she was honored as salutatorian, and her master’s degree as a reading specialist from Eastern Kentucky University. She served as an educator in the Floyd County School System for 36 years, including 25 years teaching reading at Prestonsburg Elementary. A member of the University of Pikeville’s Alumni Board, she has volunteered at university events for many years.