U of L board concedes its end is nigh
The University of Louisville board of trustees has recognized that its end is near.
The board canceled a special meeting set for Thursday to discuss the probation imposed on the university last month by its accrediting agency, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
Chairman Larry Benz declined to discuss why the meeting was killed, but it was apparently canceled in recognition that a new board approved by the General Assembly will be in place soon.
John Karman, a university spokesman, said in an email that “I never thought we’d have the meeting after what happened in Frankfort last weekend.”
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Gov. Matt Bevin, who supported the legislation, told a Lexington radio station this week that trustees on the existing board "thankfully are going to be shuffled off to Buffalo by the legislature and it’s about time.”
The House joined the Senate in passing legislation that would create a new 10-person board selected by the governor, though subject to confirmation by the Senate.
The law takes effect immediately.
Gov. Matt Bevin, who had abolished the board by executive order last June — but then saw that move blocked by a Franklin Circuit Court judge — contends that the university’s accreditation is not endangered by the legislation.
He said Monday that SACS placed U of L on probation because of the “infighting, the disagreement” and the “public squabbling” on its board of trustees — rather than his decision last June to abolish the board and appoint his own.
But in a letter that U of L received Wednesday from SACS, its president Belle Wheelan blamed Bevin's actions last summer for landing the university on probation.
Instead, she cited news accounts about Bevin’s actions — and a press release issued by the governor about his executive orders, that she said “raised questions about the institution's governance and external political influence.”
She subsequently said in interviews that the board of trustees needed to develop a policy on removal of trustees but that it was the governor's actions that spurred SACS to place the university on probation.
Ruling in a lawsuit filed by Attorney General Andy Beshear, Judge Phillip Shepherd held Bevin acted illegally, but he has said the legislation creating a new board renders the case moot.
Bevin and his lawyers have said he — and later the General Assembly — had to act in part because U of L’s board was out of compliance with laws governing the racial and political party composition of the board.
Board members and faculty have said that was a pretext and that Bevin could have cured those problems by appointing African-Americans to existing vacancies and by naming Republicans to future ones.
Reporter Andrew Wolfson can be reached at 502-582-7189 or email@example.com