McGarvey: Bevin's U of L actions illegal

Morgan Watkins

Gov. Matt Bevin's decision to reorganize and shrink the University of Louisville's Board of Trustees directly conflicts with state statutes and potentially could stymie the school's progress, said state Sen. Morgan McGarvey.

State Sen. Morgan McGarvey

Bevin announced Friday morning that he has chosen to remove all 17 of the U of L board's governor-appointed members and make new appointments within weeks. He also said the 20-member board will be reduced to a total of 13, 10 of whom will be his appointees.

But McGarvey, a Louisville Democrat, said reducing the size of the board of trustees doesn't jibe with state statute, which says the board must include 17 members appointed by the governor.

This is another example of "an incredible overreach" by the governor, he said.

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Bevin's decision to eliminate all 17 governor-appointed trustees also clashes with state statute, which stipulates that members of the U of L board cannot be removed without cause, McGarvey said. He questioned whether there is sufficient cause for the governor to remove all of those members in this situation.

"I applaud the reform efforts of the governor, but the statutes say you can only remove these members for cause," McGarvey said. "I do believe there has been some dysfunction on the board, but you don't throw out the good with the bad."

McGarvey said he thinks Bevin's decision could send the signal that if a trustee disagrees with what a governor wants at a university, he or she will no longer be on the board. "I don't think that's a precedent we want to set," he continued.

He also suggested Bevin's actions possibly could put U of L in a holding pattern if the issue gets tied up in court.

"I think the governor's actions likely will result in a legal challenge," he said. If that happens, the university's progress could be stymied while the fate of the board is decided in court.

Reporter Morgan Watkins can be reached at (502) 875-5136.