Bill to establish a new 10 member U of L Board of Trustees passes Senate

01/05/2017 09:18 PM

FRANKFORT – A bill which would establish a new board and change the number of University of Louisville Trustees from 17 to 10 has been passed by the Kentucky State Senate on Thursday.

Senate Bill 12 which was gutted and replaced with legislation sponsored by Senate President Robert Stivers, passed by a 25-11 vote along party lines with the exception of Sen. Wil Schroder, R-Wilder, who cast the lone Republican no vote.

SB12 designates that the UofL board would consist of 10 members appointed by the Governor from 30 names selected by the Council on Postsecondary Education, which would include at least one whom shall be a graduate of the university; one member of the teaching faculty of the University of Louisville who shall be the chief executive of the ranking unit of faculty government; one member of the permanent staff of the University of Louisville, who shall be the chief executive of the staff senate; and one student member who shall be the president of the student body during the appropriate academic year.

The members appointed by the Governor shall be subject to confirmation by the Senate.

In June 2016, Gov. Matt Bevin abolished and revamped the University of Louisville board.

That decision was challenged successfully by Attorney General Andy Beshear as Franklin Circuit Judge Phillip Shepherd ruled in September that Gov. Matt Bevin exceeded his authority by abolishing and revamping the University of Louisville’s board of trustees.

The legislation would disband both the old board and the board members appointed by Gov. Bevin and establish a new board established by the legislation.

Stivers acknowledges that a number of legislators have expressed concerns about rushing things along, but the Senate President says that the time to act is now.

“Folks, this thing has been sitting around here for close to a year and it’s a rudderless ship,” Stivers said. “We need to get that rudderless ship on course with a direction.”

The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACS) placed the University of Louisville on one-year probation based on actions by Gov. Matt Bevin in reorganizing the university’s board, which led to former President Jim Ramsey’s decision to exit the school.

The university, which will maintain its accreditation, announced that SACS cited issues pertaining to the selection and evaluation of the university president, external influence and board of trustee dismissal.

Sen. Gerald Neal, D-Louisville, questioned Stivers about whether SB12 will successfully address the problems noted by SACS.

“Does the Senator from clay contend that this bill complies with the fair due process requirement of SACS as it relates to the removal trustees at this particular university?”, Neal asked.

SACS is pointedly vague,” responded Stivers. “I think it satisfies it because of what she said, the lady we spoke with, was that we understand the legislature has the ultimate authority to create boards or disband boards. They want that process known.”

Se. Joe Bowen said that Senate members needed to support the legislation because delaying a decision would serve no purpose.

“I might suggest to those who feel like we’re moving too fast on this issue, that there’s been plenty of time to craft their own solution,” Bowen said. “This is a good solution.”

The bill now moves on to the House for consideration.

Don Weber

Don Weber is a Video Journalist for Spectrum News and covers politics and education on Pure Politics, Kentucky’s only nightly program dedicated to state politics. Don is a lifelong Kentuckian and a graduate of Northern Kentucky University. He spent many years covering sports in the Northern Kentucky area before shifting primarily to politics. You can watch Don’s work weeknights at 7:00 and 11:30 on Pure Politics, available exclusively on Spectrum News, HD Channels 403 and 715. If you have a story idea you can reach Don at donald.weber@charter.com.

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