From the student's perspective: What the reorganization of the board of trustees means for U of L

01/11/2017 09:23 AM

University of Louisville senior Aaron Vance was “very disheartened” when the Senate moved to essentially codify Gov. Matt Bevin’s executive order reorganizing the universities board of trustees without warning last week.

The UofL SGA president says the law reorganizing the board leaves “a lot still left unanswered,” including issues of accreditation — which is what he says students have concerns over, not who the trustees are.

“Throughout this entire process I have been really, really worried and upset about the fact that the inclusion of students, faculty, staff, administration, experts has not been included in this entire legislative process to push this bill though,” Vance said.

Vance did end up testifying on the Senate bill when it went before a House committee last week, but he felt lawmakers missed the point in the hearings.

The new law gives the governor 10 appointments to the now 13-member UofL board, down from the previous number of 17.

That mirrors a previous attempt by Gov. Matt Bevin to reorganize the board on his own; an act that was struck down in Franklin Circuit Court after Attorney General Andy Beshear sued. The new law could essentially render an appeal of Franklin Circuit Judge Phillip Shepherd’s decision moot.

The law, SB 12, would also require Senate approval of UofL trustee appointments.

UofL was placed on one-year accreditation probation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools after Bevin’s reorganization, one of the chief concerns cited by Democrats in the General Assembly.

SACS told the university they were planning on sending a letter this week, but Vance said that could be delayed after the legislation was signed into law.

“Until we know what SACS really wants, until they give us that letter this week, I think we have to assume the worst,” Vance said. “We just don’t know. Probation is the second to last step before you remove accreditation. We have to believe these fears are real and SACS has the best intention of making sure that undue political influence is not seeping into higher education.”

“This sets a very dangerous precedent and I think SACS is worried on a national level.”

Nick Storm

Nick Storm is the Anchor and Managing Editor of Pure Politics available exclusively on Spectrum News. Pure Politics is the only nightly program dedicated to Kentucky politics. Nick covers all of the political heavyweights and his investigative work brings to light issues that might otherwise go unnoticed, like his coverage of the backlog of DNA rape kits waiting to be tested in Kentucky. Nick is also working on a feature length bio documentary Outlaw Poet: A documentary on Ron Whitehead. Pure Politics airs weeknight at 7 and 11:30 on Spectrum News. Follow Nick on Twitter @NStorm_Politics. Nick can be reached at 502-792-1107 or nicholas.storm@charter.com.

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