Gov. Steve Beshear's UofL appointees out of line with law requiring board to reflect state's racial makeup

09/29/2015 05:58 PM

The lack of minorities on the University of Louisville Board of Trustees violates state law mandating that Gov. Steve Beshear’s appointees to that panel reflect the state’s racial makeup, Attorney General Jack Conway’s office said in an opinion Tuesday.

The Courier-Journal first reported the action.

In the wake of the attorney general opinion, Beshear announced that UofL Trustee Steve Wilson had tendered his resignation to make room for a second minority appointee. Paul Diaz, a Cuban-American, is the sole minority on the board, and the opinion written by Assistant Attorney General Matt James said there should be at least two minorities on the panel.

A group of African-American ministers in Louisville had given Conway, the Democratic gubernatorial nominee, until Thursday to issue an opinion on the matter before they acted more forcibly, either politically or legally, according to a report by The Courier-Journal.

The newspaper reports that one minister who sought the opinion, Rev. Clay Calloway of the West Louisville Minister’s Coalition, disagreed with the opinion that a Hispanic appointee qualifies as a minority and said Beshear and Conway were trying “to cut the baby in half.”

Beshear, in a statement, said he will specifically request names of qualified African-Americans from the Postsecondary Nominating Committee as potential appointees.

“As I have said before, while we make every effort to comply with all the different requirements placed on these appointments by statute, because of all the different categories and factors required to be considered, and because terms expire at different times, there will always be situations when a particular board may not exactly fulfill every single requirement for a period of time,” he said.

Wilson, in his resignation letter, offered to step down from the board because of his concerns, like others in the Louisville community, at the lack of African-Americans among UofL’s trustees.

“I have no doubt that you will fulfill your commitment to appoint an African American member of our community at your next opportunity but, without a resignation, there will not be another vacancy until next year,” Wilson wrote in his letter.

“I don’t think we should wait that long. Therefore, I hereby resign my position on the Board of Trustees of the University of Louisville, so that you have the opportunity to make a new appointment immediately.”


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