Judge questions process Gov. Bevin used to remove University of Louisville board members

07/22/2016 01:08 PM

FRANKFORT – Questions about the process Gov. Matt Bevin used to replace the University of Louisville board of trustees was questioned by a judge during a Franklin Circuit Court hearing held in which the Attorney General Andy Beshear asked to temporarily block Bevin’s order, placing the university back under the authority of its previous leadership.

While Franklin Circuit Judge Phillip Shepherd did not rule on Beshear’s request, he did question why Bevin made the move without any consultation with anyone at the University of Louisville.

One concern that was raised is how the shakeup of the board could threaten the universities accreditation with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS).

However, under cross examination from Bevin’s attorney Steve Pitt, University of Louisville Assistant Provost for Accreditation and Academic Programs Connie Shumake said that she believed that the schools accreditation would not be affected by Bevin’s action anytime soon.

“The affirmation period runs from December 2007 to December 2017,” Shumate said. “We will be submitting our affirmation report as well as any special reports which have been requested by SACS. They (SACS) will have an opportunity to say that they agree with the universities position or they do not. Those kind of things take time so I don’t think we’re talking about anything that going to happen tomorrow or next month. These things take time.”

Judge Shepherd expressed concerns to Pitt about the process Bevin used to replacing the entire board at the University of Louisville without consulting with anyone at the university.

“If the governor is going to issue an executive order abolishing a board at a university, the governor ought to consult somebody who is knowledgeable about that accreditation to see if it would create a problem,” Shepherd said.

Pitt argued that the the legislature has given the governor the power to abolish state boards and commissions only when the legislature is not in session which is generally from late March to mid-April through December of each year.

Pitt said that the governor can only propose it, and the proposal goes into effect temporarily.

When the legislature comes back in January 2017, they can either accept for eject the governors decision.

Assistant Deputy Attorney General Mitchel Denham says that Bevin believes that he has absolute authority to reorganize any board in the state as his position is that he does not. Particularly with university boards.

“There are specific statutes that do not permit him to remove individual trustees unless it’s for cause, and they must have due process,” Denham said. “He gave them no process whatsoever.”

The new University of Louisville board met for the second time on Thursday and delayed action of a 5 percent tuition increase as well as the status of President James Ramsey who submitted a resignation/retirement letter to the board last month.


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