SACS details issues with Bevin's UofL board of trustees reorganization in letter sent Wednesday

01/12/2017 12:15 AM

UPDATED: The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges has sent a formal letter to the University of Louisville after placing the public university on one-year accreditation probation in December.

The letter from SACS follows the June reorganizing of the UofL board by Republican Gov. Matt Bevin; a move that was essentially codified by the General Assembly in their first week back in Frankfort.

On Wednesday, SACS informed the university that they placed the institution on probation based on four principles: failure to comply with requirements on the core governing board, CEO evaluation and selection, external influence and board dismissal.

The letter details that Bevin’s 2016 executive order “would have concentrated his influence regarding the composition of the board and the appointment of its members, by-passing the protections against such influence addressed in state statutes that provide for a separation of powers. (…)”

SACS also points to “undue political influence” by Bevin via his executive order, which is “inconsistent” with the guiding principles of SACS.

The legislature hurriedly passed a bill reorganizing the board of trustees last week which was signed into law over the weekend, but SACS warned any changes to statute would have to follow principles prohibiting from political influence.

The new law signed on Monday, gives the governor 10 appointments to the now 13-member UofL board, down from the previous number of 17. The state Senate has confirmation powers on those gubernatorial appointments.

Amanda Stamper, Bevin’s spokesperson, called the letter “no surprise” adding that it “offers nothing more than the same old news.”

“The General Assembly remedied the situation with the passage of SB12, which Gov. Bevin signed into law.” Stamper said. “It’s time for the University of Louisville to move forward with a new board of trustees and begin its fresh start.”

Attorney General Andy Beshear, who won a lawsuit in Franklin Circuit Court challenging Bevin’s overhaul of the board, said the letter proves Bevin did in fact put the university at jeopardy.

“Gov. Bevin has denied what SACS has said time and time again and is now fact — that Bevin’s actions alone caused the significant sanctions to UofL,m” Beshear said. “The SACS’ letter also reiterates that SACS requires fair process for removal of trustees. Senate Bill 12 unquestionably failed to provide any process, much less fair process to those trustees.

“If the General Assembly was honest saying it would make changes after the SACS’ letter, it must repeal Senate Bill 12,” Beshear continued. “The question is whether the General Assembly cares more about its loyalty to the governor than the students, faculty and their families at Kentucky’s public universities.”

UofL is requested to submit a “first monitoring report” no later than Sept. 8, 2017 addressing the concerns from SACS. The letter was addressed to acting President Neville Pinto; a university spokesman says they are in the process of reviewing the document.

To download the full letter from SACS to the university click here: SACS letter (1).pdf


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