Gov. Matt Bevin: University of Louisville board needs more minor - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Gov. Matt Bevin: University of Louisville board needs more minority members

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University of Louisville Board of Trustees, Jan. 14, 2016 University of Louisville Board of Trustees, Jan. 14, 2016
Gov. Matt Bevin Gov. Matt Bevin

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Gov. Matt Bevin has asked a judge to allow him to shake up the University of Louisville Board of Trustees so that at least two more racial minority members can be added to bring the board into compliance with state law.

In a reversal from the position of his predecessor Steve Beshear, Bevin said in court papers that he agrees with the Kentucky Justice Resource Center that the U of L Board does not have enough minority representation.

The Justice Resource Center sued the university and Beshear last fall.

Bevin’s administration has asked the court to declare Beshear’s three appointments to the board last June as “null and void.”

That would mean that Larry Benz – the trustees’ chairman – Larry Hayes and Paul Diaz would have to leave the board, unless reappointed by Bevin.

It’s also possible that Bevin could find other vacancies on the board through voluntarily resignations. Last year, trustee Steve Wilson resigned to allow Beshear to appoint a black person to the board, and Beshear named former Louisville Deputy Mayor William Summers.

Bevin has also asked the judge to forbid the U of L board from conducting business until his appointments are made.

A hearing in the case is scheduled for Jan. 26. The next Board of Trustees meeting is March 1.

Reached by phone Thursday, Benz said he had no advance knowledge of Bevin’s moves and declined to comment.

U of L President James Ramsey – who has been wrestling with a dissident faction of board members for at least a year – welcomed Bevin’s intervention in the board.

“I support Governor Matt Bevin’s view wholeheartedly and strongly believe we need greater racial diversity on this board that meets the statutory requirements,” Ramsey said in a prepared statement. “We respect the law and believe this board should be in full compliance with all aspects of the statutes governing its composition. It has been out of balance for far too long.”

The composition of U of L’s board became an issue last summer after Beshear’s appointments left the board without a single African-American for the first time in decades.

After public pressure, former Attorney General Jack Conway waded into the controversy with an opinion saying that Beshear, a fellow Democrat, had erred by removing the board’s only black member.

Conway’s opinion said Diaz, the former CEO of Kindred Healthcare, qualified as a minority under the law because he is of Cuban descent, but that Beshear still needed to appoint at least one additional minority.

Even with Summers on the board, Bevin’s administration contends that two more racial minorities are needed. They say Diaz is an ethnic, but not racial, minority, and that three racial minorities – not two – are needed to comply with the law.

U of L’s board has 20 members in all, but only the 17 seats appointed by the governor are at issue. The board has three “constituency” members representing students, faculty and staff.

Copyright 2016 WDRB News. All rights reserved.

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