Accrediting group: Bevin moves create "significant" issues for University of Louisville
The group that accredits the University of Louisville said recent moves by Gov. Matt Bevin -- including abolishing the university's governing board -- create "significant" issues for the university's good standing.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The group that accredits the University of Louisville said recent moves by Gov. Matt Bevin -- including abolishing the university's governing board -- create "significant accreditation-related issues."
In an Aug. 18 letter to U of L, an official with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools said U of L "appears ... out of compliance" with its standards regarding presidential selection, external political influence and board dismissal. (See a copy of the letter below).
The letter surfaced in a court hearing Friday in Attorney General Andy Beshear's lawsuit challenging Bevin's authority to abolish and re-appoint the university's Board of Trustees.
Bevin blew up the board in June and appointed a new one, creating "the potential for undue political influence in institutional governance," according to the letter from Belle S. Wheelan, president of SACS' Commission on Colleges.
SACS also cited the "apparent involvement of the Governor in an alleged negotiation of the resignation of (former U of L President James Ramsey) without the engagement of" the board of trustees as further evidence of "significant accreditation-related issues."
Steve Pitt, Bevin's general counsel, played down the significance of the SACS letter in a conversation with reporters Friday.
"It relates to apparent violations or concerns. There is no finding in this letter of any wrongdoing," Pitt said.
He added that the areas in which SACS raised concerns are not among the agency's "core" expectations for accreditation, so there is no risk that the university will lose its good status.
The potential affect on U of L's accreditation has been a major point of contention in the court case between Bevin and Beshear. It was one reason Judge Phillip Shepherd issued a temporary injunction blocking Bevin's newly appointed board while the case is adjudicated.
SACS said Bevin's abolishing of the board appears to run afoul of its expectation that university board members be afforded due process before being removed.
But Pitt drew a distinction between a wholesale remaking of the board and the removal of individual board members.
"There was never any dismissal of board members," he said. "The board itself was abolished."