University of Louisville board overhaul continues on legislative - WDRB 41 Louisville News

University of Louisville board overhaul continues on legislative fast track

Posted: Updated:
Susan Jarosi of the University of Louisville Susan Jarosi of the University of Louisville
Kentucky Senate President Robert Stivers Kentucky Senate President Robert Stivers

FRANKFORT, Ky. (WDRB) – A bill that would remake the University of Louisville board of trustees continued on its fast track through the state legislature Friday.

Over objections of the university’s student body president, a professor and Democrats, the House’s state government committee approved the bill by a 13-5 vote.

Senate President Robert Stivers, the bill’s primary sponsor, said he expects it to pass the full House on Saturday.

Gov. Matt Bevin could then sign the bill into law immediately because it has an emergency clause.

In a two-hour hearing, Stivers repeatedly denied the measure could imperil the university’s accreditation, which is already in probationary status.

“We are not even close to a loss of accreditation,” Stivers said, citing the legislature’s authority over university boards.

But Democrats on the committee and U of L supporters pointed out that the university’s accrediting agency has provided no assurance.

“You are throwing the dice,” Susan Jarosi, a U of L professor of women’s and gender studies, told lawmakers.

The bill would replace the current 20-person board with a 13-person board and allow Gov. Matt Bevin to make all 10 gubernatorial appointments to the new board.

Bevin attempted to install a new board over the summer with the same number of trustees, but a judge ruled he violated state law and reinstated the board made up of appointees of former Gov. Steve Beshear.

Although it would achieve essentially the same result, Stivers emphasized that the legislature would create the new U of L board rather than simply “codifying” Bevin’s executive action.

The Stivers bill also adds a requirement that trustees be confirmed by the state Senate – a provision Stivers wants to extend to all university boards.

Stivers said Senate veto power over trustees would have prevented Beshear from packing the board with Democrats despite a requirement for political balance under state law.

It also would have prevented the board, through Beshear’s appointments, from losing the minimum number of racial minority members, Stivers said.

While Bevin already identified ten people to serve on the board he attempted to install last summer, the bill would require him to make a fresh set of appointments.

Once those appointees are named, the current board would cease to exist.

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