Paul Diaz resigns from University of Louisville Board of Trustees

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) --  Former Kindred Healthcare CEO Paul Diaz has resigned from the University of Louisville Board of Trustees after less than a year into his six-year term.

In a letter dated Wednesday, Diaz cited Gov. Matt Bevin’s effort to nullify his June 2015 appointment to the board. Bevin says the board does not have enough racial minorities to comply with Kentucky law, and he has asked a judge to undo his predecessor’s latest round of appointments.

But Diaz wrote to Bevin that he “strongly disagree(s)” with the governor’s position that Hispanics are not a racial minority under state law.

“I am a first generation Cuban-American, raised by a single mom, trained as a lawyer and accountant, and formerly CEO of a Fortune 500 company, who substantially benefited from our educational system  and has enjoyed raising three children in Kentucky,” Diaz wrote. “And I am at a loss to understand the purpose of excluding Hispanics from the definition of racial minorities and the goal of diversity more broadly.”

Diaz did not return a call Friday.

The racial composition of the U of L board has been a subject of contention since June, when then-Gov. Steve Beshear’s appointments left the board without an African American member for the first time in decades.

Attorney General Jack Conway ruled last year that Beshear erred, leading to a resignation and the appointment of a black member, William Summers.

Conway’s office said Diaz counts as a racial minority for purposes of the law, but the Bevin administration disagrees. The Bevin administration also interprets the law more stringently, arguing that at least three of the board’s 17 appointed members must be racial minorities, meaning two additional minorities are needed.

In a lawsuit last year, the Kentucky Justice Resource Center asked a judge to nullify Beshear’s most recent round of appointments to the board, including Diaz’s. Bevin’s administration repeated that request last month, saying they agree with the Justice Resource Center’s claim.

Diaz’s resignation puts the board one step closer to complying with the law, Bevin’s general counsel Steve Pitt wrote in an email to WDRB News on Friday.

“The law requires three Board members of racial minority. It currently contains only one. We are appreciative of Mr. Diaz’s voluntary action,” Pitt wrote. “Another voluntary resignation would trigger the nominating commission’s ability to accept applications for two vacancies,  provide the Governor with three names for each vacancy (which would hopefully include persons of racial minority), and allow the Governor to make two appointments that would bring the Board into racial balance.” 

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