Board of Trustees drama continues to unfold

By on August 29, 2016
governor matt bevin

By Andrew Hebert–

Last week, another legal action involving U of L’s Board of Trustees took place when Governor Matt Bevin filed an appeal on Circuit Court Judge Philip Shepherd’s injunction on Bevin’s appointed board. This legal jargon is a bit hard to understand, so let’s retrace our steps.

On June 17, Bevin issued an executive order to replace the entire board with a smaller, 10-person board. Then-president James Ramsey agreed to resign from his position, but only when and if a new board was appointed. Immediately, Attorney General Andy Beshear sued Bevin, claiming the decision “threatens our very liberty.”

While the case was in court, Bevin appointed his new board, one he claimed to be more balanced and diverse than the old one. This new board accepted Ramsey’s resignation, selecting Neville Pinto as acting president.

But on July 29, Shepherd issued a temporary injunction against Bevin’s decision to remove the old board. This decision is temporary and does not determine which board will continue as the decision-making body for the university, but for now, the old board is in charge.

The latest legal action was Bevin’s appeal of Shepherd’s decision. Since Shepherd’s decision was temporary, Bevin’s appeal will likely not be heard while Beshear’s initial case against Bevin’s executive order moves through the court system.

So where does all this legal drama leave the University of Louisville and its students? On Thursday, the so-called “old board” led by chair Larry Benz met to approve the 2016-2017 budget and discuss other issues.

“The university is not about the board of trustees, it’s not about the chair,” Benz said. “At the end of the day it really is about the students and the support.”

The “old board” approved the year’s budget, increasing student tuition rates by five percent. The increase is offset by a “Credit for Credits” program, which refunds the rates increase to full time students.

SGA President Aaron Vance, who has served as the student representative on both boards said, “Working with both boards, both have seemed to hold the future of this university, and especially the students in the highest regard as we have approached everything.”

“There is no doubt in my mind that this will continue to be a great institution, and even with all of the press and politics it won’t change that we will continue to see an impressive class of incoming students matriculating, our faculty will continue to teach and conduct groundbreaking research and that our university will continue to be a catalyst in not only academia, but the city of Louisville, the Commonwealth of Kentucky and the world,” Vance said.

“There really should be no significant impact on students,” U of L spokesperson John Karman said. “Classes are underway. Groundbreaking research is ongoing. And we continue to engage with our community. The operations of the university are unchanged.”

As of August 26, the old board is operating, Pinto is the acting president, professors are teaching and students are going to class. While the case against Bevin’s executive action carries on through the court system, campus seems to operate as normal as ever.

File photo / The Louisville Cardinal

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