By Kyeland Jackson —
Greg Postel, employed for 22 years at U of L, will be its new interim president effective Jan. 30.
Postel was named on Jan. 21 by Governor Matt Bevin’s new board of trustees, licensed to act without Senate confirmation according to KRS 11.160(1)(f). Postel said he looks forward to the job and his primary concerns are retaining accreditation, ensuring finances are in order and promoting the university’s reputation.
“Today represents a real opportunity for me to be able to help the university with its next phase of transition as we continue to work on issues that are so critical to us, and potentially prepare for the selection of a permanent president,” Postel said after the meeting. Postel said he’s very confident U of L will keep accreditation.
Nominees for an 11-member presidential search committee could be submitted as early as Jan. 27. Committee requirements say at least two members need to be university donors and the student, faculty and staff representatives must serve on it.
Postel said he does not think he will pursue the permanent president position, but is prepared to serve for a year or more if the interim position requires him to.
The new board enacted reform for itself and the U of L Foundation, appointing David Grissom as board chair and Diane Medley as U of L Foundation chair. John Schnatter, founder and CEO of Papa John’s, will be the board’s vice chair. Grissom, Medley, Schnatter and Nitin Sahney will serve on ULF’s Board of Directors as well as the university board.
“I think the first order of business is to work with the administration to grow and then restore the confidence of all constituencies in the university,” Grissom said. “There’s issues at the foundation, there’s issues associated with accreditation, there’s the NCAA basketball issue. That’s what I meant when I said ‘lots of work to do.’”
The board established term limits for university administrators, requiring board approval for terms surpassing a year. The board requested ULF investments and contracts halt as they wait for results from a forensic audit investigating finances at the foundation. ULF Executive Director Keith Sherman complied, saying the foundation would refrain from entering new contracts and investments until the audit is complete.
Bevin appointed the board by order of Senate Bill 12, tasked to clear “dysfunction” within the former board and racially balance its members. Faculty worry, however, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, U of L’s accrediting body, will respond negatively to governance changes.
SACS sent a letter Jan. 11 blaming Bevin’s acts for earning U of L’s probation. Bevin’s original order was struck down by local courts, but the Kentucky Supreme Court agreed to hear Bevin’s appeal on the ruling. Bevin’s office asked the appeal be discontinued after SB12 was passed, but Attorney General Andy Beshear asked the appeal continue.