The Louisville Cardinal

SACS letter blames Bevin for probation, mandates U of L reform

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By Kyeland Jackson —

U of L’s accrediting body blamed Gov. Matt Bevin’s actions for the university’s probation, mandating U of L submit a monitoring report no later than Sept. 8.

The letter says all four accreditation standards were violated by Bevin’s orders, after the governor dismissed the board of trustees and negotiated former president James Ramsey’s resignation.

The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, U of L’s accrediting body, said a special committee will visit the university to check its progress. U of L must supply a report at least four weeks before the committee arrives, and no later than Sept. 8.

SACS put U of L on probation after governance on the university board was called into question by Bevin’s actions. Probation, often the last resort before loss of accreditation, can extend a maximum of two years. SACS’ letter specified if a university does not comply with standards within two years, accreditation would be taken. Bevin downplayed accreditation worries Jan. 10.

“It was never in threat. They’re on probation, utterly unrelated to the tenants that lead to accreditation or the loss thereof. One of the women, she’s the head of women and gender studies at the University of Louisville, who you could – it’s probably hard to guess, but I’m thinking she’s liberal,” Bevin said, referring to professor Susan Jarosi who testified before the Kentucky Senate Jan. 5.

SACS Coordinator of Communications and External Affairs Pamela Cravey said the university is on probation for violating three comprehensive standard and one core requirement related to accreditation. Loss of accreditation for U of L means university degrees would lose values, federal financial aid would not be available, credits could not transfer and U of L cannot participate in NCAA sports.

Since 2000, 12 private institutions accredited under SACS lost accreditation.

Council on Postsecondary Education Director of Communication Sue Patrick said CPE expects the issue can be resolved.

“We are optimistic that a successful resolution can be achieved through the collective efforts of SACSCOC, the General Assembly, the Governor and the University,” Patrick said.

SACS’ Jan. 11 letter does not respond to Senate Bill 12 which removes the current board in place of appointments vetted by Bevin and the state government. The order mirrors Bevin’s executive orders to dismantle the board of trustees, which will be heard by the Kentucky Supreme Court.

Another prospective bill, Senate Bill 107, grants the governor and appointing authorities power to remove dysfunctional boards from other educational institutions. SB 107 deems a board dysfunctional if it cannot hold at least quarterly meetings, elect a chair and vice chair, establish a quorum, or reach consensus to execute its primary mandate. The bill also requires members replacing boards fill representation requirements. Bevin’s new appointments could fill diversity and political representation requirements on U of L’s board, left open by former governor Steve Beshear.

The full SACS letter is below.

File photo / The Louisville Cardinal