By Nick Amon–
This past Friday Gov. Matt Bevin made the swift announcement that James Ramsey will be stepping down from his position as president here at U of L. As the weekend passed, the news of such a resignation did everything but, and has ever since resonated throughout the city of Louisville and echoed across the rest of the state.
One could definitely argue Ramsey’s popularity has been dwindling over the past several semesters, and opinions of Ramsey across campus have been mixed. When asked how he felt about Ramsey’s resignation, sophomore Max Hofmann reacted in laughter and simply said, “I’m glad to see that toupee go”.
Though not everyone may agree with Hofmann, they can’t argue against the fact that Ramsey has contributed to U of L’s storm of bad press throughout the 2015-16 academic year. Add to that the gridlock we’ve seen recently within the board of trustees – which some hold Ramsey accountable for as well. The full board has not met since March and the university does not even have a budget, 10 days away from the start of a new fiscal year.
Now even though I love to beat a dead horse as much as the next guy, I think it’s time to hop off the Ramsey bandwagon for a minute and set our sights on the bigger picture developing here. Not only did Bevin announce Ramsey’s resignation this past Friday, he also held a surprise for the board of trustees.
Unbeknownst to the trustees, Bevin announced that the current board of 17 was instantly dissolved and will be replaced by 10 members he appoints to the former seats. This is where things get a little blurry.
Being the head honcho and all, Bevin holds the power to appoint trustees to four-year terms. Although Bevin retains such power, it seems a bit unusual he would dissolve the entire board – if it was gridlock he wished to solve, he could have simply appointed two trustees who shared his interests to the vacant slots.
Boards are designed to be protected by the power of the governor, and legal action by Attorney General Andy Beshear has yet to be ruled out. “Today Gov. Bevin took unprecedented actions directed at two important governing boards. Lawmakers mandated that these boards be independent. My office is therefore closely reviewing today’s actions,” Beshear said in a statement last Friday. Opposition? We’ll see, but I definitely wouldn’t get my hopes up.
Arguably one of the biggest changes to U of L in years, you would think all this BOT news would be the talk of the campus, right? Wrong. As many are still chewing on and digesting the announcement of Ramsey’s resignation, the bigger picture continues to elude the majority. If Bevin can take such aggressive control here at U of L, what’s going to stop him from doing so with other universities across the state if he finds something he doesn’t like?
As if things didn’t already seem grim enough, there’s still an opportunity for Ramsey to avoid resignation. Ramsey’s resignation plans should be taken with a grain of salt, and may just be exactly what they sound like: plans. Ramsey’s offer to resign could be declined by the newly-appointed BOT, giving him another go-round as president with a fresh new board.
The possible outcomes of this situation grow more and more shady by the day. On one hand you have Bevin setting a terrible precedent which makes his powers as governor seem extremely authoritative over any university that stands in his way, and on the other hand, you have an outcome which paints the picture that Bevin and Ramsey have struck a deal which scratches both their backs. Either way, each outcome seems feasible. All we can do is hope for a hail mary pass by Beshear.