By Kyeland Jackson —
U of L faculty, some members of the American Association of University Professors local chapter, questioned the university’s take on Governor Matt Bevin’s executive order via a letter sent to the provost Monday night.
The letter voiced concerns about the new board, when it would be in place and the legality of Bevin’s actions. Chief among those concerns were if the university would lose accreditation, which is verified by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools every decade.
“While SACS is the most immediate concern, we anticipate that this will cause concern for other accrediting agencies as well such as Urban Planning, CEHD, Kent School, to name just a few,” the letter said. “We request that a response be distributed to the University community as a whole via the University-wide faculty and staff listservs, as well as other University-wide methods of communication to ensure full coverage of all those impacted. Given the grave importance of these issues we hope the upper administration will address these questions and concerns as quickly and as publicly as possible.”
The disciplinary process by SACS moves from sanctions, including a warning or probation, to denial of accreditation. Based on Bevin’s order, the university may be subject to immediate sanctions for not being in compliance with mandated standards.
Philosophy Department Chairman David Owen warned that loss of accreditation would be “catastrophic” for U of L.
“For example, U of L undergraduate degrees would not be accepted when applying to graduate programs, law schools, and medical schools. This would certainly impact our membership in the ACC as well,” Owen said.
“Simply put, U of L would no longer be an accredited university, which means that its degrees would no longer be legitimate.”
However, Owen assures that U of L is not likely to lose its accreditation as Bevin, legislation and U of L will likely step in to correct errors before then.
An institution can also lose SACS membership, along with its accreditation, at any time if noncompliance is serious enough. However SACS mentions that membership removal most often comes with frequent non-compliance.
Attendees at the meeting highlighted the accomplishments of faculty, staff and students, and questioned the legality of Bevin’s actions before sending the letter to Pinto. Philosophy professor Avery Kolers led the meeting.
“It is our view that the Governor’s Executive Order is illegal, and merely adds to the list of ‘high-profile incidents that have cast the institution in a negative light,'” a transcript of the meeting said. “Should the Governor’s actions be allowed to stand, they would cause irreparable damage to the university, its students, and its faculty members.”
The order, announced Friday, effectively dissolved the current board of trustees and appointed three interim board members of Bevin’s choosing. The action also lowered the count to 13 board members – 10 of whom will be appointed by the governor.
This story will be updated.