By Kyeland Jackson —
Attorney General Andy Beshear will file another lawsuit against Governor Matt Bevin over Bevin’s new U of L Board of Trustees.
Bevin named the new trustees Wednesday. Beshear’s office issued a statement shortly after, referring to the injunction filed against Bevin a week earlier.
“Our legal challenge is not about who will or will not serve on a board of trustees. It is to prevent Gov. Matt Bevin from asserting ‘absolute authority’ to control the board and the university by simply dissolving the board anytime he disagrees with it,” Beshear said in the statement. “Such power would threaten the independence and possibly the accreditation of the university.”
Beshear’s motion asks the court to block Bevin’s newly appointed board. Courts could choose to appoint the board dissolved by Bevin’s executive action to dictate university business. Larry Benz, chairman of the dissolved board, said he would willingly return to his position “provided the board was empowered legally.”
Former U of L Foundation chair and trustee Bob Hughes said Beshear is “wasting the taxpayers’ money” by uniting a board which was not functional. Hughes did not clarify if he would accept returning to the board, saying it will take some discussion before he decides.
“Whatever I decide to do personally in the event of this unfortunate possibility will be based upon what is best for UL after consulting with those that have the best interest of the university at heart,” Hughes said.
Faculty at U of L were quick to react to news of the new appointments. Members of U of L’s American Association of University Professors condemned the new board and said Bevin is “prolonging the crisis he created.”
President James Ramsey defended the new board, calling the changes and appointments “positive.” Attendants at a special faculty meeting asked Ramsey how he’ll defend the university, citing worries for U of L’s accreditation.
“The short answer is: I won’t be here,” Ramsey said.
The president announced he would resign by the end of the academic year on June 21, dashing speculation he would remain at the university. Ramsey said he will forward the resignation when the new board of trustees meets. It has not been publicized when that meeting will be.
The first suit against the governor’s executive orders came June 22 after Beshear filed a temporary restraining order against Bevin. Members of U of L’s AAUP have considered joining the lawsuit after asking the dissolved board members to file an injunction against Bevin on June 21.
Bevin’s appointed board members include the founder and CEO of Papa John’s, a former NBA player turned businessman and two business founders with ties to U of L’s Foundation.
File photo / The Louisville Cardinal