By Kyeland Jackson —
Governor Matt Bevin’s executive orders, which swept away U of L’s board of trustees for a new 10-member board, were permanently blocked Wednesday.
Franklin Circuit Court Judge Phillip Shepherd issued the ruling, permanently blocking Bevin’s executive orders. Attorney General Andy Beshear began the suit shortly after Bevin made his order this summer. Beshear issued a statement after Wednesday’s ruling.
“We appreciate Judge Shepherd’s urgency in issuing a final decision in this case. What our students and faculty need now is finality. That is why I am calling on Gov. Bevin to either accept the ruling and appoint trustees to the five openings, or agree to move this case immediately to the Kentucky Supreme Court,” Beshear’s statement said.
Bevin’s executive orders led to a cataclysmic shift in the university. After the board of trustees were abolished, embattled president James Ramsey resigned from U of L. Beshear’s legal challenge halted Bevin’s board, reinstating the original board. Shepherd’s ruling keeps that original board, led by Chair Larry Benz, in place. Benz refused to comment on the ruling.
In a joint statement, Acting President Neville Pinto said he looks forward to the situation being fully resolved.
“In the meantime, the University of Louisville continues in its commitment to providing high quality education to our students, conducting groundbreaking research and being engaged in the community we serve,”Pinto’s statement said.
While Shepherd’s ruling permanently bars Bevin’s board of trustees, Bevin’s office could still appeal the ruling. If Bevin appeals, SGA President Aaron Vance said he hopes the governor considers the how exceptional all board members are.
“In all of this however, 6 Board meetings later, with two very different boards have I been able to really see something that I hope the Governor will take into consideration as he looks into appealing the ruling, there were good people on his Board and there are good people on the current Board,” Vance’s statement said.
“All in all, I can definitively say that students want resolve. And I hope in lieu of another court case that maybe some compromise can be reached with the common goal of allowing this university to be able to focus on the things that really matter: our students, faculty, and staff.”
Regardless of legal dispute over Bevin’s hand-picked board, the issue of vacancies plague the current board. The board has five vacancies, two of which require necessary racial representation which former Governor Steve Beshear did not fill. University of Louisville Foundation Chair Brucie Moore asked Bevin fill these vacancies to help in the search for a new university president.
“At the very least, I encourage Governor Bevin to make those two appointments so the board of trustees can begin the critical business of searching for a new university president,” Moore’s statement said.
“Finding a new leader for U of L is too important to the campus community, city and commonwealth to be delayed.”
This story will be updated.