By Olivia Krauth–
Updated: Jan. 4 at 1:25 p.m.
If passed, a Kentucky house bill could confirm Gov. Matt Bevin’s reorganization of U of L’s Board of Trustees, which led to U of L being placed on probation by its accrediting body.
The House State Government committee said the bill would not be considered Jan. 4, citing discussions between the Southern Association of Schools Commission on Colleges, U of L’s accrediting body. The general assembly concludes business Jan. 6, and will reconvene in February.
House Bill 10, presented by Rep. Kevin Bratcher (R-Louisville), would confirm Bevin’s June executive order that abolished U of L’s board and appointed 10 new trustees. The bill would amend KRS 164.821 to drop the number of U of L trustees from 17 to 10, and would abolish the current board and transition all power to the new board.
The bill would also set guidelines for terms and membership, minority representation and filling vacancies.
Bratcher, the House Majority Whip, declared the situation an emergency in the bill. On Dec. 6, SACS put U of L on probation due to Bevin’s board reorganization. The one-year probationary period is typically the last step before a school loses its accreditation.
“HB 10 is a problematic piece of legislation because of the impact that it may have on the University of Louisville,” SGA President Aaron Vance said. “Any legislation or action that leaves our accreditation at risk is worrisome. An affirmation of the Governor’s Executive Orders leaves us with issues of undue political influence and a lack of due process per SACS standards. As we work to resolve this issue, I ask that the legislature not consider any bills that will leave the University of Louisville at risk of losing its accreditation.”
University spokesperson John Karman said U of L expects a formal letter from SACS “outlining concerns and expectations regarding the university’s compliance” with accreditation requirements.
“The goal for all involved is for the university to be in full compliance and removed from probation as soon as possible,” Karman’s statement said.
In a Facebook post, president of U of L’s chapter of American Association of University Professors Avery Kolers said if the bill passes, “there is a serious chance that we will lose our accreditation,” continuing to ask readers to contact their legislators.
If accreditation is revoked, U of L credits would not transfer to other schools, U of L could not play in the NCAA, federal financial aid would not be available to students and awarded degrees would not be considered valid.
“I don’t want to sound alarmist, but the fact is that this legislative session may well be make-or-break for the University of Louisville. It’s time to act,” Kolers said.