By Kyeland Jackson —
I’m sorry to say we’re in the same position we were years ago.
This board of trustees and administration have been catalysts for change. Members such as Greg Postel, U of L’s interim president, often speak with students and constituents, allaying concerns and answering questions.
But governance decisions which discredited former president James Ramsey resurfaced when they fired Tom Jurich.
After the FBI announced its investigation into the men’s basketball team, administrators ousted men’s basketball coach Rick Pitino and athletic director Jurich quickly. Debate on the decision to remove the two divided fans. Many wondered what’s next for the university. And what did administrators say to answer those questions and calm concerns about ousting Jurich?
Reporters were told these were personnel matters and Postel would not discuss them publicly. When asked to speak on three board members’ opposition to firing Jurich, Postel suggested asking board members themselves. But David Grissom, the board chair appointed by Governor Matt Bevin, made clear there’s an “agreement” only he can speak for the board. And he declined to comment after the vote.
The administration has committed several Ramsey-esque acts since taking the reins.
The board closed the presidential search, silencing input and analysis from reporters, students and constituents. The firm picked to find the next president was approved with lackluster public debate and discussion. Legal action against Ramsey and his former administrators still sputters under promises of “discussion” on the matter. And in situations such as the university being hacked, compromising dozens of faculty and staff members’ tax information, administrators staggered public disclosure, further endangering those affected.
Meanwhile meetings’ open debates become shorter, resolutions get more cloudy and documents’ access turns difficult.
What happened to the board of trustees which shouted “transparency” from the board room? What happened to agency between board members who are supposed to represent their constituency? Really, what happened to caring about what the university thinks is right instead of what the board thinks is right?
U of L spokesperson John Drees answered that for Postel, defending him and assuring Postel’s been open with the university.
“(Dr. Postel) frequently updates faculty, staff, students and the public about events and issues around the university,” Drees said in a statement. “However, there are times when – often for legal reasons – the administration simply cannot discuss details, particularly as situations are developing.”
And that’s true. There are times when you can’t break the rules to appease everyone. So why the silence? What’s the point of being a president, chair or representative if you’re not representing the university? Where’s this kind of outreach from the board?
Instead of reaching out to constituents for input and validation, the board has distanced themselves and did what they think was right. That model works for running a business, but I’m not a business. I’m a student at the University of Louisville shelling out more than $30,000 for an education just for my administrators to say they know what’s best. The last president to tell us he knew what’s best catapulted us into a new age and made U of L the beautiful figure it is today. In return, he pocketed millions, defaced the university’s reputation and endangered our accreditation.
The students, faculty and staff, who pay a lot of the money toward administrator’s pockets, don’t want more obfuscation such as Ramsey’s.
This board needs to look in the mirror and ask who it’s working for, because it’s not Bevin. Direct interactions and an opportunities to be heard, like Postel’s forums, are more of what I want from this board. Nobody wants to speak, yell and scream for their leaders to hear, only to receive silence in return.
File photo / The Louisville Cardinal