Kentucky legislators boot U of L trustee board

Dive Brief:

  • Legislators in Kentucky capped a whirlwind session of lawmaking in its Republican-controlled House and Senate with bills that would allow the state governor to abolish the University of Louisville's board of trustees and replace it with a new 10-member governor-appointed panel.
  • Gov. Matt Bevin removed board members for the first time last summer, in a controversial move that accompanied the resignation of the school’s president following several scandals in athletics and financial management.
  • Democratic opponents to the bill say it could jeopardize the school’s accreditation, which was placed on probation status last year shortly after Gov. Bevin’s removal of its members. But lawmakers say the move will stabilize its standing with its accrediting agency.

Dive Insight:

Board replacement isn’t yet a trend in higher education, but in the last two years, two different states have pulled it off without dramatic impact to accreditation. In 2015, South Carolina lawmakers removed the board of South Carolina State University in the midst of accreditation probation, scandal and financial hardship. A year later, trustees appointed a president from the handpicked board and the school is purportedly on the right track.

Perhaps legislators do a more effective job of working with accrediting agencies than the public may realize, because it is difficult to imagine that a major research and economic anchor for state would be jeopardized without any engagement with the Southern Association of Colleges and Universities Commission on Colleges. For other presidents, the lesson is to maintain quality relationships with elected officials, or face the real possibility of a very quick and public firing at the hands of changing government.

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Filed Under: Higher Ed Policy & Regulation
Top image credit: University of Salford