Politics

Gov. Matt Bevin has released the names of 10 people who will serve on the University of Louisville board of trustees.

The move comes after the legislature abolished the previous board earlier this month in an attempt to bring the school back into compliance with accreditation standards. The school’s accreditation was put on probation in December as a result of Bevin’s attempt to unilaterally overhaul the board over the summer.

In a video released along with the announcement, Bevin said the board had been used as a “political football by people who frankly do not have the university’s best interests at heart.”

“It never should have been used as a political football, but the opportunity before us is great and we are going to move forward with a sense of purpose, he said.

Bevin attempted to abolish the 17-member U of L board last summer and appoint a new 10-member board, citing “dysfunction” and “infighting” in the governing body (divisions had emerged on the board between supporters and detractors of former university president James Ramsey.)

During that announcement, Bevin also distributed a letter from then-president Ramsey in which he declared he would step down once a new board was installed.

Attorney General Andy Beshear sued over the move and a trial court blocked the reorganization, ruling that the governor didn’t have power to dismiss appointed board members without just cause. The case is now under consideration by the state Supreme Court.

University of Louisville spokesman John Karman said the school is committed to working with the new members.

“All of the appointed board members are accomplished leaders who bring a wealth of experience to our institution,” Karman said. “In partnership with this new team, we will continue our work with Kentucky’s governor and legislators to address and resolve concerns raised by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. We also expect that the new board members will quickly appoint a new interim president.”

SACS put U of L’s accreditation on probation last month, specifically citing the governor’s attempt to unilaterally reorganize the board and negotiate former university president Ramsey’s resignation.

Then the General Assembly, controlled by Republicans after the November election, passed a bill to reorganize the board once again — figuring that the accrediting agency wouldn’t take issue with the legislature reorganizing the board instead of the governor.

“I think maybe the best way to get a nod from SACS is to act on Senate Bill 12 and let them respond to what we have done, rather than what the governor has done,” said Louisville Republican Rep. Jason Nemes at the time.

The new slate of appointees includes all but one of those individuals Bevin attempted to appoint last summer.

In his video message, Bevin lashed out at critics of his attempts to overhaul the board.
“We don’t answer to editorial boards, we don’t answer to self-serving individuals who might have a political agenda, we don’t answer to the attorney general or any given judge, we don’t answer to accrediting agencies, we answer to you, we answer to you the voter,” Bevin said.

The governor tried to appoint all but one of those individuals last summer when he attempted to overhaul the school’s board — a move that was later blocked by a judge.

Here’s a list of the new trustees:

  • J. David Grissom, of Louisville
  • John H. Schnatter, of Louisville
  • Sandra Frazier, of Louisville
  • Nitin Sahney, of Prospect
  • Bonita K. Black, of Crestwood
  • Brian A. Cromer, of Louisville
  • Ulysses Lee Bridgeman, Jr., of Louisville
  • Ronald L. Wright, MD, of Prospect
  • James M. Rogers, of Prospect
  • Diane B. Medley, of Ekron

This story has been updated. 

Ryland Barton is the Capitol bureau chief for Kentucky Public Radio.