Both the Democratic and Republican candidates for governor are criticizing Gov. Steve Beshear over his recent appointments to the University of Louisville’s Board of Trustees.
Beshear, who appoints 17 of the board’s 20 members, failed to install any African-Americans on the board during his most recent round of appointments in June. He replaced the Rev. Kevin Cosby, who had been the only governor-appointed African-American trustee, with Kindred executive vice chairman Paul Diaz, who is Cuban-American.
“For the first time since 1958, we don’t have any African-American representation on that board,” Republican Matt Bevin said during a live interview with WFPL News on Tuesday. The board’s student body representative, who is one of three trustees appointed automatically, is African-American.
Religious leaders from West Louisville have asked Attorney General Jack Conway — the Democratic candidate for governor — to issue a legal opinion on the matter. They want to know whether Beshear, also a Democrat, violated a state law requiring board appointments to represent Kentucky’s racial makeup.
“That is not right, to have a metropolitan research university in a county that’s 20 percent African-American and not have African-Americans on the board of trustees,” Conway told The Courier-Journal during a stop in Western Kentucky last weekend.
Earlier this month, the Justice Resource Center accused the attorney general of dragging his feet on issuing an official opinion. Conway’s office has said the matter has been assigned to a staff attorney and is in a research phase.
Conway also said last weekend that he thinks it is clear Beshear didn’t meet racial representation requirements when making appointments to the U of L board. Beshear previously told WFPL he was “very proud of the minority appointments we’ve made through the years.”
U of L is the only public university in the state currently without a governor-appointed racial minority on its board.
Conway said if elected, he would follow the law and appoint a more diverse board.
But that didn’t stop Bevin from roping Conway into his criticism on the issue.
“It is unconscionable,” Bevin told WFPL. “It is wrong, and I would question whether or not it is racially motivated that our governor and attorney general have no qualm with — even though it’s statutorily required — having no representation of any blacks on the University of Louisville board.”
Beshear passed up three African-Americans who were among the nine people recommended to fill three vacant seats on the board, the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting revealed in July.
Conway and Bevin are currently in a statistical dead heat less than two months from Election Day. Drew Curtis is running as an independent in the race.