The Kentucky General Assembly needs to slow down on its plans to restructure the University of Louisville’s board of trustees.
If the legislature doesn’t do this right, it could cost the university millions of dollars in scholarship money, funding that pays for important research and all of its athletic programs.
The Senate fast-tracked Senate Bill 12 on Jan. 5, sticking the language to ditch the old board onto a bill that dealt with pet ownership. It then handed the bill off to the House, which is also rushing the measure and could pass the bill Saturday morning.
There’s a long history of problems with the board that cross party lines, and in June Gov. Matt Bevin fired the old board and appointed a 10-member panel to oversee the school. A court ruled that the move violated the law and returned the old board to power.
SB 12 would simply grant Bevin power to do what he did in June — while also giving the Senate the authority to reject his board nominations.
The Republican majority is flexing its muscle and enacting numerous bills before it adjourns for the rest of the month. Among those bills is legislation intended to limit access to abortions and weaken labor unions. But those bills have been hanging around the legislature for years and all sides have had plenty of time to weigh in.
But this — this is different. It’s new.
And it’s complex.
The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, the accrediting body, is expected to report to U of L next week on what it must do to get off probation. One edict is likely to be that legally appointed trustees must have due process rights — something SB 12 doesn’t afford them.
If the legislation goes forward and SACS strips the school of its accreditation, U of L degrees would become worthless, students could be forced to drop out, labs could be idled and the wildly successful Cardinals sports teams would be sidelined from NCAA competition.
Bevin and Republicans will ultimately get their way. They control both the House and Senate. They should take their time and do it right.
The reputation of a university and its 23,000 students depend on it.