FRANKFORT, Ky. (WHAS11) -- Whether Governor Bevin had the power to reorganize the U of L Board of Trustees was the focus of expert testimony today, but the witness claimed much more was at stake for U of L students and their families.
This case pits the Governor and Attorney General over reorganization of the board, but this hearing focused on how Governor Matt Bevin’s decisions may or may not impact accreditation. An expert argued that is a much larger issue than some may truly appreciate.
“In my view the governor inserted himself into a process over which he does not have authority. What is that? That is to say you know the institution, the board of trustees has the ability, excuse me, the board of trustees has the ability to hire to evaluate and fire a president. Only the board can do that. Nobody else can do that,” Dr. Patricia Cormier, a witness for Attorney General Beshear, said.
Doctor Patricia Cormier used to work for the agency that is currently looking at re-accrediting U of L. She testified that Governor Bevin’s interaction with President Ramsey, before he resigned and before the board was reorganized, shows undue political influence. She claims that would go against accreditation, and without the status students cannot receive federal financial aid, transfer credits and graduates could have difficulty receiving professional licenses.
“In every other university, to my knowledge, that has fully lost its accreditation has shut down. Loss of accreditation is a death sentence to a university,” Beshear said.
The Governor’s attorney did not bring a witness. He argued against Doctor Cormier’s testimony too, claiming it had nothing to do with the Kentucky law they cited in giving Matt Bevin the authority to reorganize the U of L board of Trustees.
“Based upon your research or anything you’ve been shown, you have not found anything in the Kentucky revised statutes or elsewhere in Kentucky law where Kentucky requires accreditation from public institutions have you?” Attorney Stephen Pitt said.
“No, oddly,” Cormier said.
“There is no such statute… now is accreditation a good thing? Certainly. Should it, should public universities be accredited? Certainly. But there is no statute on the books of Kentucky revised statute requiring that,” Pitt said.
But Judge Shepherd allowed it. While Dr. Cormier backed the Attorney General’s arguments, she also admitted that the accreditation firm’s decision is more than a year away, and there’s still time for this case to wrap or the school to correct issues.
Who benefited the most from the testimony is hard to say at this point, but one thing is clear – Dr. Cormier’s testimony will cost tax dollars $10 thousand.
Under oath, she stated her fee at $250 per hour, which is less than the $300 per hour she normally charges.