education

U of L Board Case To Stretch Until At Least October

Aug 16, 2016
University of Louisville

The battle over the University of Louisville Board of Trustees won’t be resolved in court until October at the earliest.

Franklin Circuit Judge Phillip Shepherd signed an order Friday that sets a timeline for the lawsuit filed by Attorney General Beshear against Gov. Matt Bevin. Shepherd will hear motions from both sides on Oct. 4, after allowing for several weeks of legal filings in which they can lay out their respective cases.

Beshear sued the governor in June after he dissolved the old 17-member U of L board and replaced it with a new 10-member panel. Beshear’s office has argued that Bevin had no authority to disband the school’s governing board, and that state law protects university trustees from termination without cause and due process.

The governor’s office has since argued that the overhaul was necessary to bring the board in alignment with a state law that requires the board to reflect the racial and political makeup in the state. The old board had too few minority members and too many Democrats.

John Russell/Vanderbilt University

Vanderbilt University will pay more than a million dollars, returning a donation made 83 years ago, so that it can remove an inscription with the word "Confederate" from a campus dorm.

The building in the heart of the freshman commons is officially called Confederate Memorial Hall, but since 2002 it's been referred to as simply Memorial Hall. It opened in 1935 thanks to a $50,000 gift from the United Daughters of the Confederacy two years earlier.

The announcement came today from Vanderbilt Chancellor Nicholas S. Zeppos, who said the university is not trying to rewrite history:

"Many generations of students, faculty and staff have struggled with, argued about and debated with vigor this hall. ... Our debates and discussions have consistently returned over these many years to the same core question: can we continue to strive for that diverse and inclusive community where we educate the leaders that our communities, nation and world so desperately need, with this hall as so created? My view, like that of so many in the past, and so many in our present, is that we cannot."

J. Tyler Franklin

A state judge says he wants more information about University of Louisville's accreditation and the political and racial makeup of the school's board of trustees.

Franklin Circuit Judge Phillip Shepherd issued an order last month at the request of Democratic Attorney General Andy Beshear to temporarily block Bevin's decision to abolish and replace the University of Louisville board. On Monday, both sides were back in court to discuss scheduling for the case.

Shepherd said the university's accreditation is "an extremely important issue" and said he does not have enough information about it to make a permanent decision.

Shepherd also said he is concerned the old board of trustees may violate state law because it does not have proper political and minority representation.

Rick Howlett

A central Kentucky college officially closes on Monday, after 85 years of operation.

Officials at St. Catharine College near Springfield announced in June that the school would shut down, citing declining enrollment and a dispute with the U.S. Department of Education over a cut in financial aid.

The move left several hundred students scrambling to find a new school.  Many have transferred to similar-sized institutions such as Bellarmine, Midway and Kentucky State University.

More than 100 faculty and staff members were laid off.

St. Catharine President Cindy Gnadinger said it’s been a trying time for everyone.

Somerset Community College

Somerset Community College has received a $200,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to expand the reach of its 3-D printing program.

The main focus of the grant is to advance biomedical applications for 3-D printing in the region.

Eric Wooldridge is associate professor of 3-D printing at Somerset Community College.  He says the technique is already playing a big role in biomedical field.

“We actually can take full body MRIs and select sections that we want to print off. It can be the actual organs. It can be the bone structure. Whatever a surgeon or physician may need to better prepare for surgery or plan diagnostically what they’re going to do.” 

He says the process uses different types of materials to create physical forms.

WKU

As many as 200 Western Kentucky University employees will soon pay at least five times for health benefits.

Members of the building services, grounds, landscaping and recycling departments are being outsourced August 1 to Sodexo Management Services.

Those making minimum pay will get a dollar-an-hour raise, while a smaller group making more than that will get an hourly boost of between 54 and 95 cents.

WKU Human Resources director Tony Glisson said the move is in response to a $6 million budget cut from the state announced earlier this year.

“When that type of reduction occurs, the university has to look deep and wide for opportunities to reduce costs, become more efficient, to look for creative arrangements, new partnerships that may not have been in place previously,” he said.

WKU

Western Kentucky University is dropping the cost of its dual credit courses.

The cost of a three-hour course will now be $156, down from the previous rate of $210.

The move follows the recent announcement of a new scholarship initiative launched by Governor Matt Bevin which will provide high school seniors with up to two free dual credit courses.

The executive order issued from Gov. Bevin’s office says the goal of the scholarship initiative is for high school students to graduate with at least nine hours of postsecondary credit and to “increase the education and skill level of the Commonwealth of Kentucky’s workforce and its workforce and its workforce participation rate.”

Dewayne Neely, head of the WKU Dual Credit Program, says an increased focus on preparing students for college and work will likely increase the demand for dual credit programs.

WKU

Western Kentucky University is looking for military veterans who want to earn a college degree.

The Veterans Upward Bound program helps former service members enroll into any university, community college, and technical school throughout the country. Veterans Upward Bound helps prospective students fill out admission applications, apply for federal financial aid, and receive G.I. Bill benefits.

WKU coordinator Rick Wright says the program has assisted both young and old veterans gain college admission—including a World War Two veteran studying at Southern Kentucky Community and Technical College.

“The age range of our students is pretty broad—it ranges from 18 to 88, believe it or not. We have one man, a World War II veteran, who is 88 years old, and we got him admitted to SKyCTC here in Bowling Green because he wanted to study computers.”

J. Tyler Franklin

The first meeting of the reconstituted University of Louisville Board of Trustees has ended with the job status of school President James Ramsey apparently unchanged.

Ramsey was expected to offer his resignation to the new board. But Chairman Junior Bridgeman told reporters after the meeting that Ramsey did not submit his resignation, nor was he asked to resign.

Bridgeman said the new board will decide on Ramsey’s status after it reviews the matter more.

“I would just suggest and ask that you give the board the time to understand everything, and then everything will become evident,” he said.

Kentucky Office of the Courts

The Kentucky Supreme Court will decide whether Republican Gov. Matt Bevin can cut the budgets of state colleges and universities.

The court has agreed to hear the case, bypassing the state Court of Appeals, and set a hearing date for Aug. 18.

Bevin reduced allotments to state colleges and universities by nearly $18 million without the approval of the state legislature. Democratic Attorney General Andy Beshear sued him, saying Bevin overstepped his authority. A state judge sided with Bevin last month.

Beshear appealed that decision. Normally the case would first go to the state Court of Appeals. But Beshear asked the Supreme Court to hear the case and skip the appeals court process. Bevin opposed Beshear's request, saying the case was not of "great and immediate public importance."

The court granted Beshear's request Monday.

Kevin Willis, WKU Public Radio

Members of the Western Kentucky University presidential search committee are laying out a timeline of next steps in the hiring process.

The executive search firm helping identify candidates will meet later this summer with WKU faculty, staff, and student groups.

Search committee members have been looking through the first draft of a profile containing input from those on and around the school’s campus.

Search committee chairman Dr. Phillip Bale says a big part of that draft is a list of the characteristics those groups want to see in the school’s next leader.

“I don’t there’s a person that exists in the world who has all them, so part of our charge, as it were, will be to figure out what is most important.”

WKU

The Western Kentucky University Board of Regents has approved a $402 million budget for the upcoming fiscal year.

Fifty-one-percent of the budget is funded by student tuition and fees. The new spending plan includes a 4.5 percent tuition increase, and factors in a 4.5 percent reduction in state funding.

Student regent Jay Todd Richey cast the lone vote against the budget. In a prepared statement read before the vote, the Glasgow native said he couldn’t support certain parts of the plan, including a reduction in funding for the Track and Field program.

Speaking to reporters after the budget was passed 8-1, Rickey said many WKU students believe the burden of decreased state funding for higher education isn’t being shouldered evenly.

Alix Mattingly

The Kentucky community college system reassigned its top attorney earlier this month to a newly created “special assistant” position soon after wrapping up a monthslong investigation of his office behavior.

J. Campbell Cantrill III will serve as “special assistant to the president for policy review and revision” until he retires next summer, according to a settlement reached with the Kentucky Community & Technical College System on June 1. He will continue to draw the $137,314 annual salary he received as general counsel.

Cantrill, who served as KCTCS’ legal chief since 2008, had been placed on administrative leave with pay and barred from the system’s headquarters in Versailles and its email system on Feb. 26. In a letter sent to him that day by KCTCS President Jay Box, Cantrill was told he was being investigated for possible violations of system policies, including those that cover harassment, ethical values and use of information technology.

The letter cited “multiple reports” of violations by Cantrill but did not provide any details. KCTCS hired an outside attorney, Keith Moorman of Frost Brown Todd in Lexington, to investigate the matter.

Alix Mattingly

University of Louisville’s president and its entire governing board are out.

With scandals mounting and dissent growing, Gov. Matt Bevin announced the major shake-up at the University of Louisville Friday morning. U of L President James Ramsey agreed to resign, the governor said, and Bevin used an executive order to dissolve and reconstitute the state-appointed Board of Trustees that oversees the institution.

What is going on at U of L?

Ramsey and his governing board have been at odds for months.

The U of L board has been floating a no-confidence vote for Ramsey, but a legal battle over the racial composition of the board prevented them from taking any action.

WKU

A majority of students from India recently recruited by Western Kentucky University for its graduate program in computer science have not met their academic requirements.

WKU spokesman Bob Skipper says 59 students from India were recruited in a pilot project for the 2016 spring semester. At the end of the semester, 41 of those students did not meet the requirements of their admission. 

Eight of the students came close to meeting the requirements and are appealing. They are expected to be reinstated. The remainder have been dismissed from the university. Nineteen have transferred to other colleges.

James Gary, chairman of the computer science department at Western Kentucky University, says the first semester can be challenging for the graduate students from India.

“The most common difficulty is they do not seem to have the level of programming expertise that we would expect from a student with an undergraduate degree in computer science,” says Gary.

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