Former accreditation official: Bevin may have had 'undue influen - News, Weather & Sports

Former accreditation official: Bevin may have had 'undue influence' at UofL

(Source: WAVE 3 News) (Source: WAVE 3 News)
Gov. Matt Bevin (Source: WAVE 3 News) Gov. Matt Bevin (Source: WAVE 3 News)
Former UofL President Dr. James Ramsey (Source: WAVE 3 News) Former UofL President Dr. James Ramsey (Source: WAVE 3 News)

FRANKFORT, KY (WAVE) - Gov. Matt Bevin's purported efforts to persuade Dr. James Ramsey to resign as president of the University of Louisville may have been "undue political influence" that could hamper re-accreditation of the institution and academic programs, a former Commissioner for the accrediting agency told Franklin Circuit Court Thursday.

"In my view, the Governor inserted himself into a process over which he had no authority," said Dr. Patricia Cormier, president of Longwood University.

Cormier served as a commissioner of the Southern Association of Colleges & Schools (SACS) from 1984-1988. Attorney General Andy Beshear called her as an expert witness in his lawsuit  challenging Bevin's reorganization of UofL's governing board and replacement of its 17 appointed trustees, with a new, smaller board of 10 appointees.

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Beshear claims the actions violate Kentucky statutes, which require cause and due process hearings prior to removal of Trustees and violates Kentucky's Constitution, which divines such lawmaking powers on the Legislative Branch.

Ramsey resigned to UofL's new Board before Judge Phillip Shepherd reinstated the prior Board by court order, ruling that Bevin was unlikely to prevail upon the merits of the case.

Under cross-examination, Dr. Cormier conceded that she did not know whether Bevin had met with the old Board prior to his Executive Order that dissolved and reorganized it, nor does she know what Dr. Ramsey and Bevin themselves may have discussed prior
to the Order and prior to Ramsey's resignation.

When asked by Stephen Pitt, Bevin's counsel, whether or not Ramsey would resign to the governor, Cormier responded, "I believe that SACS seems some ambiguity there.

Cormier adding that such discussions could be problematic and acknowledged it is reasonable to assume that Ramsey may have talked to a "number of people" as he was contemplating resigning, but that it could appear as undue influence if he talked to Bevin prior to talking to the old Board.

Testimony continues Tuesday afternoon, September 20. 

This story will be updated.

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