This Is How The UofL BoT Actually Functions

A former trustee takes a look at how the Penn State Board of Trustees really works:

The simple truth is that it is not simply one bad apple that has brought about the humiliating situation we face. Rather, it is the way the Board of Trustees has structured the whole governance of the University that has made this scandal not only possible but almost inevitable.


To understand how the Board works, one must understand how one set of Trustees runs it. The thirty-two-member Board (actually forty-eight members when one includes the sixteen Emeritus Trustees) consists of four separate groups, which I call the Power Group, the Praetorian Guard, the Emeritus Trustees, and the Sheep — with the latter divided into two subgroups.

The Power Group

The Power Group is a self-selected group of the wealthiest and most powerful members of the Board consisting of from three to five Trustees who consider themselves the real Board. They hire and fire the president; set the salaries of the top administrators (and their retirement packages and benefits); meet or talk with the president frequently; fly around in the president’s plane; attend meetings around the country on behalf of the University; and approve of all the policies the president sets. They do this with little or no input from the majority of Trustees.

While the president of the University is a member of this group, he remains president only so long as this group considers him one of them. Indeed, there is almost no distinction between this first group and the administration itself.

You’ll probably want to click here to read the rest. Because you know it sounds freakishly familiar.

22 thoughts on “This Is How The UofL BoT Actually Functions

  1. “How University Boards Become Corrupt”

    Jake, I do see similarities between the Penn State and UofL boards. Both appear to be a combination of an oligarchy and crony capitalism. They are composed of elite classes, marked by wealth and status. They are carefully selected to carry water for the University executives (who typically garner huge wealth at the behest of the Board). The boards provide self-serving friendships to the campus “leadership” (both academically and athletically) and thereby subordinate more public-serving ideals. Their ties to each other supersede those of the public good in the form of the community, students, faculty, staff, and the Commonwealth. God help us all; He need not try to help the boards. They have done a good job doing the Devil’s work.

  2. What an article. Any environment is a reflection of its leadership and the tone spirals throughout the layers that make up the whole. If the circumstances at Penn State happened at U of L, it would still be going on. If it were reported the leadership would pretend to be concerned while plotting together to cover it up. There could be 10 witnesses and suddenly undercover fear tactics invoked at U of L will pursuade all 10 to no longer have any recollection of what they saw or heard. How true it is that one man, one professor, one coach, one manager or any board, committee or body can carry out wrongful deeds without others participating. Whether they are participating directly with their own hands or indirectly by allowing fear to convince them to turn away and stay silent. Both behaviors contribute to the well hidden secrets and allow the negative acts at U of L to continue just as the clever perpetrators are counting on.

  3. Amen Novena and CampusWitness! Moreover,the corporatization of the American College/University and our Government is leading us into the abyss. I just gag when I now see “CEO” after a college president’s name. Boards of Trustees/Regents are filled with clueless, spineless, members who are totally ignorant of the real role of a college in a Democracy. And it is not just about jobs! Most of them just suck up to the Prez, feed their faces, and grab the perks. This corporatization of the univerisity corrupts everything it touches. It is truly sad what has happened to higher education in this country over the last 25 years at least.

  4. Just lamenting/bitching about the rotten system does not solve the problem one bit. Question is: what can one do to solve it?

  5. Hey UKeye, Don’t assume that those of us commenting on this issue are not working our butts off trying to change things. As past president of the Faculty/Staff Alliance (American Federation of Teachers, AFL-CIO Local 1360), be assured that faculty and staff throughout the state are working our representatives at all levels. We work with the American Association of University Professors and our colleagues across the state to hold these Boards accountable. It is tough going against big money and entrenched interests.

  6. Mark,

    I’ll take your word for it. Many thanks for trying.

    Yes, Jake, now it starts to look like a discussion.

  7. Ukeye,

    No disrespect intended, but I wonder if you may be close to the culprits. Speaking the truth is the first step to making change and believe me when I say I witnesses first hand how the well protected campus clan works. Their so called policies to prevent wrong doing sound good on paper but that’s as far as it goes at UnethicaLville. They protect their own like an underground mob. If you are working for the well being of the university and it’s students try reporting wrong doing on the part of someone well connected there and see what happens. Those who are supposed to take action, play along…who do you think hired them? It’s in their best interest to deliver the outcome that their boss wants to see. I’ll tell you how it can change. People need to stop running scared and speak up. Change can only happen in numbers and while they work to hide it you can work to bring it to the surface. They may control the Courier or hire up local reporters but there are plenty of ways to raise awareness. Like this site for instance. Speak the truth, tell your stories and experiences at U of L and most people will find the are not alone. I promise you the honchos have their watch dogs tuning in — so be it. Don’t ever assume those speaking here are not speaking there. They are hoping it will encourage some others to grow a backbone and stop hiding in that foxhole of denial that they themselves could ever help bring about change. Speak up and stop standing by hanging your head as you watch and deny and deny. The students deserve it; Louisville deserves it and so do the taxpayers. “It’s the right thing to do.”

  8. Yeah, I’m really close to the culprits… How else they’d gouge my eyes and fry my liver? 🙂

    On your point: “Speak the truth, tell your stories and experiences at U of L and most people will find the are not alone.”

    Taking my own and a slew of other UK wistleblowers’ experiences, I can’t imagine this happening in Lexington. People are mortally scared, there is no press (actually, it is the lackey press – which is much worse) and UK rulers are supreme kings of the courts.

    So, any other suggestions?

  9. “Why Academe Slept in KY”

    Ideal U. faculty: “Let’s organize and crusade against the honchos and boards of trustees in KY.”

    UK faculty: “I wish I could, but I need to finish my research on the effect of Viagra on hamsters. How about testing the honchos and board members?”

    UofL faculty: “I’d join, too; but I’m deep into studying country music’s effect on suicide rates among older white men.”

    Ideal U. faculty: “I guess UK and UofL honchos and board members have little to worry about in guarding and sustaining their power to cause pain to faculty, staff, and students–and in continuing to fool the Commonwealth. But maybe you, from UofL, could use the Board and JR as subjects for your study. Play “Crazy” over and over again.”

  10. University and KCTCS Administrators: “Novena, CampusWitness and UKeye, and Mark Wilburn are just malcontents, nabobs of negativism, dividers not uniters, and most likely subversives who are a threat to our happy faculty and staff “family”—and a danger to the nation and world peace.”

  11. “One Nabob Retorts”

    I like your sense of irony, Mark. Indeed, college honchos like to avoid criticism by claiming any assault on their policies are dangerous and subversive. (Agnew and Nixon were famous for that kind of defense, for example.) The honchos love to wear the cloak of campus patriotism while they raise tuition, fail to give salary boosts to faculty and staff, and then go to the bank with suitcases made ready for Cayman type money–with no guilt whatsoever.

  12. Novena: Your mention of Agnew made me remember something I left out–you all are actually NATTERING nabobs of negativism. So there.

  13. University of UnethicaLville Dept. Head: Going forward the University will do a better job of screening applicants. We’re getting to many outsiders in here who are questioning our ways. We’ve been throwing money out these windows for years and we don’t need these newbies giving the others any ideas on how to manage money more wisely. Ideas like that will cause problems for the honchos and threaten our control. JR doesn’t want any more crap making the news. From now on the honest, hard working staff have got to go. They insist on doing the right thing and we can’t allow that here. We’re looking for passive yes people and the strongest of the corrupt. Recently released Kentucky inmates will be considered strong candidates for employment. Those with a history of fraud and embezzelment are preferred.

  14. “Future Card Job Ads”

    Candidates must have resided within 25 miles of Louisville for their lifetimes. They must be pliable and conformist to policies and practices put forth by their immediate superiors. They must never second-guess them in any fashion. They must be prepared to stay on the reservation at all times. They must avoid any transmission of anonymous crap to any living soul. They must suspend their consciences in the face of even massive fiscal irregularities. They must enjoy basketball and football to the same degree as Bob Knight and Woody Hayes.

  15. You hit it on the head there Novena. Many of those immediate superiors ave been there since the stone age. Anyone who offers solutions or effective business practices to truly make a positive impact is pushed out. They find it threatening. They are quite content being stuck in the past. Many could never survive elsewhere; that outdated way of working, or not working, is all they know. That’s another reason the place is in the shape it’s in.

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