UPDATE: Kentucky State University funding wins state Senate OK

The school was appropriated an extra $15 million on top of the $23 million requested by the university

Update from March 30, 2022:

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — The Kentucky Senate advanced legislation Wednesday that appropriates an extra $15 million for Kentucky State University on top of the $23 million school officials requested to stabilize finances.

Kentucky State, the state’s only public historically Black university, has remained under state oversight since last summer, when concerns about the school’s finances and lawsuits alleging misconduct by campus officials came to a head. A state report, ordered by Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear, later found evidence of poor financial management by university leadership.

The bill was altered in the Senate to include several changes that would affect how KSU operates and now heads back to the House.

For instance, the bill now gives the KSU Board of Regents the authority to fire any employee, including tenured employees, with a 30-day notice. The board would also be required to suspend its search for a university president until April 15, 2023.

Another provision requires Kentucky’s Council on Postsecondary Education to approve any KSU expenditure over $5,000 and orders the school to provide financial reports to the council.


Original story below from January 14, 2022:

FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) – Earlier this week, Kentucky lawmakers continued their efforts to monitor Kentucky State University’s (KSU) recovery from years of financial issues that include alleged financial misconduct by a former university president. During the House Budget Review Subcommittee on Postsecondary Education on Thursday, legislators received an update from university leaders and discussed providing the state’s only historically Black university with $23 million to alleviate its projected budget shortfall.

Reportedly, KSU’s financial issues began in 2009 when its expenses began exceeding its income. The university’s financial situation worsened in 2019 under former KSU President Christopher Brown II and now must consider borrowing a line of credit that school officials say could be depleted by mid-April. Subcommittee members were clear in their understanding of the university’s mission but equally clear that the recovery must include the active involvement of the Council on Postsecondary Education (CPE). Governor Andy Beshear appointed CPE President Aaron Thompson to investigate the university’s financial condition and question the processes under Brown’s time as President.

“This is an extremely precarious situation. The longer we wait to solve these issues, the harder they become to resolve. It’s important to note that this money was not included initially in our budget plans this year, so the infusion of funds here and the situation itself demands strong accountability measures for all stakeholders, external and internal alike,” said Representative James Tipton, who chairs the subcommittee. “I also want to stress that we are confident CPE’s stewardship and the mechanisms put in place will help turn the tide soon.”

Tipton filed an emergency provision, HB 250, that appropriates $23 million to KSU and requires significant oversight from the Council. CPE—Kentucky’s higher education coordinating agency—is currently helping the university implement a new management and improvement plan, which includes 14 recommendations to foster organizational and financial stability moving forward. The university and CPE must also submit quarterly updates on its efforts to the General Assembly each year.

While expressing concerns about the university’s culture of accountability and transparency, lawmakers recognized that the financial health and success of KSU are vital to the students and community it serves.

“There is still room for a great deal of improvement here, but I think it is a good sign to see KSU’s Board of Regents and leaders statewide engaged in this process,” said Representative Bobby McCool of Johnson County. “There are good people that go there, good people that work there. They deserve better and taxpayers deserve better. Bit by bit, we are getting KSU back on the right path.”

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