A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Turmoil at Kentucky State University as board questions finances and president resigns

In the wake of turmoil at Kentucky State University, Gov. Andy Beshear requested a full, independent and transparent accounting of the university’s finances and signed an executive order to ensure the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education (CPE) is empowered and has the necessary tools to provide guidance and oversight during the review.

Dr. Brown

Dr. N. Christopher Brown II resigned at a special called-meeting of the KSU Board of Regents Tuesday and the resignation was unanimously accepted. Earlier in the week, the board of regents expressed concerns about the school’s finances as the Historically Black college prepared for a $50 million campus project, and announced it would hire an outside auditor to review the status.

The university has also been fighting a half-dozen lawsuits alleging various acts of misconduct by its leaders, including Brown. Brown was the 18th president of KSU and had been in the position since May 2017

Clara Ross Stamps, the university’s senior vice president for brand identity and university relations, was named acting president by the board.

Gregory Rush was appointed as the new chief financial officer.

“My administration will continue to support KSU and work with the interim leadership, regents and the Council on Postsecondary Education to keep students and the future of the university at the forefront, and ensure stability and transparency at one of our vital institutions,” Gov. Beshear said. “KSU has been a unique and essential institution in the commonwealth for more than a century, serving generations of students as Kentucky’s historically Black land-grant university. My administration is committed to getting KSU through this so that the school can continue to provide high-quality education to students for generations to come.”

“The Council on Postsecondary Education is poised and ready to provide our assistance to the leadership of Kentucky State University as they move forward,” said CPE President Aaron Thompson. “KSU is vitally important to our higher education landscape as our state’s only public historically Black university, and as such, we are committed to its unequivocal success. While we’ve been monitoring recent developments, our next step is to gather necessary information so we can provide as much assistance as possible.”

“We appreciate the support of Gov. Beshear and the Council on Postsecondary Education,” said Dr. Elaine Farris, chair of the Kentucky State University Board of Regents. “We look forward to partnering with the administration, Dr. Thompson, and the council to do what’s best for Kentucky State, our students, faculty, staff and alumni.”

In the executive order, the Governor directed:

• CPE shall provide an assessment of the current financial status of KSU, and shall provide a report to the Governor detailing its assessment prior to providing recommendations concerning appropriations for the next biennial budget.

• To assist CPE in performing its assessment, KSU shall provide CPE access to any records CPE deems necessary to preparing its assessment.

• CPE shall assist the KSU Board of Regents in developing a management and improvement plan with goals and measurable metrics, which shall be subject to the approval of CPE. The management and improvement plan shall be designed to assist with organizational and financial stability. The management and improvement plan shall provide for continuing oversight by, and reporting to, CPE concerning the implementation of the plan.

• CPE shall make recommendations to the KSU Board of Regents concerning the KSU administrative structure and leadership.

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