It's appropriate, at this point, to praise University of Louisville President James Ramsey.
However, before we do, it's important to review a little history.
Last March 30, in one of the most astonishing declarations ever published in these pages, Dr. Ramsey took the opportunity to praise the 2008 Kentucky General Assembly for its attention to higher education. He said the message sent by lawmakers was clear:
"Both chambers are willing to make tough decisions to make higher education and financial aid for college students a top priority. They understand our mission to double the number of Kentuckians with college degrees will transform lives and boost Kentucky's economy…. I want to say a heartfelt thank you to the General Assembly. Our legislators have decided we cannot afford the opportunity lost and instead have stepped up to support higher education."
In fact, as Dr. Ramsey later concluded, what the General Assembly did to higher education was "ugly" -- a 6 percent slashing that has left our public campuses littered with lost jobs, program cuts and tuition hikes.
Indeed, this legislature sapped momentum at all levels of education.
This happened because the Republican Senate, operating on Sen. Mitch McConnell's advice and at President David Williams' direction, wouldn't raise taxes -- wouldn't even agree to a cigarette-tax hike the public overwhelmingly approved, and wouldn't even let the public consider expanded gambling.
Much to his credit, Dr. Ramsey now has called attention to this debacle by refusing a raise or a bonus. It was the right thing to do.
By contrast, University of Kentucky President Lee Todd refused an additional $50,000 he could have received but accepted a $95,000 bonus, which he will have to explain to faculty and staff who had their pay frozen or their jobs cut, and to students who were hit with another tuition hike, this time a brutal 9 percent.
This time, Dr. Ramsey is sending the right message. It's a message that Gov. Steve Beshear would do well to repeat daily on his upcoming tour of the state:
The legislature is not tightening government's belt. It is strangling Kentucky's future.
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
This from C-J:
The right message