UK continues its anti-transparency tradition Skip to content

UK continues its anti-transparency tradition

The university’s motto: “That’s for us to know, and you to never find out.”

3 min read

The University of Kentucky wasted no time in removing much of the public facing vestiges of the faculty University Senate website following the Board of Trustees’ June 14 vote to eliminate the academic decision making body and replace it with an advisory Faculty Senate under a “shared governance” model.

The hastily-deleted website pages included recently posted results of the University Senate Evaluation of President Eli Capilouto’s performance to which 800+ faculty members responded, giving Capilouto lower ratings than in past years.

(We trust that university officials considered the records retention requirements for web content found in the University Model Schedule. Did they, in their haste, have the foresight to address the legal requirements found at pages 79 and 80 of the schedule before removing portions of the University Senate website?)

This message quickly appeared on the former University Senate website:

“As of June 14, 2024, the University Senate is dissolved and will be replaced by a Faculty Senate. During the transition, this site will continue to hold relevant information for the continuation of duties. Information on Curriculog, proposals and syllabi has permanently moved to the Office of the Provost website under Curriculum Proposals (
If you have any questions regarding the transition, please email

Opponents of the dramatic policy change — which “mov[es] the university Senate into an advisory role and giv[es] policy-setting power to President Eli Capilouto and other administrators” — expressed concern about the absence of data supporting the need for change and the university administration’s lack of transparency in securing board approval.

“The board’s final approval of changes to UK’s shared governance model,” Kentucky Lantern staff writer McKenna Horsley reported on June 14, “comes at a time when many stakeholders are away from campus, as the spring semester ended in May and most students and many faculty return to campus in late August.”

(In an April vote, the Board approved initial rule changes that altered the Senate’s role. The Senate thereafter passed a vote of no confidence in Capilouto.)

Faculty trustee Hollie Swanson cast the lone dissenting vote in the Board of Trustees’ June 14 vote, “question[ing] the data behind the change, [and] saying she could not vote in favor of the changes due to the ‘absence of any compelling evidence,’ referencing a presentation made by Deloitte Consulting earlier this year,” reports Lexington Herald-Leader staff writer Monica Kast.

“During the presentation,” Kast writes, “a representative from Deloitte said the data was ‘not intended to be scientific,’ and since then, the university has declined to make any reports from Deloitte public."

Case in point: the university on April 10 denied retired Professor Davy Jones’ April 2 open records request for records relating to Deloitte’s consulting work under contract with the university administration, asserting:

“First, to the extent that the records you request qualify as ‘public records’ under the statute, such public records, are considered preliminary pursuant to KRS 61.878(1)(i) and (j) as there are no final actions. Second, to the extent that the records you request qualify as ‘public records,’ many of the public records would also be protected as they are considered attorney-client privileged communication.”

An appeal, Dr. Jones advised, is currently before the Kentucky Attorney General, and a decision is expected soon.

Transparency, it is fair to say, is not a hallmark of Kentucky’s flagship university. See, for example, University of Kentucky v Kernel Press, Inc. (2021) and University of Kentucky v Lexington Services, Inc. (2018). Coincidentally, in the latter case, the Kentucky Court of Appeals rejected the same argument that the university advances in denying Dr. Jones’ request. The court affirmed the public’s right of access to “certain audit records” because they were not preliminary, but were instead incorporated into final action, and because they were not protected by the attorney-client privilege.

The University of Kentucky’s tradition is not, in this respect, a proud one – a reality with which Dr. Jones and I are sadly familiar based on decades of observation and experience.


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Amye Bensenhaver

Amye is a retired assistant AG who specialized in open records laws. She is the co-founder of the Kentucky Open Government Coalition. (Read the rest of her bio on the Contributors page.)