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Archive for Friday, May 11, 2007

Morrison’s opinion sought on question of hospital board

May 11, 2007

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It is a board that oversees a half-billion-dollar budget and currently is engaged in multimillion-dollar negotiations on how to best train the state's future physicians.

But confusion and controversy reign about who legally is allowed to serve on the Kansas University Hospital board.

Hospital and KU leaders confirmed Thursday that KU Provost Richard Lariviere is involved in a standoff with hospital executives about whether he can continue to serve on the hospital's board.

Dennis McCulloch, spokesman for the hospital, confirmed Thursday that board chairman George Farha has removed Lariviere from the hospital's board because a review of state statutes found that the KU provost position is not allowed to serve as an ex officio, voting member of the board.

"He is not on the board," McCulloch said. "Dr. Farha told him it was nothing personal."

Instead, McCulloch said the hospital board recognized it made a mistake late last year when it allowed Lariviere to begin serving on the hospital board as a voting, ex officio member. The state statute that created the hospital board lists six KU positions that are allowed to serve as ex officio members of the board. The provost position is not one of them.

But Lariviere said in a written statement that he intends to continue serving on the board because only the governor can remove a board member.

"Until that occurs, however, I believe it is my duty as an ex officio member to continue my service on the board," Lariviere wrote.

Legislative leaders are tired of the questions that have surrounded the board. So Thursday, Senate Majority Leader Derek Schmidt, R-Independence, and Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley, D-Topeka, released a letter seeking a legal opinion from Attorney General Paul Morrison. The letter asks for an opinion on the Lariviere issue and 13 other questions that have hung over the board.

"It is time to get some definitive answers," Schmidt said. "We want everybody to be satisfied that everything is above board."

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