PRESTONSBURG, Ky. (WDRB) -- University of Louisville President James Ramsey will get a 25 percent annual bonus, but only a three percent raise in base salary -- not six percent as first proposed -- next year, a divided Board of Trustees decided Friday at its annual retreat.

It was the most contentious discussion yet about Ramsey’s compensation, with four trustees saying increasing Ramsey’s already high pay when faculty and staff are set to get raises only three percent on average sends the wrong message.

The 25 percent bonus on Ramsey’s salary of about $650,000 will be worth about $162,500, should the University of Louisville Foundation concur with the trustees and fund it. The raise will be about $20,000 and will also need to be partially funded by the nonprofit $1.1 billion foundation.

"People are enraged about the idea of giving a 6% raise on top of a report that shows the man is already highly paid,” said trustee Steve Wilson, a Louisville philanthropist and owner of 21C Museum Hotels.

Wilson, Emily Bingham, Craig Greenberg and Steve Campbell were the most strident challengers to Ramsey’s compensation, all voting against the raise and bonus.

In a dig at Wilson, who is married to Brown-Forman heiress Laura Lee Brown, trustees chairman and Ramsey loyalist Dr. Robert Hughes said: “We've got people in this room who make more money in interest in one year, than (Ramsey) will make in his lifetime."

Trustee Robert W. Rounsavall suggested awarding Ramsey the bonus, but not the full 6 percent salary increase, saying trustees need to “be respectful of the optics, how this appears, the political way this can be perceived in the community.”

Trustee Bruce Henderson, an engineer and construction business owner, said public perception and the degree of faculty raises are irrelevant because Ramsey earned the six percent salary increase through his performance.

“This is a merit increase. We are not here to debate whether it’s justified or not,” Henderson said.

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