University of Louisville trustees reaffirm support for Ramsey, r - WDRB 41 Louisville News

University of Louisville trustees reaffirm support for Ramsey, request review of foundation

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9-3-2015. From left, U of L President Jim Ramsey and trustees Bob Hughes, Larry Benz and Stephen Campbell 9-3-2015. From left, U of L President Jim Ramsey and trustees Bob Hughes, Larry Benz and Stephen Campbell

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) --  All 20 members of the University of Louisville Board of Trustees endorsed  a resolution Thursday affirming their “continuing full support and confidence” in U of L President James Ramsey while requesting that the school’s $1.1 billion foundation “review its organizational structure and governance.”

The resolution appears aimed at quelling the controversy that erupted earlier this year when the foundation’s multi-million-dollar pay packages Ramsey and other U of L administrators first came to light.

Physical therapist and business owner Larry Benz, who became the trustees’ new chairman Thursday, said the board wanted to show unity in support of Ramsey and put to rest any talk about doing away with the university’s separately managed 501(c)3  foundation.

“Despite the various media reports, there has never been any formative discussion on this board about separating the foundation or dissolving it,” he said. “There has never been any substantive discussion on this board about anything but compliments toward Dr. Ramsey. So, we felt it was important to restore and show our commitment for the very good support we have for Dr. Ramsey.”

At the same time, Benz said the board is interested in “getting ahead” of a forthcoming audit by Kentucky Auditor Adam Edelen, by having the foundation conduct its own review its “organizational structure and governance.”

Trustees Steve Wilson and Craig Greenberg – who are business partners in Louisville’s 21C Museum Hotels – endorsed the resolution Thursday despite their call, as reported in a front-page story in The Courier-Journal in April, for the foundation “to be folded into the university.”

After the meeting Thursday, Greenberg declined to say whether his position has changed since April, but he said the unity resolution includes “things that many of my colleagues and I have been advocating for, for quite some time.”

“The resolution mentions enhanced collaboration between the Board of Trustees and the foundation board, and I believe that is a step in the right direction,” Greenberg said.

Wilson, who called on the state auditor to step in after saying he and other trustees were unaware of “certain compensation arrangements” by the foundation for administrators, could not be reached for comment Thursday. He dialed into the meeting from Europe.

The resolution calls for “enhanced collaboration” between the foundation’s board and the trustees.

Benz, who is one of four trustees serving on the foundation’s Board of Directors, said that can be accomplished by, for example, having a regular joint meeting between the two committees of the boards that deal with compensation.

The resolution was adopted, along with a number of actions, behind closed doors in what a university spokesman characterized as an honest mistake.

The board had started a closed session – requiring reporters and other members of the public to leave the room – to discuss a personnel matter. But it then resumed the public meeting without notifying reporters gathered in the hallway.

“As far as I know it was an oversight,” said U of L spokesman John Karman.

Benz said there was no discussion of the resolution, which had been written by he and trustees Vice Chairwoman Brucie Moore and distributed to the board in advance. 

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