Two University of Louisville trustees withdraw support for Presi - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Two University of Louisville trustees withdraw support for President James Ramsey

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Two University of Louisville trustees publicly withdrew their support for President James Ramsey on Thursday, citing numerous changes at the school since they signed a letter of support last September.

Steve Campbell and Craig Greenberg, the dissenting board members, didn't elaborate on their statements at a board meeting at the university's Ekstrom Library.  Several high-profile incidents in recent months, including the revelation of an FBI investigation into top school officials, have clouded U of L's image locally and in national education circles.

The board has 20 members, including student and faculty representatives. No other trustees withdrew their support.

"We were asked to sign that (letter of support) in September," Campbell told the board. "Since then, there have been material issues with the university. You all are aware of them. And I, as a result, feel like the circumstances have changed."

"I too feel like many events have changed since we signed that last September," Greenberg said.

Ramsey did not address their remarks in the meeting. He declined to talk to reporters after the meeting, but sent a written statement. 

"The two trustees (out of 20) who spoke up are entitled to their opinion and I respect their positions, but we have broad disagreements on how best to provide a high-quality public education," Ramsey said in the statement.

Trustees Chairman Dr. Larry Benz told reporters after the meeting that he supports Ramsey and that he knows of no other board members who feel as Greenberg and Campbell do.

Greenberg, a lawyer and president of Louisville's 21C Museum Hotels, and Campbell, a former investment banker and adviser to the U.S. Treasury Department, declined to speak with reporters as they left the meeting.

Trustee Bob Hughes, a Ramsey ally and chairman of the U of L Foundation, had pointed words for Greenberg and Campbell.

"If you are that miserable, if you are that disagreeable, if you can't work with leadership... why don't you just do everyone a favor and resign?" Hughes said in an interview after the meeting.

The board also briefly mentioned, but did not debate, a proposal put forth by some board members to remove Ramsey from his role on the university's foundation.

Trustee Ron Butt said he "strongly" opposes a motion sent to all 20 trustees Tuesday that would forbid the president of the university from serving as president of the foundation starting in July.

Ramsey has been president of both organizations – and received compensation from both – since he arrived at U of L in 2002.

Ramsey said Wednesday that splitting the two jobs is not in the “best interests” of the university. It would add administrative costs and put the university “in competition” with the foundation, he said.

But speaking to reporters following the meeting, Benz said he supports some "decentralization" of Ramsey's power in the foundation.

Ramsey is not only the foundation's chief executive but a voting member of the foundation board, the permanent chair of its committee that picks board members and a member of the foundation's executive committee.

Benz, who is also on the foundation's board, said both the university and foundation have grown into $1 billion enterprises over the years. Referencing a story last year by WDRB, Benz said Ramsey's extensive role in the foundation is "not typical" compared to similar universities.

"I think the decentralization should have occurred 10 years ago," he said. "Our foundation's size and scope -- We've got, what, 14 or 15 holding companies? We own a golf course. We've got private equity investments. We've got real estate investments."

The motion to split the foundation and university presidencies did not come up at Thursday's meeting. The board's personnel committee could take it up as soon as the next meeting March 1.

Hughes called the motion is "reckless."

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