Ramsey does not offer resignation to new University of Louisvill - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Ramsey does not offer resignation to new University of Louisville Board of Trustees

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University of Louisville President James Ramsey, July 13, 2016 University of Louisville President James Ramsey, July 13, 2016
University of Louisville Board of Trustees member Junior Bridgeman, July 13, 2016 University of Louisville Board of Trustees member Junior Bridgeman, July 13, 2016

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) --  University of Louisville President James Ramsey did not offer his resignation to the newly reconstituted Board of Trustees – as he had previously said he would – during the board’s first meeting on Wednesday.

The timing of Ramsey’s departure – or even if he will depart – only became less certain following the first meeting of the board that Gov. Matt Bevin re-created with 10 new appointees.

Ramsey has previously said he would offer his resignation to a legally reconstituted board at its first meeting and that he wants to leave the university presidency no sooner than May of next year.

“Obviously (Ramsey) has already written a letter saying he does not want to be here after a certain time,” Board of Trustees Chair Pro-Tem Junior Bridgeman told reporters following the meeting. “He’s willing to do whatever the board asks him to do, so all those things were discussed with him, and so we’ll make a decision once we get more information, more knowledge on where we’re going as a board.”

Ramsey left the meeting during a long closed-door session of the board and declined to speak to a throng of reporters who followed him to his office.

The board’s entire discussion with Ramsey about his future occurred behind closed doors in a move that Bridgeman later struggled to defend as legal under the Kentucky Open Meetings Act.

State law says public boards can go into “executive session” to discuss only those personnel matters that “might lead to the appointment, discipline or dismissal of an individual employee.”

When pressed by reporters, Bridgeman acknowledged that the board was not considering firing or disciplining Ramsey.

“You got me,” he said. “You can vilify me tomorrow.”

However, U of L General Counsel Leslie Strohm, who assisted the board during the meeting, said the board was “compliant with state open meetings law,” according to U of L spokesman John Karman.

When asked to explain that position, Karman said: “That’s all we’re going to say.”

The U of L Foundation Board of Directors – of which Bridgeman recently became chairman -- illegally discussed Ramsey’s future behind closed doors during a meeting in March, as WDRB previously reported.

The new Board of Trustees, which has 13 members in all, performed only mundane business such as board member orientation and approval of degree candidates during the portion of the meeting that was open to the public and the news media.

Bridgeman, a businessman who previously chaired the trustee board in the mid-2000s, was quickly elected to the top position with no discussion.

Gov. Matt Bevin – who abolished the previous board in a legally disputed “reorganization” – spoke at the beginning of the meeting and left immediately after.

“This is an opportunity for a fresh start – it truly is. You look at the men and women who are gathered here, these are some of the finest minds in the Commonwealth,” Bevin said.

Bevin reiterated that he expects “new leadership” in the school’s administration – a reference to Ramsey – but said the timing was up to the new board.

Bevin’s speech was briefly interrupted by a protester who called himself a former U of L student.

“I am concerned that this dictatorship of the bourgeoisie has no interest for the working class. This is a devastation for the students and the teachers,” he said. 

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