Ramsey plans to continue working for University of Louisville Foundation
A day after resigning as University of Louisville president, James Ramsey said he plans to continue working at the U of L Foundation, a separate nonprofit that provides the vast majority of his multi-million-dollar annual compensation.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- A day after resigning as University of Louisville president, James Ramsey said Thursday that he plans to continue working at the U of L Foundation to finish a handful of high-profile real estate projects.
“I want to finish up some things here that we’ve gotten started,” Ramsey told WDRB’s Stephan Johnson in his first interview since resigning the university presidency on Wednesday. “…Right now I am solely focused on being able to move some projects forward as quickly as possible.”
Ramsey, 67, is president of the foundation, a separate nonprofit that provides the vast majority of his multi-million-dollar annual compensation. He has employment and deferred compensation agreements with the foundation through 2020.
He was also a voting member of the foundation Board of Directors by virtue of his position at the university. That seat will now presumably be filled by Neville Pinto, the university’s interim president.
Ramsey acknowledged Thursday that because he resigned from the university, the foundation board can terminate his employment with no financial consequences. But he said he hopes to convince the foundation directors to keep him on.
“If they want us to try to continue to generate additional dollars for the university, we’ll do the best we can as long as we can,” Ramsey said.
Ramsey said he envisions working exclusively “on the fundraising and the development side” as the leader of the foundation.
He said he wants to oversee more development on U of L’s Shelbyhurst and downtown research campuses, where the foundation has constructed high-class office buildings in recent years.
He also wants to jump-start commercial development of the old Solae property where grain silos used to rise above Interstate 65 -- which Ramsey called "probably the most exciting property in Louisville."
And, Ramsey wants to see construction started on the engineering research park U of L plans at the old Kentucky Trailer property south of the J.B. Speed School of Engineering.
“That project has the opportunity to help this community and the state regain our best-paying jobs, and that’s our manufacturing jobs,” Ramsey said.
Ramsey said “headhunters” have told him that he is not too old to accept the presidency of another university, but he joked that his mental health should be examined if he did so. Ramsey said he is “slowing down” and there is only a “small” likelihood he would consider running another university.
“If you’re going to effectuate change in higher ed, it takes at least five years,” Ramsey said, adding that he is reluctant to work until age 73.
Ramsey said he and his wife, Jane, will likely “try to establish residence in Florida” for tax reasons. He did not explain how he would maintain the foundation job while living in Florida.
“The best advice I’ve gotten from financial planners is: Move to Florida where there’s no state income tax…so we will see what happens when this plays out,” Ramsey said.
Earlier Thursday, Ramsey issued a formal statement through his attorney, Steve Pence:
As previously committed, I offered my resignation as University President to the newly constituted Board of Trustees. Yesterday, the Board accepted my offer.
I intend to continue my service to the University of Louisville through the Foundation, in whatever capacity the Foundation Board thinks best. The Foundation has played a critical role in advancing the University over the last decade, often tackling issues beyond the authority or expertise of the Board of Trustees. I look forward to continuing the Foundation’s work to keep our great University moving forward.
It has been an honor and privilege to serve as University President over the last 14 years. Jane and I are proud of the progress the school has made and grateful to all within the University community for their support over the years.
Junior Bridgeman, the foundation board’s temporary chairman, said Wednesday night there has been no discussion of Ramsey’s role at the foundation and likely would not be until the board meets next in September.
Bridgeman declined to give his personal opinion as to whether Ramsey should remain with the foundation.
As permanent chair of the foundation’s nominating committee, Ramsey has played a big role in choosing foundation board members over the years, and the board includes many ardent supporters.
At a June 23 committee meeting, foundation director Salem George publicly urged Ramsey to stay on as foundation president “as long as he can” – even though the committee wasn’t considering his employment status at the time.
George said the foundation’s rules do not require that its president also be president of U of L.
“The foundation needs to secure a dome of protection over the university that will help minimize the impact of budget cuts from the state,” he said.
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