Former Ramsey aide Kathleen Smith placed on paid leave from Univ - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Former Ramsey aide Kathleen Smith placed on paid leave from University of Louisville Foundation

Posted: Updated:
Kathleen Smith Kathleen Smith

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Kathleen Smith, the longtime aide to former University of Louisville President James Ramsey, has been placed on paid administrative leave from her position at U of L's nonprofit foundation.

Foundation Chairwoman Brucie Moore disclosed the change in an email to the university's board of trustees on Tuesday morning.

Moore's email adds no details. In a prepared statement, she did not mention Smith by name but said she plans to "appropriately review all Foundation personnel."

"I am committed to treating every individual fairly and with dignity and therefore I will not make any public statements regarding any actions taken with respect to a particular employee," Moore said.

Smith's attorney, Ann Oldfather, said Smith expects that the foundation to honor the "written arrangements" governing her employment with the foundation through July 31, 2017. WDRB could not immediately obtain a copy of those employment terms, which Oldfather said have been "in effect for several months."

"We are in discussions with the foundation chairman and counsel for the foundation to find a resolution that is going to serve the interests of both institutions -- the university and the foundation -- and that treats Kathleen fairly and with dignity," Oldfather said.

The change in Smith's status is the latest move in a foundation overhaul prompted by the university board of trustees' threat to sue the organization earlier this month.

Smith's immediate placement on paid leave was among seven demands the university board made of the foundation to avoid litigation, according to a Sept. 12 letter from trustees chairman Larry Benz.

Oldfather said some trustees who have no power over the independent foundation "have nevertheless decided they need to make demands" related to Smith's employment. 

Smith, 69, retired as U of L's presidential chief of staff earlier this month after previously telling WDRB she expected to stay on until at least until the next permanent president is in place. She worked at the university more than 45 years -- serving four of its presidents.

In a statement on Sept. 16, Smith said she planned to continue working for the foundation for "the next several months" to "see through a few projects on which I have had a leadership role."

She remains the foundation's assistant secretary, a title that understates her extensive role in the foundation's day-to-day operations.

"For the last 35 years, I have essentially had two fulltime jobs, the pace of which has been grueling and stressful," Smith said in the Sept. 16 statement.

Former foundation Chairman Bob Hughes has called Smith "integral" to the foundation, saying she meets with donors and procures state, federal and private monies for the organization. 

On Friday, foundation chief financial officer Jason Tomlinson told the board that it was either he, Smith or Ramsey who would have approved extra payments to administrators over the years from the foundation sub-organization University Holdings Inc. That organization has borrowed millions of dollars from the university's endowment, as WDRB reported last week.

Smith’s total compensation from the foundation was $859,181 in 2014, according to the organization’s latest tax return. Her foundation compensation has been as much as $1.4 million in 2012, according to the organization's tax forms.

Under pressure from the university trustees, the foundation's board in recent weeks picked Moore to succeed Hughes, an ardent Ramsey ally, as chairperson; resisted Ramsey's request to negotiate a severance from the organization; and agreed to let the university hire a "forensic" auditor to examine the organization's books amid concerns from major donors. 

In a statement Tuesday, Benz said the university and foundation boards "are now working together very cooperatively and are 100% aligned for what is in the best interests of the University of Louisville."

RELATED: Document: Ramsey can give former chief of staff as much "deferred" pay from foundation as he wants

Copyright 2016 WDRB News. All rights reserved.

  • Sign Up for WDRB's Sports Newsletter

    * denotes required fields

    Thank you for signing up! You will receive a confirmation email shortly.
Powered by Frankly
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2017 WDRB. All Rights Reserved. For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy, and Terms of Service, and Ad Choices.