The UL Foundation audit provides a graphic illustration of what I believe is the corruption of the James Ramsey presidency.
Even though the report details what President Postel referred to as a “sad chapter in the University’s history,” it does not capture the full extent of Ramsey’s exploitation of the university.
A grand jury is needed to develop the facts. Moreover, unlike the audit, a grand jury will have the power to subpoena the production of documents and witnesses, and force those witnesses to testify (or to claim the privilege against self-incrimination) on pain of contempt of court. As a result, a grand jury is the only way to get to the bottom of this mess.
Since the audit dealt only with the UL Foundation, it was able to touch only the tip of the iceberg, and it necessarily failed to explore other unrelated possibilities of corruption.
The reality is that there are plenty of other examples. For example, substantial rumors of nepotism have swirled around the Ramsey presidency. At one point, when President Ramsey’s daughter was entering the business school, Ramsey’s Executive Assistant placed a phone call to the then dean of the business school to inquire whether his daughter could obtain a scholarship.
Apparently, given the President’s paltry salary, there must have been doubt about whether he could afford to send his own daughter to UL without financial aid.
Moreover, rather than worrying about the multitude of struggling students, who might have really needed the scholarship, in his boundless greed, Ramsey wanted more. To his great credit, the then dean said “no.” He told the Executive Assistant that the President’s daughter could apply for a scholarship and compete for the money just like everyone else.
More distressing, and probably criminal, is the funding that was allocated to the then Provost’s daughter (the Provost who also walked off with millions of Foundation dollars). The department in question did not have the money to fund a graduate assistantship. Suddenly, abracadabra, when the then Provost’s daughter was going to become a graduate student in that department, the dean of that graduate school received a phone call from that same Executive Assistant, offering to provide the funding.
One catch: the money had to be used to hire the Provost’s daughter. When the daughter graduated, the budget line for the graduate assistantship was mysteriously removed from the department’s budget. If the then Provost played any role in conveying the money to the department (e.g., signing any documents related to the monetary transfer or facilitating or requesting the transfer), and was aware that her daughter would benefit, the conduct was probably criminal.
Ramsey’s Executive Assistant may have been a co-conspirator. It may take a grand jury to find out for sure.
The need for a grand jury, and its subpoena power, is underscored by the fact that several retiring high-level UL employees received extraordinary retirement packages that gave them several hundreds of thousands of additional dollars in exchange for their agreements not to criticize University leaders.
Given the revelations that came from the audit, I suppose that nobody should have been surprised by these pay-outs.
Ramsey’s reach had no limits. However, it is more than legitimate to ask what Ramsey was trying to cover up (and the audit shows that they were good at cover ups).
Distressingly, one of those who received one of those packages was the then University Counsel. By virtue of her attorney-client obligations, University Counsel was already under an obligation of confidentiality. She could only violate that obligation in limited situations. So, why in the world would President Ramsey pay her hundreds of thousands of dollars for secrecy? What else was so serious that he felt the need to pay for her secrecy?
Much has gone astray at the University of Louisville. In the past, I have repeatedly stated that is time for change at the University, as well as at the school where I work (the law school).
Fortunately, throughout many parts of the University, extending down even to decanal levels, that change has happened (or will soon happen).
In just a matter of months, the Interim President and Interim Provost have proven that they are committed to doing things the right way, and to making the hard decisions necessary to get the University (and its individual units) back on track. For that, both of them should be applauded.
Nevertheless, it is past time to empanel a grand jury to fully investigate the full extent of possible criminal misconduct by the Ramsey cohorts.
The Commonwealth might also consider whether it can appoint a special prosecutor who is charged with getting to the bottom of this mess, and with bringing the Ramsey gang to justice. As part of that investigation, those who were paid hush money should be placed under oath and ordered to testify about matters within their knowledge. If they refuse, they should face contempt of court and jail time.
Those involved in requests related to the then President and then Provost’s children should also be placed under oath and ordered to testify. I fully expect that a full-scale grand jury investigation will reveal far more corruption from the recently-departed imperial president.
I'm Russell Weaver and that's my Point of View.
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