Former Ramsey aide Kathleen Smith claims U of L, foundation owe her more than $300,000
The former presidential chief of staff at U of L and assistant secretary of the U of L Foundation filed a counterclaim saying she is owed back pay.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Kathleen Smith, the longtime aide to former University of Louisville President James Ramsey, denies the university’s allegations of financial mismanagement and claims that, in fact, the university and its nonprofit foundation owe her more than $300,000.
Smith, the former presidential chief of staff at U of L and assistant secretary of the U of L Foundation, filed a counterclaim against the university and foundation on Wednesday through her attorney, Ann Oldfather.
The counterclaim is part of U of L and the foundation’s lawsuit against Ramsey, Smith and other former top administrators accused of depleting the university’s endowment to fund excessive spending, including lavish compensation for themselves.
Smith's counterclaim does not itemize her demands for payments owed to her, but it's more than $300,000 in all, Oldfather said in an interview Friday.
The counterclaim says Smith is owed $91,316 in pay from the university, which Oldfather said is for a leave period granted to senior administrators that Smith never took before retiring in 2016; $100,000 in deferred compensation promised to her by the foundation, plus interest and payments to offset income taxes on the money; unspecified foundation salary from Smith's firing on June 22, 2017 to the end of her contract, July 31, 2017; and an unspecified portion of her $12,000 annual car allowance from the foundation.
Smith also has about $20,000 in vested deferred pay on account at the foundation, Oldfather said.
Keith Sherman, the foundation's interim executive director, declined to comment on Smith's lawsuit.
In July 2016, Ramsey appointed Smith as the foundation’s acting chief administrative officer under a contract paying $242,144 in annual salary, $100,000 in deferred compensation and an annual car allowance of $12,000, according to the counterclaim.
Smith was paid about $4.4 million in total between the university and foundation from 2010 to 2016, according to a forensic examination that the university commissioned in 2017. That included $2.6 million in deferred compensation from the foundation.
The foundation board, remade following Ramsey's resignation in 2016, did away with deferred compensation for administrators in 2017 after the organization accrued more than $20 million in liabilities.
In May the foundation board released a consultant's study that concluded the organization overpaid administrators from 2010-2016 compared to median pay at peer institutions.
Smith was overpaid by $344,253 from 2010 to 2016, according to the study. Ramsey was overpaid by more than $3 million, the study said.
Oldfather previously said the study showed the foundation actually paid "B-grade salaries for A++ level work."