David Grissom

J. David Grissom, former chairman of the U of L board of trustees, July 18, 2019.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- J. David Grissom, the retired banker and lawyer who has led the University of Louisville's board of trustees since 2017, stepped aside as the board's chairman on Thursday.

Mary Nixon, a retired financial executive from Louisville-based Yum! Brands, replaced Grissom as chairwoman of the board. Grissom will continue as a trustee but will not have an officer's position.

The board chooses its officers for annual terms each summer. Former Kentucky State University President Raymond Burse became vice chairman of the board on Thursday, succeeding former Hilliard Lyons executive Jim Rogers.

In remarks during Thursday's meeting, Grissom did not say why he decided to step aside now.

But he said he is most proud of the board's 2018 hiring of Neeli Bendapudi, the former provost at the University of Kansas, to become U of L's first female president.

He thanked the other trustees for their "mutual respect and collegiality for addressing some thorny problems here."

With a gruff, no-nonsense style, Grissom took charge of the board after Gov. Matt Bevin replaced all its members in the wake of the forced resignation of former U of L President James Ramsey in 2016.

In addition to Bendapudi's hire, key developments under Grissom's tenure included the firing of former athletics director Tom Jurich and of men's basketball coach Rick Pitino after Louisville got caught in the FBI's college basketball recruiting probe; and an overhaul of the management university's nonprofit foundation.

Under Grissom, the university also completed a forensic investigation of the foundation and later sued Ramsey and other former aides for allegedly depleting the university's endowment with excessive spending. The lawsuit remains pending in Jefferson Circuit Court.

Nixon, who said she has known Grissom for 40 years, credited him with getting the university back on track and "bringing more of a process and discipline to this board's decision-making."

"One thing you have really done for us is give us hope and confidence," Nixon said.

Reach reporter Chris Otts at 502-585-0822, cotts@wdrb.com, on Twitter or on Facebook. Copyright 2019 WDRB News. All rights reserved.

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Chris Otts reports for WDRB.com about business and economic topics, higher education and local / state government. He joined WDRB News in 2013 after seven years with The Courier-Journal. Got a tip? Chris is at 502-585-0822 and cotts@wdrb.com.