Jim Ramsey remains behind President’s desk at UofL

Jim Ramsey continued to preside as President of the University of Louisville following the first meeting of the new Board of Trustees on Wednesday. The new members not sensing any need to make any immediate change.

Jim Ramsey still in charge.
Jim Ramsey still in charge at UofL. (All photos by Cindy Rice Shelton.)

That was disappointing to a couple of people — Andrew Wolfson of the Courier-Journal and Chris Otts of WDRB-TV — who have been beating the media drums for a couple of years in support of recalcitrant members of the old board dismissed by Gov. Matt Bevin.

Wolfson and Otts, attempting to make news instead of reporting it, were taken aback that Ramsey was still around following a closed session on personnel. They sought to turn the private session into a violation of the open meetings law, threatening to have a court seek video or notes from the session.

Junior Bridgeman, who was elected Chairman of the Board, wasn’t taking the bait. “You can vilify me tomorrow,” he said. “We discussed a number of things with Dr. Ramsey but we did not agree to anything.”

There apparently was no discussion of Ramsey’s future. Nor did there need to be since board members were already aware of his offer to resign from his position if the board wanted him to leave.

“We felt like we needed to analyze things a little bit more since everybody is new,” said Bridgeman. “He’s willing to do whatever the board wants him to do.”

Gov. Bevin was on hand for the first meeting, thanking the members for serving, describing the board as capable of running any corporation in the country.

“I have already received and accepted his resignation and I think that speaks for itself. And I think the timing of that as he has said, he’s willing to stand down within a day or whatever period of time the board determines,” Bevin said. “I defer to their judgement. They will collectively decide.”

Bridgeman noted that other personnel issues, as well as litigation matters, were discussed during the closed session. Whether the law was violated or not is of little consequence and any repercussions would be minimal.

Just a couple of wimpy reporters, disappointed, wanting to sound tough, not getting their way again. Jim Ramsey heads back to his office continuing to preside over the University of Louisville.

UofL twists in the wind, waiting on decisions

As we near the halfway point in the Summer of 2016, there are some major uncertainties leaving the University of Louisville twisting in the wind. Very unsettling for UofL supporters who deserve better.

Responsible leaders at the University and in Frankfort have made all the right moves but the ultimate outcomes lie in the hands of others. Alumni and fans are forced to wait patiently.

Screen Shot 2016-07-05 at 12.42.05 PMThe most pressing issue, of course, is who will lead the university. Governor Matt Bevin has dismissed the old Board of Trustees, which had become a deterrent due to his predecessor’s appointments. Bevin replaced 10 of them with civic and business leaders with no agenda other than to get the University back on course.

But Attorney General Andy Beshear, son of Steve Beshear, has chosen to proceed along his father’s pernicious path, challenging Bevin’s appointments in court. This unnecessarily drags out the process, making administrative decisions more difficult, and potentially exposing UofL to even more damage from political appointments in the judicial system.

Jim Ramsey, meanwhile, continues as President, doing what he does best, expanding the school in every direction one looks. While he intends to offer his resignation to the new Board of Trustees, he also has indicated he would be willing to stick around for at least another academic year.

The other big issue for the University is what punishment will be administered to the basketball program, the most profitable college basketball program in the country. UofL has admitted guilt, self-imposing a ban at the end of the 2016 season, reducing a couple of scholarships while giving up recruiting opportunities.

The investigation appeared to end about three months ago but there has been no word from the NCAA. No notice of allegations and no hint of when they will be announced. This keeps the program in a state of uncertainty, making it difficult for Coach Rick Pitino to put the issue behind him.

Another round of discomfiture lies ahead for UofL fans, with the repetitious and embarrassing allegations, the finger-pointing from the Calipari bootlickers, the inevitable herd mentality of the media, and the moralizing of sanctimonious sportswriters.

A far cry from a couple of years ago when the University was riding a crest of unprecedented physical and academic development, achieving a billion dollar endowment, celebrating its entrance into the prestigious Atlantic Coast Conference, and savoring a third national championship in basketball.

Every year can’t be the Year of the Cardinal obviously. There are going to be some down years, some with more pitfalls than others. But this is one of the worst thus far, with the harassment of President Jim Ramsey,  the deterioration of the board, and a premature end to the basketball season. A baseball team destined for greatness blows a three-run lead in the bottom on the ninth inning. Not a good year.

The University community will ultimately be stronger for the experience, surviving and building on a series of events testing the resolve of everyone associated with the school. The board will have rid itself of some individuals who had little loyalty and some questionable motives. Jim Ramsey, hopefully, will have at least another year, helping with the transition to new leadership. And unless something new has surfaced in the NCAA investigations, Pitino can focus again on winning another national title.

The dark cloud that has hovered over Belknap Campus will find another institution to shadow. As unseemly as some of the events of the past year may appear to be, UofL loyalists have seen worst, including years of stagnant growth, directionless leadership and lack of support from state government.

The University of Louisville, despite the recent blowback, will be more strongly positioned than ever to build on the unprecedented success of the past decade. The hardest part is waiting for all the drama to be done.

New UofL board includes long-time heavy hitters

David Grissom tops list of heavy hitters.
David Grissom tops list of heavy hitters.

David Grissom tops the list in an all-star lineup of individuals appointed to the new University of Louisville Board of Trustees by Governor Matt Bevin this week.

Grissom, who obtained his law degree from UofL, has long been among the power brokers in Louisville, having served as chairman and CEO of Citizens Fidelity Bank & Trust, vice president of PNC Corporation, and executive vice president of Humana.

Name any leading company or institution in the region and there’s a good chance Grissom has served on the board, including Churchill Downs, LG&E, Yum! Brands, and Centre College (where he earned his undergraduate degree). He currently manages the Glenview Trust Company, the largest independent trust company in Kentucky.

John Schnatter a long-time donor.
John Schnatter a long-time donor.

John Schnatter— The founder and CEO of Papa John’s Pizza and a major benefactor for Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium. His name is also on the John H. Schnatter Center for Free Enterprise at the U of L College of Business.

Schnatter is a graduate of Ball State, but his wife Annette and grandfather Louis Ackerson are UofL alumni. His brother Chuck, daughter Kristine and two uncles are all graduates of the Brandeis School of Law.
 

Sandra Frazier from a family of strong UofL supporters
Sandra Frazier hails from a family of strong UofL supporters

Sandra Frazier — Comes from an old Louisville family that has been very generous to UofL for decades. Her father was the late Harry Frazier and her grandmother was Mary Frazier, a legendary benefactor. Her uncle was none other than the late Owsley B. Frazier, who gave $25 million to UofL shortly before he passed in 2012. She owns Tandem Communications and serves with Grissom on the Glenview Trust board. She earned an undergraduate degree from Hollins University and a master’s degree in mass communications from Boston University.

Junior Bridgeman — Among the best to ever play basketball at the UofL, he funneled his NBA money into fast food investments, raising his net worth to between $250 million and $400 million, according to Fortune Magazine. He was chosen by Gov. Bevin to head the transition team for the board after the old one was removed.

Dale Boden –President of BF Properties, one of the largest property owners in Jefferson County with approximately a million square feet of office and multifamily properties. He’s a UK graduate and has served on the Board of Advisors to UofL’s College of Business and the UofL Board of Overseers.

Nitin Sahney — Former President and Chief Executive Officer of Omnicare, Inc., and has served as President, Chief Executive Officer and co-founder of RxCrossroads. Vast experience in the healthcare field which should be helpful with University Hospital challenges. He’s a graduate of Punjab University in Chandigarh, India.

Douglass Cobb — Former President of Greater Louisville, Inc., he was Managing Director of Chrysalis, a venture capital firm.  He also was the Founder and CEO of The Cobb Group, publisher of newsletters for personal computer users, which was sold to publisher Ziff-Davis. He’s a graduate of Williams College in Massachusetts.

Bonita Black — Manages Steptoe & Johnson’s Louisville office, focusing on corporate law, including mergers and acquisitions and divestitures, and corporate, structured, and municipal finance law.  Previously worked with Frost Brown & Todd and LG&E. She obtained her law degree from Harvard and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Kentucky.

Dr. Ron Wright — An obstetrician-gynecologist in Jeffersonville. He is affiliated with Clark Memorial Hospital. He received his medical degree from University of Louisville School of Medicine. Worked with Bridgeman and Black on the UofL transition team.

Diane Medley — A native of Meade County, earning her degree in commerce from UofL. She co-founded Chilton & Medley Accounting in 1988 and Mountjoy Chilton Medley LLP in 2010. Today the firm is the 82nd largest financial services firm in the US She is currently the only female managing partner in the top 100 accounting firms in the US.

UofL President Jim Ramsey, who has to be ecstatic about the composition of the new board, issued the following statement:

“We appreciate Governor Bevin’s appointment of the new board. I have met with the three interim board members as well as the faculty, student and staff representatives and I plan to meet with the additional board members soon. I look forward to working with this new board as we move the university forward.”

Andy Beshear favors discord at University of Louisville

UofLIf there were any doubts about former Governor Steve Beshear’s destructive tendencies toward the University of Louisville, they were erased by his son Andy Beshear, the state’s Attorney General.

The baby-faced AG announced Wednesday that he would be filing a lawsuit in an attempt to rescind the executive order issued by Gov. Matt Bevin dissolving the UofL Board of Trustees. The younger Beshear, like his father, obviously had no problem with the gridlock on the board.

Apparently the discord would be more preferable to the Beshears, bringing back the old board, with a handful of obstructionists, a group with no ties to UofL, and no interest in cooperating with the current administration, to inflict further harm on the good name of the university.

The Beshear lawsuit only serves to underscore why Gov. Bevin had to take the dramatic step of dismissing the old board. It’s a delaying tactic, intended to create further chaos at UofL.

Andy Beshear is out of order, and way out of line. A chip off the old block.

*    *   *

Meanwhile, good news. Jim Ramsey is apparently back in his office in the Grawemeyer Building for now, keeping on keeping on, issuing the following memo to the campus community:

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Junior Bridgeman right man at right time for UofL

Junior Bridgeman
Junior Bridgeman

What can Junior Bridgeman be expected to accomplish over the next couple of weeks as chairman of the transition team at the University of Louisville?

Just being the man is probably enough for now.

Bridgeman inspires confidence among alumni and long-time supporters of the University of Louisville that the future school is in competent hands. No question about his loyalty to the school or about any conceivable political conflicts.

Many of the problems on the former board stemmed from members who had no ties to UofL, seemingly appointed by a former Governor (Steve Beshear) to create obstacles for President Jim Ramsey.

When he dissolved the board, Gov. Bevin said he wanted the new board to be composed of people “who will look out for the best interests of the University.” He couldn’t have selected anyone who fits the mold better than Junior Bridgeman.

Bridgeman has been a generous supporter of the University since he graduated from UofL in 1975.  He majored in psychology and played basketball at UofL before going to the NBA and playing for the Milwaukee Bucks for 11 seasons.

Along the way he amassed a fortune by investing in fast food chains and his net worth is currently estimated between $250 million and $400 million. He has served on both the UofL board and the UofL Foundation and is familiar with where the school has been and what’s been accomplished.

Gov. Bevin said he hopes Bridgeman’s name will be on the list of nominees submitted by the Council on Post-Secondary Education in a week or so.

Bridgeman has always been a winner, the perfect choice to lead UofL out of the fog that had enveloped the University in recent months.