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.

Sen. McConnell: Ramsey best UofL President ever

Mitch McConnell should know.
Mitch McConnell should know.

Senator Mitch McConnell has gone on record praising Jim Ramsey for dramatic improvements at the University of Louisville, indicating that he hopes the new board will consider keeping him.

 McConnell also said he concurred with the action taken by Gov. Matt Bevin to dismiss the current Board of Trustees to give the board a fresh start. He made the remarks in an interview with WDRB News.

 “U of L is dramatically better off for having had Jim Ramsey,” McConnell said. “If he does end up leaving, he’s already been the best president of UofL in history.”

Hughes: Jim Ramsey put the University of Louisville above himself

Jim Ramsey put UofL first.
Jim Ramsey put UofL first.

Until the end of his administration, Jim Ramsey continued to do what he thought best for the University of Louisville. The Governor announced Friday that Ramsey will tender his resignation as President.

The good news for UofL supporters is that Gov. Matt Bevin also suspended the Board of Trustees, which had been rendered impotent by a handful of members with interests other than UofL in mind.

Dr. Bob Hughes, a UofL trustee for 11 years, said he hated to see Dr. Ramsey resign but that “he put the University above himself and put an end to all the chaotic dysfunction we’ve seen at the board level.”

Bob Hughes recommended dissolving the board.
Bob Hughes recommended dissolving the board.

“I am also at peace with the Governor’s decision. It was the only option he had to put an end to the discord. That’s what he did today. I have no clue about what my role will be going forward, but I’m available to assist the University in anyway I can. My support is unwavering.”

Hughes, who said he learned the news on Twitter, had suggested to Bevin that he disband the Board of Trustees a while back. “Back in March, I said the only way to fix the problems on the UofL Board of Trustees was to ask for everybody’s resignation.  I still feel that way.”

Junior Bridgeman understands what a good board member needs to be and his heart is with the University of Louisville.

The Governor announced an interim board to be headed by business leader Junior Bridgeman, attorney Bonita Black and physician Dr. Ronald Wright. He asked for board nominees from the Council on Post Secondary Education within two weeks. “I want people who will look out for the best interests of the university,” Bevin said.

Dr. Hughes called Bridgeman an exceptional choice to head the interim board.

“The Governor could not have made a better selection,” he said. “He has a long history with the university, he’s been chairman of the board, he’s a member of the UofL Foundation.  Junior Bridgeman understands what a good board member needs to be and his heart is with the University of Louisville.”

No mention was made in the Governor’s announcement about whether Ramsey was resigning from his role as President of the University of Louisville Foundation, with close ties but independent from the institution.

“I think it would be great to have his expertise for an interim period of time if not for a longer period of time,” said Hughes, who happens to be Chairman of the UofL Foundation. “I haven’t had a chance to speak with Jim yet. There is so much linkage to the University. That will be determined in the days and weeks to come.”

*   *   *

The good news, possibly the bottom line, for the action taken by the Governor is that he may have rid the University of some individual board members who were counter productive.

Members like Craig Greenberg, Steve Campbell, Emily Bingham and Larry Hayes — people with close ties to former Louisville Metro Mayor Jerry Abramson. They were essentially obstructionists, intensely opposed to Jim Ramsey, wanting their own man, making it difficult for the University to continue making strides.

Tom Jurich recently told me the divisiveness on the board affected everything on campus, in academics, athletics and otherwise.

The question has already been raised as to whether the Governor has the legal authority to suspend the board. Whether he does or not, the board has effectively been dissolved. As we’ve seen on the federal level, executive actions seem to supersede legal precedent or governing statutes. This one at least appears to be justifiable.

The board needed to go. I suspect Jim Ramsey’s decision to retire was contingent upon Bevin making sure the board was given a fresh start.

Link to Governor’s announcement.

Gov. Bevin needs to clean up after Beshear at UofL

Governor Matt Bevin
Governor Matt Bevin

The University of Louisville community is waiting, Matt Bevin. You need to act … and act soon.

Time for the current Governor of Kentucky to end the stalemate that has been become the UofL Board of Trustees (BOT). Time to undo another mess created by your predecessor Steve Beshear.

Time to shake up the status quo, separate the well-intended from the ill-intended, time to replace suspected vengeful trustees with individuals who are unquestionably committed to the University’s success.

The most recent drama occurring Thursday when three members of the Finance Committee blocked a vote on the University budget. The increase is consistent with the 5% tuition increases at all state universities. If these concerns had been legitimate, they wouldn’t be bringing them up at the last minute.

Time for you to go ahead and appoint new minority members to the board to bring the BOT in compliance, hopefully replacing the last three individuals appointed by Beshear — Larry Benz (current chairman), Paul Diaz and Larry Hayes — as part of the former Governor’s effort to weaken the arrangement between the University and the UofL Foundation.

And while you’re at it, you may want to invite at least three other members — Craig Greenberg, Steve Campbell and Emily Bingham — to pursue other interests as well. Their only interest at present appears to be dumping the most successful administrator in the University’s history.

What Beshear’s most recent appointments also seem to have in common is relationships with former Louisville Mayor Jerry Abramson and a shared desire to micromanage the future of the University. They’re aided by bootlicking scribes at the Courier-Journal and WDRB who apparently only see one side of any issue. Research? History? Objectivity? What’s that?

Jim Ramsey’s No. 1 priority is UofL’s well-being, making phenomenal improvements in academics, physical facilities, athletics and endowment since he became President in 2001. If at times he seems to shortcut the bureaucracy, it is because he is results-oriented, highly effective in making positive things happen.

The in-fighting on the Board of Trustees is not good for the University, potentially impacting every student, employee and faculty member, as well as the entire community. The future of the University hangs in the balance, affecting every department and aspect of the institution. And the negative impact extends far beyond Louisville Metro’s borders.

Decisive action is needed, Matt Bevin. The sooner the better.

Jim Ramsey basks in vote of confidence from UofL faculty

Jim Ramsey stays on course.
Jim Ramsey stays on course.

He’s not out of the woods yet, but there appears to be a clearer path ahead for Jim Ramsey.

Ramsey has received a nice boost from the Faculty Senate in a confidence vote on his ability to provide effective leadership at the University of Louisville. The Faculty Senate, an officially-recognized governance group for faculty members, voted 55% in favor of Ramsey as opposed to 40% against him. The remaining 5% abstained from voting.

The outcome indicates that Ramsey continues to enjoy strong support from the academic community, the people who interact with the UofL President on a daily basis. Finally given a chance to weigh in on the issue, a clear majority endorsed him.

“In politics, these numbers would be called a landslide,” wrote former UofL Board Chairman Bob Hughes on his Facebook page.

The outcome is the latest in a series of positive initiatives on behalf of Ramsey, including a full-page ad from supporters in the Courier-Journal and an online petition that includes the names of more than 450  people.

Some interesting names on that list, including Senator Mitch McConnell, Board Members Bob Benson, Ron Butt, Bruce Henderson and Bob Hughes, Vice President of Athletics Tom Jurich, and UofL Coaches Ken Lolla and Sandy Pearsall.

Governor Matt Bevin poses with Trustee Bob Hughes at a recent event. That's Trustee Bruce Henderson behind the Governor.
Governor Matt Bevin poses with Trustee Bob Hughes at a recent event. That’s UofL Trustee Bruce Henderson behind the Governor.

A scheduled no-confidence vote on April 20 by the Board of Trustees came and went without a vote. Governor Matt Bevin has yet to appoint two minority members to the board. The Governor, known for respecting Ramsey’s financial acumen, is taking his time to make the appointments.

Given the friction on the board, Gov. Bevin could best serve the University by reviewing some of ex-Gov. Steve Beshear’s appointments. Specifically he should question whether Craig Greenberg, Steve Campbell, Emily Bingham and Larry Hayes have the school’s best interests in mind. Their only objective appears to be getting rid of Ramsey.

Beshear is gone now.  Gov. Bevin may want to invite the aforementioned to submit their resignations. They are not leading and need to get out of the way.