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.

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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.

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.”

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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.