One step forward for UofL Trustees, another step back

Acting President Neville Pinto is flanked by board members Doug Hall and Larry Benz.
Acting President Neville Pinto is flanked by board members Doug Hall and Larry Benz.

Some good things occurred at the specially-called meeting of the “old” Board of Trustees of the University of Louisville on Thursday. The gut feeling from this observer, however, was that more than a little ill will was simmering beneath the surface.

The board approved a $548.3 million budget, which included a 5% tuition increase while allowing student who complete 30 hours of credit to receive a 5% credit to be applied to the following year’s tuition.  As a concession to some board members, however, the budget included a freeze on tuition for the 2017-18 budget.  A finance subcommittee had earlier rejected the proposed tuition increase in the current budget.

Acting President Neville Pinto reported that student enrollment at UofL will be approximately 21,500 for the fall semester. The figure includes 2,900 incoming freshmen with an ACT test score average of 25.5 and a cumulative high school grade point average of 3.6, with 465 of them qualifying for the honors program.

The meeting ended on a down note when Chairman Larry Benz reported that he has yet to obtain information about a $38 million loan from the University to the UofL Foundation without board approvals.

Jason Tomlinson, chief financial officer for the Foundation, has described the loan as a “receivable agreement,” benefitting both the University and the Foundation. Specifically, the loan was made to the UofL Real Estate Foundation, an arm of the Foundation.

“It was all done to benefit the university,” he told WDRB TV.

Benz, the on-again, off-again Chairman, wants to see the records himself, not trusting the previous administration, continuing to add to the friction between the various factions.

Here’s a video of the board meeting, excluding the closed sessions for litigation and personnel issues

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A recent Courier-Journal story reporting that new offices were being created for former President Jim Ramsey and Chief of Staff Kathleen Smith at the UofL Foundation was in error.

That’s according to Ms. Smith, who reported that the offices were for current Foundation staffers David James, Jake Robertson and David Adams.

The CJ story also suggested that board approval was required for office preparations. That would be a first for most organizations and businesses.

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Andrew Wolfson, who covers the University of Louisville for the CJ, has a son who attends UofL.

Handful of Trustees pursue their own agenda at University of Louisville

Dr.-Bob-Hughes-UofL-630x300

By Dr. Bob Hughes

Editor’s Note:  Dr. Bob Hughes is former Chairman and a current member of the University of Louisville Board of Trustees.  His post, discussing some the issues affecting the board, is exclusive to Card Game.

I deeply regret the embarrassment that the actions of a handful of trustees and their followers have brought upon alumni of the University of Louisville and to the community at large.  This was a very disappointing week for UofL and for the people that cherish the university.

Among the highest responsibilities of individuals who serve on boards of directors is advancing the best interests of the organization quietly and collegially while doing nothing that would embarrass the business or institution.   When it comes time that you can no longer serve as a positive ambassador for the entity or if you disagree with the direction it is moving in, then you should resign as a Trustee.  Unfortunately, UofL has a few Trustees and their followers who are more intent on pursuing their own agenda — regardless of the expense to the school or the damage to its reputation.

Jim Ramsey taking shots but moving forward
Jim Ramsey taking shots but moving forward.

A trustees’ meeting was thrown into chaos on Tuesday when one member called for a vote of no confidence in President Jim Ramsey. This was at a meeting that was called to update the board on legal affairs only.  If that was all that the meeting was for, then why were there so many TV trucks there in advance and why were they reading from prepared scripts?  The motion was inappropriate at that meeting and was out of order thus making it illegal.   The Chairman should have immediately ruled the motion out of order and put a stop to it.

The disruption was allowed to continue for a select few who seemed to have no regard for the damage being done to the university and little appreciation for decorum in university oversight and governance. They were reading from prepared statements, and had apparently been planning this for some time. These were unprofessional antics that were totally out of place and an embarrassment to everyone at the meeting, including the initiators of the attack.

The most recent activity is consistent with a continuing series of personal attacks on Dr. Ramsey. The attempted ambush was neither appropriate nor fair.  It was a gesture without legal merit, and the criticisms were not performance based according to his contract and job description.  They were only a collection of their opinions attempting to coalesce into something which made sense.  It didn’t.

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Larry Hayes curious addition to UofL board of trustees

What happens at the top can have a profound impact on University of Louisville athletics.

The recent appointment of Larry Hayes to the UofL board of trustees by Governor Steve Beshear is an interesting choice, given some of the recent interactions within the board.

Larry Hayes
Larry Hayes

Hayes, who recently announced his retirement as Secretary of the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development, also serves as the Chairman of the Louisville Arena Authority, which handles the financing and debt service of the KFC Yum! Center.

Hayes also happened to serve as Deputy Mayor to former Louisville Mayor Jerry Abramson from 2003 to 2007. The relationship is important because Abramson reportedly wanted to be the next UofL President in 2002.

A former UofL Trustee confirmed to Card Game that then UofL board chairman George Fisher was under considerable pressure to back Abramson for the UofL post. Fisher trusted his instincts, stood his ground, and threw his support to Ramsey.

Continue reading “Larry Hayes curious addition to UofL board of trustees”