Per Bob Hughes: UofL Foundation had no plans to fire Jim Ramsey

Contrary to a Courier-Journal report, Jim Ramsey was not going to be cut loose from the University of Louisville Foundation at a specially-called meeting of the group’s Executive Committee on Monday. Nor was his assistant Kathleen Smith going to be fired.

The meeting, which was canceled, had been scheduled quickly over the weekend following a missive from the J. Graham Brown Foundation on Friday demanding an audit and warning that it could withhold donations from the ULF without more transparency.

Jim Ramsey would have served as a resource under proposed agreement.
Jim Ramsey would have served as a resource under proposed agreement.

“Actually the main purpose of the meeting was to issue a Request for Proposal for a full audit as soon as possible and get the process started,” said Hughes. “We have the utmost respect for the Brown Foundation and what it has done for UofL.”

Ramsey’s future was to be discussed, based on preliminary discussions between Bob Hughes, ULF Chairman; Larry Benz, Chairman of the “old” UofL board, and Craig Greenberg, another UofL board member. “We were going to debate accepting Jim Ramsey’s resignation but to be available as a resource until June 30 of next year,” said Hughes. “They indicated they were in agreement and thanked me for taking the initiative.”

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Bridgeman: No discussions with Ramsey about his future at UofL

The nightmare continues for University of Louisville supporters, with little promise of the drama going away anytime soon.

The newly-appointed UofL Board of Trustees named by Gov. Matt Bevin last month is getting off to a slow start, taking its time to review the proposed budget and the future of President Jim Ramsey.

Junior Bridgeman in no hurry.
Junior Bridgeman in no hurry.

About halfway through a presentation on a $1.3 billion proposal Thursday, Chairman Junior Bridgeman surprisingly stated the the board would not be approving the budget. He indicated that a committee composed of board members would “dive deeper” into the budget before arriving at any conclusions.

Bridgeman also indicated that the Board of Trustees has not had any discussions with Ramsey about his future, though he had offered to resign during the previous meeting. “That’s a major issue, but we have other issues to discuss as well,” he said. “We hope to resolve the matter at our next board meeting.”

Jim Ramsey in no hurry either. (Photo by Cindy Rice Shelton)
Jim Ramsey in no hurry either. (Photo by Cindy Rice Shelton)

The chairman would not disclose how he was leaning, saying it was the board that would make the final decision on Jim Ramsey’s future at UofL.

As for the budget issue, it was unclear whether Bridgeman made the budget decision based on the presentation or whether he was reacting to complaints from a student and her mother who interrupted the meeting several times, protesting a proposed 5% increase in tuition.

Bridgeman was noncommittal after the meeting, indicating that he thought that dialogue with students was healthy. “That’s what a university is about,” he said. “It’s about open discussion, open thinking, the exchange of ideas, debating different ideas. If you’re not happy with something that going on, it provides a forum to address that.”

The chairman was being too kind, ignoring the disruptive nature of the feedback. The criticism appeared premature, the students calling the Bevin appointments illegal while assuming the board had already decided to approve the budget.

He promised students, however, that they would be invited to make comments during the committee meeting on the budget.

UofL supporters can only hope that the current board is allowed to continue to do its work. If a Franklin Court judge issues an injunction, the old members will be back, ensuring continuing chaos well into the future.

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.”

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.

Fast starts for Louisville basketball

Perfect at 10-0.

Not bad for a University of Louisville basketball team beseiged by so many injuries, finding ways to win every game thus far.

Ranked fourth nationally in both major polls.

At least one player, Chane Behanan, talking about going undefeated. That’s not going to happen, ever in the Big East.

Players believing in themselves, fan and prognosticators acknowledging them. Early season doubts being replaced by optimism, confidence and respect.

Same could almost be said for College of Charleston basketball team, except for the respect part, coming in with a 9-1 record, including wins over Tennessee, Clemson and Morehead State. Desirous of recognition, eager for a win over a ranked team.

This could be where things could begin to get complicated if we are to believe Rick Pitino’s admonition about embracing success, getting too comfortable, forgetting what got one there. The fast starts have fallen flat more than a few times over the years, reminding one of just how challenging is the road ahead.

  • The last U of L team to get off to a 10-0 start was Denny Crum’s 1996-97 team. The first loss was a 74-54 drubbing at the hands of Kentucky at Freedom Hall. Final record 26-9.
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  • The 1960-61 team, featuring John Turner and Bud Olsen, got off to a 13-0 start before losing to DePaul and Xavier, winding up with 21-8 record.
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  • During the 1966-67 season, U of L, led by Westley Unseld and Butch Beard, raced to 13-0 record before being toppled by Southern Illinois. Final record 23-5.
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  • The 1974-75 Cardinals, led by Junior Bridgeman and Allen Murphy, also got off to 13-0 run before losing to Bradley, finishing with a 28-3 mark.

The 1980 and 1986 teams, which won Louisville’s national championships, took some lumps early before getting their acts together.