New UofL Foundation Chairman says lawsuit not necessary or productive

Every day is Game Day at the University of Louisville for Brucie Moore whose first challenge as the new Chairman of the UofL Foundation is the threat of a lawsuit from the UofL Board of Trustees.

Moore, who succeeded Bob Hughes in the role last Friday, said she didn’t believe “a legal lawsuit between the Trustees and the Foundation is necessary or productive.” She said the Foundation has approved the addition of two new personnel to help respond to numerous open records’ requests and intends to be as transparent as possible.

Larry Benz and Mark Lynn during Foundation board meeting Friday.
Larry Benz and Mark Lynn during Foundation board meeting Friday.

A graduate of the University of Maryland, Moore is from Waverly in Union County where she serves as County Attorney/Prosecutor. She obtained her law degree from the University of Memphis. She also serves on the UofL Board of Trustees.

“My heart is with this University,” she told reporters. “As I walk around this campus, I see the students, I see the faculty and staff. It’s Game Day every day on this campus. This University has been here over 200 years. We’ve had a rocky few months but every major university responds to challenges, and we’re going to move forward.”

Moore said she was in favor of a forensic accounting of Foundation records, something “that means a lot of different things to different people. This Foundation has grown so much so quickly that we need to get our arms around this process.”

She believes the audit should be a joint effort between the Foundation and the University. “All members of the Board of Trustees are welcome to have input into the process, including the naming of the accounting firm.”

Moore was appointed to the UofL Board of Trustees in 2008 by then Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear. According to the Courier-Journal, Moore has given at least $71,745 in campaign donations since 1998, including $4,000 to Beshear; $1,000 to Beshear’s son, Andrew; and $1,240 to the Kentucky Democratic Party.

According to sources, Gov. Beshear, a University of Kentucky grad, wanted to scuttle the UofL Foundation, and fold the organization under the auspices of the Board of Trustees. All recent Beshear appointments appear to be leaning in that direction.

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Last Friday, Jim Ramsey stepped down as President of the Foundation and Bob Hughes agreed to relinquish his chairmanship in the interest of the University and to promote harmony between the two organizations.

No indications as yet of any reciprocal actions from Larry Benz or Craig Greenberg, members of the Board of Trustees who led the attacks against Ramsey and the Foundation.

The Trustees will meet Thursday to consider nominations, the Foundation on Friday to consider requests for proposals to conduct the comprehensive audit.

UofL Trustees loom as distraction as Game Day comes to town

Great news that ESPN has selected the University of Louisville vs. Florida State football game on Saturday as the location for the enormously popular Game Day show. A milestone with significant recognition for the UofL football program.

UofL supporters, however, should hope that the current Board of Trustees doesn’t do anything to further exacerbate the friction that exists between different University factions. The potential for that to happen is very real.

Larry Benz, chairman of the Board of Trustees, and board member Craig Greenberg.
Larry Benz, chairman of the Board of Trustees, and board member Craig Greenberg.

The day before the game, the Board of Trustees is scheduled to meet with its counterpart from the UofL Foundation. The University board wants to conduct a forensic audit on the Foundation’s books and to fire Jim Ramsey from his Foundation post.

UofL Chairman Larry Benz last week described the Foundation, the University’s largest donor, as an “eyesore to the community,” citing a “culture of secrecy and lack of transparency” at the Foundation.

Benz also reflects the view of some Louisville real estate developers who have expressed competitive concerns about the Foundation’s  development efforts, intended to offset the State cuts  to the University’s budget.

“The Foundation at some point forgot its mission and instead got caught up in the allure of real estate to the detriment of the endowment and the university,” Benz said.

Not a coincidence that local developer and trustee Craig Greenberg, who has been a vocal critic of former President Jim Ramsey, was standing directly in back of Benz at the press briefing. Greenberg is a business partner to Steve Wilson, a developer and former trustee, who has also been critical, suggesting that the Foundation be folded into the University.

Exactly what Benz wants to accomplish at the Friday meeting is uncertain. What is obvious, however, is that emotions are running high on both sides, the University board and the Foundation.

“Our foundation has multiple subsidiaries, holding companies and single-purpose entities that make absolutely no sense,” Benz said. “So, forensic accounting expertise is needed to navigate this complex weave that the foundation has created over the last several years.”

Bob Hughes, who chairs the Foundation and is a University board member, hopes a lawsuit can be avoided. “I think reasonable people sitting around a table can come up with reasonable answers without the benefit of a lawsuit,” he said.

That appears to be a long shot, with some members of the University board apparently focused on just sending Ramsey packing, without any additional recognition, financial or otherwise, for his tenure at the University of Louisville.

Update: The scheduled meeting between the UofL and ULF boards has been cancelled.

 

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.”

Continue reading “Per Bob Hughes: UofL Foundation had no plans to fire Jim Ramsey”

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.

Larry Benz nominated to chair UofL Trustees

Meanwhile over at Grawmeyer Hall, the administration building …

Larry Benz, a physical therapist and local business owner, has been nominated to be the new Chairman of the University of Louisville Trustees, succeeding Dr. Robert Hughes, a Murray physician.

Larry Benz
Larry Benz

Benz, who currently serves as Treasurer, was among the trustees supportive of an audit of the University of Louisville Foundation, suggesting at a May 14th meeting that the foundation has grown so complex — with more than $1 billion in assets and controls 10 corporations — that its processes and procedures should be examined.

Benz is the President/CEO of PT Development LLC, and a partner in Evidence In Motion, Texas Physical Therapy Specialists, ProRehab-PC, Fit For Work, and Breakthrough Physical Therapy.

He is likely to be confirmed as Chairman at the Sept. 3 meeting of the Trustees.

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Golf course upgrades coming:  The University has issued a request for bids for the refurbishing of Holes 13 and 14 at the UofL Golf Club in Simpsonville. The objective is to increase the aesthetic value of the course and improve the sight lines within the fairway by restoring a series of on-site wetlands and streams.

Hole 13 will include re-grading and enhancement of four existing wetlands to establish a deeper aquatic habitat bordered by shallow, vegetated wetland shelves. The wetland features will be separated by two boulder structures, each allowing water to flow from the east to west between the features.

Hole 14 will include the restoration and stabilization of a steep intermittent stream channel to include a series of boulder steps and pools.

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From UofL Alumni Weekly:  Are you a “people person” who wants to share your enthusiasm for UofL Athletics? Consider becoming part of the team by joining the Special Forces Volunteer Usher Program. Orientation and training sessions for volunteer ushers are currently available. For additional information contact Maggi Constantz at 502-852-2471 or maggi@gocards.com.