In a rare interview, J. David Grissom, chairman of the University of Louisville Board of Trustees, spoke with sports analyst Billy Reed, a former local columnist and national sportswriter, for an hour, discussing Grissom’s role and aspirations for the school.
Grissom, a former athlete and close follower of amateur and professional sports, may have helped to dispel the notion that he wants to diminish UofL athletics while taking the opportunity to emphasize a desire to see Louisville greatly enhance its academic programs and reputation.
With all the emotions tied to the school’s future, Grissom was never going to relieve the anxieties of many alumni members or fans, but it was a relief to finally hear him discussing some of the issues.
Grissom, who earned a law degree at UofL, said that despite the fact that faculty and staff salaries have remained stagnant for the past decade, the passion and commitment of those same people to the University is extraordinary.
“The old girl (the University) has taken a couple of body blows but there’s clearly a path toward restoring the reputation of the University of Louisville to the way it was in the past,” said Grissom. “It’s going to take a very strong leader, that person has to come from academia to understand the a big urban research university works, with all kinds of different priorities and constituencies.”
Grissom observed that schools like the University of Louisville are like big aircraft carriers . “They just keep on chugging, with a reservoir of good will and momentum on their own,” he said.
“The donor base fell off during the administrative problems but it’s already back to where it was, and the applications during the freshman class of next year are up 60 percent” he added. “These places have wonderful resiliency and an ability to get their arms around themselves and solve their problems. This place (UofL) is on its way and it will get to a place where we are all proud to be graduates of this institution.
“I’m a big believer and a big supporter, and she (UofL) is going to be just fine.”