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.”
“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.”
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.