U of L trustees want foundation housecleaning
Three former University of Louisville trustees who sought President James Ramsey’s ouster say they are pleased that Gov. Matt Bevin’s actions apparently will lead to the president’s departure.
But the trustees said in a statement Friday that university reforms won’t be complete unless and until Bevin also uses his influence to reform the U of L Foundation and oust its chairman.
“The days of secret compensation packages, hush money, self-serving advertisements and unnecessary buildings must end,” said Craig Greenberg in a statement he read to reporters in the Grawemeyer administration building on campus.
Former trustee Steve Campbell said in a separate statement that, while he welcomes the opportunity for a new president, “there cannot truly be a fresh start without a similar level of governance reform at the foundation,” which raises money for the university and has supplemented the salary of Ramsey and his top lieutenants.
Ex-trustee Emily Bingham also joined in the call for house cleaning at the foundation, saying “no other public university operates with such conflict-ridden governance between its board and its foundation – and with good reason: it is supremely ill-advised and puts the institution at risk.”
Dr. Bob Hughes, the foundation chairman, said he has not talked to Bevin about his future or any reforms sought by the governor.
The foundation is an independent, not-for-profit organization that selects its own members, meaning the government apparently would have no direct authority to replace its members or chairman.
Three ousted trustees -- Hughes, Jonathan Blue and Larry Benz – also serve on the foundation’s board. Hughes said questions about whether their termination from the Board of Trustees would affect their membership on the foundation board would be addressed in the future and decided in the university's best interests.
Responding to questions from reporters, Bingham and Greenberg said they take Bevin at his word that Ramsey will leave and that neither he nor the governor are “playing games,” as Greenberg put it.
All three took strong issue with Bevin’s contention in his executive order that the Board of Trustees had become “operationally dysfunctional.”
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“It is not dysfunctional for trustees to exercise their fiduciary duties in the face of self-dealing, poor governance and an opaque university/foundation relationship rife with real and potential conflicts,” Campbell said.
Added Greenberg: “A board fighting for affordable tuition, improved graduation rates, accountability and transparency does not represent dysfunction.”
Bingham also said the exchange of ideas on the board was healthy; she told reporters that during her orientation, after she was appointed in 2013, another trustee told her that trustees shouldn’t ask questions in public.
She and the others called for a professional search for the next president that includes input from faculty staff and students.
Greenberg also called for the completion of the state auditor’s review of the foundation “without political influence or interference by the university administration.”
Auditor Mike Harmon said in a statement earlier this week that Bevin had not talked to him about the audit and U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell “encouraged me to do what I believed to be right.”
Harmon said he’d had conversations with U of L’s paid lobbyist, John McCarthy, “regarding our examination…but he has never asked us to stop the work of our auditors.”
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Reporter Andrew Wolfson can be reached at (502) 582-7189 or firstname.lastname@example.org