Over the past few years there has been a plethora of events, reports, investigations, prosecutions and miscellaneous scandals involving the University of Louisville that should have made the Louisville and Frankfort communities sit up and take notice that all may not be well or even legal within the Cardinal Citadel. However, a recent series of investigative and other reports about the amount and mechanisms of executive compensation have proven to be the tipping point for public outrage. The income disparity between a select few in leadership and the not-keeping-up-with-inflation salaries of faculty and staff– supported as they are by soaring student tuitions– became too great for University of Louisville spin-meisters to stonewall, to facilely explain away, or to blame on the Commonwealth’s lack of funding. Prominent among the recent reports are those of Chris Otts of WDRB, Andrew Wolfson of the Courier Journal, and Stephen George of Insider Louisville. The faculty and staff of the University are also understandably outraged. I put my two cents in also.
I don’t have the patience or space to detail how the story unfolded. The journalists above have published detailed analyses of “how much, how come, and who knew?” The story has gone nationwide. Troubling is the observation that numbers and other details from different sources do not always agree. Official UofL and UofL Foundation documentation is shockingly sparse, inconsistent, and embarrassingly incomplete. The recollections of present and former Trustees of what actually transpired vary, in my opinion, proportionally to obvious personal loyalty to President Ramsey and to the detriment of University credibility.
In its typical effort to deflect the widespread criticism, the University hired an outside consultant to prepare a comparison, or more correctly a justification for the Board of Trustees of how President Ramsey’s compensation compares to that of presidents of other selected universities. However, at the very session at which the consultant presented its report to a formal meeting of the Trustees, it was revealed that the necessary supporting information given to the consultant by the University was incomplete and grossly understated Ramsey’s compensation! [Incomplete disclosure? Has that ever happened before?] Additionally and following subsequent full disclosure, the consultant expressed concern about some elements of Ramsey’s compensation that were atypical at other universities. Despite this revelatory debacle, a majority of the full Board voted to give Ramsey a (reduced) raise and a bonus! It is apparent to me that UofL Board members, both old and new, have no idea how much money Ramsey has been getting nor how he came to receive it! Shame on them! Ramsey recently forcefully complained that his credibility was being challenged by those asking for accurate information. It is clear that somebody’s credibility is in tatters. It is now the responsibility of President Ramsey to tell us whose. Continue reading