University of Louisville Foundation goes rogue.
An unexpected special meeting of the 5-member Executive Committee of the University of Louisville Foundation that was to be held at 5 PM today (Labor Day) was canceled at the last minute. I and several members of the traditional print and broadcast media arrived to cover the open session only to find we were the only ones there! It was anticipated that the meeting would initiate the hiring of an external firm to perform the forensic audit demanded by the James Graham Brown Foundation, and execute the separation of Foundation President James Ramsey and Kathleen Smith from the Foundation. It was reported by Andrew Wolfson on the Courier-Journal’s website that the cancellation was consequent to a letter by University of Louisville Board of Trustee Chairman Larry Benz. However, it was later reported by Chris Otts of WDRB, that today Acting University Chairman Neville Pinto had also sent an email to Foundation Chair Robert Hughes and other Board members expressing polite but strongly worded objections to the Foundation’s plans. Unbelievably, neither President Pinto nor Chairman Benz, both of whom are on the Foundation Board, had been consulted about the meeting nor informed about what was to be discussed or enacted. Copies of the emails from Chairman Benz and President Pinto to Chairman Hughes are attached. Continue reading “Special Meeting of UofL Foundation Canceled at Last Minute.”
Last February, I submitted an open records request to the University of Louisville for documents and information used by then-President James Ramsey underlying his decision to withdraw from postseason basketball play in 2016. [I was reacting to media reports and a formal statement by UofL that University President Ramsey had received updates and information upon which he acted. I asked for that information.] My request was summarily dismissed and I filed an appeal with the Attorney General of Kentucky. After much back and forth between that office and the University, it was determined that the University had indeed violated the requirements of Kentucky’s Open Records Act. Even before I was able to read the opinion, it was being published by traditional media including the Courier-Journal, and WDRB. Here is the best summary to date. Here is another. A shorter version from the Associated Press appeared in dozens of newspapers nationally before the end of day yesterday. Because of the presumed general public interest in this matter, I believe it is appropriate to explain my motivation and make to make public the correspondence and documents that led up to the AG’s decision.
The decision may have been correct.
Let me say at the outset, I have no opinion about whether the decision to withdraw was appropriate or not. It may well have been the best path forward. I did not have any interest in learning the names of any of the students involved nor would I have made their names public. [Similarly I am not interested in any salacious details.] I do however have an interest in how the University does its business. I have written often over the last few years about the lack of appropriate transparency and accountability within the administration of Dr. Ramsey. I have argued that many of the University’s problems, and certainly those of its its public relations image stem from its penchant for non-disclosure or secrecy. Discussions with traditional journalists and my own experience led me to believe that the University is often a reluctant participant in the Open Meeting or Open Records requirements. Continue reading “Attorney General Finds University of Louisville Violated Open Records Law In NCAA Basketball Scandal.”
Recommendations for a path forward.
In an exercise of stunning hypocrisy, Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin warned the remaining former UofL Board of Trustees members that should they meet against his advice, that anything they do will be invalid because they are illegally composed in terms of race, gender, and political party registration. He obviously disagrees with the decision of Circuit Court Judge Philip Shepherd who granted a temporary injunction against the dissolution of the former UofL Board which Bevin replaced with 10 obviously hand-picked new appointees. The Governor has a right to disagree and the ability to appeal the judicial decision in an unthreatening prescribed manner. However, essentially giving Bevin or Ramsey-friendly former trustees an excuse not to show up is a disturbing way to proceed and does not inspire confidence that the Governor is not being driven by the political motivation he ascribes to others. [Some of the former board were apparently listening. See below for today’s new developments.]
Show me a legally empaneled Board –any Board.
There is little doubt that the several statutes defining a required composition of the controlling boards of the state’s various academic entities has been much ignored for some time and by several governors. I shared my opinion earlier that the entire system of University Board appointments is irretrievably broken and needs to be replaced in its entirety. If the governor is serious about his concerns, he needs to examine the current composition of all the relevant Boards, and to deem those out of compliance illegally constituted as well. Governor, I believe you have been badly advised. By your own words and logic, your own Governor’s Postgraduate Nominating Committee that you recently largely reconstituted, is on its very face more illegally constituted that of the UofL Board you compel to sit on their hands as their University burns. By your own words and logic, any of your Nominating Committee’s actions are equally illegal and invalid– including the nomination of the ten UofL trustees you recently attempted to seat. The advice you have been given allows a reasonable person to perceive your motives to be more politically driven than in the name of efficiency, and makes your pronouncements sound less than gubernatorial. Let me explain. Continue reading “Governor Bevin Continues To Block UofL Board of Trustees.”
I missed one of the three initial meetings these last two weeks of the newly appointed and possibly legal University of Louisville Board of Trustees, showed up for one that had been abruptly cancelled, and could not wait out some six hours of executive session of the last one to learn first-hand its decision about Dr. James Ramsey’s tenure as President of the University. No matter. The run-up and results have been dispassionately reported by others including Chris Otts of WDRB, Andrew Wolfson of the Courier-Journal, Joe Sonka of Insider Louisville, Kate Howard of the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting, Kyeland Jackson of the Louisville Cardinal, and others who have shown the bright light of responsible journalism on things our University can be proud of – but also on the shameful if not illegal goings on that would otherwise have remained in shadow. I will not summarize all that has occurred. I encourage my readers to review their previous work and my own prior reporting of the self-serving machinations that have brought our local University to its knees.
[Addendum: As I was finishing these words, Frankfort Circuit Court Judge Philip Shepherd granted Attorney General Andy Beshear’s request for a temporary injunction, thus putting the dismissal of the former Board on hold and rendering the new Bevin-appointed Board invalid. The injunction allows the agreement on Ramsey’s resignation, the granting of degrees to recent graduates, and authorizing the appointment of Professor Neville Pinto as Interim Provost to stand. The order assumes that collusion between Ramsey and Governor Bevin occurred before the dismissal of the previous Board. More about this at a later time. I will finish this article as I originally intended.]
Attendant troubles at the Medical Center.
It is no secret that in my opinion, the house that Ramsey, Dunn, and their administrations built is collapsing – as much from leadership style as external challenges. Just today we learn that Medicare has given our University Hospital a single star in its ranking of acute-care hospitals for overall quality. It joins only 129 of 3617 hospitals nationally at the bottom of the list. Yes, University Hospital along with others serves a large proportion of patients facing socio-economic disadvantage, but a few years ago we would have received three or even four stars or the equivalent. This did not have to happen. We can recover, but it will likely take as many years to do so as it did to collapse. The rising opinion of many at the University is that we must unwind our relationship with KentuckyOne and Catholic Health Initiatives whose bond-rating has just taken another hit and is facing troubles of its own nationally and in Kentucky. Because University Hospital is supporting Jewish Hospital financially, I doubt the KentuckyOne will easily consent to dissolution. I am rereading the Joint Operating Agreements with attention to conditions of termination. It will be neither easy or inexpensive to do. Substantial penalties are built in should the University unilaterally withdraw. In addition, I doubt that even UofL or the Commonwealth know how much of CHI’s colossal debt they have agreed to be responsible for. Continue reading “UofL’s Prolonged Agony is Over – Not!”