New U of L Trustees Are Also Political Givers Thursday, Jun 30 2016 

The 10 people who Gov. Matt Bevin named to the University of Louisville’s Board of Trustees on Wednesday have been successful in business, law and medicine. Most of them share something else in common: They’ve donated to political campaigns in Kentucky in the recent past.

Here’s whose campaigns they supported during the most recent election cycle (except where noted), according to data from the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance:

John H. Schnatter of Louisville — founder of Papa John’s 

Of the group, Schnatter donated the largest amount to Republican Bevin’s campaign by far: $50,000 to Bevin’s inauguration fund in 2015 and $2,000 to Bevin’s campaign during last year’s primary and general election. He also gave $1,000 to support Hal Heiner’s bid for the Republican nomination for governor. In 2011, Schnatter donated to Democrat Steve Beshear’s re-election campaign against Republican David Williams.

Sandra Frazier of Louisville — CEO of Tandem Public Relations and a director of Brown-Forman 

Frazier contributed $1,000 each to Republican gubernatorial candidates James Comer and Hal Heiner last year. She gave $2,000 to Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes’ re-election campaign for secretary of state and $2,000 to Democrat Andy Beshear’s campaign for attorney general.

Nitin Sahney of Prospect — President and CEO of Omnicare 

No current information. Sahney gave $500 to Mayor Greg Fischer’s mayoral campaign in 2010.

Bonita K. Black of Crestwood — attorney at Steptoe & Johnson 

Black donated $1,000 to Bevin’s campaign for governor.

Douglas Cobb of Prospect — partner at Chrysalis Ventures, founder of Greater Louisville Inc. 

Cobb contributed $1,000 to Bevin’s gubernatorial primary opponent, Republican Hal Heiner.

Ulysses Lee Bridgeman Jr. of Louisville — restaurateur and owner of more than 100 Wendy’s franchises

Bridgeman donated $1,000 to Republican Bevin’s campaign for governor but also contributed $2,000 to Democrat Jack Conway’s campaign and $1,000 to Democrat Andy Beshear’s bid to become attorney general.

Dale J. Boden of Louisville — president of B F Capital 

Boden donated $1,000 to Democrat Jack Conway’s gubernatorial campaign and $1,500 to Democrat Andy Beshear’s campaign for attorney general.

Diane B. Medley of Ekron, Kentucky — partner of Mountjoy Chilton Medley CPA firm 

Medley contributed $1,000 to Bevin’s primary opponent Hal Heiner and $1,500 to Jack Conway’s campaign for governor.

J. David Grissom of Louisville — chairman and co-founder of Mayfair Capital 

No current information but he’s donated to Crit Luallen in the past.

Ronald L. Wright, MD, of Prospect —  OB/GYN at WomanCare 

No info on KREF.

So, Is U of L’s President Ramsey Actually Resigning? Thursday, Jun 30 2016 

Within hours of Gov. Matt Bevin’s June 17 announcement that he would dissolve the University of Louisville’s Board of Trustees and that university President James Ramsey would resign, theories began to arise that the embattled head of U of L would not actually leave.

In a letter released by Bevin that day, Ramsey wrote that he would “immediately” submit his resignation to the new board once it had been legally constituted.

On Wednesday afternoon, hours after Bevin announced his picks for the new board, Ramsey finally confirmed when he would submit his resignation: at the first meeting of the new board.

It’s not clear when that meeting might happen. It’s also not clear whether the new board would accept Ramsey’s resignation. And it’s still miles away from clear whether a “legal restructure” — the parlance lifted from Ramsey’s letter to Bevin — of the U of L board has actually occurred.

With uncertainty the only constant at U of L in recent weeks, it looks like Ramsey’s seemingly imminent departure isn’t so imminent after all.

“Our legal challenge is not about who will or will not serve on a board of trustees,” said Democratic Attorney General Andy Beshear in a statement Wednesday afternoon. “It is to prevent Gov. Matt Bevin from asserting ‘absolute authority’ to control the board and the university by simply dissolving the board anytime he disagrees with it. Such power would threaten the independence and possibly the accreditation of the university.”

Beshear is currently suing Bevin over his makeovers of the U of L board and that of the Kentucky Retirement Systems, which manages pensions for state workers.

Joe Dunman, a Louisville attorney who has followed the case and the issues it has raised, said Bevin seems to be on questionable legal ground.

“I would say that the new board does not appear to be consistent with the statute that governs the composition of the U of L Board of Trustees,” he said in an email Wednesday. “That law requires the governor to appoint 17 members (along with three chosen by the university from the staff, faculty and student body).”

Dunman also points out that state law doesn’t offer a governor any option aside from “cause” to remove individual board members.

“The law does not include any option for the governor to fire everyone at his discretion and then appoint new members and start from scratch,” Dunman said.

Bevin’s administration has argued it has the authority to do just that under a different provision in state law that allows governors to reorganize boards and commissions temporarily while the General Assembly is in recess.

At this point, a court will decide who’s right. Franklin Circuit Judge Phillip Shepherd held the first hearing in the case last week.

Meanwhile, on campus, U of L doesn’t have a budget in place as the new fiscal year looms on Friday, and administrators are expected to rely on a temporary spending plan. And some faculty members are calling Bevin’s actions illegal, saying they threaten the university’s academic reputation.

“Not only do I believe the governor’s actions to be illegal, but the removal of the legally appointed trustees and replacing them with these individuals presents a threat to the university’s accreditation and to academic freedom, of both U of L and all public universities in Kentucky,” said David Owen, chair of the philosophy department.

University of Louisville

For Ramsey, the legal uncertainty will almost certainly prolong his tenure at U of L, where he’s been president for 14 years.

In his letter to Bevin, Ramsey left himself plenty of wiggle room — perhaps to outlast the inevitable legal challenges to Bevin’s restructuring of the board, or maybe to outwit the group of former trustees who’d attempted to force a vote of no confidence in his leadership.

In any event, Dunman said, Ramsey didn’t make any promises to get out immediately.

“So, should the legal process take months or years, conceivably Ramsey’s continued presence would not be contrary to the terms in his letter,” he said.

Ramsey has said he doesn’t expect to be at U of L past next school year. He issued a brief written statement Wednesday in response to Bevin’s announcement of the new board.

“We appreciate Gov. Bevin’s appointment of the new board,” Ramsey said. “I have met with the three interim board members as well as the faculty, student and staff representatives, and I plan to meet with the additional board members soon. I look forward to working with this new board as we move the university forward.”

It was that last line that prompted a new round of speculation Wednesday about whether Ramsey still actually intends to step down — and if so, when.

Here Are The Members of U of L’s New Board Of Trustees Wednesday, Jun 29 2016 

Less than two weeks after he announced he would dissolve and reconstitute the University of Louisville’s Board of Trustees, Gov. Matt Bevin on Tuesday received nominees for the positions. And on Wednesday, his announced his choices.

The governor’s Postsecondary Education Nominating Committee offered 30 candidates to fill 10 positions. The governor’s office did not release the names to the public, although WFPL has sought the list through an open records request.

On Wednesday, the governor’s office released the names of his 10 appointees to the board. They are characterized by people at the highest levels of business and entrepreneurship in and around Louisville.

Here they are:

  • J. David Grissom of Louisville — chairman and co-founder of Mayfair Capital (term expires June 29, 2022)
  • John H. Schnatter of Louisville — founder of Papa John’s (term expires June 29, 2021)
  • Sandra Frazier of Louisville — CEO of Tandem Public Relations and a director of Brown-Forman (term expires June 29, 2020)
  • Nitin Sahney of Prospect — President and CEO of Omnicare (term expires June 29, 2020)
  • Bonita K. Black of Crestwood — attorney at Steptoe & Johnson (term expires June 29, 2019)
  • Douglas Cobb of Prospect — partner at Chrysalis Ventures, founder of Greater Louisville Inc. (term expires June 29, 2019)
  • Ulysses Lee Bridgeman Jr. of Louisville — restaurateur and owner of more than 100 Wendy’s franchises (term expires June 29, 2018).
  • Ronald L. Wright, MD, of Prospect —  OB/GYN at Woman Care (term expires June 29, 2018)
  • Dale J. Boden of Louisville — president of BF Capital (term expires June 29, 2017)
  • Diane B. Medley of Ekron, Kentucky — partner of Mountjoy Chilton Medley CPA firm (term expires June 29, 2017)

Three of the 10 appointees are African-American, according to the governor’s office. In January, Bevin withdrew a motion from former Gov. Steve Beshear that would have dismissed a lawsuit accusing Beshear of breaking state law when he did not appoint a single African-American to the board last year. Beshear passed over three black candidates for the U of L board last year, leaving it without a governor-appointed African-American member for the first time in 45 years.

“Today marks the dawning of a new day for the University of Louisville,” Bevin said in a statement. “With gratitude for those who have served in the past, we now look eagerly to the future. These newly appointed board members embody the professional experience, leadership skills and core values needed to more efficiently and effectively oversee, govern and manage the affairs of the university.”

Bevin announced on June 17 he was abolishing the university’s board and replacing all 17 of its appointed members with a new 10-person board, saying protracted battles between a group of trustees and U of L President James Ramsey had rendered the board ineffective. Bevin also announced that day that Ramsey had agreed to submit his resignation to the new board.

“We appreciate Gov. Bevin’s appointment of the new board,” Ramsey said in a written statement Wednesday. “I have met with the three interim board members as well as the faculty, student and staff representatives and I plan to meet with the additional board members soon. I look forward to working with this new board as we move the university forward.”

Attorney General Andy Beshear filed suit against Bevin last week, saying the governor overstepped his authority in dissolving the U of L board and that of the Kentucky Retirement Systems, which manages pensions for state workers. Beshear said Bevin had made the moves not to increase efficiency but to “assert control.”

“Our legal challenge is not about who will or will not serve on a board of trustees,” Beshear said in a statement issued Wednesday afternoon. “It is to prevent Gov. Matt Bevin from asserting ‘absolute authority’ to control the board and the university by simply dissolving the board anytime he disagrees with it. Such power would threaten the independence and possibly the accreditation of the university.”

Kentucky law allows a governor to remove members of state-appointed boards for cause. Bevin’s administration has argued it also has the authority to reorganize boards and commissions via executive order while the General Assembly is out of session.

Steve Pitt, general counsel for the Bevin administration, told Franklin Circuit Court Judge Philip Shephard at a hearing last week that legislators could return to Frankfort and simply vote down the orders to assert their control over the process. He also declined to hear a motion from Beshear to temporarily block Bevin’s reorganization of the U of L board as the legal process plays out.

The finance committee of the U of L Board of Trustees failed to approve a budget before Bevin’s action. That budget is likely to include a tuition increase and may include other cuts to university operations.

This story has been updated. 

WLKY: Postsecondary education nominating committee discusses new UofL board Tuesday, Jun 28 2016 

uofl university of louisville

By Mark Vanderhoff | WLKY A short list of names are being discussed for the new University of Louisville Board of Trustees. On June 17, Gov. Matt Bevin announced an executive order to dissolve the old board and form a new one. University President James Ramsey offered to resign if the new board wants him […]

WLKY: State Supreme Court to hear college funding case in Kentucky Monday, Jun 27 2016 

Kentucky Supreme Court | Photo via KY.Gov

By WLKY News The Kentucky Supreme Court will decide whether Republican Gov. Matt Bevin can cut the budgets of state colleges and universities. The court has agreed to hear the case, bypassing the state Court of Appeals, and set a hearing date for Aug. 18. Bevin reduced allotments to state colleges and universities by nearly […]

University of Kentucky President Gets New Contract, 48 Percent Raise Friday, Jun 24 2016 

In the midst of a tuition hike and layoffs at the University of Kentucky, the school’s Board of Trustees gave President Eli Capilouto a $250,000 raise and a host of new incentives Friday.

Capilouto’s contract extension runs his employment through 2021 and pays him $790,000 a year in base pay, a 48 percent raise over his salary.

He no longer gets a free car or performance incentives. The contract guarantees a major payout for staying with the school, while also providing millions if he is terminated.

In a news release, the UK Board of Trustees called Friday’s decision a move to continue to “invest in the future” and the “undeniable progress” UK has made in the last five years.

“We are Kentucky’s indispensable institution. I believe we have an indispensable leader,” UK Board Chairman Britt Brockman said in a released statement.

If Capilouto remains president of UK through 2021, he will receive an additional sum of a year’s salary. If the board asks him to leave before 2018 without specifying cause, Capilouto gets $1.7 million, plus the rest of his salary through 2021.

In a blog post Thursday, Capilouto shared details of a new university budget that includes a “realignment” that will cost up to 75 people their jobs. It also includes a 2 percent merit raise for staff and a “moderate” 5 percent tuition increase for students.

“We are investing in you, so the campus remains a home for the intellectual thought leaders, innovators, artists, and healers of our day,” his post read.

Will Wright contributed to this report. Kate Howard can be reached at khoward@kycir.org and (502) 814.6546. 

James Ramsey uncertain when he will resign as UofL president, won’t say if he’ll remain leader of Foundation Thursday, Jun 23 2016 

James Ramsey

After the board meeting of the University of Louisville Foundation on Thursday, James Ramsey told reporters he was not certain when he would resign from his position as president of the university, and would not answer if he also would resign as president of the Foundation. A day before Gov. Matt Bevin signed executive orders abolishing […]

Ramsey Insists ‘Business As Usual’ As Controversy Surrounds U of L Thursday, Jun 23 2016 

Despite widespread confusion over drastic leadership changes atop the University of Louisville, President James Ramsey said Thursday that operations are “business as usual.”

Ramsey told the University of Louisville Foundation board that he is moving forward with a university spending plan, which includes a 5 percent tuition increase, and he spoke of his efforts to reassure the campus community that all is well.

He said little about his own plan to step down as U of L’s president, and even less about whether he intends to continue to lead the institution’s nonprofit foundation, which is responsible for school fundraising.

Ramsey holds an unusual dual role as president of both the institution and its foundation. It remains unclear if he will stay on at the foundation when he is no longer U of L’s president. He is paid in both roles, but the vast majority of his income — $2.8 million in 2014, according to tax records — derives from his foundation job.

Board member Salem George told fellow foundation board members Thursday he wanted Ramsey to stay on as the foundation’s president, even when he is no longer at the helm of U of L. In a four-minute speech, he rattled off numerous statistics that he said showed improvements under Ramsey.

Asked about his future at the foundation, Ramsey called such a question hypothetical.

“I don’t know when I’m going to step down as president of the university,” Ramsey said. “It could be in a week, it could be in two months. We’ll cross that bridge when we get there.”

Ramsey wrote a letter to Gov. Matt Bevin last week and offered his resignation to a legally reconstituted university board of trustees, which governs U of L and supervises Ramsey.

Bevin dissolved and recreated the U of L Board of Trustees last Friday, a move that stalled several university functions and prompted a lawsuit from Attorney General Andy Beshear. In recreating the board, Bevin named three interim trustees.

One of those interim trustees, Junior Bridgeman, was elected to be the new chairman of the U of L Foundation Thursday. The foundation board governs the university’s nonprofit fundraising arm, and tradition dictates that its leader is also a university trustee.

Minutes into his new foundation board role, Bridgeman told meeting attendees that the foundation respects the authority of the governor — and supports Ramsey “as he has stated his intentions going forward.”

Yet neither Bridgeman nor Ramsey have elaborated on Ramsey’s intentions, most notably in regards to the nonprofit foundation.

“I think those are all the things he will decide depending on how everything unfolds,” Bridgeman said.

The close relationship between the university and the foundation led to a university Board of Trustees strongly divided into pro-Ramsey and anti-Ramsey camps. Before Bevin’s action last week, some trustees were pushing to take a no-confidence vote on Ramsey’s leadership.

Meanwhile, Ramsey has been under fire for numerous scandals over the past several years. The NCAA is investigating the basketball program after a former escort alleged an ex-coach paid for strippers and sex for players and recruits. Last October, Ramsey apologized after he and his senior staff posed for a photograph at a university Halloween party wearing stereotypical Mexican garb.

On Thursday, Ramsey also provided details for students and staff waiting to learn how next year’s U of L budget will impact their wallets.

Since the now-removed Board of Trustees didn’t approve a budget for the new fiscal year beginning July 1, the institution will operate under Ramsey’s proposed spending plan. That plan closely mirrors his proposed budget that was rejected by the Board of Trustees’ finance committee earlier this month.

Although tuition will jump 5 percent, Ramsey increased a planned rebate for full-time students, from about $400 to about $526 toward future tuition.

The pool of money set aside for faculty and staff raises will increase by 2 percent under the plan. Meanwhile, administrative overhead will be cut by about $1.1 million.

Kate Howard can be reached at khoward@kycir.org and (502) 814.6546. 

This story was reported by WFPL’s Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting

Attorney General Beshear to sue Gov. Bevin over UofL Board of Trustees executive orders, seeks temporary restraining order Wednesday, Jun 22 2016 

Attorney General Andy Beshear | Photo by Joe Sonka

Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear announced Wednesday that he will file a complaint in Franklin Circuit Court to challenge Gov. Matt Bevin’s executive orders, which abolished and reorganized the boards of trustees for both the Kentucky Retirement Systems and the University of Louisville. Beshear added that he will seek a temporary restraining order against the interim three-person […]

Kentucky Attorney General Will Sue Bevin Over U of L Actions Wednesday, Jun 22 2016 

Attorney General Andy Beshear is suing Gov. Matt Bevin for abolishing and then reinstating the boards of trustees of both the University of Louisville and Kentucky Retirement Systems, the state agency that manages the pensions of most state employees.

Bevin appointed new members and changed the number of seats on each panel on Friday. In both cases, Bevin said the moves were made to achieve a “fresh start.”

On Wednesdy, Beshear said Bevin had overstepped his power.

“The opportunity for abuse of power here is evident, and it’s scary,” Beshear said.

Bevin has reorganized several boards in recent months, including the Kentucky Horse Park Commission, Kentucky Racing Commission and the Workers’ Compensation Nominating Commission. A group of labor unions and injured workers have sued Bevin for his overhaul of the workers’ compensation board, which nominates administrative law judges to oversee workers’ compensation cases.

Beshear said he would seek a temporary restraining order to block Bevin’s changes while the case makes its way through the courts.

“The decisions that are up before the University of Louisville Board of Trustees are too important for them to be made by an illegally constituted board,” Beshear said. They include passage of a university budget — which is likely to include tuition increases — for the next fiscal year, which starts July 1. 

Bevin abolished the school’s board, removing all 17 appointees, and reinstated it with an interim board made up of three trustees. In the coming weeks, Bevin has said he will appoint trustees to a new 10-person board.

Beshear also questioned the timing of Bevin’s overhauls before important meetings.

“What’s unprecedented here is a governor first abolishing two incredibly important governing boards in the same day, and doing it in a pattern not to increase efficiency but to assert control,” Beshear said.

The reorganization of U of L’s board came as trustees were maneuvering to hold a “no-confidence” vote for embattled president James Ramsey.

The reorganization of the Kentucky Retirement Systems board came after Bevin replaced the board chair, Tommy Elliott, who then refused to step down. Bevin sent state troopers to keep Elliott from participating in an official KRS meeting, at which point Elliott sat in the audience.

The KRS board has been criticized for its management of pension assets. The most under-supplied fund managed by KRS has just 17 percent of the money it needs to make future payments.

Previous governors have also reorganized boards and commissions by executive order, but the moves have been much more low-key.

Bevin’s communications director, Jessica Ditto, said Beshear’s lawsuit is “purely political in nature.”

“Sadly, this courtroom circus act is what the people of Kentucky have come to expect from him,” she said. “It is more than a little hypocritical, however, considering that Attorney General Andy Beshear’s own father relied on the exact same statutory authority to reorganize similar organizations in state government more than 100 times in eight years.”

Louisville Attorney Joe Dunman says Bevin would have “pretty incredible power” if he were able to unilaterally replace any board at any time.

“He’d be able to — regardless of what a state statute says about how many members are supposed to be on a board, how you remove members from that board — he could pretty much ignore it,” he said.

Dunman said the fact that previous governors have reorganized boards this way doesn’t necessarily mean Bevin has the authority to do so under the law.

“If it’s the case that past governors broke the law, that doesn’t give future governors a path to do it as well, just because nobody challenged them at the time,” he said.

Robert Hughes, a former U of L trustees chair and member until Friday, slammed Beshear in a statement to WFPL News. And he blamed former Gov. Steve Beshear, who appointed the members Bevin removed, for the turmoil the board faced.

“This was indefensible and will not be solved by the [attorney general] filing a lawsuit,” he said. “The University of Louisville needs to be allowed to refocus its attention on educating students and research not on the former Board of Trustees.”

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