Education

Kathleen Smith, who long served as chief of staff to embattled former University of Louisville president James Ramsey, was fired from a position she also held on the university’s nonprofit foundation on Thursday.

Smith, a U of L employee for 46 years, retired from the university last fall but was on administrative leave from the foundation.

Foundation interim director Keith Sherman confirmed the firing in an email and said he would have no further comment. The foundation’s board is meeting Thursday to discuss a damning audit that revealed excessive spending, lax oversight and other problems that left the school’s endowment diminished.

In a scathing response on Thursday, Smith’s attorney, Ann Oldfather, said the firing was a “breach of Kathleen’s contract” with the foundation. Oldfather claimed Smith’s pay — which she received from both the university and the foundation — was being questioned in part because she is a woman.

The audit and ongoing investigations into the university and foundation have explored bonuses, tax gross-ups and deferred compensation plans offered to Ramsey and his top deputies, including Smith.

Oldfather also challenged the audit by the firm Alvarez & Marsal, suggesting their investigation is unreliable and calling Smith a “fall girl.” And she hinted that Smith may sue over the firing. Oldfather was not available for further comment on Thursday.

Read the full response here:

Stephen George is Executive Editor of Louisville Public Media.