Kentucky Auditor Mike Harmon will charge the University of Louisville as much as $125,000 for an audit examining its governance structure, he said in a recent letter to U of L President James Ramsey.
Harmon also provided details on the scope of the audit, which was initiated under his predecessor, Adam Edelen.
In the letter, dated Feb. 18 and provided to WFPL News, Harmon said the audit would examine the oversight structure between the university and the U of L Foundation, a separate $1.1 billion nonprofit fundraising entity.
Both are headed by Ramsey, a point that has left some current and former trustees — who are appointed by the governor and responsible for oversight of Ramsey and the university — concerned about potential conflicts of interest.
That issue is at the center of the state audit.
In his letter, Harmon said his review would examine how the Foundation spends money, its decision-making processes and current oversight. He said the central question is whether current governance and oversight are “sufficient to ensure accountability and transparency of Foundation spending as it relates to university activity.”
Michael Goins, a spokesman for Harmon, said state law enables the auditor’s office to charge the entities it reviews.
In an email Monday night, Kathleen Smith, Ramsey’s chief of staff, did not say which entity would cover the cost of the audit or address the substance of Harmon’s letter.
“We have not had time to discuss how the cost will be paid,” Smith said. “Dr. Ramsey was traveling last week on a fundraising trip.”
Larry Benz, chair of the trustees, said the board would cooperate with Harmon’s office.
“It is only appropriate to oblige the request of the state auditor,” he said in an email. “I am pleased that their focus is on governance and the relationship between [U of L] and ULF. As always, we cooperate fully with any review and will use their findings as a way to improve.”
The issues of Foundation oversight and its relationship to university leadership have dominated conversations among trustees for more than a year.
Last month, a group of trustees circulated a motion to separate Ramsey’s two roles, a move he has strongly opposed. The trustees had been scheduled to consider it during a meeting in January, but it was removed from the public agenda.
The trustees are scheduled to meet again on Tuesday, but the motion will not be discussed. Ramsey has previously said the trustees should wait until the state audit is complete before considering whether to decouple the roles.