Education

Two members of the University of Louisville’s Board of Trustees publicly withdrew their support for U of L President James Ramsey during the board’s regular meeting today.

In September, all 20 trustees signed a letter affirming their support for Ramsey as the state auditor’s office began an investigation into the relationship between the school and its $1.1 billion nonprofit foundation. Ramsey is the head of both entities, and he is a voting member of the foundation’s board of directors.

Alluding to the numerous scandals that have emerged at the university over the past few months, trustee Steve Campbell interjected early in the meeting to announce he was withdrawing his support for Ramsey.

“Ever since [September], there have been material issues with the university. I’m not going to list them, you all are aware of them,” said Campbell, a former senior adviser at financial firm Lazard Freres & Co. “And as a result, I feel that the circumstances have changed. I am happy to stand alone, and I do so with all due respect.”

Immediately, trustee Craig Greenberg, president of 21c Museum Hotels, joined Campbell’s dissent.

“I, too, feel that many things have changed since we signed this last in September,” he said. “This document that we did sign last September is now being used as a prop by other members of this board. And I, too, hereby withdraw my signature of support from that resolution.”

After Greenberg spoke, the meeting continued. The trustees’ comments weren’t immediately addressed.

In a statement released after the meeting, Ramsey addressed Campbell and Greenberg’s comments.

“This model we have pioneered works and I strongly believe we should continue it,” he wrote. “The two trustees (out of 20) who spoke up are entitled to their opinion and I respect their positions, but we have broad disagreements on how best to provide a high-quality public education.”

There was also no public discussion of a motion circulating among trustees this week that would split Ramsey’s role as president of both the university and the U of L foundation.

Board of Trustees chairman Larry Benz says the motion was deferred, but he thinks the proposal deserves consideration.

“I personally would be supportive of something that decentralizes or loses that concentration of powers,” he said. “And I would be favor of that whether President Ramsey was president or 15 years ago when he wasn’t president.”

This post has been updated.

(Caption: University of Louisville President James Ramsey, via J. Tyler Franklin/WFPL News)