Education

The new University of Louisville board of trustees moved quickly Saturday morning to fill an impending leadership void.

Trustees voted to appoint Greg Postel, currently interim executive vice president for health affairs, to serve as interim president after a discussion in closed session.

Postel, who has worked for U of L for 22 years, said his top priority is assuring the university remain accredited after the Southern Association for Colleges and Schools put it on probation. He also hopes he can spread the good news about U of L that’s been lost in the scandals.

“There are distractions and things that become newsworthy that don’t allow us to really make a statement about how the university is impacting the lives of so many in our community, and the tremendous economic impact our university has on the city and the state,” Postel said.

Postel said he will maintain both roles for the time being, and he does not anticipate applying for the job permanently.

Acting president Neville Pinto, who took over when former president James Ramsey was forced out, leaves next month to become president at the University of Cincinnati.

Trustees also outlined the composition of the search committee for a permanent president, which will be composed of up to 11 people — two donors, a graduate, trustees, students and faculty among others.

The search for a new leader had been on hold until the U of L board had enough racial minorities to resolve a lawsuit settlement. Trustees were prevented from taking any major personnel actions.

Last summer, Gov. Matt Bevin disbanded and recreated a more balanced board instead of appointing minorities to vacant seats. A judge overturned that action and restored the old board, but Bevin still left open seats unfilled. The legislature this month ratified his action with a new law, and Bevin re-appointed nearly the same slate of new trustees.

J. David Grissom was elected the board’s chairman and Papa John’s founder John Schnatter was voted vice chair. Grissom immediately zeroed in on the foundation, saying its progress in overcoming recent scandals and overspending has been “not very far and not at a very good speed.”

“I think we have to keep in mind as this body that those assets that are over there in the U of L foundation are our assets,” Grissom said. “Things have to change.”

Grissom named himself and trustees Diane Medley, Nitin Sahney and Schnatter to fill the trustee representative seats on the foundation’s board. 

Grissom pushed for a roster of resolutions asking the foundation board to stand virtually still on new investments or employment agreements until a forensic audit is complete in May. The board did pass a resolution urging the foundation to postpone any termination or settlement agreements with its staffers. But Grissom withdrew some resolutions after faculty representative Enid Trucios-Haynes raised concerns about the new board’s relationship with the foundation.

Grissom also said he thought the joint approach the old board of trustees agreed to with the U of L Foundation was flawed, and that he personally would be joining outside counsel in overseeing the audit’s progress.

“This board needs to get better control of that foundation,” Grissom said, before acknowledging that trustees don’t have any legal authority over it and that resolutions are requests.

Trustees also voted to require board approval before any consultant or administrator gets a multi-year contract. Grissom noted that long-term contracts, like those given to several U of L administrators, can “handcuff” a new president. The Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting revealed last summer that Ramsey gave lucrative multi-year contracts to several administrators.