LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Under threat from the University of Louisville's Board of Trustees to sue if it refuses to open its books, and vows from major donors to pull or discontinue contributions, the UofL Foundation steeled itself for a prolonged series of meetings Friday that could remove former University President Dr. James Ramsey as its Chief Executive Officer.
Ramsey's separate contract requires the Foundation's Board fire him for cause once his tenure as University President ended. Prior to Friday, the foundation's board had met only once since his resignation, and Ramsey neither offered nor did directors call upon him to step down.
The foundation has rewarded Ramsey with a number of performance bonuses totaling more than $8 million over the past four years. But, board members have declined open records requests from media outlets and from trustees to review the organization's spending and operations.
Those refusals, and Ramsey's continuing role, prompted trustees to pass a resolution to sue, should those records not be forthcoming. Trustees and foundation directors had planned to convene jointly on Friday, but Foundation Board Chairman Dr. Bob Hughes canceled that meeting earlier this week.
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UofL's acting president, Dr. Neville Pinto, promptly moved the foundation's nominating committee into a closed session Friday morning to discuss nominations for board members and officers of the foundation. The Board has two at-large member vacancies. Ramsey vacated his voting seat on the foundation's board when he left the university presidency.
Major donors, including the J. Graham Brown Foundation, have vowed to pull contributions if the foundation does not agree to a forensic audit - a review so thorough it suggests suspicions of criminal wrongdoing. Chairman Hughes has said a comprehensive audit, independent of a state review conducted by Auditor Ryan Quarles would be sufficient.
The foundation's finance committee is set to discuss the Brown Foundation's concerns when it convenes following the nominating committee. The full board is expected to meet afterward.
"This is likely to be a long one," Ramsey's long-time Chief of Staff, Kathleen Smith said after providing water for the media gathered in the hallways.
Smith also confirmed she has retired from the university, effective Thursday, capping a 45-year career serving in a number of roles.
"I'd like to remain with the foundation," Smith said. "I have a number of projects I'd like to complete, but what happens today could determine that."
Last week, Hughes denied reports that the foundation was building new offices for Smith and Dr. Ramsey, though its accounting operations director confirmed as much to WAVE 3 News two weeks prior.