University of Louisville

J. Tyler Franklin

Facing growing scrutiny from donors and its own university, the University of Louisville Foundation is paying $11,500 a month in retainers alone for external public relations firms.

In contract proposals submitted in July, the firms shed light on strategies they intended to employ to combat rampant criticism of the Foundation.

The documents, obtained by WFPL’s Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting, suggest the Foundation is gearing up to try to counter negative stories in the press and highlight achievements of its president, James Ramsey, during his 14-year tenure.

Last month, Foundation staffers signed contract extensions for two Louisville firms: RunSwitch Public Relations, led by political strategist Scott Jennings, and Tandem Public Relations, led by Sandra Frazier. Both contracts were extended as of Sept. 1.

University of Louisville

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan will be honored this week by the University of Louisville law school.

Kagan will receive the 2016 Brandeis Medal. It’s named for Louis Brandeis, a former justice and law school namesake.

She’ll be in Louisville Thursday, when she’s scheduled to place a wreath at Brandeis’ gravesite at the law school.  Kagan will receive the medal at an evening ceremony at the Seelbach Hotel.

Law school dean Susan Duncan says that’s when Kagan will be interviewed by one of her protégés.

“The person who will be conversing with her, interviewing her is a professor named Justin Walker, who was actually her law student when she was the dean at Harvard,” says Duncan. “And he is a former Supreme Court clerk himself.”

J. Tyler Franklin

In an effort to clean up a “culture of secrecy,” the University of Louisville Board of Trustees voted Friday to potentially sue its own foundation.

Trustees authorized Chairman Larry Benz to work with outside lawyers to prepare and initiate a lawsuit against the University of Louisville Foundation if they don’t follow a “pathway toward restored confidence” Benz laid out after the meeting. With numerous members of the board and acting President Neville Pinto standing behind him, Benz said upwards of 70 donors have contacted the university to demand drastic change before giving another dime to the foundation.

“Their message has been convincing and consistent: Clean up the Foundation,” Benz said. “It is an eyesore for the community.”

Trustee Bob Hughes, who is also chairman of the Foundation, abstained from voting. The only vote against the measure was from Ron Butt, who called it divisive and said he would resign his seat, effective Friday.

Ramsey's Status with U of L Foundation Sparks More Debate

Aug 28, 2016
J. Tyler Franklin

Former University of Louisville President James Ramsey's status with the UofL Foundation is sparking more debate among top officials.

The Courier-Journal reports the UofL Foundation's chairman took issue Friday with a suggestion by the school's Board of Trustees chairman that Ramsey should resign as foundation president to clear the way for recruiting a new university president.

Dr. Bob Hughes, the foundation's chairman, said promoting "harmony" will give UofL the best chance at recruiting an excellent new president. Hughes says Board of Trustees Chairman Larry Benz should keep his comments "on the high road."

Benz said Thursday that UofL would not be "attractive" to potential recruits for the presidency if Ramsey was serving as foundation president.

The foundation is scheduled to meet on an unspecified date in September.

J. Tyler Franklin

The “old” University of Louisville Board of Trustees met Thursday for the first time since the governor disbanded it in June.

The agenda was limited and their actions modest, due to a pending lawsuit over whether Gov. Matt Bevin had the right to create a new board.

Even before Bevin’s attempted reorganization, the board was hamstrung by a different lawsuit taking aim at the racial imbalance of the group. And as the political maneuvering and legal fights played out in recent months, the board’s to-do list grew.

In past months, the trustees should have been approving decisions on tenure, promotions and new hires. A budget that should have gone into effect in July was temporarily replaced with a stopgap spending plan. The trustees took those delayed votes on Thursday.

J. Tyler Franklin

The judge presiding over a challenge to Gov. Matt Bevin’s overhaul of the University of Louisville board of trustees expressed frustration on Tuesday that the opposing parties hadn’t come to an agreement on which version of the U of L board should be in charge of the school.

Attorney General Andy Beshear sued Bevin for abolishing the 17-member U of L board and replacing it with a 10-member board made up of his own appointments.

Franklin Circuit Court Judge Philip Shepherd temporarily blocked the move late last month, effectively restoring the old version of the board, which Bevin scrapped in June.

On Tuesday, Shepherd said he had been optimistic that questions about the school’s governance would settle after the temporary injunction, but now he’s “concerned.”

“I was still hopeful that there would be some agreement or some consensus that would develop without any issues with regard to the governance of the university while the case is pending,” Shepherd said. “It is now, I think, abundantly apparent to the court that that is not going to happen.”

As a result, Shepherd said the court will expedite proceedings of the case.

J. Tyler Franklin

Gov. Matt Bevin has asked the Kentucky Court of Appeals to overturn an order that blocked his overhaul of the University of Louisville Board of Trustees.

Bevin dissolved the 17-member board by executive order in June, alleging dysfunction among the group. He later reconstituted it as a 10-member board.

Earlier this month, Franklin Circuit Court Judge Philip Shephard temporarily blocked the move in the midst of a challenge brought on by Attorney General Andy Beshear.

In a motion filed with the Kentucky Court of Appeals, Bevin’s attorneys said that the court “abused its discretion” in blocking the overhaul.

U of L Board Case To Stretch Until At Least October

Aug 16, 2016
University of Louisville

The battle over the University of Louisville Board of Trustees won’t be resolved in court until October at the earliest.

Franklin Circuit Judge Phillip Shepherd signed an order Friday that sets a timeline for the lawsuit filed by Attorney General Beshear against Gov. Matt Bevin. Shepherd will hear motions from both sides on Oct. 4, after allowing for several weeks of legal filings in which they can lay out their respective cases.

Beshear sued the governor in June after he dissolved the old 17-member U of L board and replaced it with a new 10-member panel. Beshear’s office has argued that Bevin had no authority to disband the school’s governing board, and that state law protects university trustees from termination without cause and due process.

The governor’s office has since argued that the overhaul was necessary to bring the board in alignment with a state law that requires the board to reflect the racial and political makeup in the state. The old board had too few minority members and too many Democrats.

J. Tyler Franklin

A state judge says he wants more information about University of Louisville's accreditation and the political and racial makeup of the school's board of trustees.

Franklin Circuit Judge Phillip Shepherd issued an order last month at the request of Democratic Attorney General Andy Beshear to temporarily block Bevin's decision to abolish and replace the University of Louisville board. On Monday, both sides were back in court to discuss scheduling for the case.

Shepherd said the university's accreditation is "an extremely important issue" and said he does not have enough information about it to make a permanent decision.

Shepherd also said he is concerned the old board of trustees may violate state law because it does not have proper political and minority representation.

J. Tyler Franklin

Days after a judge temporarily blocked Gov. Matt Bevin’s overhaul of the University of Louisville board of trustees, Bevin said it would “tarnish the reputation” of the school if the old version of the board meets later this week.

The governor’s office has argued that the overhaul was necessary to bring the board in alignment with state law that requires the board to reflect the racial and political makeup in the state. The board had too many Democrats and too few racial minorities before the revamp, according to state law.

“A meeting of an illegally constituted board would only further tarnish the reputation of this outstanding university,” Bevin said in a statement. “It would clearly show that those who insist upon this course of action are not truly interested in the best interests of the University of Louisville.

Attorney General Andy Beshear is suing the governor for abolishing the old 17-member board and replacing it with a new 10-member panel. On Thursday, Franklin Circuit Court Judge Phillip Shepherd temporarily blocked the new board from meeting until the lawsuit is resolved.

J. Tyler Franklin

A judge has temporarily blocked Gov. Matt Bevin’s overhaul of the University of Louisville Board of Trustees. 

Franklin Circuit Judge Phillip Shepherd issued the ruling Friday morning.

Bevin abolished the U of L board by executive order in June, sacking the 17-member governing body and replacing it with a 10-member board.

During a surprise press conference announcing the overhaul, Bevin also revealed that James Ramsey, the university’s president, would step down from his position once the new board was in place.

Ramsey officially resigned in an agreement with the newly constituted board late Wednesday evening.

J. Tyler Franklin

University of Louisville President James Ramsey has resigned his post, effective as of Wednesday, and will receive a $690,000 settlement to avoid potential litigation.

The university’s Board of Trustees voted unanimously to accept the agreement after a seven-hour meeting that took place mostly out of the public’s view. The move comes as the attorney general awaits a judge’s ruling on whether the board itself is legal, since Gov. Matt Bevin dissolved and reconstituted it last month.

The attorney general’s office has requested that the governor’s order reorganizing the U of L board be temporarily blocked. If that happens, the old version of the U of L board would be reconstituted.

Board Chairman Junior Bridgeman said he didn’t think the pending action had any connection to their action Wednesday.

“We’re looking at what’s our job — to come in and do the best we can to try to push the university forward,” he said.

Jacob Ryan

There is still no specific timeline in place for moving the 121-year-old Confederate Monument currently standing near the University of Louisville campus.

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer and University of Louisville President James Ramsey announced earlier this year the near 60 foot tall obelisk would be moved from its current site. The granite structure stands to honor Kentuckians who died fighting in the Civil War.

It was built with funds raised by the Kentucky Women’s Confederate Monument Association in 1895 and was thereafter gifted to the city. When first erected, it stood beyond the reaches of the U of L campus. But as time passed, the growing campus came to encircle the monument. Debate raged for years about who owned the ground on which the monument stood.

The call to remove the monument drew initial pushback.

A group headed up by the Sons of Confederate Veterans challenged the move, saying the monument was protected as a designated historical object.

Louisville Panel Holds Meeting on Confederate Monument

Jul 25, 2016
Jacob Ryan

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer's public art commission is holding a public meeting about relocation sites for a Confederate monument near the University of Louisville.

The move comes after a judge last month ruled that Fischer has the authority to remove the monument.

The Courier-Journal reports the art commission has been receiving public comments on potential new sites for the stone obelisk that was built as a tribute to dead Confederate soldiers. Suggestions include the Perryville Battlefield State Park of the Pewee Valley Confederate Cemetery.

Jefferson Circuit Judge Judith McDonald-Burkman in her ruling noted the historical significance of the century-old monument but wrote that it's also a divisive symbol in Louisville.

University of Louisville

A judge on Thursday grilled the attorney defending Gov. Matt Bevin’s executive order that abolished and then reorganized the University of Louisville board.

Franklin Circuit Court Judge Phillip Shepherd didn’t rule on whether to temporarily block the overhaul, as requested by Attorney General Andy Beshear, but said a decision would be forthcoming.

Beshear’s office says that Bevin had no authority to disband the school’s governing board and that state law protects university trustees — who serve for six-year-long staggered terms — from termination without cause and due process.

“[Bevin] gave them no process whatsoever in this case,” said Mitchel Denham, assistant deputy attorney general, after the hearing.

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