UofL Trustees Chair delivers deadline to Foundation

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) -- Noon Thursday, September 15, 2016, is the deadline set by University of Louisville Board of Trustees Chairman Dr. Larry Benz on a list of requirements emailed to the UofL Foundation.

The message sent Tuesday night to the Foundation Board members includes seven steps Chairman Benz writes as a “Pathway To Restored Confidence In The University of Louisville Foundation, Inc.”

Last Friday, Benz and the Trustees voted to authorize a lawsuit if their demands of the Foundation were not mean, but that vote did not include all of the specifics or a deadline as was explained in the letter sent Tuesday.

The first demand to be met by noon Thursday includes the Foundation naming a five person nominating committee. Benz wrote, “…that consists of at least Dr. Neville Pinto, Dr. Mark Lynn and either Brucie Moore or me.  (The appointments purportedly made on September 7, 2016 shall be withdrawn.)  This nominating committee shall be tasked with: (1) nominating the annual board officers for the Foundation, (2) nominating six new at large directors for the Board of Directors of the Foundation (filling two vacancies and four expired terms), and (3) nominating officers of the Foundation.  All of the nominating committee nominations shall be acceptable to the University.  The Foundation shall accept the recommendations of the nominating committee at the beginning of the September 16, 2016, annual meeting.  The new directors shall be seated at the beginning of the meeting and shall be entitled to vote on all matters at the annual meeting.”

That requirement includes a demand that Chairman Dr. Bob Hughes, “…not seek to remain Chairman of the Foundation.”

Secondly, Benz wrote, the Foundation is to agree to a “full forensic audit by a nationally recognized firm that is selected by the University and directed by the University.” This requirement does not include a deadline.

The third demand also sets a September 15, 2016, deadline and it involves the foundation releasing records to Dr. Benz surrounding his investigation into a $38 million loan between UofL and the Foundation.

The letter also calls for the termination of Dr. James Ramsey from the foundation “for cause” and that the former University of Louisville President be “terminated from all positions at all entities affiliated with the Foundation or shall resign from all such positions.” Ramsey is not alone in this though, there is also a call for the immediate removal of Kathleen Smith from her duties. She is the longtime chief of staff to Jim Ramsey.

Benz goes on to call for the Foundation to comply with the Kentucky State Auditor’s ongoing examination of the fundraising arm and for a search to begin, “to fill a new executive director/chief fundraiser to fill the office of President of the Foundation.”

One of the letter’s final paragraphs lays out the weight of the demands, stating, “Finally, the Foundation’s agreement to perform the foregoing shall be memorialized in a written agreement that, among other things, provides for immediate injunctive relief in court to enforce the agreement if the Foundation does not comply with any term.“

Along with the letter, Dr. Larry Benz released a statement: “Our goal is to restore confidence and transparency.  The donors, faculty, staff, students and university stakeholders, as well as a nearly unanimous vote by the board of trustees, have given us the path forward to accomplish this.  We must restore confidence in the foundation or simply obtain authorization to start a new one."

The letter asks Foundation Chair Dr. Bob Hughes to respond by the end of Tuesday, September 13, 2016.
During a phone interview with WHAS11, Dr. Bob Hughes told WHAS11 the specifics in that letter were never discussed at the Board of Trustees meeting.

"I think he has overstepped his bounds as Chairman of the Board in sending that letter. The Board of Trustees did not authorize him to do that, so he is pretty much operating on his own, and I don't think that is appropriate," said Hughes.
 
Hughes claims that neither the termination of Dr. Ramsey nor Kathleen Smith are within Benz's purview, and that is up the Foundation board. Hughes said Benz cannot mandate to the foundation what they do with their employees.

"He doesn't have the authority to mandate that number one, and number two there is absolutely no cause or reason to basically to smear Kathleen Smith and him to be demanding anything of her. What has Kathleen Smith found to have done wrong? I don't know why there is a focus on Kathleen Smith,” said Hughes. 

"I don’t know, you know, if there will or will not be any kind of (severance) package, but I want Dr. Ramsey to be in charge of his own fate. Dr. Ramsey deserves that. I mean he has done a remarkable job up until this past year or two, you know when he has had all these attacks made upon him," said Hughes, " I mean everybody saw him within the community and within the University community as just having done a stellar job and he has continued to do that."

 

The entire document can be viewed below:

Pathway To Restored Confidence In The University of Louisville Foundation, Inc.


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