Editorial: U of L Foundation needs oversight

By on August 21, 2012

The U of L Foundation has been responsible for financially sustaining a vast number of programs, departments and scholarships for the university. Most of the university’s funding, $141.8 million, comes from the foundation and its fundraising has made U of L a greater force in the Louisville community. Its importance to our school’s prosperity and growth is without argument.
When a private foundation, governed by a tiny number of members, assumes an ever-growing control over the interests of a public institution, it is the responsibility of an independent citizen press to carefully scrutinize the actions and characteristics of such a group. It is incumbent upon this newspaper to produce an examination of the U of L Foundation to the best of our ability, and in doing so, question the appropriateness of this group’s influence over U of L.
The U of L Foundation, historically resistant to transparency, should welcome this scrutiny and examination. If nothing else, this paper’s critical analysis is the fruit of a productive university education. There is something else, though: students, faculty, tax payers and the public all require a vast amount of information from the U of L Foundation to understand the scope of its influence and determine whether its decisions are in the best interests of students.
With so much at stake, the U of L Foundation is also alarmingly without any sort of system of checks and balances. As students, it’s our right to know how and for what reasons our school’s money is being used. Without some regulatory body or entity overseeing the Foundation’s activities, we can’t be sure they are being held accountable. The issue of a public university receiving more private than state funds is also something that must be carefully monitored. We must be certain that what happens at U of L is in the public interest and in the interest of Kentucky and not dictated by some outside private group or institution. Add in that some of these funds are unrestricted (meaning that they can be spent in any way the Foundation Board of Overseers sees fit) and it isn’t difficult to see that the system is at least in need of some oversight.
There has been outcry by public entities, student organizations and concerned faculty regarding the foundations lack of open communication about their plans and intentions for the university’s funds. The biggest question that concerns this newspaper is this: when will the foundation heed those calls, and respond to those voices?

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