The double-headed dragon: Ramsey and his role as two presidents

By on January 21, 2016
Student Opinion

By Christopher Acree–

Boards are curious things. You try to hammer them in, but you get it crooked because you didn’t measure right and you end up hitting your thumb a couple times.

Then there are those other boards, the mythical suits and ties sitting around big tables deciding the fate of hundreds if not thousands of people who will never make nearly as much money as them. Recent events have left all the boards at U of L warped and with more than a few hammered thumbs.

The most recent injured digit was a motion put forth to the board of trustees to remove President James Ramsey from his position as president of the U of L Foundation, the group in charge of handling the $1.1 billion endowment and deal with state budget cuts affecting the university. The foundation has proven decent at that and really good at giving Ramsey and some of his staff money, to the tune of millions of dollars. This is definitely a notable move, especially when a good chunk of students can’t give themselves $5 for lunch.

This is but one of several incidents that would seem to indicate some upheaval within the highest reaches of the university. Two trustees have gone on the record withdrawing their support of Ramsey (two out of twenty, but two less than the unanimous support he received as late as last September), and while Ramsey hasn’t called for the ousting of three trustees appointed by former Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear, his staff basically said he would be cool with them being removed from the board in accordance with a pending lawsuit and the wishes of the Governor Matt Bevin.

None of this even begins to mention the other couple of scandals affecting Ramsey and the university, with the potential ladies of the evening, something about funny hats and mustaches and whatever is going to go down over the weekend.

This has led to investigations from all levels of law enforcement and the NCAA, criticism from both the media and the public, and—worst of all—holier-than-thou looks and snide remarks from UK fans.

Ramsey has come out against the potential demotion or pay cut, saying among other things that it would cost money to set up a separate position and throw a wrench in things at a crucial financial time for the university, particularly a state audit.

Technically, Ramsey is right. Having a separate head of the university and the foundation would create another layer of bureaucracy and another couple of hoops to jump through before any high-level fiscal decisions can get made. Plus, they would have to spend money on more chairs, desks, name tags, coffeemakers and whatever else millionaire presidents need.

So far, they have talked a big game and formed fancy-sounding committees to address the many scandals, but little they have done little in the way of tangible action. Ramsey stepping down from the presidency of the foundation would send a clear message that those in power are serious about cleaning up the university and the foundation’s image (provided that the replacement is willing and able to decide and operate independent of Ramsey and the board of trustees of course).

The audit of the U of L Foundation is currently underway, requested by Bob Hughes, the director of the foundation’s board, with both the university and the foundation waiting for the results. If Ramsey does not make a move regarding his dual presidencies before that happens, he needs to do so shortly after, especially if the audit finds anything remotely shady.

If he doesn’t, he could very well find himself with a bunch of curved boards and plenty of sore thumbs.

About Nick Amon

Nick Amon is the Opinion Editor for The Louisville Cardinal, all views and opinions are of his own. If you have an opinion of your own that you'd like to see in The Cardinal, email him at namon@louisvillecardinal.com

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