By Shelby Brown–
While many students deserted U of L this summer, administrators repair damages done by their predecessors. The board of trustees and the foundation have met several times during the summer to discuss the university’s progress.
“These past few weeks have shone a spotlight on several problems we’re facing as a university community,” Interim President Greg Postel said in an email. “Our administration and the Board of Trustees are working through the issues as quickly as possible and consulting with faculty, staff and student leadership to ensure we are making the right decisions for the future of the university.”
Meetings are scheduled for July 25 at 9 a.m. in Strickler Hall and July 26 at 2 p.m. in the HSC Auditorium to follow up on these issues.
“I am confident we will emerge from this tough period a stronger, more efficient university,” Postel said.
Here’s a recap of June’s biggest stories:
SACS Visit on the Horizon
The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools’ visit is September, and probation could be lifted by December. In SACS’ May letter, university citations included institution-related entities, financial stability and financial control.
Initially SACS’ concerns rested with governance issues. But new worries, such as concerns the U of L Real Estate Foundation won’t repay a $9.8 million loan it owes the foundation, expanded concerns to finances.
“We plan to have addressed all the questions raised by SACS, including those raised by the recent audit findings, before the September SACS visit to campus,” Postel said.
NCAA Appeal in the Works
Postel announced June 28 U of L would appeal two NCAA punishments inflicted after investigating allegations by Katina Powell. Those penalties asked U of L vacate victories and pay financial penalties (profits from those victories).
“We will not appeal the other penalties assessed. We will follow the NCAA process, which will take several months,” Postel said.
Other penalties issued by the NCAA include a five-game suspension for men’s head basketball coach Rick Pitino and a four-year probation for the men’s basketball team. Pitino could privately appeal his suspension, but not through the university.
Forensic Audit Fallout
Administrators took careful, deliberate actions toward transparency since the blistering forensic audit of the foundation dropped June 8. After releasing the 138-page report to the public, changes began almost immediately.
So far, foundation’s Chief Financial Officer Jason Tomlinson is on paid leave. University of Louisville Foundation Chief Operating Officer Keith Sherman said an interim replacement for Tomlinson will be hired, but said nothing further on the status or length of Tomlinson’s leave.
An aide to former U of L President James Ramsey, Kathleen Smith was fired by the foundation. Smith appeared multiple times in the audit as evidence show attempts to hide information from the media and disguise foundation companies.
Recently, the foundation created an ad hoc committee to investigate the audit. The committee is headed by trustee member Earl Reed, and ULF chair Diane Medley is on the committee. That committee held it’s first meeting June 22 to discuss goals.
“Our Board of Trustees continues to review the forensic audit of the U of L Foundation. The Board will discuss the audit in more detail and respond to concerns raised in the document at its meeting July 20,” Postel said.
Budget Axed to Close the Gap
The board of trustees approved the 2017-18 operating budget, nearly $43 million less than last year. The cuts respond to the alarming $48 million deficit discovered in January.
“All of us are sharing the pain as we work toward a balanced, sustainable budget and take steps necessary to ensure our future success,” Postel said.
Other measures in the new budget include student fees projected to bring revenue. Those fees promise price hikes for parking, housing and some course and unit fees.