By Kyeland Jackson, Adeline Wilson & Hannah Esrock–
Robert Rounsavall resigned from the U of L board of trustees March 2 after a raucous public session where trustees argued about their confidence in President James Ramsey. Rounsavall didn’t take a stance on the vote during the meeting, where trustees decided to hold a no-confidence vote April 20.
“It has been my honor and privilege to serve this fine institution for almost six years as a trustee,” Rounsavall said in his resignation email to chair Larry Benz. “It is my hope that my resignation at this time, with only a few months left in my term, will allow the swift resolution of the litigation regarding board representation.”
The day before, Dr. Jody Prather called for a vote of no confidence in Ramsey. Trustee Marie Abrams immediately disapproved of the discussion, questioning the legality of the motion, since the vote of no confidence was not on today’s agenda.
“Under state law, we did not advertise this, therefore, it is out of order,” said trustee Robert Benson. Approximately five minutes into the discussion, Benson recommended a motion to adjourn the meeting to address the vote of no confidence at the April 20 meeting. “This gotcha stuff has got to stop,” said Benson. Trustee Craig Greenberg objected to Benson’s motion to adjourn.
Former chair Dr. Robert Hughes questioned the intentions of Prather and the other trustees calling for the no confidence vote. “I don’t think you have grounds for your motion, Jody (Prather), on the basis of fact. What is fractured here is not the president and his relationship with the board. It is the board and the factionism within the board that is the problem. We are a broken board, and I think the governor should ask for every one of our resignations.”
Prather said he would not apologize for his conscience, asserting his stance on the issue of Ramsey’s leadership and the direction he is taking U of L.
Trustee Bruce Henderson expressed his frustration at the motion. “I’m tired of all the things happening behind the scenes, Craig (Greenberg),” he said.
In response, new trustee William Summers was appalled that the board’s attempt to yet again delay the discussion of Ramsey’s leadership at U of L. “That’s not what’s supposed to happen if we are a board, a governing board,” he said.
Reading a prepared statement, trustee Emily Bingham brought forward a list of concerns blaming current administrators. “A core responsibility of a board is employing and paying its leaders, yet we have been lied to about the president’s compensation. We cannot move forward without honesty from the leader we employ,” she said.
“We cannot move forward without complete information. We cannot move forward under a culture of theft,” continued Bingham. She included examples of scandals surrounding the university, such as the sexual misconduct allegations against the men’s basketball team. She also criticized Ramsey’s leadership of both the board of trustees and the U of L Foundation. Bingham implied that Ramsey’s behavior was childish, saying, “When we ask questions, we get temper tantrums.”
The discussion turned to address rumors that another trustee’s family member is interested in becoming the next U of L president. Prather and Greenberg denied any knowledge of the rumor.
The twenty-minute meeting came to a swift close when Chair Larry Benz called for a motion to adjourn the meeting. The board will put the discussion for a vote of no confidence in Ramsey in the April 20 meeting agenda.
After the meeting, Benz told press that a vote of no confidence was not the same as a vote for Ramsey’s termination.
Press followed Ramsey out of the meeting, asking if he had any immediate plans to resign. Ramsey said, “I did not say that.”
In a post-meeting address to the press, Greenberg said he is not expecting Ramsey to resign “at this point.”
Photos by Kyeland Jackson / The Louisville Cardinal