March 7, 2016

U of L Foundation loses $66.2 million

The Louisville Cardinal News

By Kyeland Jackson —

The U of L Foundation finance committee reported a loss of $66.2 million in its endowment to President James Ramsey, Board of Trustees Chair Larry Benz and U of L Foundation members today.

Director of Investments and Financial Management Michael Kramer discussed the foundation endowments. Since the last meeting, the assets and money pool has steadily decreased.

“It’s been a rough seven months,” Kramer said.

The market value for the foundation’s endowments began at $782.4 million. After spending almost $80 million on university needs and bad market investments, the market value is reported at $646 million.

Cambridge Associates, ULF’s investment adviser, spoke on the reported figures.

CA Speaker Letitia Johnson referred to the numbers as “violently flat.” Johnson attributed some of the numbers to a volatile market that has hemorrhaged oil prices since last year. While the foundation can control where it makes it investments, market changes after the fact are out of their control.

The foundation still outperformed the foundations of most ACC schools. “We outperform over 50 percent of the ACC schools,” ULF chairman Robert Hughes said.

U of L joined the ACC ranks July 2014. Hughes praised the foundations performance in that short span of time.

The meeting continued as Ramsey spoke, addressing recent bad press at U of L. “Institutions like ours will have issues and challenges,” Ramsey said.

The men’s basketball postseason ban caused criticism of Ramsey. Some claim Ramsey made the decision himself. He has denied those claims.

“We did what we thought was right.” Ramsey said.

Ramsey reported also positive statistics for the university. The university’s six year graduation rate and philanthropic contributions increased. Ramsey noted a notable percentage increase in degree completion.

Among new policies suggested was to add funds to an initiatives for diversity populations. They may be added through scholarships or other means for the university.

Board members praised Ramsey for his financial contributions to U of L, and to active duty military and their families.

Ramsey discussed the motion for to vote loss of confidence in him after the ULF meeting. He referred to the motion as a “distraction.”

“I feel we’ve lost the focus on students,” Ramsey said. The loss of confidence vote was forwarded last week during a Board of Trustees meeting. After discussing the motion’s legality, it was tabled for the next meeting on April 20.

Asked about the endowment decrease, Hughes said a financial loss was expected by the ULF board. Hughes also commented on last week’s loss of confidence in Ramsey, which he referred to as a distraction.

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