September 23, 2016

Foundation steps towards transparency

U of L Foundation; ULF

U of L Foundation; ULF

By Kyeland Jackson —

The University of Louisville Foundation took steps to alleviate university concerns Friday.

Creation of a joint audit oversight committee was approved by the foundation. The committee, comprised of Diane Medley, Mark Lynn and an executive director, will search for a nationally recognized auditing firm to look at the foundation’s books. ULF Chairwoman Brucie Moore, who will also be on the committee, said U of L’s board of trustees will work closely with the committee to choose an auditing firm.

The executive director position will be new to the foundation, with its terms and conditions determined by Moore. A national search will begin for the position. In the meantime, the position for president of the foundation is vacant and the university essentially manages the endowment manager. Moore has not specified if the foundation president should preside over the university as well, but when asked before, Moore called for autonomy between ULF and U of L.

The endowment manager’s future has been questioned in light of brewing matters. Two major donors, accounting for $76 million in endowment assets, threatened to pull funding if the foundation did not hire a nationally recognized auditing firm to investigate ULF books. The foundation is already being investigated by Kentucky auditor Mike Harmon, who began his audit shortly after news of former U of L President James Ramsey’s compensation packages broke.

Open records requests have been problematic for the foundation as well, as the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting filed suit against the endowment manager. KYCIR cited lengthy responses to records requests and resistance by the foundation to obtain documents.

In response, the board approved hiring an outside legal counsel and additional staff members to handle records requests.

Friday’s meeting showed progress towards the foundation’s goal of transparency. ULF Chief Financial Officer Jason Tomlinson made a presentation on ULF finances and University Holdings Inc., a suborganization of the foundation. Reports by the Courier-Journal and WDRB revealed stalled performance and questionable borrowing made by the organizations. Tomlinson defended them, accounting the negative reports to bad reporting and circumstantial events.

Tomlinson also presented on the university’s $38 million to the foundation, which he said was authorized as part of an audit. U of L Board of Trustees Chair Larry Benz said calling the audit authorized by trustees was “damaging,” and said it violates a short term spending policy set by the university.

Benz said the meeting went well.

“I feel…content and committed to fulfilling the obligation that we have to clean up all of this accounting…all of the governance issues surrounding the foundation,” Benz said.

Benz made demands for the foundation to follow to avoid litigation. The threat of litigation still looms, but Benz said that could be retracted now.

“I believe I will be able to make a recommendation to trustees at the next meeting to rescind that resolution.”

The next annual meeting for the board of trustees is January 12.


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