September 27, 2016

Kathleen Smith placed on leave

The Louisville Cardinal News

By Kyeland Jackson —

University of Louisville Foundation Assistant Secretary Kathleen Smith was placed on paid leave Monday.

Smith, who was employed with the university for over 40 years, was former university president James Ramsey’s chief of staff. ULF Chair Brucie Moore placed Smith on leave Monday, citing turbulent months for Smith and the foundation.

“Upon further reflection, I am immediately placing you on a paid leave of absence until further notice,” Moore’s email to Smith said.

“You should therefore not come to the foundation’s office unless I, Dr. Pinto, or the new interim executive director specifically requests you to do so…we ask you be available to respond to any foundation related questions from me, Dr. Pinto, or the new interim executive director while on leave.”

Smith’s role change appeases one of U of L Board of Trustees Chair Larry Benz’s demands of the foundation. Demands included changing the foundation chair, terminating Ramsey’s ULF presidency, creation of a three-member audit nominating committee and forfeiture of documents on a $38 million loan. If demands are not satisfied, Benz and the university board threatened to sue the foundation.

Since the demands two weeks ago, all conditions have been met.

Ramsey resigned as foundation president, Bob Hughes stepped down as foundation chair and Smith resigned as U of L’s assistant secretary. Hughes, who was a vocal supporter of Ramsey during his university presidency, said he was not involved in the decision to put Smith on paid leave.

The foundation, who manages U of L’s $680 million endowment, has been in hot water the past year.

Payments towards Ramsey and Smith raised concerns for expenditures by ULF. In 2013 alone, Smith was paid $319,146 in compensations by ULF and related organizations. That does not include pay for her work as the foundation’s assistant secretary. Benz issued a statement on Smith’s paid leave.

“While I will not comment on any specific action, I can only emphasize that ULF and U of L Boards of Trustees are now working together very cooperatively and are 100% aligned for what is in the best interests of the University of Louisville,” Benz’s statement said.

 

Friday’s meeting continued ULF’s resolve towards transparency. The foundation created an executive director position to help preside over ULF, an audit oversight committee to begin the search for a nationally recognized auditing firm and the began discussion on the $38 million loan U of L made to the foundation.

Based on ULF’s progress, Benz said he may ask trustees to retract the threat of litigation during their next meeting.

File Photo // The Louisville Cardinal

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