October 18, 2016

U of L Foundation construction touts $102K price tag

U of L Foundation; ULF

U of L Foundation; ULF

By Kyeland Jackson —

An almost $102,000 building renovation by the University of Louisville Foundation will be paid by its tenant, a subsidiary of the foundation itself.

First reported by Insider Louisville, AAF-Louisville, created by ULF in 2008, will front the renovation bill. Renovations include moving a kitchen, creating four new offices and replacing floors, ceiling tiles and light fixtures.

The renovation was not formally approved by the foundation’s executive committee. Kathleen Smith, James Ramsey’s former chief of staff, approved the renovation before being put on paid leave.

Asked whether large scale renovations normally bypass ULF committees, foundation chair Brucie Moore said policies are being reviewed.

“I don’t know what was typical in the past, but we’re now looking at our policies and procedures going forward and when board approval is needed. Those will be considered,” Moore said.

In light of growing criticism and investigations, Moore is challenged to encourage transparency. To address this, she employed more staff to handle open records requests. But plans preceding her tenure continue to taunt the $655 million endowment manager.

A WDRB report found University of Louisville Holdings Inc., a ULF holdings company, borrowed millions from U of L’s endowment. Borrowings contributed to a hard blow in ULF’s performance, dropping its rating in comparison to other endowment managers. Last week, the U of L Real Estate Foundation, another ULF subsidiary, absorbed the remaining $28 million debt owed to the endowment. The move essentially transferred the debt from UHI to the real estate foundation, showing positive change to the endowment.

Another report by the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting found the endowment manager purchased an empty factory in Oklahoma at a donor’s request, costing the foundation almost $3.5 million. The move seemingly violates Internal Revenue Service codes, which ask nonprofits not directly help taxpayers seeking tax relief. Shortly after investigation into the deal, ULF scrapped it.

Board of trustees chair Larry Benz has asked for further investigation into the deal.

File photo / The Louisville Cardinal

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