By Brooke Moody–

Management of Cardinal Towne and University Pointe will transfer to University of Louisville Housing for the 2017-18 academic year. The U of L Board of Trustees approved a one-year lease of the properties during their regular meeting on March 16.

The lease will add 1,000 beds to ULH management, which will relieve the 800-bed gap reported by Dean of Student James Mardis.

Currently, of the 3,000 beds managed by ULH, 73 percent are occupied by freshmen. The addition of Cardinal Towne and University Pointe will create more opportunity for upperclassmen to live in university-managed housing. Additionally, Mardis discussed the implementation of more living-learning communities, including sophomore LLCs and a LLC for transfers.

The university will run the facilities and collect revenues from the students, which will then be paid back to American Campus Communities, the company that owns Cardinal Towne and University Pointe. The housing process for students wishing to live at either of the two properties will operate in the same manner as other U of L housing.

Amidst the current budget crisis the university faces, trustee Brian Cromer raised concerns regarding the financial investment of the lease. According to Mardis, the lease will not negatively affect the university’s expenses. “This isn’t something the university will be investing in,” Mardis said. “Everything is paid for by the students.”

The board responded favorably to the university taking over management of the properties, including SGA President Aaron Vance. “I think we need more beds and we need to continue to expand doing this. I think it will have a substantial impact on the market and it will make nine-month leases more common, and it will drive down the cost which is something we’ve really been focusing in on,” Vance said.

Vishnu Tirumala, SGA president-elect, also supports the lease and plans to continue pushing for more affiliated properties to transfer to ULH management.

“I know, with private companies managing it, we’ve had a lot of students with complaints because they’re not always as responsive and they may have other priorities in mind. Hopefully, prices will come down and there is a nine-month lease that will be helpful to Speed School students and other students who are not looking to stay here over the summer,” Tirumala said.

In addition to approving the new lease, the board discussed budget updates and the University Foundation’s forensic audit that is taking place.

Interim President Greg Postel cited a $22 million reduction in the budget. Factors that influenced the change include a reduction of staff in the Office of the President, a $1 million spending reduction in the Office of Communication and Marketing and a deferral of $1.5-11.5 million for maintenance and renovations.

The Office of the President eliminated all but five employees through layoffs, attrition, resignation and reassignments. Also, Postel will not rehire the now unfilled chief of staff position, instead nominating Board Liaison Jake Beamer to serve as assistant secretary to the president.

Additionally, 1,000 of the 10,500 employee positions at the university will be frozen, with 32 percent being faculty and 68 percent being staff.

Postel reported on opportunities to recoup expenses, including an increase of parking rates or outsourcing parking, on which Postel said the university loses $1 million a year. There is also the potential to outsource other business operations such as server hosting and printing.

Reporting on the forensic audit being conducted on the University of Louisville Foundation, chair David Grissom announced the cost of the audit will increase due to the complexity of the organization. The audit has expanded and the original $850,000 contract will double in costs. Further presentation on the audit is expected in May.

File photo / The Louisville Cardinal