U of L Foundation approves its first line-item budget

University of Louisville Foundation, ULF

By Kyeland Jackson —

The University of Louisville Foundation approved its first line-item budget Tuesday, a common financial practice unseen in former president James Ramsey’s tenure.

The line-item budget, a move towards transparency, details what assets and liabilities influence ULF’s spending. Foundation Chair Diane Medley said ULF’s history of not using line-item budgets was “incredibly unusual.”

“I think the way the foundation’s been run in the past, though, it was a lack of accountability – it was a lack of planning. It was used as a funding mechanism for various projects that the president felt added to the value of the university, and the whole process was not what you would normally expect,” Medley said. “What happens when you don’t have a normal process? Sometimes you have things that are not well thought out, and that’s what we are also grappling with: is how to unwind some of those contracts, some of those projects, and move forward in a good way.”

The foundation unwound some projects already, stopping the deferred compensation plan. Tuesday’s budget accounted for executives promised deferred compensation before the program ended, totaling $597,77. ULF also cut its spend rate, formerly advised by ULF’s financial consultants, and operating expenses.

Dwindling contributions added to ULF’s liabilities.

Donors, the budget revealed, gave $32 million less in gifts so far this year. ULF Accounting Director Jason Ruhl said a single $20 million donation in 2016 skewed the number, but refused to identify the donor. Medley allayed concerns, saying donors are interested and waiting for U of L to right itself. Such efforts motivated ULF to hire new board members and replace its long-time legal counsel and auditing firm.

They continue loving the university, they know what it means to the community, but they want to make sure that we got the ship righted,” Medley said.

U of L’s Board of Trustees meet tomorrow, scheduled to update the re-accreditation process and discuss athletics. Eyes turned to athletics during the last board of trustees meeting after trustee and Papa John’s CEO John Schnatter railed athletics for “sucking the lifeblood” of the university. Athletic Director Tom Jurich refused to comment, but the University of Louisville Athletics Association board meet April 27. Schnatter and Jurich are on that board.

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