By Shelby Brown–
The new forensic investigation committee, U of L Real Estate Foundation and the U of L Foundation board of directors met in succession June 22, barely breaking for lunch. The forensic group, still in its infancy, kept a short agenda, discussing only committee goals.
ULREF approved their 2017-18 operating budget. Foundation Chief Operating Officer Keith Sherman said budgets have “moving parts” and “nominal changes” could come in the year.
Both ULREF and the foundation board examined May financials. Director of accounting operations Jason Ruhl says current cash could run ULREF for more than 600 days.
Ernst and Young, one of the “big four” accounting firms, was selected for the foundation’s annual financial audit.
“I don’t think they’ll leave a stone unturned,” Sherman said.
Concern arose about the drop in donors during the board of directors meeting. Ruhl agreed that gifts are down, but explained that a one-time $20 million gift last year mitigates the 2016-17 $32 million drop.
Chairwoman Diane Medley disagreed with Board Chair David Grissom saying the loss of donors was a “hemorrhage.”
“I didn’t expect a high level of giving,” Medley said. She said the university is in a “place of positioning.”
Kathleen Smith Fired
Former aide to President James Ramsey, Kathleen Smith was fired by the foundation. Smith’s attorney, Ann Oldfather emailed media her client’s pay and benefits had ceased. Sherman later confirmed in a written statement that Smith had been let go. She had been on paid leave since September.
Following adjournment, Medley and Sherman had little to say on the matter. Oldfather, however, blasted a statement defending her client.
Interim possibly sought for Tomlinson
Sherman announced the board would possibly search for a temporary replacement for Chief Financial Officer Jason Tomlinson, who has reportedly been on paid vacation. Barely 24 hours after the forensic audit rocked U of L, the foundation announced Tomlinson had been placed on paid leave.
Medley contradicted previous reports at a June 14 foundation meeting saying that Tomlinson’s leave was “mutually agreed upon.”
“We didn’t put him on leave, he took leave,” she said.
Again, board members offered no comment at the June 22 meeting “out of respect” to Tomlinson.
The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools is scheduled to visit in September, and render an accreditation decision in December. SACS has expanded their investigation into the university’s finances. Previously the association was concerned with governance issues.
ULREF owes the university $9.8 million. Sherman is confident that ULREF will be able to pay back “at least some” of the money. Postel warned that SAC’s recommendations could require repayment in months instead of years.
Photo by Shelby Brown / The Louisville Cardinal