July 18, 2017

U of L Foundation fires chief financial officer

Grawemeyer Hall, U of L

By Kyeland Jackson —

U of L fired its chief financial officer Tuesday, marking further fallout from the scathing June 8 audit. Foundation Chair Diane Medley would not say if Tomlinson was fired for cause and said the foundation will search for a replacement.

Tomlinson’s termination follows more than a month of speculation, starting when he entered a “mutually agreed-upon leave.” News he was taking paid leave surfaced after June 8’s audit hammered U of L’s Foundation, alleging secrecy, deliberate overspending and questionable governance by former president James Ramsey and his administration. Tomlinson, Ramsey, and Ramsey’s former aide Kathleen Smith were top administrators in that regime. All were fired.

Medley said the removal of those former administrators gives the foundation a new start.

“It is what it is. Those top three individuals are no longer employees of the foundation,” Medley said after Tuesday’s meeting. “And as we’ve stated before, we are working to change the culture and change the processes that are going on here.”

Though hiring, firings and policy changes have reshaped the foundation and university, the donor impact has already hit hard. Keith Inman, U of L’s vice president for advancement, said donations are $21 million less now than fiscal year 2016.

Overall funds, he said, are down $97 million. He said both the NCAA scandal and publicity of the university and foundation’s governance affected donations. Through his 11-year tenure, he says this drop is unprecedented.

“We’ve never had anything like this affect us. This is the worst,” Inman said. “In our history here going through the campaign, up until now, we’ve broken records year after year. So we’re not used to reporting these kind of numbers.”

To lure donors back, Inman advised foundation directors clearly communicate the ULF’s mission and financially support it. Inman and the ULF Interim Executive Director Keith Sherman said donors have not totally rejected the university and will donate once U of L rights itself.

Tomlinson’s lawyer, Don Cox, was unavailable for comment at the time of this article.

File Photo / The Louisville Cardinal

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