- Associated Press - Thursday, July 14, 2016

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - Offering a starkly different version of what happened a day earlier behind closed doors, a University of Louisville trustee said Thursday that embattled campus President James Ramsey did in fact offer his resignation to the school’s new board of trustees.

It was Ramsey’s method that caused confusion among trustees meeting for the first time since the board was reorganized by Gov. Matt Bevin, board Chairman Junior Bridgeman said.

The governing board took no action on the longtime president’s status at the meeting.

Trustees went into a lengthy closed session Wednesday to discuss personnel matters and potential litigation. During that time, Ramsey read a letter he sent to Bevin last month saying he would immediately offer his resignation to the newly appointed board, Bridgeman said.

“That’s where maybe some of the board members, including myself, were confused as far as that was his formal offer of a resignation,” Bridgeman said in a phone interview Thursday.

“But looking back on it, that’s exactly what he did,” he said.

Soon after reading the letter, Ramsey left the meeting, Bridgeman said. Ramsey walked directly to his office and didn’t return to the meeting. He declined to speak with reporters.

Bridgeman had offered a different account after Wednesday’s board meeting, telling reporters that Ramsey had not offered his resignation.

Bridgeman said the misunderstanding was cleared up Thursday in a conversation with Ramsey. He declined to criticize Ramsey’s handling of the situation. But asked if he would have preferred a written notice of resignation to trustees, he said: “It might have been better that way.”

Ramsey indicated during their conversation that he’s not wavering from his intention to step down as campus president, Bridgeman said.

Asked about a possible timetable for resolving Ramsey’s status, Bridgeman said “sooner is always better for everybody.” But he said the new board members want to “get as much knowledge to make the best decisions that you can for the university.”

The board isn’t scheduled to meet again until mid-August, but Bridgeman said it’s possible the trustees will reconvene before then to discuss Ramsey’s future.

Before the closed session, Ramsey was a main participant in the board meeting, giving a lengthy presentation about the school’s strategic plan during an orientation session for trustees.

The board’s handling of Ramsey’s status in closed session Wednesday has raised questions about whether it skirted the state’s open meetings law. The university has said its general counsel is confident the board complied with the law.

Bevin spoke to the trustees at the start of their meeting Wednesday. He said their appointment offered a “fresh start” for the school, adding that also required “new leadership” in the school’s administration. Bevin left after his remarks.

Later Wednesday, after no action was taken regarding Ramsey’s status, Bevin spokeswoman Jessica Ditto said the governor expected Ramsey “to honor the commitment he made” in his letter to offer his resignation to the new board.

On Thursday, Ditto said the governor has “full confidence” in the board to handle the matter.

“They will decide how to handle President Ramsey’s resignation and all other matters concerning the future of the university,” she said.

Ramsey has led the university for 14 years. During his tenure, Ramsey has been credited with leading successful fundraising drives and helping boost the university’s academic standards for incoming freshman and its graduation rate.

But in the past two years, he came under increasing attack for embezzlement scandals and other campus embarrassments, including an FBI investigation of a top health care executive.

Ramsey’s status is among the uncertainties overshadowing the campus. Another is the legal status of the school’s new board of trustees.

Bevin’s decision last month to disband the school’s former board and appoint a new board has drawn a legal challenge from the state’s Democratic attorney general, Andy Beshear.

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times is switching its third-party commenting system from Disqus to Spot.IM. You will need to either create an account with Spot.im or if you wish to use your Disqus account look under the Conversation for the link "Have a Disqus Account?". Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide