After a string of controversies , on Wednesday trustees of University of Louisville accepted the resignation of long-serving President James Ramsey. For 14 years Ramsey oversaw the evolution of the University into a distinguished research institution and top education facility, but his tenure became increasingly marked by complacency around a raft of scandals.
In 2015 the writing was on the wall for Ramsey after several university officials sentences to prison for fraud and embezzlement of more than $7 million in university funds. Further, an investigation was announced by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) into former university basketball coach Andre McGee allegedly paying for strippers and sex for players and recruits. Ramsey personally courted controversy when he was accused of racial insensitivity after posing for a photograph at a university Halloween party wearing stereotypical Mexican garb (he has since issued a public apology). It was enough to convince critics that Ramsey was out of touch with contemporary standards of probity.
Earlier this year, Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin announced that a new board of trustees would be convened and Ramsey would be leaving the University in the near future. Ramsey, who was on a $2.5 million salary, will receive a $690,000 payout. University Provost Neville Pinto will be acting President while the board seeks a new President.
Some universities appear to have a penchant for getting in the news for all the wrong reasons. Take the University of Louisville. In the last two years the university has courted controversy for a number of unrelated issues:
- Last year several university officials went to prison for fraud and embezzlement of more than $7 million in university funds.
- In October the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) announced an investigation of the university’s basketball program after a former escort alleged former coach Andre McGee paid for strippers and sex for players and recruits
- In November President James Ramsey, whose staggering US$2.5 million salary was controversial enough, was accused of racial insensitivity when he and senior staff posed for a photograph at a university Halloween party wearing stereotypical Mexican garb (he has since issued a public apology)
Now, the Courier-Journal has reported that the FBI is investigating top university officials for possible misuse of federal grant funds. Under investigation are David Dunn, the university’s executive vice president for health affairs, and Priscilla Hancock, its chief information officer, for misuse of federal money for private purposes. Both have been placed on leave.
Ramsey is facing increasing pressure to resign as head of the troubled university, but so far he is standing firm and appears to have the support of the Board of Trustees. His future, however, will likely hinge on the outcome of the new investigations and how much fault can be attributed to poor stewardship from the senior university leadership.