The University of Louisville has undergone a dramatic transformation under the leadership of its 17th president, Dr. James R. Ramsey. President Ramsey has worked aggressively to move the university toward its goal of becoming a “premier, nationally recognized, metropolitan research institution,” as mandated by Kentucky’s Postsecondary Education Reform Act. Since he became president in 2002, UofL has made great strides in five strategic areas:
- Educational quality
- Extramural research
- Campus diversity
- Community partnerships
Since 2002, the quality of UofL’s freshman class has improved each year, with the average ACT score of incoming freshmen climbing to 25.2 in 2013 from 23.2 in 2002. The university’s graduation rate has increased more than 60 percent and the number of doctoral degrees awarded has more than doubled since 2002. University of Louisville students are claiming a much larger share of the nation’s most prestigious academic honors. In 2009, UofL graduate Monica Marks from Rush, Ky., became the school’s fourth Rhodes Scholar and its first female to win the prestigious award. In both 2010 and 2011, fourteen UofL students secured coveted Fulbright scholarships, placing UofL among the nation’s top 20 Fulbright producing institutions each year. Since 2010, 43 UofL students have received Fulbright awards, more than all other Kentucky schools combined. Those outstanding students study overseas and many return to the state to live and work.
Dr. Ramsey also has created a university culture focused on research and innovation that seeks to improve the quality of life for people in Kentucky and beyond. The approach already has led to major milestones in healthcare, business and the environment. UofL’s research funding is more than double what it was a decade ago and faculty members have received international acclaim for their research work in regenerative medicine and spinal cord injuries.
Dr. Ramsey also has set the tone for encouraging diversity on campus. UofL has reached or made substantial progress on all eight of its goals set in the Kentucky Plan for Equal Opportunities. The university’s programming and support for military veterans and LGBT students has received national recognition while the Belknap Campus has changed from a “commuter school” to a residential campus. More than 5,000 UofL students live on campus or in university-affiliated housing compared with 2,300 when Dr. Ramsey became president.
The university’s ties with its community have never been stronger. Not only has UofL been a major player in the award-winning Partnership for a Green City with Jefferson County Public Schools and Louisville Metro government, it has launched a Signature Partnership Initiative to improve education, health care, social services and economic opportunity in west Louisville, an area of the city that’s been left behind economically and educationally. UofL has earned the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching's highest rating in the area of community engagement. UofL is one of only 119 schools nationwide and three schools in Kentucky to earn the designation in two areas, curricular engagement and outreach and partnerships. The school is also reaching out to men and women in the armed services, signing education, training and research agreements with Fort Knox and the Kentucky National Guard.
Under Dr. Ramsey’s direction, UofL is enjoying record-breaking fundraising efforts, raising more than $162 million in 2013 to help offset a continuing series of state budget cuts. The campus exceeded it's aggressive one billion dollar fundraising campaign called “Charting Our Course: A Campaign for Kentucky’s Premier Metropolitan Research University.”
A strong commitment to serving the community and state is nothing new for Dr. Ramsey. Before assuming UofL’s top post, he served as senior policy adviser and state budget director for Kentucky and senior professor of economics and public policy at UofL. He has served as vice chancellor for finance and administration at both the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Western Kentucky University. He has been associate dean, assistant dean and director of public administration in the College of Business Administration at Loyola University and research associate for the University of Kentucky’s Center for Public Affairs.
He has served on the faculties of UNC – Chapel Hill, WKU, UK, Loyola and Middle Tennessee State University. Dr. Ramsey is a tenured professor of economics.
A frequent national speaker and writer on economic issues in the public sector, Dr. Ramsey has received a number of honors and awards including the Boy Scouts of America Silver Beaver Award in 2012, Greater Louisville Inc.’s Silver Fleur-De-Lis Award in 2011, Louisville Advertising Federation’s Louisvillian of the Year Award in 2010, Western Kentucky University Distinguish Alumni Hall of Fame in 2010, Louisville Defender Outstanding Community Service Award in 2010, Business First Business Leader of the Year in 2007, University of Kentucky College of Business and Economics Alumni Hall of Fame in 2004, the Governor’s Association’s Outstanding Public Service Award in 2001, Kentucky’s Distinguished Economist of the Year in 1999 and the Fern Creek High School Hall of Fame in 1998.
A Kentucky native, he holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Western Kentucky University and master’s and doctoral degrees in economics from UK.
Sharing his love for public service is his wife, Jane Ramsey, who is involved in a host of community activities and organizations. She heads an effort to beautify UofL’s Belknap Campus and revitalize its surrounding south Louisville neighborhood.
The Ramseys’ two daughters attended UofL. Jenny, the oldest, holds a nursing degree, while Jacque has a degree in marketing as well as an MBA.James Ramsey