James R. Ramsey Bio (download pdf)

Portrait of James R. Ramsey

The University of Louisville is on an upward trajectory under the leadership of its 17th president, Dr. James Ramsey.

Dr. 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 excellence
  • Research and scholarship
  • Campus diversity
  • Community partnerships
  • Accountability

Since 2002, the quality of UofL’s freshman class has improved dramatically, with the average ACT score of incoming freshmen climbing to 25.5 in 2015, more than four points above the national average and more than five points above the state average. The university’s graduation rate has increased over 20 percentage points from the 2002 rate of 33 percent and the number of doctoral degrees awarded has nearly doubled since 2002.

University of Louisville students are claiming a much larger share of the nation’s most prestigious academic honors. In 2015, student Amanda Allen was the only Kentucky student chosen for a prestigious Truman scholarship. Since 2003, UofL has been one of the nation’s top schools for producing Fulbright scholars. Eighty-eight UofL students have received Fulbrights, more than any other Kentucky college.

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. In 2015, UofL’s research funding was more than double what it was a decade ago and the university has become one of America’s fastest-growing research universities in National Institutes of Health funding.

Dr. Ramsey has overseen dramatic physical changes to the campus as well. Two new privately built residence halls opened in Fall 2015, adding more than 1,000 beds to campus. With more than 6,000 students, the on-campus population is nearly triple the 2,300 residents when Ramsey became president.

A spectacular, multimillion dollar road project that improved safety and created a sparking new entrance on the east side of campus also greeted students this fall.

Under Dr. Ramsey’s leadership, the university continued successful development of underperforming assets in 2015, adding additional properties to its J.D. Nichols Campus for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, a downtown hub for high-tech, life sciences-focused companies. UofL also opened a new office building, 700 North Hurstbourne, on its Shelbyhurst Campus and began construction of another building. The facilities are generating revenue that is pumped into the academic enterprise throughout the university.

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 continues to grow the Signature Partnership Initiative, which last year involved 101 partnerships focused on enhancing the quality of life and economic opportunity for residents of West Louisville. 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.

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. A tenured professor of economics, Dr. Ramsey has served on the faculties of UNC – Chapel Hill, WKU, UK, Loyola and Middle Tennessee State University.

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 Fort Knox Gold Neighbor Award and Down Syndrome of Louisville Humanitarian of the Year Award in 2015, the Louisville Central Community Center’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2014, Boy Scouts of America Silver Beaver Award in 2012, Greater Louisville Inc.’s Fleur-De-Lis Award in 2011 and 2012, Louisville Advertising Federation’s Louisvillian of the Year Award in 2010, Western Kentucky University Distinguished 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.

His wife, Jane Ramsey, shares his love for public service and 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 neighborhoods. The Ramseys’ two daughters graduated from UofL. Jenny, the oldest, holds a nursing degree, while Jacque has a degree in marketing as well as an MBA.



Contact Info:

James Ramsey




Office of the President

Grawemeyer Hall

University of Louisville

Louisville, Kentucky 40292


tel (502) 852-5417

fax (502) 852-7226