Dear Friends - UofL Foundation


May 24, 2016

Dear Friends:

We write to thank you for your confidence and loyalty in the University of Louisville and the management team that has created so much academic and economic development success over the past decade. President Jim Ramsey and his team, who have dealt with 15 successive cuts to the University’s state appropriation, have surpassed milestones well-beyond our expectations. As past chairmen of the Board of Trustees and current members of the UofL Foundation Board of Directors, we continue to strongly believe that Dr. Ramsey remains the leader UofL needs in these difficult times. During our service, we experienced an administration built on trust, collaboration, and vision that has transformed the campus from a sleepy commuter school to a vibrant and academically competitive university attracting increasingly larger numbers of more highly qualified applicants year-over-year.

 Because of his vision and record of accomplishment, we worked hard to keep President Ramsey at UofL. Over the years, professional recruiters came after him (some sent private jets with their trustees) because they saw the same things in the President that we did – a leader who gets results in a rapidly changing environment for higher education. We devised a strategy to retain Dr. Ramsey and key members of his executive team through 2012. Our efforts were successful, and Jim and his leadership team continue to achieve results for the University today.

Recently, as required by law, the UofL Foundation submitted its 990 tax filing to the IRS. The document includes information about the Foundation’s finances, including compensation amounts for President Ramsey and his team. Part of the way we retained Jim and his team was through a retention incentive that vested over more than a decade, and through a special retirement program spread over 40 years for Kathleen Smith, Chief-of-Staff to the President, who has been instrumental in raising nearly $150,000,000 in state, federal, and private funds.

The 990 data are NOT reflective of a single year of compensation nor are they just salaries. This data is from FY14 and has been previously publicized. The incentives we used to retain our management team included retirement (like 401k), retention (deferred compensation), earnings on the previous categories, miscellaneous non-cash benefits (e.g., health insurance, disability, long term care, life insurance, car, etc.) and tax indemnification. They reflect contracts that span more than thirteen years of committed service by the President and his team.

Because compensation for President Ramsey and his executive team have been a flashpoint in the news media as it relates to the future of the University, we felt it important to communicate directly with you about the compensation package, why we did it, and, most importantly, whether we achieved the desired results by retaining the Ramsey Administration.

What is absolutely clear is the University’s return-on-investment has been stellar during the Ramsey Administration, and what we paid to keep it in place was well worth it. Here are some of the results achieved, even in the face of dwindling state funds (over $323 million in cumulative reductions):

Clearly, we made the right decision in retaining Jim Ramsey and his leadership team. Yes, we had to increase their compensation and benefits to do it, just as any major entity with a high-performing executive team would do. The Ramsey Administration has transformed the University of Louisville into a nationally-recognized metropolitan research university. That was the state’s mandate by 2020, and under President Ramsey’s leadership we will reach Kentucky’s goal.


Robert C. Hughes, M.D.
Chairman, Trustees 2013-2015
Chairman, ULF Board, 2015-

Ulysses L. Bridgeman, Jr.
Chairman, Trustees 2003-2005
Treasurer, ULF Board
Director, ULF Board, 2000-2003

Frank Minnifield
Chairman, Trustees 2011-2013
Director, ULF Board, 2013-

Frank F. Weisberg
Secretary, ULF Board
Director, ULF Board, 2003-

Joyce Hagen
Vice Chair, ULF Board
Director, ULF Board, 2003-
Former Trustee

William Selvidge, M.D.
Chairman, ULF Finance Committee, 2012-
Director, ULF board, 2012-
Former Trustee

Salem George, M.D.
Chairman, ULF Audit Committee, 2010-
Director, ULF Board, 2010-
Former Trustee


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