Governor Beshear Appoints Two to University of Louisville Board of Trustees

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Students on the University of Louisville's main campus.

Eleanor Hasken / Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting

Students on the University of Louisville’s main campus.

This story has been updated to include a statement from the university.

Gov. Steve Beshear on Friday appointed two new members to the University of Louisville Board of Trustees, a high-profile group riddled in the past year by tensions over President James Ramsey’s management style and sharing of information.

The nominations came a day after State Auditor Adam Edelen announced he was examining the relationship between the board and the University of Louisville Foundation, a nonprofit that manages charitable contributions to the school.

The new appointees are:

Paul Diaz, executive vice chairman for Kindred Healthcare Inc, who is replacing Kevin Cosby.

Larry M. Hayes, secretary of the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development, replacing Phoebe Wood.

Larry Benz, CEO of PT Development in Louisville, was reappointed to the board.

The Courier-Journal reports that Benz is one the members who has called for a review of the University of Louisville Foundation, saying that its management of the school’s $1.1 billion endowment has grown too complex.

The board has been divided over how to handle its relationship with the University of Louisville Foundation, with Ramsey—who is also president of the foundation—denouncing calls for an audit.

Last year the foundation independently awarded hefty deferred compensation packages to Ramsey, Executive Vice President Shirley Willihnganz, and Ramsey’s chief of staff Kathleen Smith.

According to tax documents filed last year, Ramsey was awarded $1.86 million, Willihnganz received more than $663,000 and Smith received more than $272,000 in the 2012-2013 fiscal year.

Auditor Edelen will also investigate the governance structure of the school’s board of trustees, which oversees compensation of the school’s president, faculty and staff.

The new U of L trustees were chosen by Beshear from a larger list of candidates recommended by the governor’s Postsecondary Education Nominating Committee. The committee had put out a call for nominations on May 13 and met Thursday to recommend names to Beshear. The committee recommends three people for every vacancy.

The two new board members replace the Rev. Kevin Cosby and Phoebe Wood, whose terms expire Tuesday. Cosby, appointed in July 2009, is a minister and president of Simmons College of Kentucky. Wood, also appointed in July 2009, is the principal at CompaniesWood, a Louisville firm that advises and invests in early-stage companies.

The university released the following statement Friday night from Board Chairman Robert C. Hughes.

I welcome Paul Diaz and Larry Hayes to the Board of Trustees and look forward to working with them in support of the University of Louisville. I thank Dr. Kevin Cosby and Phoebe Wood for their outstanding leadership and their many contributions to U of L. Kevin and Phoebe always held the welfare of all our students as paramount, and they were Trustees who promoted the betterment and inclusiveness of the University at all times. We could count on their compassionate insight, and we want to continue to work with them in their new role as former Trustees.

This story was co-reported by WFPL News and KyCIR.

Disclosure: In October 2014, the University of Louisville, which for years has donated to Louisville Public Media, earmarked $10,000 to KyCIR as part of a larger LPM donation. Trustee Stephen Campbell has donated to KyCIR. 

  • Two board members employed by the same company does not constitute a great divide except when a writer is seeking to dramatize his story.

  • this it a nice history in univercity thanks for your bloogs