With $48 Million Shortfall, U of L Plans Belt-Tightening

J. Tyler Franklin / KyCIR

University of Louisville’s Grawemeyer Hall

University of Louisville’s interim president on Thursday forecasted drastic belt-tightening at the school as leaders seek to plug a $48 million shortfall.

Interim president Greg Postel said large-scale layoffs would not take place and the school would honor a planned tuition freeze.

Postel, who will present a budget in the spring, expects to correct the 4 percent shortfall through reduced administrative overhead, while postponing some maintenance and cutting open positions.

“A further draw down of the university reserves is not possible,” Postel said. “They must be replenished, not depleted.”

The belt tightening comes as the new regime tallies the true state of U of L’s finances and endowment in the wake of former president James Ramsey’s departure. This follows a chaotic year that saw numerous leadership changes, a scathing state audit and donors publicly questioning the foundation’s spending. (Read “Amid University Uncertainty, U of L Leaders Cashed Out Big Perks“)

The university is changing the way it approaches budgeting, Postel said, — and “dramatically” adjusting its expectations for support from the University of Louisville Foundation as it seeks to rebuild its donor base. The foundation is also under a forensic audit, which board chair David Grissom said has been expanded in scope based on some preliminary findings of the auditor.

Grissom also announced on Thursday the resignation of trustee Junior Bridgeman. Bridgeman was a longtime member of the U of L Foundation, and was briefly chair of the trustees before a board turnover.

Grissom said Bridgeman told him his business responsibilities have grown and he doesn’t have enough time to serve. Bridgeman, whose company recently purchased a Coca-Cola bottling operation, couldn’t be reached for comment Thursday.

The board approved a new contract for Postel with the same salary he was making previously — $950,000, almost $300,000 more than Neville Pinto made as acting president before him.

Postel, who is also serving as interim executive vice president for health affairs, declined a car allowance. He also agreed to give up the $100,000 in annual deferred compensation, awarded to him by former president James Ramsey.

Instead, Postel will be eligible for a bonus each year in the same amount.

Kate Howard can be reached at khoward@kycir.org and (502) 814.6546. 

Disclosures: In 2015, the University of Louisville, which for years has donated to Louisville Public Media, earmarked $3,000 to KyCIR as part of a larger LPM donation. University board member Sandra Frazier and former member Stephen Campbell have donated. 

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