Leaders of the University of Louisville and its foundation pledged Thursday to continue working through their differences even amid more public dissent.
U of L Board of Trustees chair Larry Benz and U of L Foundation chair Brucie Moore vowed to reach amicable solutions for the university and the nonprofit that financially supports its programs. But a power struggle between the two entities hasn’t gone away and on Thursday they continued to spar over who will oversee a Foundation audit.
“Both Chair Moore and I are committed to working together… to reconcile, and come up with creative solutions, to get us to the restored confidence from the community in the Foundation,” Benz said.
Moore said she’s worked to address concerns over the Foundation’s governance since her election as its board chair last week, and that she was glad to hear Benz agreeing “with many of the comments I’ve already made.”
“Unity is important but most important is to bring confidence to the university, including the Foundation,” Moore said.
The public show of unity came a couple hours after heated discussion. Benz was re-elected as chair as part of an all male slate of officers, creating an all-male executive committee.
Moore joined trustees Marie Abrams, Bob Hughes and faculty representative Enid Trucios-Haynes in criticizing the lack of female representation. No one nominated an alternate slate, however.
Moore also drew criticism for saying the Foundation board would move forward with selecting a nationally recognized firm to conduct a Foundation audit. When Benz threatened a lawsuit earlier this month, he laid out a “pathway to restored confidence” that included letting the university trustees oversee an audit.
“I ask everyone to simmer down, take a breath, let this group meet and see what their request is… and let’s all move forward,” Moore said.
Trustee Craig Greenberg said Moore appeared to be thumbing her nose at the board.
Moore noted that lots had changed since she supported a resolution to sue the Foundation, notably James Ramsey’s resignation from his position as president of the Foundation. She said the tone of the discourse needs to change too.
Moore claimed Benz called her last week and demanded fast action to avoid a lawsuit — a statement that contradicted his most recent public pronouncement.
“I will not be bullied like this,” Moore said.
Asked later about the allegation, Benz said he’s made public his requests and letters laying out his concerns.
“We remain committed to that, but we also remain committed to working together for the mutual benefit of the University of Louisville,” Benz said.
There was no discussion Thursday of a WDRB story that found the U of L Foundation has withdrawn as much as $60 million from the endowment since 2008 and loaned it to its own real estate company. Moore said she hadn’t read the story yet.
Kate Howard can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and (502) 814.6546.
Disclosure: 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 members Stephen Campbell and Sandra Frazier have donated to KyCIR.