Vickie Yates Brown Glisson | Photo via Glisson for Congress

Democratic legislators of the Kentucky General Assembly have urged the University of Louisville to reconsider the potential appointment of Vickie Yates Brown Glisson as a term professor, arguing that the hiring is questionable due to what they call a lack of transparency and her “exorbitant” salary.

The letter making this request on Thursday was addressed to UofL interim President Greg Postel and signed by all 36 Democratic members of the state House and three Democratic senators from Louisville. The letter was also sent to UofL’s interim provost Dale Billingsley and members of the UofL board of trustees.

Glisson had served as the secretary of the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services in the Bevin administration since December of 2015, until she announced that she would resign from that position in order to run for Congress on Jan. 30, the deadline for candidates in Kentucky to file for office this year.

As Insider Louisville first reported last week, Glisson finalized the terms of an employment agreement to serve as a professor with UofL’s School of Public Health and Information Sciences on the morning of Jan. 29, after what she described as “months of negotiating.” It wasn’t until late that afternoon that Glisson informed Postel over the phone that she intended to announce her run for Congress challenging incumbent John Yarmuth the next day.

Though she and the dean of the school came to terms on her contract, Glisson’s appointment has not yet been finalized by the UofL board of trustees, which did not take up her appointment at its meeting last Thursday. UofL spokesman John Karman said Thursday that she has not yet begun teaching.

The employment offer letter finalized on Jan. 29 stated that Glisson would initially teach part time from Feb. 1 to June 30 of this year, and then begin a two-year full-time appointment through June 30, 2020, with an annual salary of $200,000 in those years. Karman stated last week that the amount of her salary was “within range for this particular position,” and she was being hired because she would bring “great experience” to her students after serving as a cabinet secretary.

However, the letter sent to Postel on Thursday by Democratic legislators calls into question the circumstances of her hiring, stating that UofL “seems to have circumvented its regular hiring procedure which employs traditional search processes, interviews, and mutual agreement on the applicant.”

The Democrats went on to assert that Glisson would be starting a part-time position making $200,000, “when historically full-time University professors are hired in the range of $55,000 to $60,00 range. This salary seems exorbitant for a part-time employee, particularly as the University is experiencing a very real fiscal crisis.”

The letter also questioned Glisson’s tenure as the secretary of the Cabinet for Health and Family Services under Gov. Matt Bevin, such as “her expanded Medicaid waiver advocacy, and the unsuccessful rollout of the Benefind program.” It went on to state that “an even more pressing issue is the lack of transparency and curious circumstances” of Glisson’s employment at UofL.

“In light of Ms. Glisson’s background of questionable policy decisions and management problems, lack of transparency in the hiring and vetting process, and the excessively high salary for a part-time University position, we respectfully request that you and the Board of Trustees reconsider her employment with the University of Louisville,” the letter concluded.

UofL interim President Greg Postel | Photo by Joe Sonka

Asked why the UofL trustees did not take up and vote on Glisson’s appointment after their meeting last week, Postel told Insider that the trustees could not do so because it was “still going through the usual process” within the School of Public Health and Information Sciences.

“It has to go through the school, and there has to be a vote of the faculty of the school, and there are several processes before it gets to the stage of where the board of trustees would even vote on it,” said Postel. “So it’s not that far through the pipeline yet.”

Asked by Insider on Thursday if a vote of the school’s faculty had been taken yet on Glisson’s appointment, in addition to what UofL bylaws would require such a faculty vote, Karman said he did not yet have that information.

Karman and Glisson’s campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the letter sent to UofL officials on Thursday by the Democratic legislators.

Glisson told Insider last week that her contract would allow her to work part time in the fall semester if she wins her Republican primary this May and moves on to the general election, “but I will work with UofL concerning the decision of whether I will remain part time or will move to full time.”

In a response to the original Insider story on her campaign Facebook page last week, Glisson wrote that she had made a special arrangement with UofL when she left her position at Nucleus — an affiliate of the UofL Foundation — in 2015 to join the Bevin administration, in which “it was agreed that I would come back to the university after my service in Frankfort.”

Glisson’s annual compensation from the UofL Foundation ranged between $334,184 and $383,921 in her last few years at the helm of Nucleus. Glisson eventually resigned from that role three months after starting her position as cabinet secretary — shortly after WDRB revealed an unconventional arrangement in which she remained a paid employee of the foundation while the state reimbursed the foundation for her salary.

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Joe Sonka is a staff writer at Insider Louisville focusing on government, politics, education and public safety. He is a former news editor and staff writer at LEO Weekly and has also freelanced for The Nation and ThinkProgress. He has won first place awards from the Louisville Metro chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists in the categories of Health Reporting, Enterprise Reporting, Government/Politics, Minority/Women’s Affairs Reporting, Continuing Coverage and Best Blog. Email him at [email protected]


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