U of L President James Ramsey (left) and Board of Trustees Chair Larry Benz outside January's board meeting
U of L President James Ramsey (left) and Board of Trustees Chair Larry Benz outside January’s board meeting

Ahead of a scheduled no-confidence vote on President James Ramsey’s leadership at next month’s University of Louisville Board of Trustees meeting, the faculty of several departments are being polled on that subject to help inform the Faculty Senate representative who votes as a trustee.

One of the 20 voting members of the Board of Trustees is Pamela Feldhoff, the representative of the Faculty Senate. She told IL on Wednesday that the method for determining how she will vote on the Ramsey motion “is still being discussed,” but she will ask each of the 67 faculty senators to give her input they receive from colleagues in their departments to inform her vote on April 20.

“Theoretically, (the faculty senators’ opinions) should be based on their constituent group,” said Feldhoff. “But to be frank, in our position as faculty senators, they may have access to information that all faculty members do not have access to and be aware of extenuating circumstances. Their constituents should inform their vote, but not necessarily dictate their vote.”

Insider Louisville has learned that faculty in several departments already have taken a confidential online poll asking how Feldhoff should vote next month, with those options including a vote of confidence or no confidence in Ramsey, or an abstention. In an email to Brandeis School of Law faculty on Tuesday that included a link to the poll, one of the school’s faculty senators added that “it is also possible that the Faculty Senate will take its own vote of no-confidence at its next meeting,” which takes place on April 6, two weeks before the Trustees meeting.

According to multiple sources at U of L, faculty in the College of Arts and Sciences already have completed their poll, with the results allegedly showing that roughly 75 percent of those voting indicated they want Feldhoff to vote in favor of the no-confidence motion on Ramsey’s leadership. Insider called all 11 senators from that college for comment on this process — as well as senators from several other departments — but none returned a voicemail.

Feldhoff told IL on Wednesday that she has not received any feedback from departments or senators on polling results among faculty.

After a motion for the no-confidence vote was blocked at the Board of Trustees meeting on March 1, nine members of the board publicly indicated they would have voted for it — one short of what was needed for passage, with several expressing confidence that it would have passed.

In addition to a faculty representative, the Staff Senate and Student Senate also both have a voting trustee on the board. Staff representative Angela L. Lewis-Klein and student representative Victoria Allen have not responded to a voicemail or email from IL seeking information on the process they will use to determine their vote.

On Monday, Ramsey sent out a mass email to U of L faculty, staff and students, directly addressing the no-confidence vote and his relationship with the Board of Trustees. In the email, Ramsey referred to being blindsided by the no-confidence motion at the previous meeting, saying it “was marred by discord, anger and tension.” He added that many trustees were understandably frustrated, not by his administration’s alleged shortcomings that spurred the motion, but by “the illegality of the Board’s composition” — a reference to an ongoing lawsuit challenging whether the board violates state law by having insufficient minority representation.

Ramsey went on to write that he will ask each trustee to meet with him individually to “discuss how we can regain our focus on our students,” and then provided a list of academic and fundraising accomplishments that U of L has achieved under his leadership.

**** UPDATE on March 25 ****

The faculty of the College of Arts and Sciences held their assembly meeting Friday and announced the full results from their poll, confirming that 75 percent of the faculty who responded want Feldhoff to vote for the no-confidence motion on Ramsey.

Counting both full-time and part-time faculty — 45 percent of whom filled out the survey — 75.4 percent indicated Feldhoff should vote no-confidence, while 16.2 percent wanted her to cast a vote of confidence in Ramsey, and 8.4 percent wanted her to abstain.

A larger 67 percent of full-time faculty completed the survey, with 74.1 percent indicating Feldhoff should vote no-confidence. Only around one-quarter of part-time faculty filled out the survey, but a larger 80 percent wanted a no-confidence vote.

Split into sections, 81.9 percent of Social Sciences faculty and 78.1 percent of Humanities faculty wanted a no-confidence vote, but only 51 percent of Natural Sciences faculty wanted such a vote.

Joe Sonka
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]