Western alumnus may get U of L job

Mai Hoang

Western alumnus Jim Ramsey may be named as University of Louisville’s 17th president.

U of L’s Board of Trustees will vote today on whether to hire Ramsey. Ramsey, who is also the state budget director, has been interim president at U of L since September.

In 1997 Ramsey and President Gary Ransdell were tagged as the favorites among a handful of candidates to fill former president Thomas Meredith’s position at Western. At the time, Ramsey was Western’s vice president for Finance and Administration.

Ransdell eventually got the nod from the Board of Regents, and Ramsey later left Western.

U of L’s presidential search committee, a body of administrators, trustees, faculty, staff and a student, unanimously voted Tuesday to recommend Ramsey for the position.

If hired, Ramsey would replace former president John Shumaker, who left in June to become president of the University of Tennessee.

Rae Goldsmith, associate vice president of communications and marketing for U of L, said strong support has developed for Ramsey during his time as acting president at the university.

Goldsmith said the committee was impressed with Ramsey’s ability to handle tough issues like preparing for a possible state budget cut.

“He’s made a great effort to the keep the university moving forward and accomplished a great deal in a short time,” she said.

Ramsey’s credentials, which include positions in teaching, politics and administration were also attractive to the search committee, Goldsmith said.

“Dr. Ramsey certainly knows higher education,” she said. “He knows the legislature and he knows the other university presidents. I’m sure that was influential in the committee’s decision.”

Ramsey could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Ramsey was one of eight semi-finalists for the position at U of L. Goldsmith said she could not comment on the likelihood that the Board of Trustees will vote to hire Ramsey today. But she did say that the majority of members on the search committee are trustees.

As an undergraduate at Western, Ramsey studied business administration. He graduated in 1970.

Economics professor Robert Pulsinelli had Ramsey as a student for his intermediate macroeconomic theory class in 1967. He was one of two students to get an A.

“He was very sharp,” he said. “There was no doubt that he would be able to get a Ph.D in economics if he wanted to.”

Ramsey received both his master’s degree and doctorate in Economics at the University of Kentucky.

President Gary Ransdell said Ramsey would be a good president for U of L and has state government experience that will be beneficial to other university presidents in the state.

“He understands state government, he understands the political environment,” Ransdell said. “Over the last five years, he’s been an adviser to presidents in regards to state government and the budget. Now he will be one of the strategists with us and that will be good for all of us.”

Though many thought Ramsey would be hired as Western’s president in 1997, Ransdell wooed the Board of Regents with his interview and experience.

“He was a 10, and the others were a nine,” Regent Cornelius Martin said in 1997 after Ransdell was selected. He’s very focused and has good leadership skills.”

Reach Mai Hoang at [email protected]