University of Louisville board names Dr. Greg Postel as interim president during Saturday meeting

01/21/2017 03:25 PM

LOUISVILLE — The University of Louisville board of trustees named Dr. Greg Postel interim president of the institution during a special meeting Saturday.

Postel, the executive vice president for health affairs who has worked at U of L for nearly 23 years after coming to the school from Mayo Clinic, will begin Jan. 30. Current interim President Neville Pinto will assume the presidency at the University of Cincinnati in February.

Speaking to reporters after the meeting adjourned, Postel said his appointment is “really a bit overwhelming.”

“Today represents a real opportunity for me to be able to help the university with its next phase of transition as we continue to work on issues that are so critical to us and eventually prepare for the selection of a permanent president,” he said.

Postel added that he doesn’t expect to seek the full-time presidency at U of L, saying he enjoys his position as executive vice president for health affairs and that he’s “a physician at heart.”

The U of L board, which met for the first time since the previous board’s abolishment, also laid the groundwork for a presidential search committee, passing a resolution that established selection criteria for the panel of up to 11 members.

The board also named interim officers during Saturday’s meeting. David Grissom, chairman of Mayfair Capital, will serve as chairman pro tem; John Schnatter, CEO of Papa John’s, will serve as vice-chairman pro tem; attorney Brian Cromer will serve as secretary pro tem; and Diane Medley, co-founder of Mountjoy Chilton Medley, will serve as treasurer pro tem until the board’s annual meeting.

It’s unclear exactly how long it will take the university to hire a new president in the wake of former President James Ramsey’s exit in July.

Postel said he could be in the interim role for a year to a year and a half, and Grissom said the academic calendar will be important to consider as university officials typically wait until the end of the school year to accept jobs with other schools.

U of L also “has to have some wins before it begins to cast the net for the next president,” Grissom told reporters.

“I think if you begin the search aggressively today without some wins, you won’t attract the caliber of candidate that we want to be able to attract,” he said.

“I would say the first matter to be resolved is the forensic audit of the foundation, for us to better understand what has gone on there and to take steps to remedy that,” he added.

“That would be a win. I think we need to begin a meaningful dialogue with the accrediting agency (the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools) so that we can know and understand what they are expecting of us and move the university in that direction. … I think you have to be able to show top-flight candidates for the presidency of the University of Louisville that we’re serious about addressing our problems and moving on.”

Postel, like Grissom, says he hopes SACS removes the university from accreditation probation. Other items on his to-do list are to keep U of L’s finances “solid” and ensure the Louisville community understands that the school provides “so many wonderful things.”

“Commonly there are distractions and things that become newsworthy that don’t allow us to really make a statement about how the university is impacting the lives of so many in our community and the tremendous economic impact we have that helps the city and the state,” he said.

The board took action on a pair of resolutions that suggested action by the U of L Foundation, which is undergoing a forensic audit due in May following Auditor Mike Harmon’s report of governance missteps at the endowment organization.

One recommended Medley’s appointment as chairwoman of the foundation board, and the other suggested that the foundation refrain from formalizing settlements or termination agreements with current and former employees.

Enid Trucios-Haynes, a faculty trustee on the board, was the lone dissenter, saying she wanted a better understanding of the foundation’s current position before making such recommendations to the organization’s board.

“I would like to have a sense of how far we have moved over the last few months before we make a determination that things are not moving,” she said during the meeting.

“I’ll be happy to give you a sense of it: not very far and not at a very good speed,” Grissom retorted.

“Well, I’d like more information and I would like to know that from the foundation to understand exactly what steps have been taken,” Trucios-Haynes said.

Grissom, speaking to reporters, said the resolutions were requests to the foundation to stay in a “holding pattern” until the forensic audit is completed.


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