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As U of L Continues With Reforms, School Donations Drop

As the University of Louisville Foundation continues with reforms, donations to the school have dropped.

During a Foundation board meeting Wednesday, members discussed school contributions --  which have declined since fiscal year 2015. During that year, donors gave U of L $82.2 million. In fiscal year 2017, they gave just over half that amount.

The university has struggled to repair its image since an audit unveiled excessive spending, obfuscation and secrecy within the administration.

U of L Interim President Greg Postel has tried to recruit donors since his appointment, and said new contributions would inflate donation numbers for fiscal year 2017. The university said those attempts to court donors have cost the school, stripping $491,000 of Postel’s budget in half the time expected.

During an October appearance before Louisville's Rotary Club, ULF Interim Executive Director Keith Sherman assured business leaders that the foundation was reformed.

“The donors that are so generous with their dollars at the foundation are really there to support the academics and we hope and trust that our donors will know that there’s great academic work going on, and they should continue to support us and continue to give,” Sherman said.

Though the university and its foundation made changes to its administration and policies -- changes that helped save U of L’s accreditation -- the school still faces many challenges.

Former chief financial officer Jason Tomlinson and former head men's basketball coach Rick Pitino are suing the university, incurring attorney fees and demanding cash settlements. Former athletic director Tom Jurich has threatened to sue, asking that the university reach a settlement with the coach.

And Moody’s Investors Service downgraded its rating on U of L 's debt while reaffirming its rating on the ULF's bonds. That affects nearly $300 million of debt between the university and foundation, and follows a Moody’s downgrade for the ULF last year for low investment returns.

In Wednesday’s ULF meeting, Sherman said he was disappointed with the rating held for the foundation but generally pleased it was not downgraded. Moody’s decision communicates trust in the ULF’s reforms, he said, and further reform could upgrade the Foundation's rating.

Sherman said the university is working hard to regain a positive rating with Moody's.

Kyeland Jackson is an Associate Producer for WFPL News.

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