Retired U of L College of Business Dean Charlie Moyer: Jim Ramsey will go down as a great university president

Dean Charlie Moyer

Dean Charlie Moyer

Editor’s note: This is the third installment in a continuing series on the University of Louisville.

Charlie Moyer loves Jim Ramsey.

And because Moyer accomplished a great deal as dean, his educated opinion about the University of Louisville’s president carries weight. That, and Moyer is the most plain-spoken, least politic academic you’ll ever meet.

The former U of L College of Business dean calls Ramsey one of the best administrators he ever worked with during his 40-plus-year career.

“I’ve had 17 presidents during my career, and only two were worth anything. One was Tom Hearn at Wake Forrest. The other is Jim Ramsey here. There is no B.S. with (Ramsey).

“What you see is what you get.”

Moyer agreed to an interview with the understanding he could not comment on former U of L College of Business Dean Carolyn Callahan. Callahan stepped down April 25 as College of Business dean after less than one year. It’s not clear why Callahan left, but one insider called her exit “a very positive development.”

Ramsey is great, Moyer said, because he gave him and his faculty the autonomy to reinvent U of L’s business school as one of the best. And the results have been dramatic and demonstrable.

Business school graduates include Sean O’Leary, co-founder of Genscape, the Louisville-based energy intelligence firm. TNG Pharmaceuticals, Kentucky Chia and Rooibie Red Tea all were founded by U of L MBA students.

TNG Pharmaceuticals recently raised $4.6 million Series A round financing to commercialize its FlyVax, a cattle vaccine, Moyer noted.

U of L business-plan teams and pitch teams have won top awards in world-class competitions, including the Global Venture Labs Investment Competition, said Moyer and Van Clouse, associate professor of management.

“We need to start hanging banners like the basketball team,” Clouse said.

U of L’s Computer Information Systems program is ranked No. 49 in the world by the Association for Information Systems. “In the world, not in the U.S.,” Moyer said. (The AIS ranking is based on data points such as how many CIS scholars have published in top journals.)

Because the conventional media and public focus on college sports, not academics, “things like that get lost in the shuffle,” Moyer said. He acknowledged IL has covered the achievements of business school students. And those achievements are impressive.

Eduniversal ranks U of L’s masters program No. 9 in the U.S. and No. 32 in the world for entrepreneurship. The rankings, by Paris, France-based consulting firm SMBG, place U of L’s Entrepreneurship MBA program at No. 34 in the world. The biz school Masters in Accountancy is ranked No. 25 in North America.

• Last month, the TheraBracelet team from U of L took home $105,500 from the prestigious Rice University business plan competition. TheraBracelet students won third place in the Global Venture Labs Investment Competition in Texas last weekend.

• Trifecta Cooking Equipment from the Entrepreneurship MBA program won $10,000 in seed capital at the 2014 Alltech Innovation Competition last month in Lexington. At the competition, four graduate students won with FuturFry, a next-gen deep fryer that will save restaurants 40 percent on annual cooking oil costs.

• Last year, PDM Pharmaceutical took first place in the Graduate Business Concept category. The team of MBA students won $5,500 at the Idea State U business plan/pitch competition in Lexington.

Louisville’s business school is rated higher than any other state school in the commonwealth, including the University of Kentucky.

Moyer and Clouse, who is Cobb Family Professor of Entrepreneurship at U of L, said admission standards have risen dramatically at the College of Business. The school once accepted 2,500 students per year. Now, it accepts 1,400, Moyer said.

For the full-time MBA program, applicants must have a General Management Admission Test score of 600 or higher, with a GPA above 3.0. In turn, MBA students not only get an internship for 11 of the 13 months of the program, they get paid between $25,000 and $35,000 for those internships.

“This year, Humana took 14 students at $35,000,” Moyer said. “It’s tough to pair students up with companies paying $25,000 to $35,000. But when you get picked up, you have an awfully good shot at getting a (permanent) job with that company.”

Moyer said universities often are not honored in their hometowns; locals tend to consider schools in their own backyard inferior, even if in reality they are highly selective.

When Moyer came to Louisville from Wake Forest, he met with David Jones Jr., former Humana chairman and co-founder and chairman of Chrysalis Ventures, who has been critical of both U of L and UK for viewing themselves as  “sports programs.”

According to Moyer, Jones didn’t mince words, telling him U of L’s business school was “mediocre.” In response, Moyer said, “I took it as a challenge.”

And, Moyer said, guess who eventually ended up teaching there? David Jones Jr.

In an interview with Insider Louisville, Jones said he remembers meeting with Moyer not long after Moyer arrived at U of L.

“He asked me, ‘What do you think about the opportunities for the school of business?’ I told him to pick up the phone and call his equivalent at UK, ask him to meet on I-64 halfway between Louisville and Lexington, and build one great school instead of two mediocre ones.”

Of course that didn’t happen. But Jones credits Moyer with improving the business school at nearly every level.

And yes, Jones did end up teaching classes for two years at U of L until his election to the Jefferson County Board of Education in 2012.

The classes he taught was “Leading the New Enterprise” for students who want to start a business, or who want to go work for a young business.

He described his students as smart, energetic and engaged. “I have to say, I loved teaching,” said Jones, who began his career as an English teacher in China. “I hope to do it again.”

Jones calls Moyer “an agent of change,” who not only created the Entrepreneurship MBA program and increased academic rigor, but perfected scheduling coherence to accommodate students coming to class while working 50 or 60 hours at their jobs.

“I have no idea how Charlie did that.”

Looking ahead, Moyer believes U of L’s future lies in becoming more like Miami of Ohio, a public university most people believe is private because of its academic reputation for excellence. U of L, like Miami, offers a private-school quality degree at a public-school price, he said.

Seven years ago, Moyer said, U of L’s MBA program tuition was $13,000, one of the cheapest in the region. Now, it’s $30,000 and considered a high-value investment, especially compared to Wake Forest, which is about $41,000.

All of this happened during Ramsey’s tenure, Moyer said. “I told Jim Ramsey I’d give him five years (as dean), and I served nine.”

Asked if he thought Ramsey’s tenure was currently going well, Moyer demurred. But asked directly about whether Ramsey was doing well overall, he was unflinching.

“There are not many presidents who dramatically improve a university. I think when the day is done, people will be saying James Ramsey was one of those guys.”