University of Louisville hires top campus lawyer from UNC-Chapel Hill

Leslie Strohm, who was UNC-Chapel Hill’s chief campus lawyer through years of controversy over athletics, academic fraud and sexual assaults, is leaving for a similar job at the University of Louisville.

Strohm, 58, is a UNC-CH vice chancellor and has been its general counsel since 2003. Over the past four years, she was a key campus adviser as two university chancellors grappled with criminal, NCAA and internal campus investigations of issues including the football program, improper benefits paid to athletes by professional sports agents, and a scandal over years of bogus classes created to keep athletes eligible to play.

Strohm herself was targeted in a 2013 complaint filed by students and a former assistant dean, who charged that the general counsel’s office deliberately under-reported campus sexual assaults. She told trustees the allegations, which are still the subject of a federal investigation, were false.

Strohm will start work in February as general counsel and vice president for strategy at Louisville, part of Kentucky’s state university system.

“Leslie’s expertise and experience will be invaluable as we continue our upward trajectory during difficult financial times,” James Ramsey, University of Louisville president, said in a news release.

Strohm said she and her husband grew up near Louisville and were University of Louisville sports fans as children.

“This opportunity brings me home and gives Paul and me the chance to be close to our families,” Strohm said in a news release. “It has been an honor and a privilege to serve such a distinguished university as Carolina.”

Chancellor Carol Folt said Strohm helped UNC-CH create an online MBA program and develop a new research center in the Galapagos Islands. Folt thanked Strohm for her work and for staying at Carolina until after the recent release of Kenneth Wainstein’s report on the bogus classes. She said she will appoint an interim successor and start a national search for a new general counsel.

Louisville’s student enrollment of 22,500 puts it about 75 percent the size of Carolina. The public universities share rivalries in intercollegiate athletics, with Louisville playing its first year as an Atlantic Coast Conference member.

Strohm, whose UNC-CH pay is $325,000, is still negotiating her salary at Louisville, a university spokesman said.