Mary Nixon
Mary Nixon

Mary Nixon, retired executive with Yum! Brands, is the new chair of the UofL Board of Trustees.

Nixon, who has been on the board since February 2018, succeeds David Grissom, who has served as board chair since 2017. Grissom will remain on the board but will not hold a leadership position.

A graduate of Western Kentucky University, Nixon spent 21 years as Yum! Brands’ vice president of tax and internal audit. Prior to her role at Yum!, she served as vice president and controller at PNC Bank for 10 years.

Her selection as chair “is an honor and a privilege,” Nixon said.

Nixon will bring many strengths to her role as chair, Grissom said, including financial expertise and “a strong moral compass.”

President Neeli Bendapudi praised Nixon and Grissom for their dedication to the university and thanked them for their strong support of her.

The board also elected Raymond Burse, former Kentucky State University president, as vice chair; Diane Medley, managing partner and co-founder of MCM CPAs & Advisors, as treasurer; and Bonita Black, attorney and partner at Dinsmore & Shohl, as secretary. Former vice chair Jim Rogers, retired COO of investment firm J.J.B. Hilliard, W.L. Lyons Inc., and John Smith, assistant director of intramural and recreational sports and UofL Staff Senate president, were elected as members of the Executive and Compensation Committee.

In other action, the Board approved a revised student housing plan that includes demolishing Threlkeld Hall and replacing it with a 450-bed facility. Previously, the plan included renovating and adding 50 rooms to the 239-bed hall. The new plan increases the cost by about $6.7 million, which will be offset by additional revenue and lower maintenance costs. If approved by the state, construction will begin in spring 2021, with the facility opening for the fall 2022 semester.

Also, the board approved refurbishing all lower-bowl seats at Cardinal Stadium and replacing seats at the Ulmer softball and Patterson baseball stadiums. The $1.8 million project will restore and/or replace almost 38,000 faded or damaged seats in the football stadium and about 3,000 seats in the other facilities.


John Drees is a 35-year veteran in the Office of Communications and Marketing. As vice president, communications and marketing, he works closely with the president, provost and other senior administrators, oversees the Office of Communications and Marketing, including media relations, marketing and brand, broadcast, social media, internal communication, crisis communication, visitor services and special events and activities. A former sports editor for the Voice Newspapers, he was a regular contributor to a variety of publications, including the Kentucky Sports Report and the Courier-Journal. A poor but enthusiastic golfer, he is an avid Cardinal sports fan. He also loves the Detroit Lions, so pity him.