University administration responds to AAUP Survey Findings Wednesday, Sep 30 2020 

By Madelin Shelton —

University Provost Beth Boehm and Chief Financial Officer Dan Durbin have responded to The Louisville Cardinal’s request for comment over a recent story about the results of the U of L American Association of University Professors, or AAUP, survey.

In the survey, faculty reported substantial negative economic effects as a result of the University’s financial actions in response to COVID-19.

The survey provided recommendations for the university to mitigate these effects, including ending temporary salary cuts, putting the university’s full retirement benefit contributions back into place, putting faculty representation on important decision-making bodies in charge of budgeting, and planning for the 2020-2021 academic year.

The Cardinal asked Boehm and Durbin to directly address the concerns of the AAUP in their correspondence. First, they detailed representation of faculty on important decision-making bodies related to COVID-19.

Through the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, the statement from Boehm and Durbin said that faculty representation has been included on the Board of Trustees through Faculty Senate chairperson, who is a voting member of the board, on the COVID-19 Senior Leadership Group, on the Budget Planning and Monitoring Committee, and on the Academic Scenario Planning Committee.

Furthermore, Boehm and Durbin detailed meeting with faculty repeatedly through organizations including the Faculty Senate Leadership and the Faculty Senate Executive Committee throughout the COVID-19 crisis to update them on financial issues and seek their input on the budget and COVID-19 mitigation strategies.

In regard to following the AAUP recommendations of ending temporary salary cuts and reinstating full retirement benefit contributions, Durbin and Boehm said that salary reductions were temporary and only effective from April 1 through June 30, 2020.

“Retirement contributions were also partially restored on Aug. 1, 2020, to begin funding 2.5% of base salaries and the full 2.5% of optional contributions,” their statement said. “Future additions to the retirement plan funding will be evaluated in December based on the financial situation.”

When asked if the university administration had been in talks with the AAUP to seek out advice on the next steps, the statement said that Boehm had reached out to Melissa Merry, President of the U of L AAUP chapter, in response to the survey back in July.

The provost expressed being disheartened at the results of the survey, and detailed the tough financial situation the university has found itself in as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The solutions are not easy but will require us all working together and from the same set of facts,” Boehm said in the email to Merry.

Boehm expressed a desire for further information about the results of the survey and the conclusions drawn from it.

“Once I have a better understanding of the survey instrument and of what the results tell us, I’d be happy to engage in the dialogue you suggest,” Boehm told Merry.

File Photo//The Louisville Cardinal

 

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Governor Beshear appoints new members to U of L’s Board of Trustees Tuesday, Sep 29 2020 

By Madelin Shelton —

Governor Andy Beshear has appointed Diane Porter and Alfonso Cornish to the University of Louisville’s Board of Trustees. Porter, a retired educator and U of L graduate, replaces Bonita Black. Cornish, a consultant for Closing the Gap Consulting, replaces Ronald Wright.

Porter has served on the Jefferson County Board of Education since June 2010 and has spent 40 years working in various capacities within education, including as a teacher, guidance counselor, assistant principal and principal.

Porter learned of her appointment when Beshear called her and told her the news. Of the phone call, Porter said, “It was the most exciting experience to have the Governor tell me [of my appointment].”

When asked about how her previous experiences will help her in her new role as a Board of Trustee member, Porter pointed toward her experience as a lifelong educator.

“I was an employee with the Jefferson County Public School system when I graduated from the University of Louisville. I started as a teacher, got a Master’s in Counseling and became a counselor,” she said, “I think I bring an academic lens and a caring lens for all that are involved in education, that’s what I bring to the table.”

Porter said she is most excited to learn about how the Board of Trustees works and how the management is done. She is also looking forward to doing everything she can to support the University of Louisville.

When asked what she most loved about the University of Louisville, she referenced the university’s commitment to providing education to students of color.

“When I went to college, not everyone thought that young people of color could go to college or should go to college,” she said, “What I love about the University of Louisville was the fact that they opened their doors for students [of color] to learn and that the opportunities were great.”

The Louisville Cardinal reached out to Alfonso Cornish but received no comment.

File Photo // The Louisville Cardinal 

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Campus responds to Breonna Taylor charges Wednesday, Sep 23 2020 

By Joseph Garcia — 

Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron announced a Jefferson County Grand Jury would charge only one officer, former LMPD detective Brett Hankison, with wanton endangerment in the case of Breonna Taylor’s murder.

University of Louisville President Neeli Bendapudi called the announcement “a reminder that we must recommit to pursuing racial justice and pushing for changes in law enforcement, our legal system, public policy and our educational curricula.”

Taylor was killed March 13 when three LMPD officers entered her home with a “no-knock” warrant. When the police came through the door, Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, fired a one round at police after asking who was there and receiving no response. The officers returned more than two dozen shots. Taylor’s death certificate says she was shot five times, however today, Cameron said she was actually struck six times.

Hankison is the only one of the three officers indicted. He is charged with three counts of first-degree wanton endangerment for firing into neighbor’s apartments, not for the death of Taylor.

A wanton endangerment charge is a class D felony, it comes with a penalty of one to five years.

“While I am pleased that the grand jury has acknowledged the unlawful actions of this police officer and that he will be tried for the unnecessary violence he caused that night,” Bendapudi told students, faculty and staff.  “I am disappointed that our justice system allows these atrocities to occur all too often with relatively little consequence.”

Bendapudi said the attorney general’s announcement does not change the fact that Taylor was killed in her home.

“It does not fix a system that allowed that to happen,” she said, citing a Harvard study which found that Black people are three times more likely on average than white people to be killed during a police interaction.

U of L’s Student Government Association Top 4 said they too are disappointed that Taylor will “not receive the justice she so deserved.”

“For many of our students, waiting for this announcement has been an incredibly emotional time,” SGA said in a statement on social media. “These results will be very difficult to handle, especially for our Black students.”

The university is offering resources for students, faculty and staff to heal during this time.

Faculty and staff may use the Employee Assistance Program to receive counseling services. While U of L’s Counseling Center is offering virtual and personal counseling sessions for students, which SGA said is free to students as part of the $50 insurance fee billed at the start of the year.

“As long as you have not voided this fee on ULink, your visit to the Counseling Center will be covered,” they said.

Some professors have already begun listening to what their student’s are feeling and have canceled their classes.

“I want to respond to the needs of my students,” Siobhan Smith-Jones said after cancelling her 4 o’clock Mass Communications course.

Smith-Jones said she would have continued with class had the students wanted to, pushing down her own feelings of hurt.

“Because I am hurt, I know many of my students are too,” she said. “They are also confused, disappointed and disgusted. They want to protest or protect themselves and their families.”

“I’m here to help, not hinder,” Smith-Jones said.

She also added that the ramifications of this decision will impact Louisville, and therefore U of L, for years to come.

“Our students will have a hand in making the changes needed to our socio-political systems,” she said. “They have a perspective that no one else has; this is their city.”

“So in that,” she said. “Canceling class is a small thing.”

File Photo // The Louisville Cardinal

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Bendapudi challenges faculty to new “Grand Challenges” initiative Wednesday, Sep 16 2020 

By Victoria Doll — 

University of Louisville President Neeli Bendapudi is challenging faculty to use their research and scholarships to improve local communities through a new initiative called the “Three Grand Challenges.”

These challenges, identified by the Grand Challenges subcommittee, include: empowering local communities, advancing local health and engineering a future economy.

“We will help create communities where everyone has a voice, a choice and the opportunity to thrive,” Bendapudi said

The “Advancing Our Health” initiative seeks to help people live longer, healthier and more resilient lives. The final challenge, “Engineering Our Future Economy,” is aimed at designing a future of unmatched opportunity and incredible possibility.

By having the Grand Challenges subcommittee powered by researchers and experts from many disciplines, Bendapudi is confident that the U of L community can contribute valuable research to overcome these challenges.

“These are big, global problems our U of L community can help solve through multi-disciplinary research and scholarship. This transformative effort will take all of us — our researchers, scholars, innovators and students across every discipline at U of L. It is time for us to organize and move these challenges forward together,” she said.

Bendapudi went on to say that the solutions found to overcome these challenges will aid in creating a brighter future for Louisville, the state of Kentucky and the world beyond.

U of L is currently looking for faculty who desire to contribute to the “Three Grand Challenges” initiative. Interested faculty can fill out the “Join the Challenge” form.

File Photo // The Louisville Cardinal

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U of L apologizes for vague RAVE alert Friday, Sep 11 2020 

By Eli Hughes–

A vague RAVE alert sent campus-wide at 2:19 a.m. Sept. 10 potentially endangered students and resulted in an almost immediate apology.

The alert said: “A black male wearing a red hoodie ran from Clark County Indiana Police and is possibly on campus. If you see someone matching this description- call ULPD or LMPD.”

Faculty and students said the vague description was potentially dangerous to black students on campus.

Three U of L officials released statements the morning after the alert went out to apologize for the incident.

“This morning a RAVE Alert went out asking our campus to be on the lookout for a Black male in a red hoodie, ” President Neeli Bendapudi said in her statement. “That is not an anti-racist statement. While the description may have been true, it is too vague to be of any help and it perpetuates negative stereotypes (especially on a campus whose colors are red and black and whose student population is proudly more than 12% Black) that make some members of our campus community targets. There is no excuse for that.”

Bendapudi apologized to those who were negatively affected by the alert and promise that the university would do better in the future.

ULPD Chief Gary Lewis took responsibility for the mistake and said the alert was unapproved and did not fit the criteria for a RAVE alert.

“The lack of oversight in approval of the message, the tone and the ambiguous wording all potentially contributed to making some individuals on our campus that already suffer from the trauma of racial stereotyping less safe and not more,” Lewis said. “Further, our policy is to use RAVE Alerts for law enforcement updates only when there is either 1) a serious crime, or 2) an immediate threat to our campus. This situation did not meet either criteria.”

Dr. Kaila Story, a professor of Women and Gender Studies and Pan African Studies at U of L, posted her frustration to Facebook.

“These vague RAVE alerts have always put marginalized groups on our campus at risk. BIPOC faculty, students and staff on our campus already have to navigate racialized and gendered microaggressions in almost every space on our yard, and when alerts like these come through our phones and emails they inevitably invite more scrutiny and harm to these already vulnerable groups,” Story said.

“It wasn’t just Black male bodies that were put at risk, it was also Black bodies that registered to onlookers as masculine, non-binary and/or masculine as well,” Story said. “So many folks were put at risk.”

One student who was hurt and disappointed when he saw the RAVE alert was Torien Miles, a senior at U of L. “I’m in the marching band and we had just had a performance the day before and I was on campus, as a black male wearing red. I wear red all the time,” Miles said.

“So I fit the description just a couple hours before that RAVE alert went out. And if had gone out, instead of 2 a.m. at 8 p.m. or something I would have been on campus fitting that description.”

Miles believes that if the university is going to stay true to their anti-racist ideas, there needs to be actions taken, and not just apologies after the fact. “That email is a good step in the right direction but it takes a lot more visible action and a lot more workable action to make these things right,” he said.

Faye Jones, senior associate vice president for diversity and equity said, “As the mother of children that fit the description of the RAVE Alert that went out this morning, I am sitting with the enormous weight and frustration of yet another example of how our systems can fail our young Black and Brown students, faculty and staff. The system unquestionably failed this morning.”

Jones said she would be working with her colleagues and university stakeholders to prevent this issue from happening again. She also apologized and offered support to anyone who was hurt by the mistake.

Story agrees that this mistake goes against the anti-racist goals the university has.

“If U of L truly aims to be seen and regarded as a premier anti-racist institution these types of incidents cannot continue to happen. Their needs to be structural changes behind those aims. I also think that financial allocations need to be adjusted within the University to prioritize departments, programs, and initiatives that have always been invested in teaching anti-racist praxis,” she said.

The Student Government Association ‘Top Four’ also believes the university needs to be held accountable for this incident. In a statement posted on social media they said,  “The Student Government Association shares your frustrations regarding this RAVE alert incident as well as the repeated alerts that went out a couple weeks ago regarding protests in the area. Campus safety includes all of us, and we cannot achieve that when we put our Black students at risk.”

“Please know that SGA has been working with ULPD and university administration on this issue. We are committed to holding university leadership accountable to this repeated issue.”

Graphic by Joseph Garcia // The Louisville Cardinal

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A timeline of U of L’s COVID-19 response Tuesday, Sep 8 2020 

By Eli Hughes–

The outbreak of COVID-19 has led to changes in many aspects of everyone’s lives.  Universities have been some of the environments most impacted by this change, so the University of Louisville has made numerous adjustments over the past few months to protect students, faculty and staff.

Spring Semester

Governor Andy Beshear confirmed Kentucky’s first case of COVID-19 on March 8. The patient was from Harrison County and received medical treatment in Lexington. By March 10, the confirmed cases had risen to eight and the first case was reported in Louisville.

On March 11, U of L President Neeli Bendapudi announced that spring break would be extended until March 17 and when students returned to classes, they would do so remotely until at least April 5. She also took that time to announce that all international travel by the university would be canceled immediately. On March 18, Bendapudi announced that U of L’s remote learning plan would remain in place until the end of the semester, April 28.

Later that week on March 14, Bendapudi announced that all campus events would be canceled or postponed. She also informed U of L faculty and staff that anyone eligible should switch to working remotely.

Provost Beth Boehm announced on March 20 that the university would give students the choice to switch any of their classes to pass/fail. This decision came after students expressed concerns over adapting to the online environment. Switching to pass/fail means that as long as the student earns a D- in a course that class will count as a pass and will not affect their grade point average. A failing class will still affect their GPA negatively.  Students were able to change the classes at any point before the last day of classes through ULink.

Because the campus never fully closed due to the pandemic, businesses on campus had to adapt to meet the needs of those still on campus while prioritizing health and safety. Restaurants on campus switched to carry-out only on March 16. The campus bookstore closed to the public on March 24 but continued to process online orders in the store.

Summer

Bendapudi announced on March 27 that classes for the summer term would be held online only. Students could take online courses for a reduced tuition rate if those classes were supposed to be offered as in-person classes.

Fall Semester

The fall 2o2o semester began on Aug.17 with new precautions put into place. The university gave students three options to choose when registering for fall classes: in-person, hybrid and online-only. More than 50% of classes are being taught with a hybrid model, which means the classes are partially taught online and partially taught in-person. During in-person classes and any other public spaces on campus, students, faculty and staff are expected to wear face masks and social distance at least 6 ft when possible.

U of L plans to hold in-person classes until Nov. 25, there will then be a five-day break for thanksgiving and when classes resume on Nov. 30, they will be held online. This schedule will not affect fall break which will be held on Oct. 5-6 as originally planned.

Originally, U of L offered optional COVID-19 testing for two weeks and maintained that they would not require mandatory testing due to CDC guidelines, U of L then abruptly switched to mandatory testing. All students and faculty planning to attend in-person classes would be required to be tested for COVID-19 before Sept. 4.

U of L  set up a website dedicated to COVID-19 results from the university’s testing. The webpage was updated once a week, but after students demanded on social media for the university to release more frequent updates, U of L decided to change its stance, now updating the dashboard three times a week..

As of Sept. 4, U of L has a total of 280 positive COVID cases, excluding 92 positive cases in the athletic department, out of almost 18,500 tests.

This story will be updated as more information is released.

Graphic by Eli Hughes//The Louisville Cardinal

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U of L reports 38 new COVID cases in first week of school Tuesday, Aug 25 2020 

By Joseph Garcia —

The University of Louisville had 38 new cases of COVID-19 last week.  Of 2,615 new tests, 38 came back positive.

This brings U of L’s cumulative total of positive cases to 90 out of almost 5,000 administered tests over the past two weeks. The positivity rate is now 1.83%.

This number does not include the 85 positive cases in the athletics department. Those numbers won’t be updated until later this week said Kenny Klein, associate athletics director.

Since Aug. 17, the university has switched its stance on at-will testing and has now made testing mandatory for all students, faculty and staff who come to campus. In an email sent Aug. 25, the Pivot to Fall Committee reported that more than 1,400 people – almost one third of the total who participated in the previous two weeks – were tested Aug. 24. Evening hours for all Belknap testing locations have also been added from 6-9 p.m. on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

“We are pleased to see the positivity rate decline but even more pleased to announce that we have greatly increased the number of contact tracers in our employ to 8 FTE,” the committee said. “We remain hopeful that the combination of testing, tracing and good hygiene will enable us to continue normal operations.”

U of L Director of Communications John Karman said the change to mandatory testing came to better see how the university is doing in preventing the spread of the virus.

“We need more comprehensive data to ensure we are controlling any spread on campus, allowing us to continue to offer classes as designed for the duration of fall semester,” Karman said.

Individuals who refuse to get tested before Sept. 4 may face disciplinary action from the university Karman said.

“Students who don’t comply will be subject to discipline under the Student Code of Conduct. Similarly, faculty and staff may be subject to discipline under the Redbook,” he said. “The dean of students’ office, department heads and supervisors will receive notification of who has been tested.”

Online, students have criticized the university for their transparency on reporting COVID cases.

Since launching the testing dashboard, U of L has released data on how many tests have been administered and how many have come back positive. This information is updated by Campus Health every Tuesday. Students are saying that’s not enough.

Nick Beeny, a senior music education major, is one of those criticizing the university’s actions. He said weekly testing doesn’t give students enough time to make informed decisions on how they should take their classes.

“I honestly think the bare minimum should be daily updates,” Beeny said. “We are expected to make decisions on whether or not we feel safe and whether it would be better to take remote classes, however we really aren’t given enough data to make informed decisions. Before a week is up, case counts could spike dramatically and we wouldn’t know about it until later.”

Student Government President Sabrina Collins said she and other Top 4 members have expressed their concerns to university admin and asked to begin posting daily updates.

“We have encouraged the administration to provide the most up-to-date testing information to the student body as they receive it,” Collins said. “We were told they would ‘pass it on.'”

Karman said the numbers aren’t released daily because they can “greatly fluctuate.”

“Think about it this way: What if we had 35 cases on a Monday and zero cases the other four days? If we released information daily, the Monday figures would badly skew the data and probably create undue concern,” Karman explained. “By having a week’s worth of numbers, we have a better indication of the real positivity rate on campus.”

Beeny, like other students on Twitter, isn’t buying it though.

“The state has been doing [daily updates] for the entire pandemic,” he said. “Concern and due diligence are warranted in a pandemic as dangerous as this one. The students here are smart and know how this works. Governor Beshear has been a calming voice throughout all of this and has been working together with experts to make sure the public understands what is going on – I would expect the same from the university.”

In a survey Beeny did, out of 400 responses, more than 80% agreed or strongly agreed updates should be daily. “When it’s weekly, it almost feels as if something is being hidden and students are being kept in the dark,” Beeny said.

One fear lingering in Beeny’s mind is that the university is putting tuition money above student health.

“I hope this is just the cynic in me, but it’s hard to look at what has happened these past few days and not consider that as a possibility,” he said. “The sudden switch from voluntary to mandatory testing right after the add/drop and tuition deadlines. Tuition insurance seems like a half measure at best. Transparency on processes and decision making would certainly help in this regard and would bring peace of mind to many students.”

File Graphic // The Louisville Cardinal

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U of L makes COVID testing mandatory effective immediately Sunday, Aug 23 2020 

By Joseph Garcia —

In an abrupt shift, the university is now requiring all students, faculty and staff be tested for COVID-19, effective immediately.

In the email cosigned by members of the Pivot to Fall committee, they say more than 4,000 people have been tested in the past two weeks. However, the testing dashboard, last updated Aug. 17,  still sits at 2,621 administered tests.

Testing is required for:

  • Faculty who are on campus, or come to campus on occasion.
  • Anyone who works as staff on campus, or those staff who frequently come to campus.
  • Students living in residential dorms, campus-affiliated housing or who attend in-person classes.

The new mandatory testing will also require people who have tested negative to be re-tested by Sept. 4, which is when the recent extension for free testing is scheduled to end.

While walk-ins are welcome at all testing locations, the university still recommends that people register an appointment beforehand.

Testing Locations (available Monday-Friday):

  • Student Activities Center: 8 a.m. to noon, 1-5 p.m.
  • Cardinal Stadium Purple “A” Lot (drive-through): 8 a.m. to noon, 1-5 p.m. (Closed Sept. 3 and 4.)
  • Student Recreation Center: 8 a.m. to noon, 1 -5 p.m.
  • Abell Administration Building (HSC): 7-11 a.m., noon to 4 p.m.

This story will be updated.

Graphic by Joseph Garcia // The Louisville Cardinal

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University of Louisville reports 53 positive COVID-19 cases Saturday, Aug 22 2020 

By Madelin Shelton — 

The University of Louisville reported 53 positive cases of COVID-19 during its first week of testing. This number was out of a total of 2,621 administered tests, a 2.02% positivity rate.

This number does not include the 85 recently confirmed COVID cases within the athletics department.As of now, the university has a total of  138 confirmed cases.

The numbers were released on Aug. 18 on U of L’s new webpage dedicated to testing statistics, it will be updated every Tuesday by Campus Health Services.

Only tests done on the Belknap and Health Sciences Center campuses will be reported to the dashboard.

U of L administration has been strongly encouraging every member of the campus community to get tested, although the current numbers are low, the number of tests given are a fraction of the total number of students enrolled this semester.

Paige Workman, a junior, expressed great concern with the very low percentage of tests administered relative to the total number of faculty, staff and students closely affiliated with the university.

“I was genuinely shocked that the university did not require everyone returning to campus to get a test,” she said.

Workman went on to express her disappointment in her fellow U of L community members who are choosing not to be tested despite the free access provided by the university. “It is an ignorant and arrogant choice to willingly forego COVID-19 testing prior to returning to campus,” she said.

Testing on the U of L campuses was recently extended until Sept. 4. Those who test positive are contacted by Campus Health to conduct contact tracing, report symptoms and begin a period of self-isolation.

 

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Interim A&S Dean appoints Associate Dean for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Wednesday, Aug 19 2020 

By Madelin Shelton —

Cherie Dawson-Edwards has been named as the new Associate Dean for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. David Owen, interim dean of the College of Arts & Sciences, made the announcement of Dawson-Edwards’ appointment in an email Aug. 8.

“Dr. Dawson-Edwards brings to the role a deep commitment to belonging, equity, and social justice, along with considerable administrative experience, and a track record of engagement with our local community,” Owen said of the new appointee.

Dawson-Edwards’ prior experience includes being the acting director of the Anne Braden Institute for Social Justice Research at U of L, working with Jefferson County Public School district to conduct professional development training, and consulting others on restorative justice practices.

She has served as the chair of the Department of Criminal Justice since 2018, directs the Social Change program and serves on the national board of the ACLU.

Owen said Dawson-Edwards is an “accomplished scholar,” with four published book chapters, 13 peer-reviewed journal articles and an assortment of other publications. Over the span of her career, she has received over $500,000 in grants.

Dawson-Edwards’ appointment to this position comes at a historical moment at U of L, the city of Louisville and the country. With a global movement calling for racial justice taking place, in part sparked by Louisville’s own tragic loss of Breonna Taylor at the hands of police, discussions of diversity, equity and inclusion are increasingly prevalent.

In response to concerns about structural racism, U of L President Neeli Bendapudi recently committed to making U of L the nation’s premier anti-racist metropolitan research university.

Speaking on Dr. Dawson-Edwards’ ability to lead at such a critical time, Owen said, “Dr. Dawson-Edwards brings the wisdom, compassion, expertise, and experience to lead us as we all work towards becoming a community where all feel they belong.”

File Photo // The Louisville Cardinal

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