U of L releases draft of plan for students’ return to campus in the fall Thursday, Jun 4 2020 

By Eli Hughes–

University of Louisville Provost Beth Boehm sent out an email to the U of L community on June 1 addressing concerns about the fall semester and releasing a draft of the plan for a safe return to campus.

“I want to acknowledge that many of you are anxious and want answers to all of your questions at once,” Boehm said in the email. “I understand your anxiety about ‘reopening’ campus, even as I ask your patience as we methodically work toward something resembling a final plan.”

Boehm went on to clarify that U of L never completely closed during the COVID-19 outbreak. She pointed out that many students remained in on-campus housing, Ekstrom library stayed open and many dining options on-campus were still in operation.

She went on to explain that U of L is working to maintain a balance between giving students the best education possible while also keeping the U of L community safe.

Boehm then linked to the draft of the plan for the return to campus this fall. The plan includes guidelines for personal protective equipment, social distancing, changes to food service areas, testing, required flu shot, class guidelines and changes to the academic calendar.

Masks will be required in all public areas on campus, including classrooms. Professors will be allowed to take off their masks when lecturing as long as they maintain an eight-foot distance from the rest of the class. Students will be given a washable cloth mask at the beginning of the semester, but they are encouraged to bring their own backup masks.

Social distancing will also be expected in common areas on campus. Floor markings and table spacing will be used in high-density places to encourage distance.

In addition to socially distancing in dining areas, hand sanitizer use will be required for entrance to those areas. Barriers will also be installed between food service employees and customers.

U of L will also make COVID-19 testing available to all faculty, staff and students. The testing will be focused on those showing symptoms and those believed to have been in contact with someone who has tested positive. Students are encouraged to get tested before returning to campus.

In an effort to reduce flu-like symptoms on campus, students, faculty and staff will be required to get a flu shot at the beginning of the fall semester. U of L will provide free flu shots, but those who wish to get their flu shot elsewhere can do so as long as they provide U of L with evidence of getting vaccinated.

The guidelines also indicate that all classes, except for online-only classes, will be taught as hybrid classes. This means that 25%-75% of the class will be taught in person, with the remaining 25%-75% being taught online. Instructors will also be asked to post required assignments and lectures online to increase accessibility for those unable to attend class.

The academic calendar has also been adjusted to accommodate concerns related to COVID-19. The semester will begin as planned on Aug. 17, but face-to-face instruction will end at the beginning of Thanksgiving Break, Nov. 25. The remaining two days of instruction and finals will take place online.

Other calendar concerns include fall break, which will continue as planned Oct. 5-6, and the Kentucky Derby, which is expected to take place on Sept. 5. Sept. 3-4 will be online instruction days in order to address traffic concerns related to Derby festivities.

Members of the U of L community are encouraged to read the full draft plan and share their thought through a feedback form by June 5. Boehm will also be holding an online forum for students, faculty and staff on June 5 at 2 p.m.

File Graphic//The Louisville Cardinal

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U of L’s Black Student Union addresses demands in letter to university officials Tuesday, Jun 2 2020 

By Joseph Garcia —

The University of Louisville’s Black Student Union released a statement on May 31 calling for U of L and the University of Louisville Police Department to discontinue its partnership with the Louisville Metro Police Department. This comes after days of protests in Louisville for the deaths of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd.

“The relationship between ULPD and LMPD was described as ‘fruitful,’ and while that may be the case in regard to ‘safeguarding the assets of the university’–that is not the case when it comes to students, faculty and staff,” BSU President Maliya Homer said. “Nothing about being in closer proximity to state sanctioned violence makes us any safer.”

ULPD Police Chief Gary Lewis said the relationship between the two departments has gone back as far as the 1970s.

“As the years have gone by, the personnel strength of ULPD has grown which has enhanced the ability to handle all law enforcement related duties on our campuses,” Lewis said.

One of the resources Lewis said the partnership with  LMPD provides is the Real Time Crime Center, or RTCC. “Information gathered can be shared with law enforcement agencies across all of Jefferson County, to include ULPD,” Lewis said.

The student union is also calling for the university to rename the Overseer’s Honor’s House. Homer told the Cardinal she called for the renaming because the word “overseer” was once used as a term to refer to the middleman in plantation hierarchy.

U of L Director of Communications John Karman said the word is being removed from the building’s name.

“The University changed the name of its Board of Overseers last year to the President’s Council for the same reason,” Karman said. “Overseers is being removed from the Honors House name.”

“We’re demanding that the university respond with the same swiftness that they protected the ‘Free Speech Zone’ for people not affiliated with the university to taunt and harass students, staff and faculty for hours on end,” Homer said.

U of L has yet to respond to the BSU’s demands; however, Karman said the university and ULPD are aware of the BSU’s demands and are currently reviewing them.

“We will not settle for a flippant response filled with superfluous excuses and platitudes–we deserve so much more than that. Breonna deserves so much more than that,” Homer said.

File Photo // The Louisville Cardinal 

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U of L President Neeli Bendapudi: “Our Cardinal Family of color needs your help. Our society needs your help.” Monday, Jun 1 2020 

By Eli Hughes–

President Neeli Bendapudi announced in an email on May 29 the actions the University of Louisville plans to take after the recent deaths of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd.

“At the University of Louisville, Diversity and Inclusion is one of our core Cardinal Principles,” Bendapudi said.

“This university strives to be a home and safe haven for our students, faculty and staff of color just as we strive to do this for all of the many rich and diverse identities held throughout our campus community.”

Those actions include updating the Bias Incident Response Team, which is responsible for responding to incidents of racism, microaggressions and bias. The Office of Diversity and Inclusion will also update their programming and will reach out to students who need support during this time or want to be educated on racial topics.

Another action the university will take is creating a new education program for faculty and staff that will cover diversity and inclusion. The educational series will be developed by the Department of Education Leadership, Evaluation and Organizational Development in the College of Education and Human Development, and the Office of Diversity and Equity.

Bendapudi also stated the University of Louisville Police Department is committed to keeping campus safe for all students and is involved in discussions surrounding race. “The Department continues to be actively involved in open forums discussing critical racial issues that impact our campus and local community,” Bendapudi said.

U of L has also created a resource page that can be found on the Diversity and Inclusion website. The website provides information on the history of racism and slavery for those interested in learning more about these issues.

Bendapudi concluded the email by acknowledging that these actions are not a solution by themselves but do point to progress the university is making.

“It will take all of us acting collectively with informed intention and empowering care to start to see the change we need, “Bendapudi said.

“I ask each of us to please take an intentional step today to be better and to do more. I need your help. Our Cardinal Family of color needs your help. Our society needs your help.”

File Photo // The Louisville Cardinal

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Survey: U of L students concerned about potential return to campus next fall Thursday, May 28 2020 

By Joseph Garcia —

Earlier this month, University of Louisville President Neeli Bendapudi announced the university plans to return to in-person classes for the fall semester. But one Student Government Association survey is finding that more than half of the 214 responses received in the first two days of its launch are concerned with the potential return.

SGA posted a three question survey to its Twitter on May 16, allowing students to voice their concerns about a potential return. SGA’s Top 4 also posted the survey to their personal social media pages. The questions included in the survey were:

  1. What are your concerns about the fall semester?
  2. What resources do you need to be successful in the fall?
  3. Anything else you want us to know?

A response to any one of the questions would be considered a completed survey.

“Many of the responses expressed concerns about having to make an emergency, mid-semester transition in the fall (similar to the one we did in the spring),” SGA told the Cardinal. “A lot of the feedback expressed concerns about safety, social distancing on campus and safe access to University services.”

The student government cautioned that the survey was conducted over social media and is not a representative sample of the student body.

In an email sent May 18, Academic Vice President Ben Barberie provided College of Business professors with “a few notable early trends from the first question.”

54.39% of the responses included some concern about the safety of a return to campus. 19.30% showed concern about plans relating to online classes. 14.91% included some concern about money or expenses related to an in-person fall semester.

“University faculty, staff, administrators and students have been hard at work behind the scenes deliberating many different potential scenarios that could arise this fall,” SGA said. “Throughout the process, SGA has been careful to make sure student concerns are heard and that any approach to this fall is rooted in equity for all students.”

SGA’s survey is ongoing and will remain open throughout the coming weeks.

“We appreciate [student’s] feedback regarding finances, safety, academics, and extracurricular activities. SGA will continue to share these hopes and concerns with the University administration as we advocate for innovative solutions to a wide variety of student concerns,” SGA said.

Graphic by Alexis Simon // The Louisville Cardinal

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President Bendapudi gives summer update to U of L community Monday, May 25 2020 

By Madelin Shelton–

University of Louisville President Neeli Bendapudi sent out an email on May 21 regarding U of L’s decisions through June and July amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. 

These months are expected to be a transitional period for the pivot to the fall semester. This transition will include various policies to help protect the health and safety of faculty, staff and students. 

Among them, Bendapudi announced that the university has “extended the remote-work policy through June 30 for those employees who can continue performing their duties off campus.” 

In addition, June 1 will mark the first day that certain units may begin to bring some employees back to campus who provide critical on-campus needs. June 1 will also be the first day that small meetings and events of up to 10 people can begin. 

The other policies of the transition include a confirmation that pay reductions and furloughs scheduled between now and June 30 will continue as planned and “some research labs and clinical research programs will begin to open following strict health and safety guidelines.”

Bendapudi said that the university would continue to evaluate the evolving situation and update the U of L community on further developments before July 1. 

She also pointed to the work Provost Beth Boehm is doing to craft a smooth transition for the fall semester, including the formation of three separate committees comprised of faculty, staff and student representatives. 

These committees include a coordinating committee in charge of developing plans for “campus operations, student services and other key functions,” a safe return to campus committee with the responsibility of planning necessary COVID-19 testing for the U of L community, and an academic scenario committee “to address delivery of academic programming.”

In response to much uncertainty regarding the circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic, Bendapudi said the university and its leadership “are working diligently to ensure that the University of Louisville will be prepared for any eventuality.”

File Graphic// The Louisville Cardinal

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Bendapudi announces classes will return on campus in the fall Thursday, May 7 2020 

By Madelin Shelton–

University of Louisville President Neeli Bendapudi announced in an email on May 3 that the University of Louisville is expected to return to regular campus operations for the fall 2020 semester. This includes students living on campus and attending in-person classes.

Bendapudi said that U of L never did close during the Spring 2020 semester and that it continued to serve the 2,700 students who remained in campus facilities or affiliated housing.

She also said that U of L’s research and healthcare infrastructure and recent experience of moving swiftly from in-person to online classes has well prepared the university to respond to future rises in COVID-19 cases.

Bendapudi said that the principal concern is the health and wellbeing of the Cards community.

In preparation for the fall semester, U of L is employing several strategies, including having the Executive Vice President for Research, Kevin Gardner, work with U of L researchers and Campus Health Services to ensure quick testing of students, faculty, staff and contact tracing.

In addition, Executive Vice President and University Provost Beth Boehm is leading a work group to help U of L students get the best education in the fall and to support faculty and staff.

Bendapudi said that the university will continue to consult with local and state health officials and U of L experts as the situation progresses. She also addressed the still-present uncertainty with a situation like this.

“We know there are many questions that we need to answer between now and the start of the Fall semester. We will be providing a more comprehensive update on our path forward by the first week of June,” she stated in the email.

U of L Executive Director of Communications John Karman said that the university will be prepared to switch back to online only instruction if there is another spike in COVID-19 cases.  But he also made it clear that there will be measures taken to try to prevent an outbreak at U of L.

“The university will have significant health and safety protocols in place for students returning to campus this fall. Details of those measures should be revealed in early June,” Karman said.

Bendapudi ended her announcement with words of encouragement.

“What I have seen of our U of L family is that we are uniquely able to rise to a challenge and overcome it. This global health situation is no different. I have full confidence that the U of L students, staff, and faculty I interact with each and every day are ready for anything, and that is true in this situation as well,” she said.

Graphic by Alexis Simon //The Louisville Cardinal

 

 

 

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U of L plans a virtual graduation for the class of 2020 Monday, May 4 2020 

By Eli Hughes–

The University of Louisville will host a virtual graduation on May 9 as a way to recognize the achievements of graduates while still maintaining social distancing guidelines.

This virtual ceremony will not replace the in-person spring commencement, which is expected to take place along with winter commencement later this year.

“As you know, the coronavirus pandemic necessitated the postponement of our spring 2020 commencement ceremony,” U of L President Neeli Bendapudi said in an email sent to the U of L community on May 3. “Although we do plan to hold a formal ceremony in December for our spring graduates, we want to ensure that we also recognize them now.”

The online commencement ceremony will take place on a website U of L has set up for this event. Beginning at 10 a.m. on May 9, the site will become active with messages from the U of L community, alumni, and state and local leaders.

Those interested can participate by celebrating the graduates through social media. The hashtag #UofLGrads2020 should be used to share the graduates’ accomplishments, personal stories, pictures and words of encouragement.

Graduates are also encouraged to use the hashtag to reflect on their time at U of L and share how they are celebrating. Bendapudi hinted in the email that the posts shared using the hashtag would be involved in the event on the website.

According to the email, the website will also feature spotlights of graduates, interactive features and numerous surprises.

“Although we’ll be celebrating their accomplishments in a way that is far different than anyone could have anticipated, I am certain that what the Class of 2020 has endured during this unprecedented time will further fuel their potential to build a better world, here and beyond,” Bendapudi said.

Graphic by Joseph Garcia // The Louisville Cardinal

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U of L takes further action to address the financial effects of COVID-19 Saturday, May 2 2020 

By Madelin Shelton and Eli Hughes

President Neeli Bendapudi has announced the actions that the University of Louisville will take to help alleviate some of the financial effects of COVID-19.

According to Bendapudi’s email, U of L is expected to lose $39 million by the end of the fiscal year. The athletic department is expected to add another $15 million to that loss. 

“The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our University, hometown, state and nation has created a great deal of uncertainty for all of us,” said Bendapudi.

 “From the very beginning, I have expressed to all of you that my utmost responsibility is to protect the health and well-being of our students, faculty and staff during this unprecedented time.”

Some of the actions already implemented include pay reductions for senior leadership and athletics administrators, a hiring freeze and various spending reductions. However, Bendapudi went on to detail the necessity of further action to cut university costs due to the financial havoc caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Among these, the university retirement contributions for all employees will be stopped from May 1 through July 31 and some staff members will be subject to a temporary furlough at the discretion of their unit’s vice president, dean or vice provost. The furloughs could be for varying amounts of time dependent on the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Additionally, all faculty and some staff members earning between $58,000 to $99,999 will see a 1% pay reduction for the months of May and June.

Bendapudi emphasized that deciding to suspend the retirement match program was not an easy one, but one that is common among institutions of U of L’s size when facing financial crises. The university hopes to reinstate the match program by August 1.

John Karman, U of L director of media relations, said that there is a chance the missed retirement contributions could be made up at a later date. “There is a hope that these contributions can be provided to employees at a later time if our financial picture improves, but there are no guarantees,” Karman said.

To help mitigate the financial impact on furloughed employees in the meantime, the university has decided to cover the full cost of their health insurance, including both employer and employee premiums. These individuals will also maintain access to their tuition remission and are able to apply for unemployment insurance benefits.

Bendapudi also included resources available to employees facing financial difficulties, specifically encouraging those facing hardship to apply for the Staff  Help Assistance Relief Effort program. 

Bendapudi noted that the new actions are based on projections of returning the university back to normal operations on June 30. The lingering effects of COVID-19 could force the budget to be altered and further adjustments to be taken.

File Graphic//The Louisville Cardinal

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School of Medicine Dean named vice president for academic medical affairs Friday, Apr 3 2020 

By Matthew Keck —

The University of Louisville named Toni Ganzel, School of Medicine dean, vice president for academic medical affairs March 30.

“I’m pleased to announce that School of Medicine Dean Toni Ganzel has agreed to take on an additional role in leading our Health Sciences Center,” said President Neeli Bendapudi.

Ganzel will be taking on the role of vice president for academic medical affairs while also remaining the School of Medicine dean.

Her duties as vice president will include overseeing research activity at the Health Sciences Center, areas regarding diversity and inclusion and faculty development and student health. She will be reporting the overseen activity to Bendapudi and provost Beth Boehm.

Alongside U of L Health CEO Tom Miller, Ganzel will be in charge of making sure that teaching and researching are successful at U of L Health.

“Dr. Ganzel has done an excellent job as dean of the School of Medicine,” said Bendapudi. “I value her expertise and her leadership and look forward to continuing to work with her in this new role. She and Tom Miller are a great team to lead medical education, research and care in our community.”

Ganzel has served as the School of Medicine dean since 2012. She joined U of L in 1983 as an assistant professor in otolaryngology and has held other various roles with the school since.

Bendapudi said she wishes Ganzel well in educating U of L’s health professionals of tomorrow.

Photo Courtesy of The University of Louisville

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U of L announces arrival of new health science administrator Monday, Mar 30 2020 

By Madelin Shelton —

The University of Louisville’s Office of Communications and Marketing announced the arrival of Cynthia Clemons to the position of Assistant Vice President for Financial Planning, Reporting and Operations for Health Sciences March 20.

Clemons was hired Nov. 1, 2019, and has over two decades of experience in clinical practice and revenue cycle management, budget and revenue planning and finance. She is experienced in maintaining financial security within education, biomedical research and healthcare.

Clemons’s role requires her to work with the deans of several U of L schools, including the schools of dentistry, public health, nursing and medicine, along with other units of the Health Science Center. In her collaborative work with these schools, Clemons provides operational strategic leadership.

She is also assigned to oversee the Health Sciences Center’s process for university-based budget planning and ensuring compliant and smooth operations. She works directly under the U of L Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Dan Durbin.

Prior to coming to U of L, Cynthia worked at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio as senior director for finance and administration in the Long School of Medicine.

She performed financial oversight of over 38 clinical and basic science departments that had a collective revenue budget of over $700 million. In addition, she worked as an executive partner to the Office of Human Resources.

Cynthia’s education includes a Master of Science in Healthcare Administration from Texas Women’s University and a Bachelor of Science in Healthcare Administration from Texas Southern University.

She is currently a member of the American College of Healthcare Executives and the Medical Group Management Association. Cynthia also serves as a big sister through Big Brothers Big Sisters of America.

Photo Courtesy by The University of Louisville

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