U of L sociology department leads anti-racism push on campus Friday, Aug 14 2020 

By Madelin Shelton —

The University of Louisville’s sociology department sent a July 7 letter to leadership raising concerns of systemic racism at U of L. Signed by more than 700 faculty, staff, students and alumni, it challenged the university to implement changes to become an anti-racist university.

The letter detailed several examples of unfair treatment of Black faculty at U of L, including biased student evaluations, marginalization of their teaching and research, a lack of opportunity to move into leadership positions and other instances of discrimination.

“The time and energy spent navigating these experiences greatly inhibit Black faculty’s ability to engage in the scholarly production of the currency of our institution – grants and publications,” the letter said.

The letter went on to explain that Black faculty’s classroom commitment to social justice often negatively impacts their careers in the form of unsuccessful retention, tenure and promotion reviews.

“Addressing structural and systemic racism at U of L will require all administrators, faculty, staff, and students to take responsibility and actively engage in anti-racist policies,” the letter stated. It went on to include a series of questions the university must respond to through action to move forward as an anti-racist university.

Both U of L President Neeli Bendapudi and University Provost Beth Boehm read and responded to the open letter.

Bendapudi said the letter and questions raised were thoughtful and necessary.

“This will be an engagement of the entire campus community to recognize the successes of the past, draw attention to the current anti-racist work being done on campus, and to chart a course for how we can establish ourselves as the premier anti-racist metropolitan university in the country,” Bendapudi said of the university’s recently announced Anti-Racism agenda.

Provost Boehm addressed concerns over lack of diversity among faculty by focusing on deans and faculty administrators’ roles in making diverse hires when able.

“We must work together to figure out how to change the way faculty and unit administrators make their choices about who will join their faculty ranks,” Boehm said.

Boehm also discussed the balance between incentivizing department deans to make diverse hires and not overreaching the authority of the provost position in selecting new faculty.

She said that the provost does not hire faculty and therefore does not have a direct hand in increasing the diversity of departments.

File Graphic // The Louisville Cardinal

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President Bendapudi appoints new vice president for University Advancement Friday, Jul 24 2020 

By Eli Hughes–

University of Louisville President Neeli Bendapudi announced on July 22 that Jasmine Farrier has been appointed as the vice president for University Advancement. Farrier will begin in this new position on Aug. 1.

The vacant position was left by Bradley Shafer who announced that he would resign in order to move closer to his family.

“In looking to fill the position, I sought someone who would be authentic in telling the UofL story, who would build important relationships with all members of the Cardinal family, and who had established a proven record of delivering positive results,” Bendapudi said. “Dr. Farrier meets and surpasses all these criteria.”

Farrier is a political science graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and earned her Ph.D. in government from the Univesity of Texas at Austin. She has been a part of U of L’s political science faculty since 2002 and became chair of the department in 2018. She believes that her experience as political science chair will guide her in her new role.

“Being POLS chair showed me that our students, faculty, staff, alumni and community supporters want the same thing – across partisan lines, generations, and geography — a vibrant community that knows how to collaborate for our beloved U of L,” Farrier said.

“Our alumni and community partners want to help all U of L students build their resumes as they earn degrees. That’s how we build social capital for every student regardless of background.”

The University Advancement Office is responsible for fundraising, marketing and alumni relations.

Farrier has experience working with alumni because of the Political Science Alumni Council, which she helped establish. “The Council worked to support current students internships in Washington, D.C. and these experiences will propel those students toward future employment opportunities,” she said.

Farrier’s vision for the university is a future where the university supports and nurtures its students who will in turn graduate and become successful alumni who will make it possible to recruit and support more students.

“I also want to help our University grow closer to all economic facets of the city, Commonwealth, and region. Across the US, economic development is often tied to University expansion and a well-educated/high-skilled population,” Farrier said.  “The University of Louisville plays an essential role in the economic success of the city, region and Commonwealth.”

Farrier looks forward to beginning this new position and expressed gratitude towards the university, “This university took a chance on me straight out of graduate school with just a promise of future success. I am motivated by this gratitude every day and eager for this expanded opportunity to give back.”

Photo Courtesy//The University of Louisville

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Bradley Shafer steps down from University Advancement Vice President position Friday, Jul 24 2020 

By Eli Hughes–

University of Louisville President Neeli Bendapudi announced that Vice President of Advancement Bradley Shafer will be stepping down from his position and leaving U of L on Aug. 1. Shafer is choosing to resign in order to move closer to family.

According to Bendapudi, Shafer rebuilt the University Advancement program during his two years in the vice president position. The office of University Advancement is responsible for making progress in the university through improving fundraising, donor and alumni relations, recruitment, and marketing.

“Some important changes include leading a two-year increase in fundraising dollars (reversing a three-year decrease), creating and implementing goals and metrics for development officers, creating a donor portal to ensure transparency and raising $129 million in FY 2019-20, 34 percent above goal,” Bendapudi said.

“I am tremendously pleased with the significant progress made in the Advancement Office during the last two years,” Shafer said. “Specifically, I am proud of the turn-around in absolute dollars committed, installing several processes/policies based on industry best-practices and creating measurable increases in donor engagement, board giving and signature fund-raising projects.”

Shafer became the interim vice president in July of 2018 and was placed in the position permanently in April of 2019.

“Personally, we look forward to being nearer to our families as I take the next step in my career,” Shafer said.

Bendapudi concluded the email announcement by wishing Shafer well and hinting that a replacement vice president of the advancement program will be decided in the coming weeks..

Photo Courtesy//The University of Louisville

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University leaders hold virtual forum with community Thursday, Jun 11 2020 

By Joseph Garcia —

University of Louisville President Neeli Bendapudi held a virtual forum with U of L Police Department Chief Gary Lewis and Criminal Justice Department Chair Cherie Dawson-Edwards on June 9 to answer community questions on the relationship between ULPD and the Louisville Metro Police Department.

Lewis began by explaining the current relationship ULPD has with LMPD and how it goes back to the 1970s.

“Following the Kent State incident, many universities felt it important to create and develop their own police force,” Lewis said. “Many may not know, but this organization started with a Louisville Metro retiree.”

Lewis said that when he arrived to U of L two years ago, ULPD had about 98% retired Louisville Metro police officers working for ULPD. “To date, we are at about 40%,” Lewis said.

Lewis said that ULPD is a state accredited police department with less than 50 sworn officers, about 30 security officers and travel escorts.

Bendapudi also explained there is no formal partnership agreement between the two police departments that U of L can divest from.

Dawson-Edwards told students: “We hear you.”

“I realize that people think that training and education as just a reform thing, not a divest, but I want to argue it’s both,” Dawson-Edwards said. “We have to do training and education, and we need to do it better. We need to hold the police accountable, we need to hold ourselves accountable for that education and training.”

Like Bendapudi said in her response to BSU, Dawson-Edwards has committed to doing equity audits for all criminal justice academic programs, including the police executive leadership development certificate.

“I want to make sure that we are infusing equity, inclusion, diversity, social justice, all types of things in our curriculum,” she said. “It is not enough for us to just teach people how to be police and not teach people what they should expect from the community in this society that we’re living in.”

She anticipates the Southern Police Institute, a 60-year old officer training program located and taught at U of L, will do the same. This could include more activities, training and education about these particular issues with current police officers.

During the Q&A portion of the forum, Bendapudi was asked why U of L could not do what the University of Minnesota did in choosing to dissociate from their local police department.

“The reality is that we are an urban campus as you’ve heard,” Bendapudi said. “Our streets and roads, and Louisville’s, are intertwined. So we definitely need to work together–that’s the concurrent and overlapping jurisdictions you’ve heard about.”

Dawson-Edwards further explained that what is coming out of Minnesota is because people have been researching and doing the work to understand the problems for a long time.

“They are primed for it,” Dawson-Edwards said. “They have a 150 year history document on performance review for their police called ‘Enough is Enough.'”

“You can’t just take one city’s or one university’s blueprint and lay it on top of ours without making sure that our stuff matches theirs,” Dawson-Edwards said.

Bendapudi ended the forum by reiterating the actions U of L is taking, including now doing background checks for any officer who works at university events.

“As mother and leader of higher education, who has always cared for her students, I am telling you that we are going to work together on this,” Bendapudi said. “There is so much to learn.  I catch myself all the time when I forget all the privileges I have and you as young people, you’re educating us.”

She then committed to an anti-racist agenda moving forward. Bendapudi said there will be more forums in the future to continue discussion on broad, difficult topics.

“Let’s not forget this moment, this is not performative. This is not just until the news cycle changes. It’s important,” Bendapudi said. “I will do my best and I give you my word. My job is to do the very best I can for you, and that’s what I intend to do.”

File Photo // The Louisville Cardinal 

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President Bendapudi responds to U of L BSU’s letter Monday, Jun 8 2020 

By Joseph Garcia —

University of Louisville President Neeli Bendapudi responded to the Black Student Union’s demands that were released on May 31. In the letter addressed to BSU President Maliya Homer on June 3, Bendapudi addresses the student union’s demands, which included a severance between the U of L Police Department and Louisville Metro Police Department, and for U of L to rename its Overseers Honors House given the word “overseers” tie with slavery.

“I have pledged since I arrived at U of L to do my best always to celebrate diversity, foster equity, and strive for inclusion,” Bendapudi said in the letter. “I want to address each of these issues and explain how I intend to move forward.”

She explained that she spoke with Chief Diversity Officer Faye Jones, Chief of ULPD Gary Lewis and Criminal Justice Department Chair Cherie Dawson-Edwards for their perspectives on the issue of cutting ties with LMPD.

“Your request for us to immediately terminate our relationship with LMPD would not make our campus or its constituents safer, and it would be an insufficient answer to a very complex problem,” Bendapudi said.

Bendapudi said that its difficult to fully cut ties because of overlapping jurisdiction with U of L being in the middle of Louisville.

“We have an intricate relationship with LMPD that touches many parts of our campus and virtually all of our faculty, staff and students,” Bendapudi said. She said that U of L is home to the Southern Police Institute that provides training and courses taught by Criminal Justice faculty for officers.

“This is not to say there are not significant issues within the police force that must be addressed. This is true and they must, but our relationship with LMPD is necessary to the University for these reasons and more,” she said. “I believe the harder approach and the one we will commit to is evolving and molding our partnership with LMPD so it clearly reflects our commitment to Diversity and Inclusion, our Cardinal Principle.”

The commitments U of L is taking include: ensuring ULPD is the lead law enforcement agency when dealing with a member of the campus community, performing an equity audit on all criminal justice academic programs, reducing the need for external law enforcement support at athletic events, providing de-escalation and cultural sensitivity training for officers working university events or hired by ULPD, and leveraging the SPI as a catalyst for change.

“To reiterate, this is neither the beginning nor the end of the work we will do,” Bendapudi said. “We are actively assessing our partnerships and working to ensure they reflect the values of our institution and support the success of our students, faculty and staff.”

With regards to the Honors house, Bendapudi said that if U of L is committed to being an equitable anti-racist environment, then the term “overseers” should not be used at U of L.

“I take responsibility for this issue not being addressed earlier,” she said. “This sign has likely caused incalculable and unnecessary pain to many of our students, faculty and staff over the years. I am sorry that it was not addressed sooner, but it is done now.”

The word has been removed from the sign as a temporary fix. A new sign will replace the current one sometime before the start of the fall semester. Bendapudi said she also has a team removing all digital references of the term from U of L owned websites.

Bendapudi also said in her response, that moving forward she will require leaders to include more student representation on all change initiatives.

“Whether it is on the criminal justice academic programs equity audits, the development of officer training programs, or other measures that arise from our ongoing conversations, I will require our leaders to include student representation, particularly the Black Student Union, to ensure the approaches we take are informed by the lived experience of our most fundamental constituency,” Bendapudi said.

BSU Vice President Ni’Kerrion McDonald said that he doesn’t believe these decisions are enough, however.

“Coming out of the meeting with Dr. Bendapudi, the board and I felt as if they had already made up their mind regarding the predetermined ‘list of solutions,'” McDonald said. “We are obviously not satisfied with the outcome of our demands not being met. While the university takes gradual, but persistent action, we will continue to implement our own call to action.”

Maliya Homer, the BSU’s President, released a statement on June 6 informing the community of the actions U of L has taken. Alongside announcing the creation of the Breonna Taylor Memorial Scholarship, Homer called on the Louisville community to direct calls to Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer’s office urging him to cut funding from LMPD’s budget of $189 million, as reported in fiscal year 2018-2019.

“We need the community to make it so that a partnership with LMPD is no longer a crucial piece,” Homer said. “The revolution will not stop because the university cannot immediately divest from LMPD,” Homer said. “At the end of the day, the university is a business. Businesses aren’t going to lead the revolution–young people are.”

McDonald said the BSU plans to hold the university accountable to its commitments. “Without follow-through and results, these incremental steps are just not enough,” he said.

File Photo // The Louisville Cardinal

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Students are a light to follow in the pursuit for racial and social justice Friday, Jun 5 2020 

By Brandon Cooper–

As University of Louisville administration addresses the racial and social justice issues making headlines, it is critical that they do not forget their greatest resource: students. The administration should focus energy on giving the power to mend injustices to those already in the streets protesting for such.

Student Government Association President Sabrina Collins said “the path forward has to come from students.”

“Our generation has the solutions, it is now up to U of L and universities across the nation to really listen,” Collins said.

As the university moves forward, they must base their actions off of those that are organized, focused and led by students. U of L professor Jason Gainous spoke passionately about the need to emphasize students during conversations relating to racial and social justice issues.

“Our students are the future of our community,” Gainous said. He has attended local protests with his 14-year-old daughter – who was pepper-sprayed and shot at with rubber bullets by police. He said he has seen first-hand the kind of passion and energy young people have and has faith in their ability to lead us through this pursuit for equality.

As a professor of digital politics, Gainous encourages students to continue using social media and other online platforms to organize, seek assistance and share their stories.

Gainous described university actions as a ‘balancing act’ – given the university’s extensive community ties that could be hindered by abrupt action that is not given extensive thought and planning.

At the onset of protests in Louisville over a week ago, actions and voices were faint from the U of L’s administration.

In recent days, Dr. Bendapudi has joined other administrators from the community to speak out against racial injustices. In addition to the administration’s recent statements and public appearances in the community, U of L Health has just announced a nursing scholarship fund in honor of Breonna Taylor. Though both great starting points, real action, policies and innovation must be implemented to enhance equality at the University of Louisville.

Bendapudi’s commitment to a student-centered ‘revolution’ starting right here at U of L is very apparent in her rather consistent communication with university stakeholders. The intricacies of university actions concerning social justice issues further highlight the need for extraordinary student engagement and leadership. When the future leaders of our community and nation speak, it is the responsibility of those currently in such positions to listen and act.

Anthony Taylor, a senior communications major, said he wants to see U of L become much more proactive about social justice going forward, rather than consistently reactive. Taylor believes that U of L has the resources to be on the frontlines of prominent social justice issues that directly impact our communities.

Hanah Jo Thurmond, a recent U of L graduate and attendee of local Black Lives Matter protests, said that the university should reinforce and expand the platforms for people of color to speak out on campus.

How will we, as a Cardinal family, respond to the impacts of these long-endured inequalities?

A critical step moving forward for the university is the implementation of required courses about white privilege and racial diversity for both students and faculty. Such courses could easily be added to the Cardinal Core requirements or implemented as curriculum in the Cardinal Orientation program. For employees, such courses should be added to the current employee orientation practices for all staff and faculty.

We should acknowledge the progress we’ve made thus far while continuing to call for action to implement the changes needed for racial equality and social justice.

U of L’s strength as a research and higher education institute lies in our diversity. With a spotlight on our students, U of L can be a national leader for higher education institutes to follow when addressing issues of inequality.

File Photo // The Louisville Cardinal 

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President Neeli Bendapudi praises the U of L community for their COVID-19 response Tuesday, Apr 7 2020 

By Eli Hughes–

University of Louisville President Neeli Bendapudi praised faculty, staff and students for adapting to the changes brought about by the COVID-19 outbreak.

“Everyone has been asked to make significant sacrifices and I could not be more proud of how the UofL community has responded with resiliency and compassion,” Bendapudi said.

In the email, she highlighted how students and faculty successfully transitioned to online classes and how staff have continued working from home or on campus.

Bendapudi also gave a shout-out to U of L researchers who have tackled problems related to the pandemic. Researchers across campus are currently working on treatments for COVID-19, swab-kits for testing, masks for healthcare professionals and more.

She also praised the healthcare workers that are working on the frontlines of this outbreak. She pointed out how they are continuing to treat patients and limit the spread of the outbreak while potentially putting themselves and their families in harm’s way.

Bendapudi went on to say that U of L has been able to respond to the challenges introduced by the virus quickly and that she is proud to say the university will be fine.

She also provided opportunities for people to give back to those most affected by the outbreak.

Those interested in helping students financially can donate to the Student Emergency Fund. Donations to help staff financially can go to the Staff Help Assistance Relief Effort.

“As we learn more about the virus and its effects on individuals and society as a whole, we will continue to adapt. We do not know what lies ahead,” Bendapudi said. “But I can promise you this: together, we will continue to carry out the mission of our university.”

Updates regarding the university’s response to this outbreak can be found on U of L’s official COVID-19 web page.

File Graphic//The Louisville Cardinal

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U of L begins search for new provost Friday, Feb 14 2020 

By Eli Hughes —

President Neeli Bendapudi announced in an email to U of L faculty that the university is beginning the search for a new provost.

Provost and Executive Vice President Beth Boehm’s two-year term will end on June 30 and the new provost will start on July 1. Bendapudi has called for a nationwide search for potential provost candidates and encourages U of L faculty to apply for the position, as well as nominate their colleagues from U of L or any other universities.

The provost serves as the second-highest authority of the university and reports directly to the president.

President Bendapudi said, “She or he will work closely with the vice presidents and deans and will manage both the day-to-day and long-term academic operation of the university.”

The candidate will be chosen by a committee appointed by the president and led by School of Dentistry Dean Gerry Bradley and Kent School of Social Work Dean David Jenkins. Applications will be accepted until the search for a provost has concluded. If a new provost is not selected by the June 30 deadline Dr. Boehm will stay on as provost until a candidate is selected.

Those interested in applying or nominating someone for the position can get more information from U of L’s website.

File Photo // The Louisville Cardinal

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U of L and John Schnatter reach settlement over stadium naming rights Sunday, Nov 3 2019 

By Matthew Keck —

The University of Louisville can finally put John Schnatter in the past. The University of Louisville Athletic Association announced Oct. 24 they have reached a five-year, $9.5 million settlement over the naming right’s deal for the football stadium.

The first payment of this deal to Schnatter will be $1.4 million and then $2 million each year over the next five years.

U of L athletic director Vince Tyra said the university is looking for a new naming rights partner but they are in no rush. “Our intention would be to try to get that buttoned up for next season and put a name back on the stadium,” said Tyra.

“Papa Johns” was removed from Cardinal stadium in July 2018 after Schnatter, Papa Johns founder, admitted to using racial slurs on a phone call. President Neeli Bendapudi was the leading force behind the removal of the name on the stadium.

After this incident Schnatter also resigned from his position as a board of trustee member at U of L.

Bendapudi said that Schnatter’s comments had fractured the community last year when the ordeal unfolded. “These comments were hurtful and unacceptable and they do not reflect the values of our university,” Bendpaudi said last year.

Schnatter’s naming rights deal with the university, which was negotiated back in 1996, was set to run through 2040.

Tyra said as U of L looks for a new sponsor for the stadium name they plan to sign a much shorter deal, more along the lines of a 10-year timeframe.

Whoever signs the new deal with U of L will be agreeing to a ‘morals’ clause, which was not included in Schnatter’s original deal. This would allow the university to void the deal if the partner comes into a public scandal.

Schnatter issued this statement in an email regarding the settlement:

“With Papa John’s being based in Louisville and me being the single largest shareholder in the company, I’m very glad to reach the agreement today with the University of Louisville. It was concluded with the best interests of the university and the students in mind. Something you can be sure of is that I will always support the community with passion and I will always work hard to inspire others to pursue their dreams just like I was able to pursue mine right here in Louisville, Kentucky.”

While the Papa Johns name is no longer affiliated with the stadium, their pizza is still sold at football games. The naming rights deal was a separate deal from the business itself.

File Photo // The Louisville Cardinal 

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