Classes moved online until end of semester; Spring Commencement postponed Wednesday, Mar 18 2020 

By Matthew Keck —

The University of Louisville announced March 18 that classes will be operated remotely through April 28 and the Spring 2020 Commencement is postponed.

President Neeli Bendapudi said that U of L is taking the recommendations of health and local and state government leaders to move forward in their emergency response. She said that U of L’s main goal is to keep everyone healthy and informed moving forward.

Professional colleges are currently making decisions to help ensure the timely graduation of their students. They can expect to receive updates from their dean with further instruction.

In addition, all finals will be conducted remotely. Students will receive instructions and updates on how these finals will be served from professors.

Students living in Miller, Threlkeld, Unitas, Community Park, Kurz, Louisville and Billy Minardi halls are being asked to move out by March 29. Bendapudi said this is extremely important to increase social distance for health and safety.

Those living in these residence halls must complete a cancellation form. But U of L is making exceptions for students who must remain on campus. These students will have to fill out a housing exemption form for Spring 2020.

Along with that, students who have no outstanding balances may have a portion of their housing costs applied to Fall 2020. They can put the credit towards housing, tuition, or dining. Graduating students will have a portion of these costs refunded.

While Spring 2020 Commencement is postponed, May 9 is still the day for spring degree conferral. Students who are set to graduate in Spring 2020 are invited to the Winter 2020 Commencement in December.

“We know this is a tremendous disappointment to our graduates and their families,” said Bendapudi. “And we share that disappointment as well. We will invite all Spring graduates to our December 2020 Commencement ceremony to be honored for your achievements.”

Other campus closures include the Health Sciences fitness center and the Student Recreation Center, effective immediately.

Faculty and staff have also been directed to work remotely from home through April 28.

U of L has suspended all international and domestic university-sponsored travel through June 30. Any event hosted by U of L entity or facility will also be postponed or cancelled through April 28.

Bendapudi closed her email with this statement:

“Meanwhile I hope each of you takes care of your own physical and mental health. Despite all the busy-ness, I hope you will take a moment to pause. Slow down. Anchor yourself in what matters most to you. Reach out to someone for help. Whether it is your dean, supervisor or another leader on campus, let us know how we can support you best at this time. Reach out to see if someone else needs help. Let us be patient with one another. Together we will persevere through this tumultuous time and come out the other side a stronger, more unified university community.”

File Photo // The Louisville Cardinal 

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President Neeli Bendapudi announces cancellation of U of L events and remote work plan for faculty and staff Monday, Mar 16 2020 

By Eli Hughes —

University of Louisville President Neeli Bendapudi announced in an email March 14 that all campus events would be canceled or postponed until at least April 5 to help limit the spread of COVID-19. 

She went on to say the university will still be open, but eligible faculty and staff should work remotely.

Bendapudi introduced these measures as a way to keep the campus functioning while prioritizing the safety of the university community.

“In our Cardinal community of care, we cherish, support and are there for one another,” Bendapudi said. 

“Just as our campus community serves as a primary home for so many of our students, it also is an important source of income and the foundation of the livelihoods for so many of our staff and faculty. I take that reality and responsibility seriously. “

Bendapudi has been working with her leadership team to reduce the number of faculty and staff on campus without interfering with the operation of the university. 

Faculty and staff’s ability to work remotely will be decided based on the practicality of their job being done remotely and their access to the proper equipment. There will still be some staff present on campus to help keep the university operational.

These positions include custodians, campus housing staff, library staff, etc. The staff present on the Health Science Campus will be decided based on patient care.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends these social distancing efforts for areas where COVID-19 is spreading. The CDC suggests avoiding close contact with groups and people who feel sick. 

More information about COVID-19 and U of L’s response can be found at https://louisville.edu/campushealth/information/coronavirus

File Graphic // The Louisville Cardinal

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Loan to help U of L with Jewish Hospital acquisition passes legislature Thursday, Jan 30 2020 

By Matthew Keck —

The University of Louisville’s $35 million loan request to help with the purchase of Jewish Hospital passed one barrier of legislature Jan. 21. The Kentucky House’s Appropriations and Revenue Committee approved the university’s request, and now it moves to the full House.

“We appreciate the House Appropriations and Revenue Committee’s vote in favor of the state loan supporting the acquisition and enhancement of the properties that now are part of U of L Health,” said U of L President Neeli Bendapudi.

The request for this loan came back in August 2019 when U of L decided they would purchase KentuckyOne Health’s Louisville assets. Originally, U of L asked for a $50 million loan, but they announced that they decreased the loan to $35 million Jan. 9. Bendapudi said this was due to U of L calculating procurement savings and reductions in operational expenses.

“Under the leadership of Chairman Rudy, the committee showed its commitment not only to the teaching, research and patient care missions of the University of Louisville and its medical system, but also to the economic success of the commonwealth and the health and well-being of its citizens,” she said. “I also want to personally thank Speaker Osborne and Minority Floor Leader Jenkins for their continued support of the legislation.”

While the bill was passed, some still had doubts about this being good for the state. Andrew McNeill, state director of Americans for Prosperity, was concerned about this loan leaving tax payers on the hook.

The original terms of the loan request are being upheld: Half of the loan will be forgiven if U of L meets certain criteria, including retaining jobs and providing their services to underserved communities in Louisville. These terms were set by former Gov. Matt Bevin when he committed this loan last August.

“We continue to work with our elected officials to emphasize the importance of this loan, which will help us stabilize these assets and ensure the long-term viability of U of L Health,” said Bendapudi.

File Photo // The Louisville Cardinal 

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U of L becoming first-of-its-kind Center of Excellence for epidemiological research Thursday, Jan 30 2020 

By Matthew Keck —

The University of Louisville’s Division of Infectious Diseases and Pfizer Inc. announced they are collaborating on epidemiological research Jan. 23. The research will be related to vaccine-preventable diseases affecting adults, including the elderly.

“U of L’s Division of Infectious Diseases has a rich history of collaboration with Pfizer through the successful implementation of numerous clinical epidemiological research studies,” said Julio Ramirez, chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases at U of L. “We are excited to formalize a long-term collaboration that builds on these past successes.”

U of L is the first Center of Excellence designated by Pfizer Vaccines for this type of research. Ramirez will direct this Center for Excellence in collaboration with the pharmaceutical corporation.

As collaborators, they are aiming to determine the human health burden of important infectious diseases and potential vaccine effectiveness.

National health officials and independent policy makers will use the data collected from this research to develop recommendations for the use of vaccines in immunization programs worldwide.

This collaboration will last for a three-year period with an option for a renewal at the end of that period. Pfizer said they selected U of L for their exceptional capabilities for conducting population-based surveillance and clinical research.

“Pfizer has had an outstanding working relationship with the University of Louisville for more than 10 years,” said Luis Jodar, chief medical and scientific affairs officer for Pfizer Vaccines.

“The quality of disease burden evidence varies widely worldwide. Deriving accurate and credible population-based incidence estimates require comprehensive surveillance to identify cases of diseases within a well-defined and well-characterized geographic area. Thanks to U of L’s excellent network of research partners, the population available for research studies in Louisville can provide the data to derive estimates of disease burden that can be generalized nationally,” Joder said.

Because of Louisville’s racial and ethnic make-up, socioeconomic status and proportion of rural and urban population being similar to the general U.S., the city was an ideal place for this center.

The research conducted at the center may lead to economic growth and development for Louisville, along with job and educational opportunities in the healthcare sector.

“This collaboration will provide increased visibility for the university on a global scale, making U of L attractive for high-caliber researchers and research grants,” said President Neeli Bendapudi. ”It also presents an exceptional opportunity for our researchers to improve the human condition by helping to reduce the burden of infectious diseases worldwide by generating data that will inform governments and health care policymakers.”

Studies for this research will be population-based surveillance of infectious diseases including:

  • Streptococcus pneumoniae, a bacteria which causes pneumonia and other infections.
  • Clostridioides difficile, a bacteria that causes severe diarrhea and colitis.
  • Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), a common virus associated with mild cold-like symptoms but can cause severe infection in some people, including older adults.

Studies for this research will take place in hospitals, long-term care facilities and the local community.

“Within the next five years, what I hope, is we’ll be able to look back and say ‘This relationship was an amazing opportunity for Louisville, for Kentucky, for our university and for the U.S.,'” said Ruth Carrico, family nurse practitioner-Division of Infectious Diseases.

Photo Courtesy of The University of Louisville

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U of L asking less from state loan for KentuckyOne purchase Tuesday, Jan 14 2020 

By Matthew Keck —

In August 2019, the University of Louisville announced it would be buying KentuckyOne Health’s Louisville assets. To make that purchase possible, the university asked the state of Kentucky to provide a $50 million dollar loan.

On Jan. 9, President Neeli Bendapudi announced U of L would only be requesting a $35 million loan now.

“As you know, last fall we received a commitment from the elected leadership of Kentucky for a $50 million partially forgivable loan to help with the acquisition of the former KentuckyOne Health properties, including Jewish Hospital,” she said. “After just over two months since we acquired the facilities, I was happy to tell Governor Beshear, Senate President Stivers and House Speaker Osborne that we are reducing our loan request from $50 million to $35 million with the previously agreed upon forgiveness and repayment terms.”

U of L will still pay half of the state loan back over a 20-year period. With this new restructured loan from the state, U of L will only receive a total of $61 million in support for future expenses.

Bendapudi said there were several reasons for lowering the requested amount of the loan. “For example, we are anticipating a procurement savings of more than $7 million annually, and we will make operational reductions of nearly $10 million after Year 1,” she said. “On the revenue side, Enhanced Medicaid intergovernmental transfer payments from the federal government should be higher given that more facilities will qualify for this funding more quickly than we originally expected.”

She also said that improved payer contracts have led to increased billing rates for physicians, which is another reason that led to a reduction of the loan.

In addition to these loans, the state will contribute more than $100 million annually thanks to HB320 being passed last year. This bill allows for the state to enhance federal pass-through funding for rural hospitals.

“As we have shared time and again, this loan is critical to our success,” said Bendapudi. “As it will help us address immediate cash flow and other financial needs as we continue to make important changes in the operations and infrastructure of the expanded U of L Health system during our two- to three-year turnaround plan.”

The approval of this loan is still pending as the 2020 legislative season started last week.

U of L finalized the purchase of the KentuckyOne assets last November. In this deal, U of L acquired five hospitals, one outpatient center and physician groups affiliated with KentuckyOne.

“I am so appreciative that our elected leadership is working with us in a bipartisan manner to preserve and enhance these vital health care facilities and services,” said Bendapudi.

File Photo // The Louisville Cardinal 

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U of L executive vice president for research and innovation announced Saturday, Jan 11 2020 

By Matthew Keck —

Kevin Gardner, vice provost for research at the University of New Hampshire (UNH), will be the University of Louisville’s new executive vice president for research and innovation. Gardner will assume the role Jan. 27, pending the approval of the board of trustees.

“Dr. Gardner brings excellent credentials to this position,” said President Neeli Bendapudi. “As important, he brings energy, enthusiasm and communication skills that will help us build our research enterprise and share that knowledge to benefit our students, our community and the Commonwealth of Kentucky. We are excited to have him join our team.”

Gardner helped elevate UNH to the highest level among research universities during his tenure there. Since 1999, he served various roles at UNH including director of strategic initiatives and vice provost for research.

In his role as vice provost at UNH, he saw their rise from a Carnegie High Research Activity university (R2), to a Carnegie Very High Research university (R1). U of L has been a Carnegie R1 institution since 2005.

Gardner was also an associate state director of New Hampshire’s Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR). In this position, he led them to develop a statewide plan to increase engagement among higher education, research-based business and industry and state government.

In addition, he served as director of New Hampshire’s Environmental Research Group and Recycled Materials Resource Center.

He received his bachelor of science in civil engineering from Union College and his master’s and doctorate degrees in the same field from Clarkson University. Gardner was a research assistant at Clarkson.

Gardner succeeds William Pierce, who served as the EVPRI at U of L from 2009 to 2018. Robert Keynton, professor and Lutz Endowed Chair for Biomechanical Devices, served as the interim EVPRI after Pierce retired.

Photo Courtesy of the University of Louisville 

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College of Business receives $2 million grant for research and faculty expansion Monday, Nov 18 2019 

By Matthew Keck —

The University of Louisville College of Business announced Nov. 14 that they received a $2 million grant from the Joseph W. Craft III Foundation. The College of Business plans to use this grant to increase research and expand faculty.

This funding will go towards the Center for Free Enterprise to continue its exploration of entrepreneurship’s advancement in the well-being of society. “This helps students see real life applications to what they are studying,” said Stephan Gohmann, director of the Center for Free Enterprise.

“The Center for Free Enterprise is tackling seemingly intractable problems with a fresh perspective and innovative solutions,” said president, CEO and chairman of Alliance Resource Partners LP, Joseph Craft. “It gives students the opportunity to work alongside university scholars to discover how the free enterprise system in the United States preserves our freedom and contributes to the prosperity needed to apply critical thinking to solve the challenges in their own lives, their communities and the world.”

The center will expand by adding two tenure-track faculty in entrepreneurship, up to five doctoral fellows plus staff for the center. Gohmann said doctoral fellows will be recruited within U of L and outside of the university.

It will also partner with the Forcht Center for Entrepreneurship to examine ideas related to free enterprise through the lens of principled entrepreneurship. “We will be able to use these synergies for better programming and better classroom experiences for students,” said Gohmann. “This can occur when we bring in speakers who can give talks to the general public and also talks in entrepreneurship classes. Likewise, we often bring in authors of books that our reading groups are reading.”

Since operations began in 2015, the center has hosted speakers on topics such as criminal justice reform, transformation of China, crypto-currency and entrepreneurship in Senegal.

In addition, the center hosts reading groups throughout each semester that attract students from across the university. The purpose is to get students reading and exchanging ideas outside of the classroom. Students who attend these reading sessions also have the opportunity to receive a scholarship if they meet participation requirements.

“Our students benefit from the rich experiences the Center for Free Enterprise provides,” said U of L President Neeli Bendapudi. “We are grateful for the opportunity to continue to inspire our community’s future business leaders through these generous gifts.”

File Photo // The Louisville Cardinal 

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New interim vice president for enterprise risk management announced Friday, Nov 15 2019 

By Eli Hughes —

President Neeli Bendapudi announced Nov. 4 that Sandy Russell has been appointed interim vice president for enterprise risk management, audit and compliance. The previous vice president, Rhonda Bishop, announced in August that she would be leaving U of L for a position at the University of Central Florida.

Bendapudi made the announcement by email, briefly discussing Russell’s history with the university and an overview of the position’s responsibilities. To conclude the email, Bendapudi said, “I look forward to working with Sandy as she takes on these important responsibilities. And I hope you will join me in congratulating her on her new role.”

Russell’s new role will include overseeing the offices of audit and compliance and improving the practices used in the areas of audit, compliance and risk management. These areas are nothing new for Russell who has been with U of L for 27 years and previously worked in numerous positions related to compliance and risk management.

It is unclear whether Russell will remain in her position as assistant vice president, risk and compliance in addition to her new role. It is also unknown if she intends to keep this position short term or, if temporary, how long the appointment will last.

Russell was unavailable for comment regarding her new position.

File Photo // The Louisville Cardinal 

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U of L will be part of the new hub for healthcare innovations in Kentucky Monday, Nov 4 2019 

By Matthew Keck —

The University of Louisville and University of Kentucky received a $4 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to improve healthcare technologies Oct. 31. This grant will be used to form a Research Evaluation and Commercialization Hub, which includes all eight of Kentucky’s public universities along with Kentucky Community and Technical Colleges System.

“One of the things to keep in mind is that the health care sector here in Kentucky privately employs over 30,000 of our fellow citizens,” said interim secretary for the Cabinet for Economic Development Vivek Sarin. “It’s one of the top sectors driving our total economy.”

The hub will be called the “Kentucky Network for Innovation & Commercialization,” or KYNETIC, and is one of five hubs funded by the NIH. The hub is designed to speed up the translation of biomedical discoveries into commercially viable diagnostics, devices, therapeutics and tools to improve patient care and enhance health, according to the NIH.

“This is not a trick but a great treat for every single person in the Commonwealth,” said President Neeli Bendapudi. “This will provide innovation to improve the health of Kentuckians and people around the world.”

According to NIH, selected hubs are required to match the federal funding they receive and develop partnerships with life science and economic development organizations. The KYNETIC founding members will provide a $2.56 million direct-cost match to help with the funding.

Each university involved will also partner with the Commonwealth Commercialization Center (C3), a science and technology nonprofit that supports invention and entrepreneurship across the state.

“Kentucky’s ability to win this grant — one of only a handful ever awarded nationwide — was made possible in large part because of the unprecedented collaboration between our economic development cabinet, public universities and technical colleges in creating our non-profit commercialization center, C3,” Gov. Matt Bevin said. “This grant further validates the significance of C3’s public-private structure and our decision to revitalize Kentucky’s innovation and entrepreneurial support system. Together, we can have a truly positive impact on the health of Kentuckians and people around the world.”

KYNETIC aims to bring innovations such as new pharmaceuticals, therapies, devices and other healthcare technologies to the market. They also aim to address issues like lack of healthcare in rural areas.

This new hub will also be an asset in expanding U of L Health’s current research and medical developments.

“With the acquisition of Jewish Hospital and other KentuckyOne Health properties, researchers at U of L will have additional opportunities to recruit patients for clinical studies to advance research emerging from KYNETIC,” said Bendapudi. “Projects developed through KYNETIC will have the potential to further existing U of L research efforts in optimal aging, improve access to quality health care in underserved urban and rural regions, and bolster efforts to both attract and retain top faculty and students at U of L.”

File Photo // The Louisville Cardinal

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KentuckyOne Health assets are officially owned by U of L Monday, Nov 4 2019 

By Matthew Keck —

The University of Louisville has officially finalized the purchase of KentuckyOne Health’s assets as of Nov. 1. This ends the uncertain future of the struggling Jewish Hospital, now U of L Health–Jewish Hospital.

“This is an exciting and historic day for the University of Louisville,” said president Neeli Bendapudi. “This acquisition enables us to ensure access to quality health care for our entire community, and it strengthens our School of Medicine and our Health Sciences Center campus by allowing us to offer more training opportunities for our students and more research capacity for our faculty. It also saves thousands of jobs that could have been lost if any of these facilities closed.”

About 5,500 former KentuckyOne employees have joined U of L Health as part of this acquisition. Each hospital under this purchase has also been rebranded under the U of L Health name.

In the coming weeks the only visible differences from this purchase will be the new signs with each hospitals new name. The new names for each hospital were announced Oct. 28.

The one thing that was not finalized on Nov. 1 is the $50 million loan U of L is counting on from the state. This loan won’t be approved – if it is approved -until January 2020 by state lawmakers.

The process of this acquisition started back in January with U of L searching for a viable partner to make the purchase.

One of the reasons U of L backed out of buying the KentuckyOne assets earlier this year was due to funding. “Without a viable partner, we do not have the resources necessary to make the acquisition a reality,” Bendpaudi said earlier this year.

It was only when the state stepped in and promised a $50 million loan that U of L said they would purchase KentuckyOne’s assets.

U of L – pending the approval of the loan – is expecting half of it to be forgiven. They must meet certain criteria in terms of employment and service to underserved areas in order for the $25 million to be forgiven.

U of L will also be receiving funding from the Jewish Heritage Fund for Excellence and the Jewish Hospital and St. Mary’s Foundation. The former is contributing $10 million and the latter $40 million to the deal.

“As we transfer the ownership and operations to U of L Health, I am optimistic that these facilities will continue their legacy of excellence and innovation led by the outstanding employees and providers,” said Larry Schumacher, senior vice president of operations, CommonSpirit Health Southeast Division.

File Photo // The Louisville Cardinal

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