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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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.


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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Good intentions lead to reckless results Tuesday, Sep 1 2020 

 By Zachary Baker–

The number of COVID-19 cases in the city of Louisville has been fluctuating in the recent weeks. With schools going back in session, including those that meet in-person, we’re likely to see an increase in cases.

With higher possibilities of an outbreak starting on campus, the student body is looking to the U of L administration for guidance. Instead of proper guidance, the university is changing their policies without warning. This may cause the predicted viral outbreak. 

Before classes began, the administration’s response to the Student Government Association’s letter stated their desire to follow the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s federal recommendation by not requiring mass testing. 

“We have a robust plan for testing and tracing, and we are urging everyone to get tested. But the CDC specifically states that mandatory testing is not advisable, and multiple lines of evidence demonstrate receiving a negative test encourages risky behavior and has been the direct cause of many outbreaks,” said Executive Vice President and Provost Beth Boehm in a letter to the SGA.

That is a stark difference from an email sent on Aug. 23 that stated within the coming week that testing will be required for all students and faculty. 

This move by the university seems to be with good intentions to protect the student body. But despite efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19, their choice of actions may cause a viral outbreak on campus. 

It is important to understand why the federal guidelines said to not require testing: it would encourage negative behaviors within the student body. A group of people who did not want to be tested may receive a negative test and likely decide it is not dangerous to have a party or something similar. 

All it takes is one false negative or someone not yet tested to interact with that group and then you will have people with a “negative test” spreading COVID-19 to many others with negative tests. 

While testing can make us safer, the people most likely to be tested are the ones who wish to also self-isolate afterward. Those who do not want to be tested are likely to not follow the recommended guidelines set forth by the administration. 

Testing has been provided by the university within the first week and the administration has been posting a weekly COVID-19 positive test counter on the U of L website. Until Aug. 25, the counter only listed 53 positive cases.

There are many on-campus who wish to keep themselves and others safe by getting tested, but the university has not been very open about the processes. The positive test counter is not being updated frequently enough to promote confidence in the student body, and the contradictory language by the administration has caused unneeded stress instead. 

“A daily tracker would be invaluable to students who are deciding daily whether it’s safe to go to class in person,” tweeted senior engineering major Emily Walter on Aug. 22.

“We’re still only getting weekly updates, and that’s frankly unacceptable. While I’m thankful our cause count only rose to 90 in the last eight days, it could have been so much worse.”

She added that while she believes U of L is handling safe classroom procedures, they are failing in informing students.

Junior Kirandeep Kaur said that she took a COVID-19 test on Aug. 21, got the results Aug. 22, then was told on Aug. 23 that the mandatory testing protocol would require her to get tested again within the next week.

Let’s say, hypothetically, that the poor communication and the risks proposed by students going out after negative testing are worth it if the testing makes us safer. The issue is that the administration’s sudden change in policy has led to a dangerous testing area set up without realistic prep time. 

Today, students went to receive tests at the Student Activity Center testing area. In that one room, there were dozens of students in non-socially distanced space. If at least one is positive then they risk causing an outbreak at the testing sites.

Three weeks ago, we started classes with the expectation the administration is following CDC guidelines to protect us.

As the weeks went on, many students grew concerned with a lack of updates on positive test results. 

Now, despite any good intentions by the administration, the student body is likely more at risk by these changes. We can only hope that this sudden change will not be the cause of a viral outbreak on campus.

File Graphic // The Louisville Cardinal

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U of L responds to protest concerns Tuesday, Aug 25 2020 

By Eli Hughes — 

University of Louisville President Neeli Bendapudi and Provost Beth Boehm sent an email to the U of L community Aug 25 responding to concerns over protests that could potentially interfere with campus operations.

The protests are in response to the killing of Breonna Taylor by police officers in March and have been organized by Until Freedom, a social justice organization based out of New York.

The protesters plan to march from South Central Park to the Louisville Metro Police Training Academy from 2-5:00 pm. This path has the possibility of intersecting with roads near U of L’s main campus.

“University leadership has been monitoring the news surrounding potential upcoming protests in our city, including a planned demonstration today at 2 p.m. near Taylor Boulevard which may cause traffic concerns for some near Belknap Campus,” the pair said in the email.

“We’ve been in close touch with local officials and, based on the information we have at this time, U of L operations will continue as normal unless individuals have received other instructions from their dean or supervisor. ”

All businesses in the Student Activities Center closed at 11:00 a.m. due to protest concerns.

File Photo // The Louisville Cardinal

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University of Louisville’s plan for a safe return to campus this fall Monday, Jul 6 2020 

By Madelin Shelton–

On June 23, University of Louisville Provost Beth Boehm sent out the university’s “Pivot to Fall” plan that laid out the university’s strategy for welcoming students, faculty and staff back for the fall semester.

The plan–drafted under the direction of the Pivot to Fall Coordinating Committee, Safe Return to Work Committee, and Academic Scenario Planning Committee–was split into two major sections: “Return to Campus” and “Student, Faculty and Staff Safety.”

The “Return to Campus” section announced that fall semester classes for undergraduates will begin on Aug. 17 and Fall Break will remain on Oct. 5-6, as previously scheduled. Move-in for students living on campus will include multiple days with extended time periods to promote social distancing.

In-person classes will meet regularly until  Nov. 25. After this date, all in-person classes will transition to online-only until the end of final exams. Dorms will remain open to students needing a place to stay through or after Thanksgiving break.

Over 50% of classes will be offered in a hybrid model, part online and part in-person, to allow for a quick switch to online-only should this necessity arise.

The university also disclosed that the Fall 2020 and Spring 2020 commencement ceremonies will both be held in the upcoming December, as the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in the postponement of the Spring 2020 ceremonies.

The key actions for “Student, Faculty and Staff Safety” included several items. Among the most notable announcements, all students, faculty and staff will be required to wear masks and practice social distancing in public areas.

U of L is also making testing available to all members of the campus community and will conduct contact tracing to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Additionally, the university will increase hand sanitizer, cleaning and disinfecting throughout campus, among other preventative actions.

While the “Pivot to Fall” plan acts as a guide, the university administration acknowledges changes will likely still need to be made.

“We will continue to respond to the guidance of our public health officials and the governor of Kentucky, the latest science and research into COVID-19, advice from our colleagues at other universities and colleges, and input from our employees and students over the next to two months,” Boehm said.

File Graphic//The Louisville Cardinal

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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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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 suspends searches for provost and A&S dean Friday, Mar 27 2020 

By Eli Hughes —

Interim Dean of College of Arts and Sciences David Owen announced March 23 that the University of Louisville’s search for a new A&S dean and a new provost will be suspended until the fall due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Owen said in the email announcement that the searches are suspended because it is not currently possible to conduct in-person interviews for the jobs.

“I count myself fortunate to lead A&S during these trying times—you all have truly demonstrated the Cardinal spirit in the past few weeks, and it is this spirit that makes us a community of care, and a family,” Owen said.

Owen shared in the email that he would stay on as interim dean until a new dean is selected. John Karman, director of media relations for U of L, confirmed that Provost Beth Boehm will also remain in her position until the new provost is selected.

File Photo // The Louisville Cardinal

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U of L adds pass/fail option for the spring 2020 semester Friday, Mar 20 2020 

By Eli Hughes–

University of Louisville Provost Beth Boehm announced in an email to students March 20 that students now have the option to make any of their classes for the spring 2020 semester pass/fail.

A pass/fail system means that no matter the letter grade, a class that a student passes will not affect their grade point average but will be counted toward their degree progression. A failed class will affect their grade point average.

Undergraduate students who choose this option will earn a grade of “pass” for any class they get a D- or better in and a “fail” grade for any class they get an F in. Graduate students will earn a “pass” for any class they get a C- or better in and a “fail” for any class they get a D+ or below in.

Boehm explained the decision to offer a pass/fail class as a way to redefine what success means in a time where things are uncertain due to the spread of COVID-19.

“Success might mean something different this semester than it would in a ‘normal’ semester: it might mean not giving up when you are tempted to; it might mean finishing all of the courses you signed up for without stressing about grades; it might mean practicing social distancing to keep yourself and others safe and healthy; it might mean finding out that you are stronger than you thought,” Boehm said.

This decision came after students raised concerns about the switch to online classes for the remainder of the semester. One student, Chidum Okeke, started an online petition to persuade U of L administration to provide a pass/fail option.

That petition had 3,751 signatures at the time the decision was made. In his petition, Okeke explained why he felt a pass/fail system would be beneficial. “U of L students are driven and passionate, but under these circumstances, the amount of work and engagement can be exhausting and potentially detrimental to the success of our student body,” Okeke said.

“Giving students the option to make their classes pass/fail wouldn’t discourage students from doing well academically, but rather, would allow some cushion for those in tough situations.”

Boehm suggested that students talk to their advisors before deciding to switch to pass/fail or not. The decision can be made on a class by class basis and the deadline to switch a class to pass/fail is April 21, the last day of class.

Boehm attached the university’s official pass/fail policy to the email and said it will also be put on the U of L coronavirus website.

File Graphic // The Louisville Cardinal

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