Ekstrom library will no longer require U of L IDs for entrance and will monitor for masks Thursday, Feb 4 2021 

By Eli Hughes–

The University of Louisville announced on Jan. 29 that Ekstrom library staff will begin monitoring the library to enforce the mask mandate. This comes after a meeting between U of L’s student government association and Ekstrom library staff to discuss mask enforcement and the requirement to show a student ID in order to enter the library.

“We appreciate that most of the Cardinal Family has followed our public health policies around wearing masks, maintaining physical distance and practicing good personal hygiene to prevent the spread of COVID-19 on campus,” Provost Beth Boehm and Dean of Students Michael Mardis said in their statement.

“However, some people are beginning to ignore these policies.  This has become a significant issue in some of our large public spaces, particularly Ekstrom Library. ”

Patrons of the library who refuse to follow the mask mandate, after being reminded by a staff member, will be asked to leave and could face consequences from the Dean of Students Office.

SGA President Sabrina Collins said that the SGA brought up the need for this policy in a meeting with U of L administrators as well as in an SGA senate meeting that was attended by Ekstrom Library Dean Bob Fox and Associate Dean Bruse Keisling.

“This practice has proven necessary because of the widespread lack of masking in the library despite other efforts to encourage compliance,” Collins said.

SGA also came to an agreement with library staff about issues with the library’s policy to require a student ID for entry.

“The practice of checking cardinal cards at the library was being done in an effort to de-densify the library and ensure that our students were the ones utilizing the space,” Collins said. “Additionally, administration hoped that having a checkpoint at the door would ensure people were reminded to wear their mask if they tried to enter the space without one. In practice, we know that this did not have the intended impact and, in fact, created a hostile environment for students of color.”

SGA announced in a statement on social media on Jan. 22 that this policy would no longer apply, but a security guard will continue to be stationed at the entrance to Ekstrom.

SGA urges students who have any issues or concerns with this situation to reach out to them at sgacares@uoflsga.org.

Photo by Anthony Riley // The Louisville Cardinal

 

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A&S Dean search put on hold after candidate declines offer Monday, Jan 18 2021 

By Eli Hughes–

The University of Louisville announced last week that it would be putting the search for a new dean of the College of Arts and Sciences on hold. This decision comes after the candidate who was selected for the job during the first search declined the offer.

“Given the current complexity of the Arts and Sciences role and the need for a leader with a demonstrated history of success in a similar role, we have made the difficult decision to conclude this search process, to recalibrate and to restart a new search sometime after Provost Gonzalez begins her new role this spring,” U of L President Neeli Bendapudi and Provost Beth Boehm said in a Jan. 13 email.

David Owen, the current interim A&S dean, will continue in his role until the search is able to resume again and find someone long-term for the position.

The announcement concluded by thanking the members of the search committee for their efforts during the first search.

In an interview on Jan. 13, the Editor-in-Chief of The Louisville Cardinal Joseph Garcia asked Bendapudi if the decision to pause this search would be good in the long-term for the university community.

“I think so, and I’m 100% on that,” Bendapudi said. “Because leadership is something where it’s not about a good person or a bad person, it’s about best. And I really believe that. Meaning, that at any given point in time making sure that the person we get aligns with our priorities and where we need to go.”

File Photo//The Louisville Cardinal

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University leadership responds to sociology department’s July letter Tuesday, Nov 17 2020 

By Madelin Shelton — 

The University of Louisville recently issued a statement in response to the sociology department’s July 7 letter that brought concerns of systemic racism at U of L to university leadership. The statement, sent out Oct. 15, was signed by U of L President Neeli Bendapudi and University Provost Beth Boehm.

The sociology department’s letter addressed inequitable treatment of Black faculty at U of L, including the marginalization of their teaching and research, biased student evaluations, and a lack of opportunity to move into leadership positions. It also challenged the university to go into further detail about its efforts to uplift Black members of U of L and to ensure the fair treatment of Black students, faculty and staff.

The statement reiterated that the university is currently developing the Cardinal Anti-Racist agenda with faculty, staff and student input. This agenda includes many objectives, including recruiting and retaining more students, faculty and staff of color, building intentionally anti-racism curriculum across all disciplines, ensuring boards, committees, and the search and hiring processes are intentionally diverse developing institutional and unit-level budgets that reflect the priority of diversity and equity and more.

Addressing the original concerns the letter brought up, the university detailed how its leadership is working to mitigate disparities among Black faculty by highlighting their scholarly contributions via social media, printed publications, advertising and marketing prowess.

“The provost’s office is currently reviewing how we execute teaching evaluations, and promotion and tenure reviews to identify systemic shortfalls,” the statement said.

In regards to the letter’s accusations of a lack of promotion among Black faculty to leadership positions, university leadership detailed recent efforts to provide leadership training to Black faculty through the VP Faculty Affairs and the Delphi Center.

The statement detailed several other elements of its efforts to ensure a more equitable U of L for Black community members including diversity trainings and university-sponsored minority support groups and associations.

University leadership repeated their commitment to dismantling racism at U of L throughout the statement. They said that they will demonstrate their success in dismantling systemic racism at U of L by replacing old policies with new anti-racist policies, increasing the number of faculty and staff of color, increasing the student of color population and retention rates and by expanding diversity and inclusion efforts, outreach and influence.

University leadership was clear that U of L still had a lot of work to do in this area.

“In closing, it is certainly the case that our beloved university has a lot of work to do to become the premier anti-racist metropolitan research university,” the statement read. “We owe it to our students and our community to create opportunities, break glass ceilings and be bold in our actions to be anti-racist.”

File Photo // The Louisville Cardinal

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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.

Summer

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

Fall Semester

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

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

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

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

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

This story will be updated as more information is released.

Graphic by Eli Hughes//The Louisville Cardinal

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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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