New and revamped positions contribute to cardinal anti-racism agenda Friday, Apr 16 2021 

By Madelin Shelton —

As part of U of L’s goal of becoming a premier anti-racist institution, the university has detailed its efforts to create new and revamped diversity-focused positions.

The varied positions have a variety of responsibilities, including creating an inclusive culture on campus, improving retention and graduation rates among minority students, recruiting minority faculty, creating better opportunities for minority and women-owned businesses to work with the university and more.

These revamped and new positions include the following:

  • Brigitte Burpo, assistant dean for diversity, equity and inclusion, College of Education and Human Development
  • Valerie Clay, coordinator for diversity, equity and inclusion, J.B. Speed School of Engineering
  • Crystal Rae Coel, assistant dean for student affairs and diversity, Brandeis School of Law
  • Cherie Dawson-Edwards, associate dean for diversity, engagement, culture and climate, College of Arts & Sciences
  • Marc D. Ellis, assistant director of procurement diversity and inclusion, Office of Procurement Services
  • Audra French, assistant director of student affairs and diversity equity and inclusion, School of Dentistry
  • Amalia Gomez, Latinx admissions counselor, Office of Admissions
  • Leondra Gully, director of Black and multicultural initiatives, Cultural Center
  • Anna Hinton, assistant dean for administration and diversity, equity and inclusion, School of Dentistry
  • Trinidad Jackson, assistant dean for culture and liberation, School of Public Health & Information Sciences
  • Emma Sterrett-Hong, associate dean of equity and inclusion, Kent School of Social Work
  • Nakia Strickland, associate director for diversity engagement, U of L Alumni Association
  • Morgan West, new student financial aid advisor, Office of Financial Affairs

In addition to the above, the university also said that the Cultural Center will be filling a director position for Hispanic, Latino and Indigenous initiatives, and new positions are being considered in other U of L departments.

When discussing these positions and how they fit into the Cardinal Anti-Racism Agenda, U of L President Neeli Bendapudi outlined that anti-racism is about believing that skin color does not confer any inherent inferiority or superiority to anybody else and that these positions help advance that idea.

“Being an anti-racist university means that on the individual level and the structural level, we examine what we are doing to see if we have conditions in place to make it possible for every human that’s here to achieve their full potential and not have their race be a factor in that,” she said.

Bendapudi explained that these new and revamped positions indicate that these ideals aren’t happening in one place, but that every school and every unit are taking it seriously.

For how these positions foster a culture of diversity, equity and inclusion Bendapudi said that these positions will ensure that U of L is trying to stay diverse. In addition, they will help foster equity by being close to problems and being able to argue and advocate for equity.

“Having all these people visible in each unit is an invitation to others and hopefully makes them feel more included,” Bendapudi said.

File Photo // The Louisville Cardinal

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BRIEF: Faculty and staff drive-through vaccinations planned for early April Thursday, Mar 18 2021 

By Eli Hughes–

The University of Louisville plans to open a drive-through COVID-19 vaccination site in the Cardinal Stadium parking lot in early April. U of L faculty and staff who have not gotten the vaccination by then will be first in line, once this new location opens.

“Faculty and staff who have not yet scheduled a vaccination appointment will receive an invitation by the end of March for a dedicated U of L vaccine event at the stadium, which should accommodate 4,000 people per day,” the university said in a March 16 email to faculty and staff.  “Those of you who are over 60 and have already registered at the Brook and Liberty site should keep those appointments.”

The email went onto explain that U of L administration has been working with the state and advocating for their employees. The assured faculty and staff that vaccine distribution throughout the state has been adjusted to help accommodate more populated areas, such as Louisville.

“We will share more detail as it is available. Again, we are pleased that our faculty and staff will be the first to be vaccinated at the new site in early April,” the email concluded.

More information about the COVID-19 vaccination can be found on the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s website. Further information on U of L’s vaccination plan can be found on their COVID-19 webpage.

Graphic by Eli Hughes // The Louisville Cardinal

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U of L prepares transition for in-person fall semester Monday, Mar 15 2021 

By Madelin Shelton — 

The university announced on March 13 that it plans to make a “return to normal” for fall 2021 by having more in-person courses. The decision comes after six months of planning from the Academic Scenario Planning Committee and the Coordinating Committee.

“In our case, a return to normal means we expect to offer students a robust residential experience with in-person classes and fully staffed student services again,” Executive Vice President and University Provost Beth Boehm said.

Elements of this plan include a fall 2021 schedule with face-to-face and 100% digital course designations and incorporating some online expectation into in-person courses. Most courses will be in person, but some online courses will be available for students that accommodate their learning styles and schedules.

In addition, any combination of in-person and online courses may be taken for the same resident or nonresident full-time rate.

Boehm said in the email that the university will still be prepared to flip some in-person courses to online or hybrid if the pandemic continues into the fall.

However, hybrid courses will not be continuing into the fall. “Because many students and faculty find the hybrid designation confusing, and because we do not expect to be required to physically distance to the same extent as this year, all courses will be marked as either face-to-face or 100% digital,” Boehm said.

“As always, our priority this fall will be to keep faculty, staff and students safe on campus while providing a first-class, in-person education for students,” Boehm said.

File Graphic // The Louisville Cardinal

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A&S freezes spending amid $1.6 million budget shortfall Sunday, Mar 14 2021 

By Eli Hughes–

Interim Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences David Owen announced to A&S faculty on March 9 that a temporary spending freeze would take effect from now until June 30. This decision comes after A&S reported a budget shortfall of more than $1.6 million for the current fiscal year due to low enrollment this year.

“Enrollments in A&S fell below budgeted targets in the fall and spring semesters, and we are now projecting a revenue shortfall in the current fiscal year of $1,684,991, while expenditures are trending as budgeted,” Owen said in the email announcement. “I ask for your help to close this gap between revenues and expenditures.”

He went on to say that this shortfall can be addressed by increasing revenues through higher enrollment in late-start spring semester classes and summer classes, as well as by reducing expenditures through general funds spending freeze.

When The Cardinal reached out to Owen for comment he said this spending freeze will only affect non-essential expenditures.

“The spending freeze will not affect students or impact our academic mission. Its purpose is to reduce spending on expenses that are not immediately essential to our academic and research missions and that can be held off until next year,” Owen said.

Owen also said that the spending freeze was only one piece of the plan to address the budget shortfall, “We are striving to increase enrollments by offering more late-start spring courses than in the past and offering a wide-range of summer courses. We had previously set aside a portion of the budget for possible revenue shortfalls, and those funds will be used. Lastly, we will apply some of the funds carried over from last year to close this budget deficit.”

The underlying cause of this decrease in enrollment that led to the shortfall is not certain at this time but Owen attributes many of the problems to the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The budget shortfall is due to lower than expected enrollments in A&S, which I expect has multiple causes. Part of this is due to some students choosing to step away from their studies because of the many additional financial, personal, and emotional stresses created by the pandemic, and some may be because some students prefer in-person learning,” Owen said.

In the email, Owen laid out specific guidelines for what expenses the spending freeze would affect:

  • This applies only to general fund accounts.
  • Recurring expenses, expenses already incurred and all invoices received will need to be paid.
  • Does not impact current faculty tenure-line or term searches. Requests for staff hires will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.
  • This will not affect any spending from research grants, RIF accounts and start-up funds.
  • This will not affect spending from endowments and current use gift accounts.
  • For all other general fund expenses, you should work with your UBM-I to request pre-approval.

Owen believes that this spending freeze can help the department address the financial problems it’s facing while still maintaining its academic mission.

“A&S faculty have worked tirelessly to provide the best possible online learning experiences possible during this past year,” Owen said. “Arts & Sciences degrees provide an exceptional value in the 21st century. By learning how to learn, A&S graduates are well-prepared for highly dynamic and unpredictable career paths, and A&S graduates have the knowledge and skills to tackle many of the challenges our communities face.”

Graphic by Joseph Garcia // The Louisville Cardinal

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Petition for gender inclusivity in new dorm circulates among U of L students Thursday, Mar 11 2021 


By Madelin Shelton — 

A petition to make the New Residence Hall (NRH2021) gender-inclusive has begun circulating among the student body in response to U of L’s decision to postpone the gender-inclusive setup of the new student living space.

The petition, signed by 911 members of the U of L community and authored by Orvelle Thomas, criticizes the university’s decision.

“Allowing gender-inclusive floors would be a step in the direction of the University fulfilling its promise of maintaining a diverse and inclusive campus,” Thomas wrote in the petition.

Sabrina Collins, Student Government Association (SGA) president, provided a letter from June 2020 that the Top 4 of SGA sent to Campus Housing in support of gender-inclusive housing.

It included a description of what it means to have gender-inclusive housing. “An open housing policy, also known as all-gender housing at other institutions, would allow students to live together regardless of sex assigned at birth, gender identity, or gender expression,” it said.

“This school has consistently been named one of the most LGBTQ+ friendly universities in the South,” Thomas wrote. “But giving in to societal pressures, and maintaining a deliberate anti-LGBTQ+ agenda, does not make the University of Louisville deserving of that award.”

Collins has signed and advocated for the petition. When asked how the petition began, Collins said that there was no official announcement from the university that gender-inclusive housing would be featured in the new dorm.

“However, it was very clear to SGA and other campus-wide partners that this would be the case, as we have been involved in the design process from the very beginning,” she said. According to the petition, the university had decided to postpone this decision, saying that this policy needed a “trial year.” This decision by the university prompted student pushback.

SGA’s June letter also contains the Top 4’s belief in the importance of gender inclusivity in campus housing.

“SGA believes that every student has a right to equitable and accessible living opportunities on our campus,” they said. “Our current residential living system of sex-based assignment (male, female) does not support the members of our growing LGBTQIA community and non-binary community. U of L’s existing, sex-based assignment system has placed an undue labor on this resident population to request housing accommodations and repeatedly justify their gender/sex identity to unfamiliar staff members.”

Thomas Hardy, director of Campus Housing, reiterated the university’s efforts to diversity and inclusion.

“The University of Louisville is recognized as a national leader in its commitment to diversity and inclusion. U of L Campus Housing is determined to support and build on that commitment,” he said.

Hardy also detailed U of L’s recent announcement that the new residence hall is slated to include one gender-inclusive floor. Further, the university plans to include gender-neutral restrooms throughout the residence hall.

“We want to thank the students who have argued passionately about the needs for this accommodation, and we want to assure all our students that their well-being is at the forefront of all we do,” he said.

Photo Courtesy of the University of Louisville

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Ville Grill has completed second phase of construction Monday, Mar 1 2021 

By Eli Hughes–

Construction is expected to wrap up soon at the Ville Grill following the completion of the second phase of renovations over winter break.

Marc Ellis, who was recently appointed to handle the Ville Grill construction contract on a day-to-day basis, and Mary Cole, resident district manager for Aramark, responded to questions about the construction over email.

“We are closing out a few overall project items, but the Ville Grill has been up and running at COVID capacity (50% seating) since the beginning of the Spring semester,” they said.

The second-floor hosts more dining space for students to eat and an extra set of bathrooms.

The Louisville Cardinal reported on the Ville Grill’s construction back in October 2020. At that point, it was believed that construction would conclude by the end of November. According to Cole and Ellis, they decided to extend construction throughout winter break because the project was taking longer than expected.

Construction was broken up into two phases with the first phase consisting of a remodel of the first floor, and the second phase involving adding an upstairs floor and finishing the spaces below the new addition that couldn’t be used until the completion of Phase 2.

A new gluten solutions kiosk offers gluten-free cereal and pastries to students and staff that can’t eat gluten.

“We have all the same stations as we did previously but added a Smokehouse Station. We also made the Conscious Kitchen its own enclosed dedicated space,” Cole and Ellis said. “We also replaced all furniture throughout and added cable TVs to the upstairs.”

One of the dining options has gotten a makeover with the new name ‘Grill 1798’ as a reference to the year the university first opened.

“We have received great feedback from the campus community regarding the new, updated look of the Ville Grill,” Ellis and Cole said.  “We are excited to get started with monthly programming for the upstairs space – trivia, pop-up events, scheduled meeting space, etc. Suggestions, ideas and feedback are always welcomed from our U of L community.”

Photos by Anthony Riley // The Louisville Cardinal

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SGA holds forum to meet this year’s running candidates Monday, Mar 1 2021 

By Madelin Shelton — 

Candidates for the University of Louisville Student Government Association’s Top 4 positions participated in a forum last week about their platforms. The positions for Top 4 include Student Body President, Executive Vice President, Academic Vice President and Services Vice President.

The SGA election will take place from March 1 to March 3. Ballots will be sent to U of L students through their email.


Student Body President / Executive VP:

Candidates: – Ugonna Okorie (President) and Sydney Finley (EVP)

The candidates for both Student Body President and Executive VP are running unopposed as one ticket.

Okorie focused on her three initiatives of reshaping SGA culture to allow for greater accountability, pushing for progress and anti-racism initiatives.

For reshaping SGA, Okorie wants to begin Senate recaps, monthly updates and regularly updating the SGA website.

She hopes to push for progress by advocating against unnecessary fees and tuition costs and amplify student voices in university administration.

When asked about how she would stand up for students in her role and make sure their values were represented, Okorie detailed her desire to make Senate meetings advertised more openly so that more student voices can be heard during those meetings. She also pointed to a broader desire to get a more diverse set of students involved in SGA as a whole to ensure different perspectives are being heard.

Finley focused on advancing diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives, emphasizing campus safety and increasing student accessibility to student resources. Findley also detailed her plan to stay in touch with student organizations.

“One of the main things I plan to do should I be elected Executive Vice President is reaching out to different student organizations on campus,” she said. “Specifically, RSOs that represent stakeholders in really important campus issues that are at the forefront of student discussions and making sure that I’m getting information from those students.”


Academic Vice President:

Candidates:  – Alexa Meza

– Jacob Schagene

Meza’s campaign for Academic VP is about questioning current methods of grading, evaluating and teaching and introducing accessible and inclusive methods that help students succeed while at U of L.

Meza also echoed the importance of having adequate faculty representation when asked about how she would work to increase diversity in this area.

“I think that when faculty members look like us and have experiences similar to us, that’s when students really thrive,” she said.

Schagene has centered his campaign on building back trust between students and faculty, and between faculty and the administration that, he believes, has deteriorated in relation to the circumstances caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I’m going to fight to make online learning more accessible and also to make online learning less discriminatory,” he said.

Addressing the same question about faculty representation as Meza, Schagene said, “Faculty come and go but it’s not something that we can change overnight in regards to the representation of faculty members,” he said. “I think it’s important that we analyze faculty departments where there’s not been a lot of change in the faculty and how we can help them to better promote the ideas of representation and what positions we could put in place there in order to allow students to have some sort of representation in this area.”


Services Vice President:

Candidates: – Grayson Stinger

– Eli Cooper

The candidates for Services VP are Grayson Stinger and Eli Cooper.

Cooper’s candidacy for SVP is centered around being a voice for divestment and an agent for change in all meetings with the administration. He discussed how his platform of divestment could help the university reach its goal of being anti-racist.

“Specifically, for Services Vice President, as my responsibility as a candidate, I think divestment in all instances of the world, divestment from fossil fuels, divestment from Aramark, divestment from ULPD, everything,” he said. “I think that is one of the biggest impacts we can have to move towards being an anti-racist institution.”

Stinger is focusing his candidacy on student health, student inclusion and student advancement. When asked about the university’s anti-racism initiatives, Stinger echoed the other candidates in saying the university isn’t doing enough and said it was a top-down issue.

“One of the things I want to start if I become elected as Services Vice President is mandatory diversity and inclusion training for all staff and faculty on campus,” he said.

File Photo // The Louisville Cardinal

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SGA announces changes to Campus Dining’s operation hours Saturday, Feb 27 2021 

By Madelin Shelton — 

In response to survey results about the University of Louisville’s decision to cut back campus dining services, U of L’s Student Government Association has announced adjustments made by the university to the dining hours of operation. The university has expanded dining hours for several campus locations, including Subway, the Starbucks at SAC East and more.

  • Effective Friday, Feb. 26, Subway will reopen on Fridays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
  • Effective Saturday, Feb. 27, through Saturday, March 27, Starbucks at SAC East will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Effective Monday, March 1, Einstein Bros Bagels will be open Monday – Friday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. for GrubHub orders only, the location will not be taking orders at the counter.
  • Effective Saturday, April 3, Starbucks at Ekstrom will return to its regular Saturday operating hours of 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Campus Dining will also be covering transaction costs associated with ordering Einstein’s on GrubHub. SGA President Sabrina Collins said that there shouldn’t be any reimbursement process or special step that students would need to take.

“My understanding is that this was done to limit the number of staff needed to keep the location open which in turn limits operational costs,” Collins said. “Decisions about closures were made with data regarding foot traffic and things like that, so Dining must have felt it necessary to limit operational costs at Einsteins through this decision while meeting student demands to bring the location back online.”

U of L Dining originally reduced its hours for some dining locations, even closing some entirely, as a result of a 39% reduction in student, faculty, staff and visitors on campus due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Students and parents immediately expressed their frustration once the initial change came out. U of L then asked for survey feedback from members of the U of L community to see what adjustments were desired and needed. The above adjustments were made in response to the survey results.

File Graphic // The Louisville Cardinal

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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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Board of Trustees votes to increase contributions to employee retirement accounts Tuesday, Jan 26 2021 

By Madelin Shelton — 

The University of Louisville will be increasing the university’s contribution to employee retirement accounts to six percent of the employee’s salary effective Feb. 1 through June 30.

“The additional optional university contribution of 2.5 percent that matches voluntary employee contributions will also continue through this period,” U of L President Neeli Bendapudi said in an email.

This increase comes as the university had to implement several budget saving steps last spring in response to the financial fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic. One of these steps included eliminating the university’s contributions to individual retirement accounts. 2.5 percent of employer contributions were restored in August 2020, along with the full restoration of the 2.5 percent match for voluntary employee contributions, after the university found it financially feasible.

“This recent increase to 6 percent is possible because of savings incurred through sound and responsible financial planning and management, which included not only the retirement reduction but also a campus-wide program that reserved 5 percent of unit General Fund budgets to fund possible reductions in revenues,” Bendapudi said. A portion of the reserved General Fund budgets will now go directly to units with the discretion of vice presidents and deans.

The university will have to reevaluate the university retirement plan contributions in Summer 2021, but hopes to maintain the current level of contribution.

“We value you, our faculty and staff, and the important work you have continued to perform so well under less than ideal circumstances. We thank you for your efforts and promise to do our best to reward you for your dedication to the University of Louisville,” Bendapudi said.

File Graphic // The Louisville Cardinal

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