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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The Cardinal interviews incoming University Provost, Lori Gonzalez Tuesday, Jan 19 2021 

By Madelin Shelton — 

Dr. Lori Gonzalez, the newly selected executive vice president and university provost (EVPUP), was recently interviewed by The Louisville Cardinal and outlined her upcoming position at the University of Louisville.

“The things that drew me to the University of Louisville are some of the initiatives around anti-racism and improving retention rates to keep our undergraduate students enrolled and to ensure that they graduate on time,” Gonzalez said. She also enjoyed reading U of L’s Strategic Plan because it succinctly presented the university’s goals of making itself a great place to learn, work and invest.

Gonzalez further noted President Neeli Bendapudi’s involvement with students as a pulling factor.

“When I saw President Bendapudi and her videos to students, her writing to students, I just thought this was a president who cares about higher ed, cares about the students and is going to be sure that the institution is a student-first place for people to learn,” she said.

Gonzalez said that her leadership in education has prepared her best for her new role as university provost.

“I started out as a faculty member and moved into administration at the college level. I’ve been a dean, I’ve been a provost, and now I’m a vice chancellor,” she said. “I think the thing that prepares you best for leadership is enjoying the mission of the institution and believing passionately about the mission, and then enjoying working with people.”

When asked how she has worked to uphold the Cardinal principle of diversity and inclusion in the past, Gonzalez first elaborated on how she came to appreciate diversity and inclusion in her own life. Being from a small town in eastern Kentucky, Gonzalez said she didn’t have experiences with those who were different from her until she got to college.

“I started my own quest to understand my own bias that I brought from where I was raised and focusing on learning more about diversity and inclusion,” she said. “When I became dean, I brought in training opportunities for our faculty and staff around diversity and inclusion. As provost I worked really closely with the equity and diversity office to make sure programming was going. I did small things like meeting every semester with transgender students.”

When she officially takes on the role of provost, Gonzalez said she wants to help foster an environment where undergraduate students come into U of L and study their respective subjects while also learning their civic duty as citizens.

“That’s a personal passion of mine to make sure that students become more than whatever their discipline is because they’re going to be the ones to change our world for the better and I think the university has to give you the tools to know how to do that,” she said.

To specifically improve the student experience for U of L students, Gonzalez wants to work with Bendapudi to expand the experiential learning strategy that is under the “Great Place to Learn” component of the Strategic Plan. She believes focusing on this component will further help with cultivating civically engaged learners.

Gonzalez will begin serving as the EVPUP starting April 1.

Photo Courtesy // The University of Louisville 

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U of L named as top institution for diversity and inclusion Wednesday, Oct 28 2020 

By Madelin Shelton — 

INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine has named the University of Louisville as a 2020 HEED Award recipient and a 2020 Diversity Champion.

According to INSIGHT Into Diversity’s magazine, “The INSIGHT Into Diversity Higher Education in Diversity (HEED) Award recognizes colleges and universities that demonstrate an outstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion.”

For this recognition, U of L will be featured in the November 2020 issue of the magazine along with the other 89 universities also designated as recipients.

U of L was one of a limited number of colleges and universities also named a Diversity Champion. Diversity Champions are chosen for their exceptional commitment to diversity and inclusion throughout their campus communities.

Dr. Faye Jones, U of L Senior Associate Vice President for Diversity and Equity and Associate Vice President for Health Affairs/Diversity Initiatives, said Diversity Champion status is only awarded to those institutions who rank in the top tier of HEED Award recipients.

Colleges and universities that receive this award are the gold standard for other higher education institutions seeking to improve their diversity and inclusion practices.

The magazine chose U of L for these high honors after looking at its achievement and commitment to broadening diversity and inclusion. According to INSIGHT Into Diversity’s website, this encompasses campus initiatives, programs, and outreach; student recruitment, retention, and completion; and hiring practices for faculty and staff.

Holly Mendelson, a Publisher for INSIGHT Into Diversity, said of U of L, “It was clear from the institution’s efforts to recruit, retain, and support diverse students and employees, as well as the ways in which diversity, equity and inclusion are pulled throughout U of L’s campus, that the university is dedicated to this mission.”

While U of L has been named a HEED award recipient for five years, this is the first year they have attained Diversity Champion status.

Jones commended U of L’s diversity and inclusion initiatives, including the university’s numerous diversity committees and employee resource groups, while still acknowledging the work that needs to be done at U of L.

Jones mentioned that with the leadership role U of L has in the Louisville community, the university must continue to create opportunities for difficult discussions that help lead to solutions.

“As a long-time faculty and administrator at U of L, I would like to see us improve our efforts to not only recruit faculty of color, but to retain BIPOC, with special emphasis being given to decrease the turnover of Black faculty in recent years and increase the number of Hispanic/Latino faculty,” Jones said.

Jones also hopes to see the university work to decrease health disparities and achievement gaps that negatively impact underrepresented and underfunded communities.

File Photo//The Louisville Cardinal

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