No snow days this Spring: University announces new winter weather policy Thursday, Jan 21 2021 

By Madelin Shelton — 

The University of Louisville recently announced that classes will not be cancelled or delayed this year as a result of weather. The move comes as all classes have transitioned to either hybrid or online formats.

As part of this new policy, the university will announce whether offices will be open or if employees should work from home.

“In cases in which classes continue to meet in-person during severe weather, students should make decisions about attending based on their particular circumstances. Faculty are asked to accommodate those decisions when possible,” University Provost Beth Boehm said in an email to the campus community.

U of L said that when possible, it will announce decisions about morning classes by 6:00 a.m. and decisions about evening classes by 3:30 p.m. Afternoon classes are defined as those that begin at or after 4:15 p.m.

To notify faculty, staff and students of potential changes, the university will utilize a variety of methods including the U of L alert system, a notice on the university home page, a recorded message, a notice on university telephones and postings on the university’s official Facebook and Twitter sites.

If no announcements are sent, it is to be assumed that the university is open and operating on its regular schedule.

Severe weather announcements can be found here.

To sign up for U of L Alerts, click here.

File Graphic // The Louisville Cardinal

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U of L selects next Provost Friday, Dec 4 2020 

By Madelin Shelton — 

The University of Louisville has selected Lori Stewart Gonzalez to serve as the new executive vice president and university provost (EVPUP).

Pending approval by the U of L Board of Trustees, Gonzalez will begin working on April 1, 2021, following current Provost and Executive Vice President Beth Boehm, who has served the role since 2018. Boehm will return to her position as Dean of the Graduate school.

Gonzalez currently serves as the vice chancellor for academic, faculty and student affairs at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center in Memphis. U of L President Bendapudi cited her administrative experience in an email sent to the community on Gonzalez’s selection.

“As vice chancellor at the UT Health Science Center since 2015, she oversees the offices of academic, faculty, student and international affairs, education services, equity and diversity, community engagement and others,” Bendapudi said.  “As interim dean of the UT College of Health Professions, in 2016-17, she oversaw the departments of Audiology and Speech Pathology, Clinical Laboratory Sciences, Health Informatics and Information Management, Occupational Therapy and Physical Therapy.”

Gonzalez’s other experience includes provost and executive chancellor at Appalachian State University, senior advisor to the senior vice president for academic affairs at the University of North Carolina General Administration, and associate dean and then dean of the College of Health Sciences at the University of Kentucky.

EVPUP Search Committee chairs Gerry Bradley, dean of the School of Dentistry, and David Jenkings, dean of the Kent School of Social Work, conveyed that Gonzalez clearly stood out to the search committee and was a fantastic fit for U of L.

“She brings a breadth of leadership experience in academia and was the consensus choice across all campus constituencies. Dr. Gonzalez showed a clear and decisive commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion that fits perfectly with President Bendapudi’s strategic work in this area. And she was truly impressive in her interactions with students, faculty and staff. We look forward to welcoming her to the University of Louisville family,” both Bradley and Jenkings said.

Gonzalez is originally from Rockcastle County, Ky. She received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Kentucky and Eastern Kentucky University, respectively. She earned her doctorate from the University of Florida Department of Speech.

Photo Courtesy of the University of Tennessee Health Sciences Center

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Provost recommends that professors move in-person classes online Friday, Nov 20 2020 

By Eli Hughes–

University of Louisville Provost Beth Boehm recommended that professors move in-person instruction for Nov. 23 and Nov. 24 online where possible due to the rising COVID-19 cases in Kentucky. The announcement was made over two emails, one sent to faculty and one sent to students.

This recommendation comes after Governor Andy Beshear mandated that K-12 schools switch to online learning after Nov. 20 until at least Dec. 7 for elementary schools in green zones and Jan. 4 for all other schools. He did not issue a mandate for colleges, but he commended universities who chose to switch to online-only instruction after Nov. 20.

“Like many other institutions, U of L already had planned to end face-to-face instruction next Tuesday, and so I know that some of you have final, in-person meetings and assessments scheduled for Monday and/or Tuesday,” Boehm said in the email to faculty.

“We agreed to ask faculty to consider whether what you have planned for those two days next week can be delivered remotely, and if so, to please make arrangements to be remote next week.”

Faculty who have plans for instruction that are best delivered in-person can still choose to meet in person but should contact their students to inform them that class will continue in person as planned.

The final two days of undergraduate class on Dec. 1 and Dec. 2 should be delivered remotely as well as any finals scheduled during finals week.

File graphic// The Louisville Cardinal

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University of Louisville student government against return to campus Sunday, Aug 16 2020 

By Eli Hughes–

The University of Louisville Student Government Association sent a letter to the U of L administration expressing their concerns with the return to campus for the fall 2020 semester.

The letter was signed by the SGA ‘top four’ Student Body President Sabrina Collins, Executive Vice President Lexi Raikes, Academic Vice President Ben Barberie and Services Vice President Henrietta Ransdell.

“The original plan to return to campus in the fall was founded in optimism. In the early planning stages, our committees planned in the hopes that the COVID-19 situation would improve by August; however it is clear that the pandemic has only worsened,” the letter said.

“With this in mind, it is essential to reevaluate our original plan with student, faculty and staff safety as the top priority.”

The letter went on to detail the concerns that SGA has heard from students. They claim that many students are untrustworthy of U of L and some worry that U of L is waiting for the billing period to pass before changing the in-person instruction plan.

Other concerns include the cancellation of the IBM Watson Health Project, that residents will not be informed of positive cases in their buildings and the inability of the university to fully put a stop to parties.

The SGA ‘top four’ then explained that re-opening campus would put certain minority groups who are already more vulnerable to COVID-19 at further risk.

The letter also acknowledged that another mid-semester shift to online-only courses isn’t fair, as many students struggled with the transition last year.

“We hear from students daily who view another mid-semester shift as a ‘worst-case scenario.’ Our constituents constantly ask us to ‘rip the bandaid off’ and tell them if we think classes will be online. Unfortunately, we have no answers to give,” they said in the letter.

The letter concluded by reiterating that SGA is no longer in favor of in-person classes for the fall semester.

 

University Response

Several members of the U of L administration responded to SGA’s letter, including Executive Vice President and Provost Beth Boehm, Executive Vice President for Research and Innovation Kevin Gardner, Executive Director of Campus Health Services Phil Bressoud and Chief Operating Officer Mark Watkins.

“We know this is an extremely difficult time for students, faculty and staff at U of L and higher education institutions across the country,” they said in the letter. “In this letter we want to respond to the concerns you have expressed.”

They recognized that the original plan was made in a different time as far as COVID-19 cases in Kentucky but said that they were constantly working to update the plan as new information came out.

The university’s letter went on to remind students that they had the option to take all of their classes online if they were uncomfortable with returning to campus.  Administration said that while U of L has a plan for mass testing and contact tracing, they are not in favor of mandatory testing because it can lead to students becoming complacent and engaging in high-risk behaviors.

They addressed the concerns with the cancellation of the IBM Watson Health Project by saying that the product was not necessary and they have used the money they would have spent on it to hire more contact tracers and buy a product that would help students check their symptoms daily.

The letter also addressed the concern of not notifying students of infected people in their dorms, citing that HIPAA constraints keep them from publicly sharing health information of students.

They went on to list several precautions that will reduce COVID-19 risk on campus such as devoting $150,000 monthly to campus-wide disinfection, limiting the amount of in-person classes and providing rooms for quarantine both through campus housing and hotels if necessary.

“We have a critical mission to serve. Whether through in-person, online or hybrid courses, we are committed to providing the best education possible despite the obstacles presented by COVID,” the university said. “We are committed to offering that outstanding educational experience while creating and maintaining the best possible environment for our students, faculty and staff.”

They concluded the letter ensuring SGA that they discussed all of the concerns within their letter, but that their discussions led them to believe that they were prepared for a return to campus for fall semester.

Collins, a senior, told the Cardinal that SGA appreciated that the administration took the time to respond to their letter and address their concerns. She said that she also believed the meetings that she had with administration during the days following the letter response were helpful even though she still has concerns.

The biggest concerns Collins has heard from students were related to being unsure of what this semester would look like.

“A lot of the concern stems from the uncertainty of the moment and if we are going to switch online mid-semester,” she said.

Collins also wanted to tell students to check their emails regularly for COVID-19 updates and remind them that they can reach out to general@uoflsga.org if they need a template for requesting to take a hybrid-course online or any further help with that process.

File Graphic // The Louisville Cardinal

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U of L sociology department leads anti-racism push on campus Friday, Aug 14 2020 

By Madelin Shelton —

The University of Louisville’s sociology department sent a July 7 letter to leadership raising concerns of systemic racism at U of L. Signed by more than 700 faculty, staff, students and alumni, it challenged the university to implement changes to become an anti-racist university.

The letter detailed several examples of unfair treatment of Black faculty at U of L, including biased student evaluations, marginalization of their teaching and research, a lack of opportunity to move into leadership positions and other instances of discrimination.

“The time and energy spent navigating these experiences greatly inhibit Black faculty’s ability to engage in the scholarly production of the currency of our institution – grants and publications,” the letter said.

The letter went on to explain that Black faculty’s classroom commitment to social justice often negatively impacts their careers in the form of unsuccessful retention, tenure and promotion reviews.

“Addressing structural and systemic racism at U of L will require all administrators, faculty, staff, and students to take responsibility and actively engage in anti-racist policies,” the letter stated. It went on to include a series of questions the university must respond to through action to move forward as an anti-racist university.

Both U of L President Neeli Bendapudi and University Provost Beth Boehm read and responded to the open letter.

Bendapudi said the letter and questions raised were thoughtful and necessary.

“This will be an engagement of the entire campus community to recognize the successes of the past, draw attention to the current anti-racist work being done on campus, and to chart a course for how we can establish ourselves as the premier anti-racist metropolitan university in the country,” Bendapudi said of the university’s recently announced Anti-Racism agenda.

Provost Boehm addressed concerns over lack of diversity among faculty by focusing on deans and faculty administrators’ roles in making diverse hires when able.

“We must work together to figure out how to change the way faculty and unit administrators make their choices about who will join their faculty ranks,” Boehm said.

Boehm also discussed the balance between incentivizing department deans to make diverse hires and not overreaching the authority of the provost position in selecting new faculty.

She said that the provost does not hire faculty and therefore does not have a direct hand in increasing the diversity of departments.

File Graphic // The Louisville Cardinal

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Pass/Fail grading is a breath of relief for students Wednesday, Apr 1 2020 

By Ben Goldberger —

With the recent switch to online classes, University of Louisville students are left stressing over the many uncertainties that surround the end of the semester.

The university recently got rid of one of those uncertainties by allowing students to choose whether or not to make their classes pass/fail instead of letter grades.

This is a great move by the university. Not only does Pass/Fail grading relieve a lot of student anxiety about maintaining high academic achievement through online classes, this gives the students the power to control their grades. 

In an email sent out by University Provost Beth Boehm, she said, “As always, we are doing our best to make sure that you can finish the semester in the strongest possible way and not be overly concerned that the disruption of COVID-19 will poorly impact your record.”

University administrators and professors have been extremely empathetic with students throughout these abnormal times, and this recent policy shift is another example of that. They want to make sure their students are put in the best position to succeed, and offering the Pass/Fail option is a great way to do so.

The best aspect of this policy is that students can pick and choose which of their classes they want to switch to Pass/Fail grading. They have until the last day of classes, April 21, to do so. Since a general “Pass” grade will not affect students’ GPAs, this gets rid of any impact that this pandemic could have on their records. 

This aspect is particularly popular among the students. 

“I think it’s really nice that we have the option to switch over without affecting our GPA,” says freshman Nia Watson-Jones. “Taking online classes is a lot different than being in person, so I really appreciate the choice that the university has given.”

Some people may look at this policy and think that this only enables students to be lazier and not be punished for not doing their best. While this is theoretically true, the Pass/Fail system more-so accounts for the educational setbacks that are inevitable in these uncharted times. 

If anything, it levels the playing field for students who were promised, and paid full tuition prices for, in person classes. The university understands that while they have world class professors and students, nobody was prepared for this sudden shift to online learning. This policy accounts for those unavoidable hiccups that will happen with this learning change. 

The world is going through unprecedented times right now, and it’s scary to think about the effects that this pandemic will have on society, both future and present. U of L administrators want to make this period of uncertainty as controllable as possible, and introducing the choice to switch to Pass/Fail grading is a great way of doing so. 

At the end of her initial email on the subject, Boehm shared a heartwarming story of how she celebrated her son trying his best in school, despite receiving a less than perfect grade. She then passed that same message onto all of the students at U of L, and said, “Success is doing your best, not being perfect.” 

The new policy released by the university allows students to do so without the anxiety and worry of not reaching the level of academic achievement that they maintained through in person classes. 

File Photo // The Louisville Cardinal

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Provost Boehm shares update with faculty amid suspended classes Monday, Mar 16 2020 

By Matthew Keck —

University of Louisville faculty and students are returning from spring break to new territory: online classes. Amid this situation, U of L provost Beth Boehm shared an update and her thoughts on the situation.

Beginning March 18 all classes will be administered remotely, April 5 being the earliest date to return to in-person classes. For many professors, conducting online classes will be uncharted territory.

“I understand that many of you are stressed and worried about teaching remotely; honestly, I would be fearful too if I were teaching this semester,” said Boehm. “But we have an obligation to our students and our accrediting bodies to enable our students to complete their courses remotely.”

With faculty and students worried about the efficacy of these online classes, Boehm wants them to know that it will require patience on both sides.

“In a note to students, I asked that they be patient with their instructors, many of whom are teaching online for the first time,” she said. “Here, I am asking you to also be patient with your students, to be understanding of their anxieties, both about online delivery and the coronavirus itself.”

To reduce the stress of both parties, Boehm reiterated that faculty are being trained to properly administer their online courses to students. They have been working with the Delphi Center staff to ensure the online courses are a success.

In addition, Boehm reminded the faculty how important it is for the university to stay open during times like these.

“We are committed to staying open to help our most vulnerable students have food, shelter, and access to libraries and IT (and some other essential services) while they work to finish the semester,” she said. “Your leadership in modeling healthy social distancing practices, resilience in the face of stress and unfamiliar work conditions, and kindness and compassion according to our Cardinal Principles will help our students stay calm and healthy and will enable them to complete their semester successfully.”

She also urged faculty to provide students without internet access the information to receive a free 60-day period from Spectrum. “To enroll, students should call 1-844-488-8395,” said Boehm. “While we will be sharing this info with students, if you have students who indicate they are without internet access, please give them this information.”

In closing, Boehm said how this will be a stressful and difficult time for everyone. But with that in mind, administration, faculty and students all have to work together to make this transition seamless she said.

“I know we are a resilient institution, and I’m urging us all to call upon our best selves in the days ahead,” said Boehm. “We have a lot of work to do.”

File Photo // The Louisville Cardinal 

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U of L issues no-contact order to student Monday, Feb 17 2020 

By Maggie Vancampen — 

The University of Louisville issued a no-contact order to the student who passed out anti-LGBTQ+ literature in a classroom Jan. 28.

U of L spokesperson John Karman said it was issued Feb. 13.

The no-contact order prohibits a person from having communication with another person.

Ricky Jones, head of the Pan-African Studies department, posted on Facebook that the student is not allowed to talk to the professor or students, and is not allowed near the classroom.

To further address the controversy, University Provost Beth Boehm said she is gathering a committee to review the current Code of Student Rights and Responsibilities, the U of L Code of Conduct and other free speech policies with the Kentucky Campus Free Speech Act of 2019.

She wants a mix of students, faculty and staff on this committee.

Professor Kaila Story, who teaches the Intro to LGBTQ Studies class, is glad this is over and can’t wait to get back to teaching. The U of L community expressed their dislike of the way the university initially handled the situation.

Boehm is planning a forum dedicated to exploring how to balance everyone’s right to free speech.

“We need to learn from this incident so that we can all do a better job of affirming our LGBTQ students — and all our students, faculty and staff,” Boehm said.

Interim Arts and Sciences dean David Owen said there is a list of things to implement. They are:

  • Plan a townhall meeting for the A&S community to campus community members affected.
  • A U of L police officer will be posted outside of the classroom for the remainder of the semester.
  • Priority counseling will be provided to affected students.
  • Review the Student Code of Conduct to make possible revisions.

“I am very proud – and we all should be – of the care and support many in the A&S and U of L community have shown for the students and faculty who have been impacted by this,” Owen said. “I also am proud of the critical analyses and passionate advocacy we have seen, which I am confident will continue and will lead to man[y] fruitful discussions and actions in the future.”

Jones hosted a forum Feb. 10 to discuss the situation.

Photo by Haeli Spears // The Louisville Cardinal

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U of L begins search for new provost Friday, Feb 14 2020 

By Eli Hughes —

President Neeli Bendapudi announced in an email to U of L faculty that the university is beginning the search for a new provost.

Provost and Executive Vice President Beth Boehm’s two-year term will end on June 30 and the new provost will start on July 1. Bendapudi has called for a nationwide search for potential provost candidates and encourages U of L faculty to apply for the position, as well as nominate their colleagues from U of L or any other universities.

The provost serves as the second-highest authority of the university and reports directly to the president.

President Bendapudi said, “She or he will work closely with the vice presidents and deans and will manage both the day-to-day and long-term academic operation of the university.”

The candidate will be chosen by a committee appointed by the president and led by School of Dentistry Dean Gerry Bradley and Kent School of Social Work Dean David Jenkins. Applications will be accepted until the search for a provost has concluded. If a new provost is not selected by the June 30 deadline Dr. Boehm will stay on as provost until a candidate is selected.

Those interested in applying or nominating someone for the position can get more information from U of L’s website.

File Photo // The Louisville Cardinal

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Two people are being monitored for the coronavirus Friday, Jan 31 2020 

By Maggie Vancampen —

A second email sent to students and faculty said two non-students have traveled back from China and are being monitored off-campus as of Jan. 31. Travel has now been suspended to China and any other countries that have been identified with the virus.

Executive Vice President and Vice Provost Beth Boehm said, “The university has informed the Louisville Health Department about both of these individuals and will continue to follow Health Department and CDC recommendations in handling any cases of individuals arriving from countries in which the virus has been confirmed.”

According to a previous email, since the coronavirus (2019-nCoV) surfaced in Wuhan, China, the virus has spread to more than 16 countries with five confirmed cases in the United States.

The first email said symptoms include fever, cough and breathing difficulties just like the flu. The virus has even led to respiratory illnesses like bronchitis and pneumonia.

Campus Health Services has said students should see their doctor or call immediately if they have traveled abroad and are experiencing these symptoms. Campus Health Services has also confirmed cases of the flu which has no relation to the virus.

U of L spokesperson John Karman said, “We have experts in environmental health and safety on this campus, and we would coordinate with other agencies to address coronavirus or any other similar outbreak situations.”

Faculty, staff and students are encouraged to follow normal strategies to protect themselves like they would from the cold or flu:

  • get a flu shot
  • wash hands frequently or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer
  • cover coughs and sneezes
  • clean and disinfect surfaces
  • avoid contact with sick people

Campus Health Services number is 502-852-6479 (Belknap) or 502-852-6446 (Health Sciences). For more information, visit the Campus Health Services website.

To learn more about the coronavirus, visit the CDC coronavirus website.

Officials declined further comment upon receiving the second email.

File Graphic // The Louisville Cardinal

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