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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University releases Strategic Plan progress report Wednesday, Nov 25 2020 

By Madelin Shelton — 

University of Louisville President Neeli Bendapudi recently announced U of L’s progress on their Strategic Plan. The Strategic Plan, released in fall 2019, was launched to make U of L a great place to learn, to work and in which to invest. According to the progress report, “the three-year plan focuses on key initiatives, gauges the effectiveness of specific actions and measures the university’s progress toward achieving its overarching goal.”

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic and the death of Breonna Taylor at the hands of LMPD, which both required significant attention from the university, U of L was able to make necessary changes and make great strides on the goals it originally set in 2019.

“These challenges meant some of our strategic plan goals had to be paused or reworked, but our determination to overcome never wavered,” U of L said in the progress report.

Most notably, the university’s total enrollment reached above 23,000, a milestone it has not reached in over 20 years.

Graduation rates also peaked during this time and research funding hit a record-breaking $152 million. The university doubled the percentage of need-based aid for first-time freshman and increased the number of patents awarded to U of L for its innovation.

The report also highlighted the university’s response to COVID-19, pointing to U of L’s swift move to online instruction, addressing the significant financial ramifications and providing U of L health care workers and researchers with necessary resources.

It also mentioned the potential of the Co-Immunity Project, funded in part by U of L as an effort to learn how COVID-19 moves through populations.

“Results from the study will help Kentucky restart its economy and create safe plans to return to work and school,” the report said.

In addition, the report detailed the university’s Cardinal Anti-Racism Agenda, which serves to advance U of L’s goal to become the nation’s premier anti-racist metropolitan research university.

The university included initiatives to further this effort, including, but not limited to, developing an educational series for faculty and staff focusing on diversity and inclusion, providing a list of resources to help the campus community learn more about the legacy of slavery and racism and having the U of L police department host open forums discussing racial issues that impact U of L and the broader Louisville community.

Finally, the report incorporated information on its three Grand Challenges of empowering communities, advancing health and engineering the future economy.

These challenges are being used by the university as priorities to dedicate its research and scholarship towards. Progress has been made by U of L on these challenges through the convening of the Grand Challenges subcommittee and recruiting researchers and scholars to join the challenge.

File Photo // The Louisville Cardinal

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Bendapudi sends video update to community Sunday, Oct 20 2019 

By Maggie Vancampen — 

In a video to the community, University of Louisville President Neeli Bendapudi updated everyone on some service events and the KentuckyOne Health assets.

The acquisition of the KentuckyOne Health assets will conclude Nov. 1.

“We know this is the right thing to do for Louisville, as well as for the university,” said Bendapudi.

Bendapudi thanked everyone for their continued support in the strategic plan and said more needs to be done to make their 3-year goal.

Bendapudi said that from Oct. 22 to Oct. 25 various events will be hosted around the community.

Some of the events included the Old Louisville Clean-Up Oct. 22 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. According to the event page, volunteers will start at Fourth and Oak Streets and end at Second and Breckinridge Street. Volunteers will be cleaning streets and alleyways and trash bags, trash pickers and water will be provided.

The New Directions Beautification Project is looking for volunteers to help with small repair projects for residents Oct. 23. Tools will be provided for repairs like door/window repair and indoor handrail installation or repair. Volunteers must register in advance for this event.

The Americana Community Center needs volunteers to help with activities like pumpkin and face painting during the Fall Festival on Oct. 24. Two shifts are available from 2:30-5:30 p.m. and 5:30-8:30 p.m.

Oct. 25 the North and West Information Center’s will be accepting donations for Catholic Charities of Louisville from 7:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The hygiene items needed are toothbrushes and toothpaste, shampoo and conditioner and razors and shaving cream. Other drop-off locations include the first floor atrium in the Student Activities Center, the Women’s Center in room 126 in Strickler, the main lobby of University Club and the first floor lobby of Kornhauser Library at the Health Sciences Campus.

File Photo // The Louisville Cardinal

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President Bendapudi rolls out the 2019-2022 strategic plan Tuesday, Sep 24 2019 

By Matthew Keck —

University of Louisville faculty, staff and students filled the Middleton Auditorium in Strickler Hall on Sept. 23 for President Neeli Bendapudi’s unveiling of the 2019-2022 strategic plan.

Bendapudi kicked off the presentation recapping the past year and talking about U of L students. “I think we’ve made great strides, I hope you see that with our students,” said Bendpudi. “We’re beginning to move the needle, but we are nowhere close to where we want to be.”

She began the presentation by mentioning that the university has seen a significant uptick in the four-year graduation rate as an effect of the past year’s efforts. In addition to that she emphasized how important the Living Learning Communities (LLCs) are to U of L’s retention rates.

U of L will have two new residence halls opening in Fall 2021 and 2022. These halls will help accommodate U of L’s four new LLCs: business, sustainability, ethics and music.

Bendapudi mentioned how U of L wants to continue offering students affordable on-campus housing. She said that the administration is aware of the boost that students get from living in these types of communities.

“In my mind, the worst thing is a student who comes, stays here for a year, and drops out,” Bendapudi said.

Bendapudi shared that U.S. News and World Report ranked U of L as a top performer in social mobility, ranking them at 147 on their list. U of L is the highest ranked Kentucky public university.

She closed the recap mentioning the two percent raise that faculty will be receiving in January 2020. With that she mentioned that there will be no budget cuts in the next year. U of L will be implementing multi-year comprehensive budgets as opposed to single-year.

Bendapudi started off her discussion of the strategic plan focusing on the “CARDINAL Principles.” Care, accountability, respect, diversity, integrity, noble purpose, agility and leadership all make up those principles.

“I’m so grateful that this reflects, not my plan, but our plan to succeed,” said Bendapudi. She went on to say how she hopes that these principles will be remembered by faculty in order to promote a better institution.

A great place to learn, work and invest were the next points that Bendapudi brought up in her presentation. “I’ll be honest, on most of these, we gave ourselves big goals,” she said.

In order to make U of L a great place to learn they are focusing on supporting students through purpose-driven learning. Some examples include having students participate in Grand Challenges research, expanding LLCs and establishing experiential learning opportunities.

U of L will also be making sure students mental health is cared for. One of the ways the plan to do so is by expanding the counseling center and having a location more centralized on campus in the SAC.

“If you see someone who looks like they’re lost, struggling, reach out to them. That is the culture we want to create,” Bendapudi said.

The biggest area U of L is looking to make a difference in is need-based financial aid for first-time freshman. By 2022 they hope to increase aid from eight percent up to 20 percent.

Bendapudi said that U of L will be a great place to work because of their dedication to personal growth and development. This means supporting diversity among faculty, improving the onboarding experience for new hires and conducting compensation reviews, along with other implementations.

“If you want to be an inclusive workplace, we will be talking about these,” said Bendapudi.

She highlighted the importance of U of L improving diversity among faculty with this new plan. “I will tell you, we talk a good game, but we do far worse than most public companies,” Bendapudi said.

U of L didn’t have any baseline data for these areas, but they are working with a third-party company to help them set tht these baselines. This will give the university a better idea of where they stand and how they can improve.

Before she segued into a great place to invest, Bendapudi encouraged faculty to participate in climate change surveys. U of L hopes to raise the participation rate from 26 percent to 40 percent by 2022.

“I really hope that people will respond,” said Bendapudi. “We want them to speak up.”

In closing, Bendapudi spoke on what makes U of L a great place to invest. U of L’s impact on individual and community health, the economy, social and cultural health and the well-being of Louisville and the commonwealth are the components that Bendapudi said makes it a great place to invest.

“We are a research one University,” she said. “We cannot ever afford to ignore that.”

To make U of L a great place to invest they are strengthening their research infrastructure, providing existing and potential partners easier access to the university’s knowledge and bringing campus to people.

Bendapudi discussed how U of L is looking to increase their research expenditures with this plan. The biggest increase they hope to see by 2022 are the academic gifts increasing from $94 million to $114 million.

The presentation ended with Bendapudi sharing that Gail DePuy, associate dean at J.B. school of engineering, will be in charge of implementing this plan. “She has been in every single meeting and knows what’s happening,” said Bendapudi.

Bendpaudi closed the presentation when she said, “We’re not justing going to be a top performer. We’re going to be the top performer.”

Matthew Keck // The Louisville Cardinal

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President releases draft of Strategic Plan Thursday, Jul 11 2019 

By Maggie Vancampen and Matthew Keck —

After six months planning, President Neeli Bendapudi has released the first draft of the 2019-2022 Strategic Plan.

Bendapudi emailed the University of Louisville community with the news.

“I am grateful many of you provided thoughtful ideas and feedback through the website and our open forums,” she said in the email.

The draft plan is open for revisions. All comments and suggestions should use the comment form by July 24.

The plan focuses on Bendapudi’s vision of making U of L a great place to learn, work and invest. It also enumerates Cardinal Principles.

The Cardinal Principles are care, accountability, respect, diversity, integrity, noble purpose, agility and leadership.

It is split into two three-year plans. The first year, 2019-2020, is about “Defining Our Aspirations and Building Capabilities.”

The second year, 2020-2021, is “Building Capabilities and Piloting Change Strategies.”

The final year, 2021-2022, is “Assessing Change and Scaling What Works.”

The second three-year plan will determine what has been achieved and highlight and refine those programs going forward.

Key themes are preparing students for the future, attracting successful people to the U of L community and creating an environment where all contribution is valued.

Making U of L a great place to learn, work and invest is a focal point of the new plan. Transformative, purpose-driven and engaged learning are all key factors for making it a great place to learn.

In order to make it a great place to work, personal growth and professional development take center. The plan also asks that the faculty and staff live the institutional values.

U of L’s impact on the economic, social and cultural well-being of Louisville will make it a great place to invest.

Bendapudi wants to see the university take on Grand Challenges, whether through student and faculty research or the funds that help drive the research.

After the Board of Trustees approves, U of L will implement the plan, create a Grand Challenges Committee and appoint a Cardinal Principles Committee.

The Grand Challenges Committee is charged with finding areas that impact the economic and societal well-being of local and global communities.

The Cardinal Principles Committee will ensure the university is following Bendapudi’s Cardinal Principles.

The university stated that they will spend the fall testing and reviewing many of the strategies mentioned in the draft. They want to keep U of L an institution of progressive change, substance and engagement.

An Implementation Committee will be appointed soon to move it forward in the fall and over the next three years.

“Thank you for your engagement and your support during the development of this plan,” Bendapudi said in the email. “Together, we will move forward to make U of L an even better place to learn, to work and in which to invest.”

File Photo / The Louisville Cardinal

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