U of L presidential search committee seeks input from community Thursday, May 12 2022 

By Joe Wilson —

On May 11, the U of L presidential search committee held a listening session to get community input on the university’s next president.

Jim Rogers and Alice Houston, two members of the search committee, hosted the event in the Chao Auditorium. They asked attendees about the traits, characteristics and skills they would hope to see in the next president.

Houston, explaining the importance of the community’s involvement in the presidential search, said: “We all know that great communities have great institutions as part of their foundations,” Houston said

Attendees said the next president should have research experience. In February 2022, U of L was named a Carnegie R1 Research Institution. Dr. Fran Hardin-Fanning, a professor at the School of Nursing, explained her wish that U of L remain distinguished in research. “I think it’s important that the person who will be overseeing all of the research activity at the University of Louisville be very much aware of the barriers that we face, as well as the facilitators that have been very successful in moving us forward,” she said.

The presidential search process began in December 2021 after President Neeli Bendapudi announced her move to Penn State University, where she currently serves as president. Since Bendapudi’s departure, Lori Gonzalez has served as U of L’s interim president.

The committee has held separate listening sessions for faculty, staff and students. They plan to use this feedback to create a leadership statement and job description for the presidency.

The committee will meet with candidates over the Summer and submit their recommendation to the Board of Trustees in the Fall. The school expects to announce the presidential appointment in November.

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U of L Strategic Plan update shows improvements in diversity, investment Wednesday, Feb 23 2022 

By Joe Wilson — 

On Feb. 22, U of L published an update to its 2019-2022 Strategic Plan, outlining the progress the university has made in improving education, employment and investment.

The Strategic Plan Implementation Report cites changes made at the university in 2020-2021, year two of the overall strategic plan.

Among its many developments, the report highlights changes to the university intended to attract a talented and diverse student body. The report touts new academic programs such as a Bachelor of Arts in Computer Science and a Bachelor of Science in General Studies, which will be offered beginning in Fall 2022. Additionally, the report announced that enrollment in U of L’s online programs for fall 2021 increased by nearly 20 percent compared to the previous year. The report also mentions that students from Southwest Ohio are now eligible for in-state tuition.

Other achievements noted in the report include an increase in the undergraduate graduation rate from 43 percent to 61.6 percent over the past 15 years. The report further praises U of L for producing more Fulbright scholars than any other Kentucky public higher education institution. 

The report also provides an update to the university’s commitment to make U of L a better workplace. UofL’s progress in making the workplace more diverse and equitable is shown by pointing to the creation of a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) handbook and implementing mandatory DEI training for employees. The report additionally notes that the university has offered sign-on bonuses, referral bonuses and adjusted minimum qualifications for 42 job positions that have been difficult to fill.

Finally, the Strategic Plan report outlines improvements in investment at U of L. With the goal of increasing innovative research and productivity, the report highlights the $23.4 million increase in annual research expenditures compared to the 2018 baseline. The Strategic Plan update also notes the $61.8 million in total donations to U of L’s academic and athletic programs in 2021.

Originally announced in 2018 by former University President Neeli Bendapudi, U of L’s 2019-22 Strategic Plan was created to generate recommendations from faculty, staff and students to strengthen the university’s mission, vision and values.

“We are 7,000+ employees strong – each offering their personal and professional gifts to a vital ecosystem that creates thriving futures for our students, our community and our society. The gratitude I feel for all who commit their time and talent to our university’s success cannot be overstated,” said Interim President Lori Gonzalez. “Looking ahead, I am excited about a strong finish to the current Strategic Plan. Our Cardinal Community is laying the groundwork for sustainable success.”

File Graphic // The Louisville Cardinal

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U of L names Provost Lori Gonzalez as Interim University President Monday, Dec 13 2021 

By Madelin Shelton — 

The U of L board of trustees conducted a special meeting this morning at 8:30 a.m. to appoint Lori Gonzalez as Interim University President. The decision comes after the university announced Thursday that President Neeli Bendapudi would be leaving U of L to serve as President at Penn State University.

Gonzalez, who has served as executive vice president and university provost (EVPUP) since April of this year, discussed her enthusiasm in a statement to the Cardinal Community. “Since I arrived to Louisville in April to serve as executive vice president and provost, I have come to appreciate even more how special our institution is. Our students pursue their studies with passion and enthusiasm; our faculty invest time and wisdom into sharing their knowledge and dedication to the mission; our staff take great pride in supporting our mission and our students and faculty; and our supporters are passionate about their Cardinal institution.”

Gonzalez also expressed her optimism about where the university is headed. “Our university has tremendous momentum. We thank President Bendapui for her leadership in moving us forward. All strong organizations evolve, as the University of Louisville has done for more than 223 years. We are defined by our Cardinal Principles, by our actions and by our compassion for one another, not by any one individual and certainly not by others.”

Gonzalez joined the university as EVPUP after serving as vice chancellor for academic, faculty and student affairs at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center in Memphis.

Photo Courtesy // University of Louisville

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Vaccines could become mandatory on campus Thursday, Oct 21 2021 

By Eli Hughes–

COVID-19 vaccines might soon be mandatory across campus.  The University of Louisville announced on Oct. 21 that they would be evaluating a vaccine requirement for all federal contractors to determine their next steps.  It could mean all students, faculty and staff at U of L must be vaccinated

“The university was recently informed that the federal government’s requirement for all federal contractors and covered contractors to implement a COVID-19 vaccine mandate will apply to the university,” the email announcement said. “Because the university has numerous federal contracts that we depend on for our operation, we are seriously evaluating these requirements.”

The email came from Provost Lori Stewart Gonzalez. She said she would inform the campus community once additional information is received. It was also signed by Executive Vice President for Research & Innovation Kevin Gardner, Vice President for Student Affairs & Dean of Students Michael Mardis, Human Resources Vice President Mary Miles, Executive Director of Campus Health Services Phillip Bressoud, and Chief Operating Officer Mark Watkins.

The group continues to encourage vaccinations.

They closed the email by thanking those who are working to keep the campus community safe from COVID-19.

“We thank Campus Health Services, the Contact Tracing Team and the Business Operations COVID Support Team for the work they have dedicated toward the university’s COVID-19 response. And we thank you, Cardinal Family, for getting vaccinated not only for yourself and loved ones but also for your fellow Cardinals and the community at large. The vaccines are safe, effective and our best tool for fighting against the pandemic.”

Those interested in getting vaccinated can go to U of L’s COVID-19 protocols page for more information.

File Graphic//The Louisville Cardinal

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U of L reaches vaccination goal; resists easing restrictions Thursday, Sep 16 2021 

By Madelin Shelton — 

U of L recently surpassed its 80 percent vaccination rate goal but has decided to keep certain health precautions in place.

Originally, the 80 percent goal was set to serve as a checkpoint for easing restrictions related to COVID-19, including the mask mandate for public, indoor spaces reimplemented on Aug. 9. The university has changed course and decided to keep the mask mandate in place, citing increased transmission numbers in the Jefferson County area and CDC guidance related to the transmissibility of the virus.

“Additionally, our university’s public health experts tell us higher percentages of vaccination rates across campus should be reached for optimal herd immunity,” said Executive Vice President and University Provost (EVPUP) Lori Stewart Gonzalez.

Gonzalez also said the university will closely monitor the situation and will update us when they have deemed it appropriate to ease COVID-19 restrictions.

Pop-up vaccination sites on campus will continue tomorrow, Sept. 17, in the Bingham Humanities lobby from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. for students, faculty and staff to continue getting vaccinated. The pop-up sites will take a pause next week but will continue again starting Sept. 27., although individuals can still get vaccinated at the Health Sciences Center (HSC) Campus Health Center during that time. The locations and times of the university’s pop-up sites can be found here.

File Graphic // The Louisville Cardinal

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U of L to host pop-up vaccine centers on campus Wednesday, Sep 1 2021 

By Madelin Shelton — 

The U of L Campus Health team is starting pop-up vaccination sites across campus this week to increase the university-wide vaccination rate to 80%. The vaccination rate currently sits at 66.2% for students and 70% for faculty and staff, based on the most recent data provided by U of L.

The pop-up sites will continue until the 80% vaccination rate goal is achieved, with locations and times of the sites updated weekly. This week’s schedule is included below:

“Any Cardinal who gets vaccinated at one of these events will receive a free university swag item and a voucher to use at campus restaurants and cafes (approximately $10 value),” said Executive Vice President and University Provost Lori Gonzalez.

Those who have already been vaccinated are able to present their vaccination card and ID at the pop-up sites to also receive a prize.

File Graphic // The Louisville Cardinal

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Vice Provost and Executive Director of Delphi Center Gale Rhodes sets last day for June 30 Wednesday, Jun 23 2021 

By Eli Hughes–

University of Louisville Provost Lori Gonzalez announced on June 11 that Gale Rhodes, vice provost and executive director of the Delphi Center for Teaching and Learning, is retiring. Her last day will be June 30 and a search for her replacement will begin during the fall 2021 semester.

“Gale has provided distinguished service to the University of Louisville since 1986 when she was named coordinator of Freshman Orientation courses. Since then, she has served in many roles ranging from director of academic services to director of distance and continuing education to her current role,” Gonzalez said in the email announcement.

Rhodes said that she is grateful for her time at the university and has enjoyed seeing the university grow and strive to become a great place for students.

“Louisville has been a great place for me to work, because I’ve grown so much and I’ve had lots of opportunities through the years and being able to make a difference, certainly in the lives of our faculty, but particularly for our students in the varied positions that I’ve had has made my career one that I’m really proud of,” Rhodes said. “So, I’m grateful to the university for the opportunities that they have provided me and also for the opportunities to make a difference.”

Marie Brown, associate director for teaching, learning and innovation at the Delphi Center, and Kristen Brown, associate director for online learning will serve as co-interim vice provosts until a long-term replacement can be found.

Rhodes stresses that whoever is chosen as her replacement will have a strong support system and they should take advantage of that help while they learn ways they can make their own mark on the Delphi Center.

“Whoever walks into this position next will have a very well-oiled machine of people who work very diligently and have so much to contribute to the institution. So what I would say to that person is trust your staff. They are really smart, they already know ways in which we can make a difference.”

An open house will be held in Rhodes’ honor on June 23 at the University Club.

Photo courtesy// The University of Louisville

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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 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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Four finalists remain in U of L’s search for next Provost Wednesday, Dec 2 2020 

By Madelin Shelton — 

The University of Louisville has concluded its campus visits with finalists for the Executive Vice President and University Provost (EVPUP) position.

The finalists included four candidates who had to answer the open forum question: “Why Provost? Why now? Why U of L? How will you define short-term (1 year) and long-term (3-5 years) success as the next Executive Vice President and University Provost at the University of Louisville?” during their respective campus visits.

Finalist number one, Donald Hall, visited campus Oct. 26. He serves as the Dean of Faculty of Arts, Sciences, and Engineering at the University of Rochester, located in Rochester, NY. In this role, Hall acts as the chief executive and academic officer of the largest academic unit on the University of Rochester’s campus and oversaw the largest fiscal entity of that university, aside from their medical center.

Finalist number two, Laurence Alexander, visited campus Nov. 5. He currently serves as the Chancellor, or Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (UAPB), where he provides leadership for the whole institution. As CEO, Alexander has broad responsibility for a wide range of operations, including leadership and articulation of UAPB’s mission and goals. Prior to this position, Alexander served as the Associate Dean at The Graduate School at the University of Florida for 13 years.

Finalist number three, Lynn Okagaki, visited campus Nov. 9. She is the current Deputy Provost for Academic Affairs at the University of Delaware, located in Newark, DE. As a part of this role, she is a member of the Provost’s senior leadership team focused on academics. She is also responsible for academic enrichment programs to improve access, retention and graduation of all students, with a special emphasis on students from low income and historically under-represented groups.

Finalist number four, Lori Gonzalez, visited campus Nov. 12. She serves as the Vice Chancellor for Academic, Faculty and Student Affairs at the University of Tennessee Health Sciences Center, in which she provides leadership and oversight for the offices of Academic Affairs, Center for Healthcare Improvement and Patient Simulation, Equity and Diversity, Student Affairs and Community Engagement. She has previously worked as the Dean of the College of Health Sciences at the University of Kentucky from 2005-2011.

Further information about the candidates and access to the forum recordings can be found here.

File Photo // The Louisville Cardinal

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