Dear friends and alumni of UofL,
I am often asked, “Are you off for the summer?”. While many of our undergraduate students are gone for the summer, and our faculty have a few weeks when they are not in the classroom, summer at the University of Louisville is often a busy time of change.
For the first time in 13 summers, Dr. Shirley Willihnganz will not be overseeing our academic and day-to-day operations at UofL. Shirley is taking a much-deserved sabbatical after stepping down as provost at the end of the school year. She has been my closest advisor, and I’m not sure what I will do without her. Shirley is an extraordinary leader and driving force for the substantial, rapid improvements on our campuses and in our classrooms and laboratories. There has been no greater advocate for the students, faculty and staff at UofL, and I know they will miss her.
Dr. Neville Pinto, dean of the J.B. Speed School of Engineering, has been named interim provost. Neville has had a dramatic impact on our respected engineering school, creating partnerships with world-renowned companies like GE and UL (formerly known as Underwriters Laboratories) that will benefit all parties and help create the jobs of the 21st century. Now he’s bringing his “can-do” attitude to the provost’s office.
There are other, more visible changes taking place on our campus as well. Three old dormitories are being torn down to make way for new, state-of-the-art student housing that is expected to open in 2016. It will be the first new on-campus housing since 2003. On our Belknap campus’ borders, two new, privately built and managed student housing projects have been under construction and are scheduled to open next month, while two others are being developed, targeting a fall 2016 opening date.
These are exciting times, as UofL continues to shed its outdated image as a commuter school with approximately 6,000 students living on campus or in university-affiliated housing when school begins in August. Those students and their parents will notice a new entrance to the Belknap campus off Interstate 65, as well as the continuing development of our three research parks.
But perhaps the most important change taking place at UofL can’t be seen with the naked eye — it’s in the numbers, and it’s the result of hard work. It’s the number of degree holders we are turning out each year. For the city of Louisville, our region and the Commonwealth of Kentucky to succeed in a 21st century economy, the University of Louisville must lead the way. And we can best do that by turning out more college graduates — not just those with a piece of paper in their hand — but those who can think, reason and take what they’ve learned into the real world marketplace. That’s precisely what we’re doing.
UofL handed out nearly 3,000 degrees as our number of graduates increased this year. Our graduation rate has improved 60 percent since 2002, as better students continue to choose UofL for their college home. We thank them for choosing UofL and working hard with our amazing faculty that Shirley Willihnganz and others helped nurture.
So don’t let the dog days of summer fool you; the University of Louisville is a busy place. We’re changing for the better and looking forward to what the future has in store.
James R. Ramsey, President