Brian Buford
Brian Buford

UofL’s Human Resources Department is committed to building and launching a new professional development program.

The department didn’t have to look far to find someone to lead the effort.

Brian Buford, assistant provost for diversity and executive director of UofL’s LGBT Center, has been selected to serve as director of employee development and success. He will take the reins of the new program beginning Dec. 3. 

“This is a remarkable opportunity for me to support Dr. Bendapudi’s vision for UofL as a great place to learn, a great place to work, and a great place to invest,” Buford said. “I’ve been focusing these last several years on the ‘great place to learn’ part of that vision, and now I can turn my attention to the ‘great place to work’ part.”

This won’t be Buford’s first foray into HR issues. A 30-year employee, he previously served as manager of organizational effectiveness.

Buford and John Elliott, interim associate vice president for human resources, already have begun planning for the new initiative. Focus areas will include:

  • Leadership development and preparing managers to be great leaders
  • Onboarding for new employees, both during their first day at UofL and ongoing to help ensure their successful integration at the department level as well
  • Cultural competency skills that employees need to help foster and create a climate of belonging and inclusion
  • Staff fellows, mentoring and succession planning strategies
  • Fostering a climate that makes UofL a great place to work

“Leadership development, staff fellowships and development, and onboarding are key areas for us,” Elliott said. “We will work together with the campus community to ensure these are well-structured programs that address the needs and concerns raised across our campuses, and that will align very closely to Dr. Bendapudi’s vision. With Brian’s experience, credibility and leadership, I am confident the quality will be high and the results will be impressive.” 

Elliott said HR plans to build programs, curricula and infrastructure during the current fiscal year and expects to start deploying programs as soon as possible. 

“The University is committed to developing its people through these various strategies, and we will be working very hard to launch as soon as administratively possible,” he said.       

Buford has led the LGBT Center since its creation in 2007, turning a one-person operation into a program that is consistently ranked among the nation’s best. Under his watch, UofL has earned a five-star rating on the Campus Pride Index, a key national ranking of inclusiveness; launched an LGBT-themed housing community, the first of its kind in the South; opened a satellite office at the Health Sciences Center; partnered with community leaders on strategic fundraising initiatives; and worked with UofL’s School of Medicine to develop a national model for improving care of LGBT patients.

Those efforts and others have led to numerous local and national honors including a UofL Outstanding Service Award and a seat on the American Red Cross National Diversity Advisory Council.

Mordean Taylor-Archer, vice provost for diversity and international affairs, stressed that Buford’s change of position will not diminish UofL’s commitment to the LGBT community.

“Much to the contrary, Brian has done such an extraordinary job in leading the way for UofL to become a five-star campus it benefits all of us for him to broaden the scope of his work,” she said.

Buford agreed.

“We have outstanding leadership in place, and this transition will enable the center to fill some additional roles that will take its efforts even farther,” he said. “I think I’m most proud of the fact that LGBT inclusion is now firmly part of the university’s fabric and that the center has incredible support across campus. Being inclusive and welcoming is who we are.”

Soon, though, his primary focus will shift to improving campus engagement and professional development across the university.

“I just can’t wait to get started,” he said.

John Drees is a 35-year veteran in the Office of Communications and Marketing. As vice president, communications and marketing, he works closely with the president, provost and other senior administrators, oversees the Office of Communications and Marketing, including media relations, marketing and brand, broadcast, social media, internal communication, crisis communication, visitor services and special events and activities. A former sports editor for the Voice Newspapers, he was a regular contributor to a variety of publications, including the Kentucky Sports Report and the Courier-Journal. A poor but enthusiastic golfer, he is an avid Cardinal sports fan. He also loves the Detroit Lions, so pity him.