President Neeli Bendapudi addressed UofL’s Faculty Senate on June 6 for the first time, providing a brief glimpse into her background and her priorities four weeks into the job.
“We’re loving it so far. I can see why so many of you have stayed. This is an incredible place and I have been truly impressed with your resiliency,” she said. “We still have challenges, but I feel very optimistic.”
Bendapudi said she will have an office on the HSC campus and will spend one day a week downtown.
“I literally need to be on both campuses because it is important for us to be one campus,” she said.
Bendapudi has met with a number of constituents, including donors, Mayor Greg Fischer, Governor Matt Bevin, Senator Mitch McConnell and congressional representatives.
“I am saying to them that UofL needs your help. A strong, vibrant UofL would be good for the city and the state. This message reaches across the political spectrum,” she said.
Bendapudi discussed some of her background as a banker and then a professor, calling herself an accidental administrator.
“I love, love, love, love being a professor. It is a truly noble profession and it truly changes lives,” she said. “As an administrator, I have an opportunity to make a difference and I get to take pride in everyone’s accomplishments.”
She also discussed the impending budget cuts – the board will consider a budget that includes another 5-percent university-wide reduction. Deans, vice presidents and other administrators will determine how their individual units will deal with the cut.
Bendapudi also vowed to try and offset some of that 5-percent cut by raising donations by 2 percent. This year’s proposed 4-percent tuition increase will protect key student services.
“Our liquidity is not a pretty picture and we’ve got to do something. I wish I didn’t have to share this news, but I wanted to be the one to share it with you,” she said.
Bendapudi was asked what her top priorities are for Year One and she said it was to ensure that UofL is a great place to learn, to work and to invest, adding that all of these priorities are intertwined.
“There is also a fourth value and that is we must be a place that celebrates diversity, fosters equity and achieves inclusion,” she said.
Acting Provost Beth Boehm also addressed the Faculty Senate for the first time since taking over Dale Billingsley’s role. She has committed to a year in the role as Bendapudi learns the lay of the land and so UofL has enough time to find the right candidate.
Boehm’s initial priorities include streamlining academic policies in the university catalog so that the provost’s office owns all of the policies versus each disparate unit.
“We have a mess of policies and, for students, it is very confusing,” she said.
Boehm provided an update on open administrator searches, noting that candidates have been identified for the School of Nursing dean. The search for provost will resume in the fall when faculty return to campus. She also said that Christopher Doane, School of Music dean, is retiring next summer.
The Staff Senate report is available online.
The Academic Programs Committee report is online.
The Executive Committee report is online.
The Commissions on Diversity and Racial Equality report is online.
The Faculty Athletic Representative report is online.
The Planning and Budget Committee reported that a proposal has been reviewed for a new Center for Character-Based Leadership.
Due to the July 4th holiday, the next Faculty Senate meeting is June 27 in Chao Auditorium.