Grawemeyer Hall 2017
Grawemeyer Hall 2017

President Neeli Bendapudi told staff senators Monday that professional development for employees is one of her major priorities.

“I need your input on how to do more for this so we can truly make this a great place to work,” she said.

Bendapudi also noted that some donors are coming back, as indicated by a recent gift from the Trager family.

“I feel good about our trajectory,” she said. “There are challenges still, however. The problems we have were not created overnight and they won’t be solved overnight. But I’m here for the long run and we will solve them.”

Bendapudi asked for staff senators’ input on how to best communicate with employees. Email, videos, open office hours and brown bag lunches with administrators were all pitched as ideas. She also hopes to start the ideation process for a strategic plan in January and will create committees that will look at how to make UofL a great place to learn, work and invest.

Although we’ve done 10-year strategic plans in the past, Bendapudi noted that this might not be the best approach anymore.

“The world is changing so fast and a 10-year goal may not be the best idea. Or, it is but we check in every year or two. I want it to be a living plan so we’re constantly working on it,” she said.

Open enrollment

Todd Kneale, director of Total Rewards, provided an update on open enrollment, which runs for two weeks beginning Oct. 24. He said there are minimal changes to the plans this year, but rates are going up (more information is available here). 

Also, starting this week, employee salaries will be posted online on the HR and president’s websites as a way to be more transparent and proactive. This information is already available to the public, but will now just be more accessible.

Custodial and parking updates

An update on the custodial staff was provided by Mark Watkins, AVP for Business Services. He said some employees were shifted from HSC to Belknap to balance out the square footage they were responsible for as we face an employee shortage. Custodial employees are now responsible for about 26,400 square feet per person. Prior to the shift, in which 10 employees were moved from HSC to Belknap, some employees were responsible for more than 36,000 square feet.

Watkins said only five employees have expressed requests for accommodations during the middle-of-the-night shifts. Forty-six employees were impacted by the scheduling changes.

“It’s not perfect, but it’s a change we felt we needed to make for the sake of employee safety,” Watkins said.

He added that UofL has less than 130 employees in this department right now and the goal is to get to about 160.

Gary Becker, from the Parking Administration, provided an update on the Chestnut Street Garage. With the opening of the Novak Center for Children’s Health, this garage has had to increase its visitor space to accommodate the center’s thousands of patients. 

“But we didn’t want to kick any employees out, so two years ago, if you weren’t in the garage, you weren’t getting in the garage,” he said.

Employees and patient parking areas have also been separated and more signage has been added to effectively communicate these changes.

“We still have issues, especially at lunch and the end of the day when everyone’s trying to leave,” he said. The garage is adding new equipment that should cut the transaction time in half to expedite cars exiting the garage.

UofL Day of giving

Amanda James and Michael Jester from the alumni office provided an update on the annual Raise Some L Day of Giving, which coincides with homecoming. This year’s event begins at 6:02 p.m. Oct. 23 and runs for 1,798 minutes (UofL was founded in 1798). The goal for the fifth annual event is to generate 1,200 donors. 

James and Jester encouraged staff senators to sign up as Raise Some L ambassadors ( as the campaign relies heavily on social media and word of mouth.

Other reports

Chair John Smith provided his report, noting that there are five committees within the board of trustees and he sits on two of those committees – audit/compliance and risk and HR. His full report is available online

For the treasurer’s report, there were two expenses this month: $560 for the staff retreat and $417 for a banner.

Marian Vasser reported that focus groups have been formed for the campus climate survey, and Physical Plant will also host focus groups.

The themes that emerged from the recently-held staff retreat include:

  • Asking for a new meeting order: sending reports in advance to open up more time for Q&A and discussion.
  • Promoting the Staff Senate during new employee orientation.
  • Reminding any employees who have concerns to voice those concerns to their senate representative.

The next Staff Senate meeting is Nov. 12 at 2:30 p.m. in Chao Auditorium.


Alicia Kelso
Alicia Kelso is the director of social media and digital content. She joined UofL in 2015 as director of communications at the Brandeis School of Law. She also serves as a senior contributor at, writing about the restaurant industry, which she has covered since 2010. Her work has been featured in publications around the world, including NPR, Bloomberg, The Seattle Times, Good Morning America and Franchise Asia Magazine.