President Neeli Bendapudi will open the UofL-Yearlings Club fall forum series Sept. 17.
President Neeli Bendapudi

President Neeli Bendapudi provided an update on the strategic planning process for members of the Faculty Senate on Wednesday, noting that about 1,400 employees signed up to participate in work groups.

Although these work groups – Learn, Work, Invest – will be filled with just 30 employees each, Bendapudi said there will be plenty of opportunities for as much input from as many people across campus as possible, whether that’s through town halls, the strategic planning website or something else.

“It’s really important we keep everyone engaged in this process,” she said.

Benadpudi said progress is being made on fundraising, pointing to recent donations from UPS and the Gheens Foundation as examples. She continues to devote much of her time to HSC issues surrounding the fate of Jewish Hospital and UofL’s clinical programs that exist there. An RFP to find a partner for this location closes on March 8. At stake is about 36,000 ER visits a year.

“Not only are we concerned about our programs, but for the community as well,” Bendapudi said. “But it has to make sense for UofL and not put us at risk.”

She closed by telling senators that she is much more optimistic now about the direction UofL is headed than she was just a few months ago.

“I have a much better understanding of what we are facing and I feel really good about what we’re doing,” she said. “Every day is like a jigsaw puzzle and I am seeing it come together.”

Provost Beth Boehm also provide updates from her office, including personnel announcements. Rehan Khan was named chief information officer last month, while the EVPRI search is under way and the EVPHA search is on hold. The SPHIS and School of Medicine five-year dean reviews were recently conducted and approved. Boehm expects a new music dean to be named soon.

She also provided an update on faculty diversity. Nine African American faculty have left since 2016, representing a total of 8%. By comparison, 63 white faculty have left since that time frame, representing a decline of 4.7%. About 6% of our faculty are currently African American. By comparison, about 3.3% of UK’s faculty are.

“We recognize we should be higher here. In some schools, we’re higher, in some places we’re less,” Boehm said.

The full presentation is available here

A proposal was made for a distilled spirits business certificate, with representatives from the College of Business noting the booming industry in Louisville and beyond. The certificate covers not just bourbon, but also distilled spirits, and aims to teach students the unique aspects of this business.

While the University of Kentucky offers a program in wine and distilling, theirs is an undergraduate degree focused on science. UofL’s proposal is focused on business operations. The College of Business expects about 25 students in the beginning, with a growth projection of up to 50 students. It was approved.

Faculty Senate Chair Krista-Wallace Boaz guided a discussion about a University Values and Principles Statement. The document acts not to replace any current language or the work and suggestions the Strategic Planning work groups. The impetus behind this statement is to “define who we are to inform strategic decisions” including and especially through potential budget crises.

The statement is available online here in its entirety. It was approved by the Faculty Senate.

Wallace-Boaz also provided a chair’s report, including an upcoming board of trustees meeting April 18, an HSC update and an update about the Ekstrom Library renovations. Her report is available online

The SGA is working on safety initiatives, including via a new partnership with the ULPD and Housing to increase officers on campus, and pedestrian safety on the HSC campus. A food pantry is open at the SAC for students and employees with food insecurities and donations are welcome.

The Staff Senate heard an update about the budgeting process from CFO Dan Durbin, as well as a parking update. A full report is available online

Finally, Amanda Herrera from the Campus Bookstore reminded faculty that adoption campaigns for the summer and fall are due March 18. This advanced time frame allows students to have a better idea of what books they need and how much they’ll have to pay.

Committee reports are available online. The next Faculty Senate meeting is March 6.