Grawemeyer Hall 2017
Grawemeyer Hall 2017

UofL’s Staff Senate met Sept. 9 for a special lunch meeting with President Neeli Bendapudi and Provost Beth Boehm, followed by a regular meeting.

Bendapudi provided an update on the 2019 budget, which she noted is the first time the HSC campus broke even. HSC programming, particularly pediatrics, is expensive to run, costing about $12 million to $15 million a year. This is why UofL pursued its recent partnership with Norton Children’s Hospital.

“This partnership supports our teaching and academic mission, provides for better care and helps with the budget,” she said.

Bendapudi also discussed the recent KentuckyOne Health announcement in which UofL reached an agreement to assume its Louisville-area assets. The agreement came two months after initial negotiations ended when UofL could not find a suitable partner to help fund the acquisition. However, support from both the state and two local foundations revived the talks to save the struggling Jewish Hospital and other vital area medical facilities. 

“In June, we said we couldn’t do the deal because the terms were not good for us. What changed since then is we were able to get the right support,” Bendapudi said. “This deal helps with our teaching mission, our research mission. It helps us attract the best faculty and get grant money. Most importantly, it helps with clinical care.”

Jewish Hospital receives about 3,000 ER visits a month and, of those patients, about 19% are admitted.

“These are our neighbors. Where would they go? How are we fostering equity if these huge numbers of patients don’t have a bed?” Bendapudi said.

These assets also generate about $300 million worth in payroll, so she reiterated the impact it would have on employees in the community.

“We still have a lot of work to do, don’t get me wrong. But this is the right thing to do for the Commonwealth,” Bendapudi said.

Bendapudi also noted that the three-year time frame for the Strategic Plan starts now. UofL will host kickoff events for the plan Sept. 23 and 24.

“We all need to hold each other accountable so we can make sure this is a great place to work.” she said. “I’m excited to get started. After a year of plugging holes, we can now look at this plan and ask, how can we grow?”

Provost Boehm provided an update from the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities conference she attended over the summer. One of the biggest topics discussed at the event was student mental health and Boehm is charging a committee that looks at faculty/staff roles in student mental health. She also noted that the Counseling Center is moving back to the Belknap Campus, either in January or February, with a space at the SAC.

“Forty-six percent of students have a diagnosable mental health issue and half of those are untreated. Seventy-six percent of college students say that mental health issues interfere with their academics. This is a critical topic that we are going to focus on,” she said.

“The best determinant of how well a student performs is if one adult shows they care about them,” Bendapudi added. “Please look out for our students. I can’t think of anything we do that is more important.”

Regular meeting

Dr. Ralph Fitzpatrick, senior vice president for Community Engagement, opened up the regular meeting to discuss the Cards Come Together initiative. This inaugural week of service, led by UofL President Neeli Bendapudi, will feature several service projects across the city as well as collection sites on campus. The objective is to get 1,000 faculty, staff and students to participate. A complete list of projects is available online at

A kickoff celebration will be held at the Red Barn Oct. 22 from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Todd Kneale, director of Total Rewards, reminded staff senators that open enrollment is Oct. 23 through Nov. 6 and HR will issue a number of communications prior. He also provided an update on the health insurance increases scheduled to go into place in 2020.

These increases are in response to the market and to UofL’s previous approach to ratios, which he said were not actuarially based. Correcting them will be a multi-year process, starting with the 2020 increases. More details will be sent about those plans and the increases this week.

Lydia Burns gave an update from SGA, which is hosting a “Chat with the (UofL Police) Chief” on Sept. 16 to discuss safety initiatives on campus. The group will also host Constitution Day at the Red Barn Sept. 17 with a number of representatives expected to participate.

The Chair’s report, vice chair’s report and secretary/treasurer’s report are all available online.

The next Staff Senate meeting is Oct. 14 in CTR 101/102 on the HSC Campus.