Overhead picture of Grawemeyer Hall
UofL's Belknap Campus.

The University of Louisville’s 2023-24 academic year kicked off with tremendous momentum as a record number of 3,130 first-year students enrolled in fall 2023, an increase of 6.8 percent from 2022, which had also set a record.

Students walk in the background with flowers in bloom.
Students walking across Belknap Campus. UofL photo.

Part of the growth in numbers comes as the result of major strides in the areas of affordability, access and equity, meaning Cardinals from a variety of backgrounds can take advantage of learning opportunities and experiences with reduced financial burden. This academic year, UofL announced the expansion of its Border Benefit Award that allows students from some neighboring states to attend UofL at in-state tuition rates, along with the investment of $2.4 million toward the Cardinal Commitment Grant for in-state residents.

UofL jumped 15 places in the 2023-24 U.S. News and World Report “Best Value Schools” ranking, from No. 146 to No. 131, and also topped the list of “best values” among national universities in Kentucky. In the past few years, Cardinals have graduated with the second-lowest student debt among all Kentucky four-year public universities.

New leadership helps guide the way

Taking the helm in early 2023, UofL’s 19th president, Kim Schatzel, spent six months in some 40 listening sessions to learn what was important to UofL’s students, staff and faculty, as well as community and government leaders.

UofL’s 19th president, Dr. Kim Schatzel, at the podium during her inauguration ceremony Sept. 29.
UofL’s 19th president, Kim Schatzel, at the podium during her inauguration ceremony Sept. 29. UofL photo.

She outlined her first eight priorities in September, and those priorities became the basis for a new 2023-2025 Strategic Plan. Schatzel was officially inaugurated on Sept. 29 in a joyous ceremony filled with music and tradition that was held on The Oval outside Grawemeyer Hall. The historic event took place during UofL’s yearlong celebration of its 225th anniversary. In recognition of her leadership, Schatzel was named among Louisville Business First’s Power 50 for 2024, which identifies the city’s most influential people in business and related communities. The Louisville Defender Newspaper also named Schatzel as one of the “Women Who Choose to Challenge” in the publication’s women’s history recognition edition.  

In spring 2024, the university chose Gerry Bradley as permanent executive vice president and university provost. No stranger to the Cardinal community, Bradley had served as dean of the UofL School of Dentistry since 2016 and as interim provost since July 2023. He previously held that same role from January 2022 to February 2023.

Several other top leadership positions have been filled throughout 2023 and 2024, including: Karlis Kaugars, vice provost for information technology services and chief information officer; Dayna Touron, dean, College of Arts & SciencesJohn W. Miller Jr., dean, Raymond A. Kent School of Social Work and Family Science; and Kathryn (Katie) Cardarelli, dean, School of Public Health and Information Sciences. This summer, Whitney Nash becomes dean of the School of Nursing, which celebrates 50 years of educating and preparing nurses for distinctive careers.

UofL also welcomed Pat Kelsey to lead the men’s basketball program, infusing excitement and enthusiasm into Card Nation.

Renovations, new infrastructure boost student success

The university is updating facilities and building new infrastructure to ensure students have the physical space to unleash their potential.

The four-story, 114,000-square-foot building will include classrooms, a makerspace, high-tech lab facilities and room for events and student engagement.
The four-story, 114,000-square-foot engineering student success hub will include classrooms, a makerspace, high-tech lab facilities and room for events and student engagement.

The Center for Military-Connected Students debuted its newly renovated offices in Brodschi Hall on Belknap Campus. The center focuses on meeting the needs of the more than 2,300 military-connected students enrolled at UofL. At the J.B. Speed School of Engineering, construction of a new four-story, $90 million student success hub is underway. It will help us produce the next generation of engineers.

And thanks to a tremendously successful legislative session, the state budget appropriated $260 million toward a new Health Sciences Center Campus simulation center and collaboration hub. That’s the largest amount of funding for a single project in UofL’s history. It also is the largest project being funded in Louisville and represents the most general fund support for any single project among Kentucky’s colleges and universities this session. UofL also received about $69 million for needed repairs on some existing facilities.

UofL’s research and innovation powerhouse flourishes

Research and innovation continued to soar to new heights in academic year 2023-24. Just a few highlights were:

  • More than $22 million in funding from the Health Resources and Services Administration was awarded to the Schools of Medicine ($16 million)and Nursing ($6.5 million) for physician and nurse training to help increase Kentuckians’ access to health care, particularly in underserved rural and urban areas.  
  • The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has awarded four grants totaling $11.6 million to researchers affiliated with UofL’s Christina Lee Brown Envirome Institute to study factors affecting heart health. Through these projects, they hope to better understand how environmental exposures and tobacco products can affect the cardiovascular system, as well as how remodeling takes place in the heart after a heart attack.
  • UofL researcher Cheri Levinson has received an $11.5 million grant from the NIH to continue her work addressing the devastating effects of eating disorders.
  • UofL researchers Susan Harkema, Charles Hubscher and collaborators recently won a $1 million grant from the NIH aimed at helping spinal cord injury patients regain function. They are now among four teams exclusively invited to participate in another competition with a potential prize pool of $5 million.
  • More than 100 UofL researchers are among the top 2% most-cited in the world, according to a new list compiled by Stanford University and Elsevier. Citations show the value other researchers around the globe place on UofL research.
  • Research conducted in UofL’s Micro/Nano Technology Center is investigating whether the antibacterial properties of cicada wings can be turned into an antimicrobial for use in places like food service, health care facilities and medical devices. 
  • More than 80 of UofL’s top researchers, scholars and artists were honored in October at the 2023 Research, Scholarship and Creative Activity Awards ceremony.
  • Four University of Louisville innovators have been selected by the prestigious National Academy of Inventors for its 2024 class of Senior Members. The four inventors selected from UofL–the only ones from Kentucky–are: Thad Druffel, Nobuyuki Matoba, Thomas Roussel and Jagannadh Satyavolu.

Commitment to serve, transform the community 

Throughout the 2023-24 academic year, Cardinals have utilized knowledge and resources to advance the mutual needs of the university and the community. Earlier this spring, more than 400 students danced for 18 hours at the annual raiseRED marathon. 

Students embrace as part of the 2024 raiseRED celebration.
Students embrace as part of the 2024 raiseRED celebration. UofL photo.

The students raised more than $516,000 for Norton Children’s Cancer Institute and the UofL Department of Pediatric Oncology and Hematology. This is UofL’s largest student philanthropic effort. It has raised more than $5 million in its 11-year history.

In the mean time, former firefighter James Cripps was awarded one of the Outstanding Community Engagement Awards for teaching firefighters throughout Kentucky about occupational cancer and mitigation strategies. A manufacturing administrator at the UofL Health Brown Cancer Center, he hopes to eliminate some of those risks.

UofL Health-UofL Hospital, meanwhile, celebrated a milestone: 200 years of compassionate care, medical innovation and serving the underserved. It was Kentucky’s first hospital, first admitting patients in a facility downtown in 1823. Now, to address a real need for citizens south and west of Louisville, UofL Health recently cut the ribbon on UofL Health – South Hospital in Bullitt County just off Interstate 65.

UofL doctors Jeffrey Bumpous, interim dean of the UofL School of Medicine, Edward Miller and Tanya Franklin (back row, l. to r.) placed white coats on the shoulders of Central High School juniors participating in the Pre-Medical Magnet Program. UofL Health photo.
UofL doctors Jeffrey Bumpous, interim dean of the UofL School of Medicine, Edward Miller and Tanya Franklin (back row, l. to r.) placed white coats on the shoulders of Central High School juniors participating in the Pre-Medical Magnet Program. UofL Health photo.

As part of UofL’s ongoing effort to collaborate with five Signature Partnership K-12 schools in West Louisville, Central High School Pre-Medical Magnet Program students received white coats this spring, recognizing their hard work and encouraging them to stay focused on their goals. Students shadow UofL doctors and get to practice performing simpler procedures, like sutures, through this immersive curriculum.

Recently, UofL’s McConnell Scholars and others heard a presentation by Sen. Katie Britt, R-Alabama, who spoke about the importance of respect and trust in building relationships to address the country’s most pressing issues. A guest of the McConnell Center, Britt spoke as part of its Distinguished Speaker Series. Celebrating its 30th year, the center also brought Oksana Markarova, Ukraine’s ambassador to the United States, to Belknap Campus Oct. 30. She gave a public talk and met separately with the McConnell Scholars.

Students begin their next chapter at commencement

Gabrielle Runyon smiles with her graduation stool wrapped around her neck.
UofL 2024 graduate Gabrielle Runyon. UofL photo.

On May 11, more than 2,000 of the approximately 3,100 students who applied for degrees and certificates, will go across the stage at the KFC Yum! Center signifying their academic success.

This Commencement holds particular significance for the high school class of 2020, which graduated at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. For some, it will be their first chance to celebrate their educational achievement by taking part in a complete traditional ceremony.

UofL President Kim Schatzel will preside at both the 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. ceremonies. The UofL Graduate School also will host a doctoral hooding and graduation ceremony for more than 100 graduates at 2 p.m. Friday, May 10, on Belknap Campus in the Swain Student Activities Center (SAC) Ballroom, second floor. All of these ceremonies will be broadcast live at uofl.edu/livestream.