By Vishnu Tirumala —

As Student Body President, one of my most important roles is serving on our University’s Board of Trustees. The Board is the highest decision-making body at the University; they approve University expenditures, set tuition & fees, approve our degrees and hire faculty and administrators. This last power is especially important now that U of L is in a time of transition.

I learned in an honors seminar that one of the most important jobs for any Board is to select a President.  The University of Louisville needs someone who is not only an effective administrator but also a person with the integrity and stamina to lead our University through a challenging period for higher education.

Last year the Student Senate passed a resolution outlining what students are looking for in a new President. I’ll summarize some major points here:

  • a commitment to a high quality of education at a reasonable cost
  • a strong and unwavering commitment to diversity in all respects
  • at least 10 years of experience as faculty and a strong familiarity of University procedures
  • a drive to achieve the University’s goals as a premier metropolitan research institution
  • an appreciation for shared governance by empowering faculty, staff and student leadership
  • a commitment to transparency regarding the University, the Foundation and U of L Athletics
  • an advocate for sustainable construction and reducing our carbon footprint
  • a commitment to ensure access to affordable student housing in the community
  • a willingness to invest in valuable student services and projects even if they have a limited RoI

The full resolution can be found on the SGA website. These guidelines will serve as a framework to evaluate candidates.

In previous searches, the SGA President has appointed a small committee to advise him on the search. I have reached out to the Student Presidents of each college for a representative. These 12 students, along with the members of the SGA Top 4, will serve on this advisory committee. I have also instructed our executive team to plan a public forum on both the Belknap and Health Science campuses to address any additional student concerns. The Belknap forum will be held in early October.

This search process will be extensive as we reach across the nation to build a large applicant pool. The Board has moved towards maintaining absolute confidentiality of applicants to ensure we recruit the best candidate. However we – as trustees – will need input from the community on the qualities of a good President as well as the challenges they must address. In the weeks ahead, I hope community members take advantage of listening tours and nomination forms to provide the invaluable feedback that will make our endeavor successful. I am committed to ensuring that the process is fair – a poor decision will negatively impact students more than anyone else.

As a student, I am excited at the prospect of seeing leadership that can push and challenge our University to grow. As a student trustee, I am eager to hear from all of my fellow students about what they are looking for in the next President.

File Photo / The Louisville Cardinal