By Joseph Lyell —
Interim Executive Director of the U of L Foundation Keith Sherman presented trustees with grim details of the foundation’s fundraising woes at May 17’s board of trustees meeting.
Sherman said the lack of pledged donations to the university’s endowment is concerning. This comes as the university has no vice president for advancement—the fundraising department that reports to the president.
“Most of the giving that is happening is not endowed. And you can only go so long without new money coming into the endowment to be able to do what we’re charged to do,” Sherman said.
Pledged donations to the endowment exceeded $2.5 million in the fourth quarter of 2015, but have dwindled to only $33,000 for the third quarter of 2018.
Trustee Nitin Sahney asked Sherman about the relationship between the fundraising roles of the U of L Athletics Association, the office of the president and the foundation.
“We don’t want these three branches to think differently,” Sahney said.
Board chair David Grissom said trustees, the foundation and the athletics association have not yet worked together to understand their roles in fundraising. He said president Neeli Bendapudi will determine the relationship between them.
“The reporting, and being able to track all that needs some refining,” board chair David Grissom said. “It’s a little murky, but only because we haven’t had time to be aware of what everyone wants together. There is no hesitancy to get it to the right place.”
Since the resignation of Bryan Robinson in February, U of L has not yet hired a fundraising chief. Bendapudi said finding a replacement is a top priority and they will soon begin a search for the role.
“Please know that we are not waiting for that person to be in place. I’ve already started. It’s important; making calls, telling people ‘I’d love to come to visit with you,'” Bendapudi said.
This was the first board of trustees meeting for Bendapudi, who said she was ready to assume the responsibilities of the executive branch of the university.
“As the head of the institution, I am eager to take the mantle of the CEO. I will take responsibility for what happens across campus,” Bendapudi said.
Bendapudi’s first report highlighted the principles she emphasized in her first address as president.
“Above all else, we want to make this a great place for our students to learn,” Bendapudi said.
She said for students to get the most out of their education, the university’s next goal must be to ensure that faculty and staff have all of the necessary resources to be competitive.
“To bring the best and brightest here, we need people to rebuild trust, and begin to invest in us. So the third goal will be for us to be a great place to invest,” Bendapudi said.
Trustees appointed Beth Boehm as dean of graduate and interdisciplinary studies in addition to her new role as interim provost. Outgoing provost Dale Billingsly announced in April he will leave the position June 1.
Trustees approved an agreement with ULAA for the $8 million television production studio to be completed by the start of the fall semester. The project was undertaken to comply with the university’s agreement with the ACC, which stipulates that U of L have a broadcast/production studio that meets the conference’s standards.
The board also voted to rename the Kentucky Institute for the Environment and Sustainable Development. The “Envirome Institute,” as it will now be known, will use Louisville as an urban laboratory to study how environmental differences affect health disparities. U of L Professor of Medicine Aruni Bhatnagar will head the institute.
In addition to the name change, trustees approved the creation of the Center for Healthy Air, Water, and Soil to operate alongside the Envirome Institute. It will provide an avenue for outreach to the community about environmental research and activities.
Photo by Joseph Lyell / The Louisville Cardinal