By Arry Schofield —

After almost ten weeks in office, President Neeli Bendapudi has put in a tremendous effort to change U of L for the better. In her short time, she’s removed Papa John’s name from Cardinal Stadium, and developed relationships with students, faculty, staff and others in the community.

With her willingness to take action quickly and focus on transparency, some professors are even calling her the “Ruth Bader Ginsburg of U of L.”

After a trend of scandals in university administration, especially under ex-president James Ramsey, Bendapudi exudes confidence in her focus on the student experience.

“At the center of it all, the reason we exist is our students. When we make a decision, we have to ask, does this make U of L a great place to learn? In order to make it a great place for students to learn, we must also take care of our faculty and staff,” Bendapudi said.

To further prove her stance on transparency, Bendapudi organized a leadership retreat for faculty, staff and student senates as well as deans and vice presidents.

“I think that’s going to be key for us. I hope to set the tone that we have to be transparent,” Bendapudi said. “If I’m the only one that knows what’s going on, if I’m the only one that holds the cards, if we have not shared information with people, you get bad decisions faster. To get good decisions you’ve really got to share with people, so then they can bring their wisdom. In my mind, it’s a great way to enhance accountability, and provide better solutions.”

At the start of the fall semester, Bendapudi stressed the importance of getting to know students by helping students on move-in day. She also scheduled a ice cream social for Aug. 23 at Miller Quad and the SRC plaza to meet students.

With Bendapudi’s academic background, previously provost at University of Kansas and professor of marketing at Ohio State, she relates to students and professors.

She said her number one tip for students is to never miss a class.

“Early on, I’ve said so many times, keeping up is so much easier than catching up,” Bendapudi said.

In addition to taking attendance seriously, Bendapudi stressed the importance of introducing yourself to your professors and getting to know them.

“They don’t have to think about a deep question before you walk in, you could just introduce yourself and ask them what got them in to the field. Usually, we as faculty love what we do and we love to talk about what that was that got us interested,” she said.

Bendapudi said this year’s freshman class is the most diverse in U of L’s history which is something to celebrate.

“It means that for the students who are studying here, they have the means to interact with a variety of different people that will prepare them to be successful in the world because there is such competition, it’s global. It’s no longer even local or national, so I think that’s really good to prepare our students,” Bendapudi said.

With ambitions and experience in hand, Bendapudi is approaching the 2018-19 school year with student success on her mind.

Photo Courtesy Tom Fougerousse / University of Louisville