By: Sam Combest —
The board of trustees named Provost Beth Boehm permanently Aug. 27, but she plans to serve for only two years.
“I want it to be known that this is only a two-year contract until we can find someone better suited for the position, this two year period allows us to have a proper search and vetting process for a permanent provost,” Boehm said.
Boehm took over after former interim provost Dale Billingsly announced in April he would leave the position to return to teaching. The school’s last non-interim provost was Shirley Willihnganz, who stepped down in 2015 after serving for 13 years.
“I would like for the campus community to know that while I am in this new position, I did not apply for it, I was asked to be interim provost and I accepted. I did not expect to receive this position as a permanent thing,” Boehm said.
University spokesperson John Karman said newly appointed university counsel Tom Hoy’s appointment spans the same time.
He said Boehm and the board are comfortable with the length of her contract.
“Both the provost and general counsel appointments are for two years. At that time, there will be national searches to fill the positions going forward,” Karman said.
Boehm has worked at U of L since 1987. She taught English as an associate professor for 12 years before moving to administrative roles in 2008. Most recently she has served as vice provost for graduate affairs and dean for the school of interdisciplinary and graduate studies.
In Boehm’s more than 30 years at the University of Louisville, one of the biggest changes she has seen helping the campus community has been the increase in the number of students.
She said she plans to meet with constituency groups around campus including SGA, academic chairs, and the faculty assembly to talk about issues relevant to them.
Boehm aims to bring awareness to the funding U of L gets and where it comes from as well as how the university plans to put it to use.
When Boehm was appointed, the university announced president Neeli Bendapudi had set aside $5 million for the provost to use for student success initiatives.
The fund will be used to remodel the third floor of Ekstrom Library, add academic advisers across campus, invest in tutoring for upper-level courses and more.
Boehm said student success takes work from students and the university’s support systems.
“If I could wave a wand, I would make every faculty member committed to student success. I would also make every student buy their books, read their books,” Boehm said. “We want faculty totally engaged with the students and students totally engaged with the faculty.”
Boehm was happy with the U of L’s administration and Bendapudi’s decision to remove “Papa John’s” Louisville Cardinal Stadium’s name.
“I think that a quick decision was a huge difference. No matter what decision was made, people were consulted, and it was an open discussion, and that was a huge change compared to the past,” Boehm said.
She said she hopes to set a precedent for other administrators and chairs with her upcoming lunches with students to increase student engagement.
Photo by Sam Combest / The Louisville Cardinal