By Madelin Shelton —
Dr. Lori Gonzalez, the newly selected executive vice president and university provost (EVPUP), was recently interviewed by The Louisville Cardinal and outlined her upcoming position at the University of Louisville.
“The things that drew me to the University of Louisville are some of the initiatives around anti-racism and improving retention rates to keep our undergraduate students enrolled and to ensure that they graduate on time,” Gonzalez said. She also enjoyed reading U of L’s Strategic Plan because it succinctly presented the university’s goals of making itself a great place to learn, work and invest.
Gonzalez further noted President Neeli Bendapudi’s involvement with students as a pulling factor.
“When I saw President Bendapudi and her videos to students, her writing to students, I just thought this was a president who cares about higher ed, cares about the students and is going to be sure that the institution is a student-first place for people to learn,” she said.
Gonzalez said that her leadership in education has prepared her best for her new role as university provost.
“I started out as a faculty member and moved into administration at the college level. I’ve been a dean, I’ve been a provost, and now I’m a vice chancellor,” she said. “I think the thing that prepares you best for leadership is enjoying the mission of the institution and believing passionately about the mission, and then enjoying working with people.”
When asked how she has worked to uphold the Cardinal principle of diversity and inclusion in the past, Gonzalez first elaborated on how she came to appreciate diversity and inclusion in her own life. Being from a small town in eastern Kentucky, Gonzalez said she didn’t have experiences with those who were different from her until she got to college.
“I started my own quest to understand my own bias that I brought from where I was raised and focusing on learning more about diversity and inclusion,” she said. “When I became dean, I brought in training opportunities for our faculty and staff around diversity and inclusion. As provost I worked really closely with the equity and diversity office to make sure programming was going. I did small things like meeting every semester with transgender students.”
When she officially takes on the role of provost, Gonzalez said she wants to help foster an environment where undergraduate students come into U of L and study their respective subjects while also learning their civic duty as citizens.
“That’s a personal passion of mine to make sure that students become more than whatever their discipline is because they’re going to be the ones to change our world for the better and I think the university has to give you the tools to know how to do that,” she said.
To specifically improve the student experience for U of L students, Gonzalez wants to work with Bendapudi to expand the experiential learning strategy that is under the “Great Place to Learn” component of the Strategic Plan. She believes focusing on this component will further help with cultivating civically engaged learners.
Gonzalez will begin serving as the EVPUP starting April 1.
Photo Courtesy // The University of Louisville