By Daniel Ngongo
In a pivotal address at Comstock Hall Tuesday morning, U of L President Kim Schatzel unveiled her vision and strategic initiatives after concluding her first round of listening tours from the prior spring semester.
Many in attendance were among the university’s top senior leadership, including Interim Provost Gerry Bradley, VP of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Lee Gill, CFO Dan Durbin, VP of Student Affairs Michael Mardis, and Athletic Director Josh Heird.
Eight presidential priorities
Central to President Schatzel’s remarks was a set of eight presidential priorities she is committed to advancing during her tenure.
Foremost among them is a drive to bolster communication between the president’s office, senior leadership, and the broader Cardinal community. Beginning this November, she announced the launch of town halls as platforms for students, faculty, and staff to engage in discourse, share updates, and articulate their concerns. Moreover, Schatzel is continuing to dedicate a week every month to the HSC campus to gain a deeper understanding of the pressing issues at the downtown campus.
The University’s research and innovation are also in President Schatzel’s spotlight. In collaboration with Kevin Gardiner, the Executive Vice President for Research and innovation, she aims to enhance the University of Louisville’s stature as an R1 institution.
Addressing institutional equity and inclusion at the University stood out as one of Schatzel’s major concerns. Reflecting on her listening tours, she acknowledged the community’s sentiment of insufficient responsiveness from leadership to the University of Louisville’s Cardinals Anti-Racism Agenda (CARA). In response, the Schatzel administration is charting a course through the U of L strategic plan. This includes initiatives to foster inclusive education, bridge the graduation gap for Pell Grant-eligible students, and amplify the graduation rates of first-generation students and other minority groups.
A critical topic that surfaced during her speech was the Staff Compensation Study initiated earlier in the summer. Recognizing the palpable unease it generated among students, faculty, and staff, Schatzel affirmed her commitment to the issue, declaring that “addressing those concerns is now my priority.”
Schatzel expressed her aspiration to reshape the narrative of the University of Louisville. She took a moment to reflect on the University’s legacy, emphasizing that, while the university has a historical identity as a commuter school, “It’s time to retell U of L’s contemporary story… we are no longer a commuter school but a vibrant R1 institution.”
The audience responds
A recurring sentiment emerged in discussions with faculty and staff who attended President Schatzel’s address at the University of Louisville: a perception that she sidestepped a deep dive into the pressing issue of compensation. Some expressed a sense of disappointment, feeling that this vital topic warranted a more comprehensive exploration during her presentation.
As the academic year progresses, numerous challenges await President Schatzel, spanning staff compensation to campus safety. The forthcoming town halls, set to commence in November, may serve as an essential bridge, facilitating dialogue and fostering understanding within the Cardinal community.
To watch the complete address, click here.
File Photos // Anthony Riley (The Louisville Cardinal), The University of Louisville