By Daniel Ngongo

Amidst the harmonious tunes of Southern folk songs by the Louisville Collegiate Choir, Kim Schatzel was inaugurated as the 19th president of the University of Louisville in front of Grawemeyer Hall Friday.

The historic event, however, was not without its share of controversy. Protestors gathered to silently voice concerns about hate speech and the recent compensation study.

United for a Cause

The U of L leadership team — including representatives from various organizations within the student body and professors from each college — were in attendance, showcasing a united front as Schatzel took the helm.

“This is a celebration of many facets that make up this university,” said Interim Provost Gerry Bradley, emphasizing that the event was a testament to the vibrancy and unity of the students, staff, and faculty.

Governor’s Assurance and Mayor’s Alignment

Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear and Louisville Mayor Craig Greenberg were vocal about the symbiotic relationship between a strong Louisville and a thriving University of Louisville and Simmons College.

“Team Kentucky believes when you [Kim] succeed, we succeed,” Beshear affirmed, praising the university’s strides in diversity, its R1 designation, and its contribution to healthcare and the economy. Beshear shared a personal connection with Schatzel, asserting that “she will lead not with her mind but with her heart.”

Mayor Greenberg expressed his excitement about building together with Schatzel’s leadership.

“She is a dreamer and also a doer, that’s what is needed the most,” he said, stressing that their alignment on pivotal issues bodes well for Louisville.

Taken from the official Instagram page of the Governor of Kentucky.

Facing Controversy

The inauguration, while marked by celebration and unity, also served as a platform for voices of dissent and concern, underscoring the multifaceted challenges President Schatzel is set to face.

Demonstrators from the United Campus Workers of Kentucky (UCW) were present, highlighting longstanding concerns over faculty and staff salaries related to the controversial compensation study released by the university this past summer. Their presence echoed the growing unease and demand for equitable compensation within the academic community, a concern President Schatzel highlighted in her listening tour update.

Protestors outside of Schatzel’s inauguration.

Members of U of L’s United Campus Workers protest at the presidential inauguration. Daniel Ngongo, The Louisville Cardinal

In addition to the salary concerns, the campus has seen a recent upsurge of tensions with the emergence of hate speech by a controversial group. Demonstrators held signs, raising alarm over this development and urging immediate action to foster inclusivity and safeguard the values of diversity the University of Louisville stands for.

The rise of such incidents has sparked widespread concern among students, faculty, and staff.

Schatzel’s Vision

President Schatzel ardently advocated for an inclusive campus environment, invoking the spirit and principles of Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm, the first Black woman elected to the United States Congress. She underscored the pivotal role of the University of Louisville in addressing pressing societal issues and affirmed her dedication to preparing graduates for solving these global challenges.

“Let the world look to the University of Louisville to answer the grand challenges of our time,” declared Schatzel.

As she assumes her role as the 19th president of the University of Louisville, the inauguration of Kim Schatzel marks a significant juncture, encapsulating unity, diversity, and aspirations.

File Photos // Daniel Ngongo/Anthony Riley, The Louisville Cardinal