By Tate Luckey

I’m a senior here at U of L.

I came in as a starry-eyed, forcibly shut-in freshman during the throes of the COVID-19 Pandemic in 2020, settling myself in Kurz Hall to make the most of my short four years in this University’s system.

In 2019, as a senior at Male High School on Preston, I shook then-President Dr. Neeli Bendapudi’s hand, her promise of “looking for me” at U of L echoing in my ears. That didn’t last long when she jumped shipped to go to Penn State in 2021.

Her departure also marked a weird transitional period for the University, shifting and impacting all aspects of our leadership.

Lots of growing pains

Let’s go through the numbers, shall we?

In that time, I’ve experienced three different football coaches, what will soon be four different men’s basketball coaches, countless switches and transfers of faculty and advisors, and now three University Presidents. That’s a lot in four years.

When Provost Gonzalez stepped in to fill the hole left by Neeli, soon our Board of Trustees was tasked with selecting a leader who was not using this campus as a stepping stone. From what then-SGA President Dorian Brown told me, the Board was focused on finding someone committed to upholding and uplifting the diverse voices and thoughts across our campus, someone who had experience with working with a research and medical hub, and someone who intended to stay with the university long term.

The choices went from nine to three, then from three to one. Towson’s own Dr. Kim Schatzel was selected in 2022, and she began her tenure in February of 2023.

Small history lesson: when Neeli Bendapudi arrived in 2018, she made it her mission to create a campus culture defined by openness; for example, she gave us her phone number to call in case of any emergency students encountered.

President Schatzel, I hazard to say, is the antithesis of that.

It’s deja vu…

As Editor of The Cardinal, I’ve had the opportunity to engage and connect with all kinds of people. I try to stay up to date on the pulse of the campus by doing lots of research and digging into all the goings-on here. In interviewing Schatzel in April of last year, I got the sense she was trying to do the same through her listening sessions and other forms of info gathering.

I found that a lot of her initial tenure at Towson in 2016 and Louisville in 2023 are remarkably similar.

Take her 2017 presidential address, in which she made note of Towson’s largest undergraduate enrollment ever. This fall, U of L’s class of 2027 tipped the scales by becoming the largest first-year incoming class.

Her listening tours? Not U of L exclusive; she conducted the same at Towson in 2016 to get a sense of the campus culture, also delivering the results in eight presidential priorities. Both times, she also stressed the importance of telling her respective university’s contemporary story (in Towson’s case, it involved unveiling a brand new logo).


I want to make it clear: I want Schatzel to succeed. I want every student to know and feel as if their president has their best interests at heart. I want the University of Louisville to meet its fullest potential.

But a one-size-fits-all approach likely isn’t the answer. In such a pivotal year two, it should probably be done something like this.

(L-R) Dan Durbin, Kim Schatzel, and EVP/Provost Gerry Bradley during a February Fireside Chat Photo Courtesy // The University of Louisville

Slow down the statements

For one thing: slow down the statements. Schatzel admitted in her first fireside chat in January that U of L is different in that the campus likes statements. It’s very easy to “talk the talk”. I want to see Schatzel and her administration “walk the walk.”

Take, for example, all of this action in our state legislature related to how divisive the concepts of diversity are in education. It is the perfect platform for her to demonstrate support. That’s what she was hired for. Instead, she issued one statement alluding to the discourse and then put out another, much stronger one with her colleagues while her students rallied, drawing attention and making headlines.

Students already get enough emails. Perhaps there are other ways to showcase your advocacy.

Continue support for student journalism!

It would be nice to see some support from our president in the realm of student media. She has a history of being supportive during her time at Towson, even going so far as to meet with the current editor and staff members to listen and learn from them.

Upon her arrival and during her listening tours in the SAC, one of our staff photographers was explicitly told not to photograph her. Ouch.

Since our interview back in April of 2023, I’ve been trying to contact her since early October to have another chat. Instead, I’m told she needs to see questions ahead of time and has such a busy schedule. Doing what, I’m not sure. But I do sit and wonder “What changed?

Some authentic, direct transparency about what she’s currently doing for U of L — in some way, shape, or form — would quell these questions and allow her to connect with students outside of more “curated” moments, like her statements, tours, and fireside chats.

Some letters to the editor, even just sitting and having lunch in campus spaces where she can let her guard down and be more authentic would go a long way.

U of L President Kim Schatzel poses with students during Move-In Week 2023 Photo Courtesy // University of Louisville

Keep being around Louisville

Speaking of, continue to be present at nonathletic campus events.

If you follow her on Instagram, Schatzel is a huge selfie fan. I love it. I think she’s doing a great job getting around and absorbing all aspects the university and city have to offer, beyond the moneymakers like athletic events and ribbon cuttings. That outward support is great to see and shows that she has a genuine interest in and advocates for the community.

To me, it seems the University does not want “performance.” They don’t want someone “performing” the role of President, like Neeli. They want, or rather deserve, a President.

U of L has been changing and growing for quite a while, and above all,  deserves someone who is wholly authentic in their leadership. Schatzel is certainly getting back on the right track.

I am cautiously excited to see the direction she takes this university, both short-term and long-term.