Neeli Bendapudi named UofL's first female president

Dr. Neeli Bendapudi named UofL's 18th president

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) –  The University of Louisville has named a new president.

The UofL Board of Trustees announced Tuesday afternoon that Dr. Neeli Bendapudi will serve as the school's 18th president.

Bendapudi was the University of Kansas Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor, and a professor of marketing at the KU School of Business, according to KU's website. Bendapudi holds a doctorate from KU and has taught at Texas A&M and Ohio State at the undergraduate, MBA, Executive MBA and Ph.D. levels.

Bendapudi presented remarks Tuesday afternoon, during which she highlighted her three goals for Louisville -- "to be a great place to learn, a great place to work and a great place to invest."

UofL's first female president, a former banker, spoke on the value of the university and celebrated its urban setting, calling it a gem.

"What attracted me to Louisville?" Bendapudi asked. "What didn't? I could not pick a better place to call home for hopefully a long, long time."

Bendapudi spoke several times about fundraising and bringing funding back to a university that's been mired in athletic and administrative scandals.

"All across the Commonwealth, country, globe, we get our friends, our Cardinal family ... everybody to view us as the best place to invest," she said. "When people help us, what they're doing is saying, 'We trust you to make Louisville a strong force for the good for the next couple of centuries.'"

Bendapudi also spoke about UofL's recent scandals, and how she plans on preventing new ones going forward.

"One university, one team," Bendapudi said. "Together we will win with integrity. My way to make sure there's not a scandal is to be incredibly accessible. The leader can absolutely set the tone for who we are, what we will be, and what we will absolutely not tolerate."

She was joined at Tuesday's introduction by her husband of 35 years, her daughter and son-in-law as she publicly accepted the position.

Bendapudi said she and her family were familiar with the area, her parents formerly living and teaching in Northern Kentucky, and even recently doing the Bourbon Trail.

SGA president Vishnu Tirumala looks to Bendapudi to lead by example.

"What I'm hoping she'll take on is rebuilding trust not only with students, faculty and staff, and kind of bringing that integrity and character that I believe that she has to the university," Tirumala said.

Observers agreed that building a culture of integrity is the right place to start.

"Gain the confidence of the donors, the alumni and the students and the faculty," Bill Stone, WAVE 3 News political analyst and former UofL Board member said.  "She can set the culture and let everybody know from this point on, UofL is full speed ahead."

Bendapudi takes over after Dr. Greg Postel served as the interim president for the university since Jan. 20, 2017.

Postel took over as interim president after Dr. Neville Pinto, then the interim president, took the top post at the University of Cincinnati. Pinto was first named interim president after Dr. James Ramsey was ousted as part of Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin's shakeup of the UofL Board of Trustees in 2016. That overhaul ended with J. David Grissom as the board's new chair, and Grissom and Postel have seemed closely aligned through the entire series of challenges.

Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin tweeted about the hire later Tuesday night:

Exciting new chapter beginning today for the University of Louisville..On Founder's Day for the University, it is appropriate that such a qualified & dynamic leader takes the helm to chart the course for the years ahead..Onward and upward! #ItsHappeningHere

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