LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - It’s been a whirlwind year - from taking on a slew of controversies, to being touted for her optimism and integrity. Wednesday marked a significant, one-year milestone for University of Louisville President Dr. Neeli Bendapudi’s first day on the job.
During a time of turmoil, she was deemed exactly what the students, faculty and staff at the University of Louisville needed. Many believe Dr. Bendapudi has been that and much more.
As she marked one year officially, she carried out the day as her colleagues would expect - with plenty of work on her plate and no fanfare.
“I am overwhelmed," Dr. Bendapudi said one year ago of her welcome to UofL’s campus.
On May 15, 2019 we asked if Bendapudi could believe it’s been one year.
“I cannot believe it’s been a year,” Dr. Bendapudi said. “Some days, it feels like it’s been 10 years and some days it feels like 10 minutes.”
So what felt like 10 years for the university’s 18th president? If we were guessing, the answer may include some of the more stressful moments at the beginning of her time at UofL.
Dr. Bendapudi came in after the fallout from the FBI college basketball probe and stood strong with students who wanted Papa John’s name off Cardinal Stadium as a scandal involving former trustee John Schnatter heated up.
“Certainly there are challenges,” Dr. Bendapudi said. “Where would you not have challenges? And why would you want to live a life where there’s not challenges?”
Bendapudi’s can-do attitude, transparency and want for UofL to be an inclusive place to learn was quickly recognized and touted by colleagues and beyond. During her inauguration she was celebrated for restoring the optimism at the school and the community’s faith in the university.
So what might have seemed like 10 minutes?
The everyday interactions that don’t last long enough for her - like sitting with students at games, helping their families move them onto campus, working with leaders and alumni on research and community projects, congratulating new graduates and just saying “thanks for great work” - like a Wednesday event at University of Louisville Hospital.
“The warmth and the kindness and the dedication and the professionalism of our people and it gives me so much strength and so much joy every day,” Dr. Bendapudi said.
In the past week, the University’s Board of Trustees wanted to thank Dr. Bendapudi for boosting morale and bringing community support back to UofL with a $75,000 raise. She immediately donated it back to the University’s staff and students.
No surprise, when we asked her about the donation, she was humble and ready for the next question.