LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) – Well-wishers gathered near the front of Grawemeyer Hall with a warm welcome for the University of Louisville's new president.
Tuesday was Doctor Neeli Bendapudi's first day.
"I am so honored to be here today, gives me goosebumps," Dr. Bendapudi said.
Bendapudi has been introduced in the past as a "proven community builder" and a "rising star in academia."
Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer was among those to wish Bendapudi well on Tuesday.
She inherits a challenge of restoring donor faith after a scathing audit of the University Foundation, student confidence after a period of academic probation and fan enthusiasm for an athletic department in transition. But one of the greatest challenges is rebuilding public admiration after a lurid scandal and the devastating loss of a national championship banner.
"We need to be a place that says 'you're a Cardinal, you are here, you belong just as much as anybody else does'," Bendapudi said. "We have to be a place that celebrates diversity, fosters equity and achieves inclusion for everybody. We need to be welcoming. We need to be a place that says whoever you are, come here and you'll flourish."
An ongoing federal investigation continues to complicate the future.
"A key criteria in my coming here was looking at how many of you stayed here through what must have been a rough patch," Bendapudi said.
Bendapudi takes over after Dr. Greg Postel served as the interim president for the university since January of 2017.
"We are all U of L. And together, our best days are ahead," she said. "So Go Cards!"