President Neeli Bendapudi provided an update for members of the Staff Senate Wednesday, including her reflections on being in the role for a full year.
“Overall, I could not be happier. I am more optimistic today than I was three or four months ago,” she said. “Now, I feel good because I better understand the challenges we face.”
Her favorite part of the job, she adds, has been the students.
“We really have some extraordinary students here. They always impress me. They are innovative and excited and they are ready to be a part of the solution,” Bendapudi said.
Still, she did not sugar coat that UofL still has a long way to go to recover financially from the past few years of operating through deficits.
“There’s no money tree. We’ve got to be responsible with what we’re doing,” she said. “That means, would want your parents to know what you did? Would you want your children to know what you did? Would you want the newspaper to publish what you did? We all have to be accountable in order to move in a positive direction.”
Bendapudi said each department will see the entire budget – currently being worked on – to help inform them of their decisions.
“This is not going to be solved if I have the materials and you do not,” she said. “We will be transparent with this moving forward.”
She asked senators to be patient for a little while longer and said she hopes some solutions come out of the strategic planning process.
Mark Hebert, an advisory board member for the Louisville Cardinal, told the Staff Senate that the newspaper is running out of funds and that advertising opportunities are drying up. The Cardinal has soft launched a fundraising campaign that kicked off with a donation from Congressman John Yarmuth. The publication is autonomous from UofL and therefore doesn’t qualify for university-specific fundraisers like Raise Some L.
“This newspaper serves a really important function on our campus. Every ACC school has a student-run newspaper, and we don’t want to be the first without one,” Hebert said.
Cardinal alums Kyeland Jackson, who now works for WFPL, and Shelby Brown Greenwell, who now works for CBS Interactive, provided stories about how much the Cardinal has meant to them personally and professionally.
“Working for the Cardinal gave me experience I wouldn’t have otherwise gotten, like having a byline or filing an open records request,” Jackson said. “A lot of people go their whole lives and never find their passion. I found mine because I worked for the Cardinal.”
A donation button for the Cardinal’s fundraising campaign is available online.
Todd Kneale, director of Total Rewards, told senators that HR is looking at the possibility of adding a health savings account benefit. Such implementation would take some time and would require a few other changes, however.
“We don’t have a high deductible plan and an HSA has to be attached to a high deductible plan,” he said.
Kneale said HR will continue to host town halls around campus and encouraged everyone to attend to provide feedback on this and other ideas.
Staff Senate chair John Smith said he’s been pleased with the “results-oriented focus” of the strategic plan committees. His full report is available online.
April’s Staff Senate meeting opened with a report from the Student Government Association. Among the SGA’s updates: the HSC lighting project is underway, as is the work on the Brook Street corridor in between the BAB and Houchens. The SGA is looking to add monuments in that area to celebrate our historically black fraternities and sororities.
Louvelo’s bike share program is now available on campus, so students don’t have to buy bikes. The SGA is also looking at installing water bottle-filling stations on the HSC campus.
Four SGA officers are participating on committees for the strategic planning process. The association has been working with parking to extend fine deadlines from seven days to 14 days to give students a little more time to come up with that money if necessary. Crosswalks are going to be installed on the Belknap Campus near the BAB, the SAC and the School of Music.
Also, the Cardinal Cupboard food pantry for students and employees who are food insecure is having trouble securing donations. The SGA is trying to facilitate food drives within specific schools and departments.
Finally, the SGA is working on its strategic plan for 2025.
The Faculty Senate heard updates from Provost Beth Boehm, Libraries Dean Bob Fox and from Rehan Khan, new chief information officer. The full Faculty Senate report is available online.
Committee reports are also available online. The next Staff Senate meeting is May 13 in Chao Auditorium.