As political and academic leaders expressed sorrow at the impending departure of the president of the University of Louisville for Pennsylvania, attention turned to the upcoming search for his successor.
Principals promised a smooth transition Thursday after Neeli Bendapudi was hired to become Penn State’s next president.
UofL administrators will meet on December 16 to determine the school’s next steps, including the appointment of an interim president, said board chair Mary Nixon.
“She will be dearly missed and together we will ensure a successful and seamless transition, for us and for her,” Nixon said in a statement.
Bendapudi, 58, pledged to do her part, saying she would work with UofL administrators to “ensure a smooth transition” as she predicted the school is on track to “move up. towards higher heights “.
University spokesman John Karman said Bendapudi will stay at UofL until the end of the month, the Courier Journal reported.
Bendapudi was hired as UofL president in 2018, taking over as the school still struggled to overcome a period of scandal during the tenure of its former campus president, James Ramsey. Bendapudi arrived on the Louisville campus with a reputation as a rising star in academic circles.
Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell, a UofL graduate, summed up the reaction to Bendapudi’s imminent departure, saying he was “excited for her but saddened to hear the news”.
The school’s latest top-level reshuffle comes as public universities prepare for the 2022 legislative session, when lawmakers draw up the state’s next budget. Political leaders said she was leaving with a strong legacy, while drawing attention to the search for the next campus president.
Kentucky House President David Osborne said that “while I hate to see her leave our state, I appreciate the good she did while she was here.”
He added that “we ultimately owe it to the university student body and the people of Kentucky to continue our commitment to ensuring that the university remains focused on its mission of educating the next generation of Kentucky leaders in the fields of medicine, business, education, engineering and technology. “
State Senate President Robert Stivers said she “had really elevated UofL in reputation and name.” Nationwide research is needed, he said, to “find the best possible candidate to lead the university.”
The school, however, was unable to shake off sports scandals during Bendapudi’s tenure.
Men’s basketball coach Chris Mack and the Cardinals broke NCAA guidelines following an attempted extortion of former assistant Dino Gaudio, who Mack fired last spring.
The school determined that Mack was the “victim” of Gaudio’s attempt to extort 17 months’ salary to keep silent about ineligible benefits, but said Mack failed to follow college guidelines in handling of the case. Mack has been suspended for the first six games of this season.
Highlights of Bendapudi’s tenure include the university’s decision in 2019 to buy the financially troubled Jewish Hospital and several other health facilities from KentuckyOne Health. This turned into a transformative transaction for the clinical operations of UofL and the region.
A partially repayable $ 35 million state loan provided a vital infusion of funds to the University of Louisville Health following the acquisition. On Thursday, UofL Health officials announced that the loan would be repaid on an accelerated schedule.
“In just two years, with the help of this loan, UofL Health has turned around once ailing facilities and we are now able to repay the loan 15 years earlier,” said Tom Miller, CEO of UofL Health.
Expressing his appreciation, Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear said, “It’s not every day that someone pays off their loan 15 years earlier.”
In separate comments regarding Bendapudi’s imminent departure, the governor said she had shown “leadership by example”.
“From the successful acquisition of the hospital, to helping the university and the community to navigate through COVID-19, even supporting the state through testing and vaccinations, his efforts have been extraordinary, ”Beshear said.