LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- University of Louisville's new president greeted students and staff at the Belknap campus Wednesday morning, one day after being named to the job. 

Dr. Neeli Bendapudi spoke to a packed room inside UofL's Student Activities Center, where she was greeted with cheers and loud applause. 

Bendapudi is the first woman and first person of color to be named the university's president.  

She kept her remarks short, but was energetic and set a positive tone. 

"If you are not prepared to serve, you do not deserve to lead," Bendapudi said. "So my role in all of this will be to make it easier for you do your jobs and to unlock the potential that already exists." 

Her words seemed to be well-received - specifically when she spoke about how she plans to support students and staff. 

Student Joshua Jean-Marie was glad "just to be here and hear her speak -- it was just a really exciting day at the University of Louisville.”

Another celebration was held at 1 p.m. at the Health Science Campus downtown at the Clinical Translational Research building. 

Bendapudi, a 54-year-old native of India, becomes U of L’s 18th president and the first female and person of color to hold the position.

She succeeds Dr. James Ramsey, who oversaw a building boom that transformed the university from a “commuter school” into a more traditional campus, while raising the institution’s academic profile and research funding.

But Ramsey’s 14-year tenure at U of L came to an abrupt end in July 2016 after revelations about the extent to which he and other administrators had been enriched by extra payments from the university’s nonprofit foundation.

Bendapudi is currently the University of Kansas provost or top academic officer. She will be paid $775,000 a year in the first two years of her five-year contract.

Her first official day on the job is May 15. 

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