New U of L president talks about past problems and hopes for the future
Neeli Bendapudi said she's committed to seeing the university's problems through, redefining what she said it means to be a Louisville Cardinal.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The past few months have been a whirlwind for Neeli Bendapudi. On April 3, she tossed up her "Ls" fresh off the news she'd be the first female leader of the University of Louisville.
"I'd be kidding myself and kidding people if I don't say I also recognize the symbolism of the role," Bendapudi said. "I'm very deeply honored by it."
Then on May 15, dozens lined the steps of Grawemeyer Hall to greet her on her first day. Bendapudi's life is moving fast, and her plate is full. She's already met with students, faculty and staff.
"The consistent message from all of them is 'allow us to be as great as we all know we can be,'" Bendapudi said.
It's no secret the U of L has been under a cloud of scandal. Prostitutes and pay-for-play scandals have dominated the headlines for months.
"It wasn't a negative to me," Bendapudi said. "It was sort of a challenge on how can we bring back the confidence of people to what is essentially a phenomenal university?"
Bendapudi did say that knowing what we know now, she also would have fired Rick Pitino.
"I think the facts speak for themselves," she said.
A settlement between the university and Tom Jurich prevent Bendapudi from saying anything about the former U of L athletics director. She said she knows the problems of the past aren't going to disappear just because she's at the helm.
"These are significant problems," she said. "They didn't all happen in one day, and I'm not delusional to believe they'll all be done in one semester."
But she's committed to seeing them through, redefining what she said it means to be a Louisville Cardinal.
"When everybody who works here is proud to say, 'Yup, that's my university,' then I'll feel like we're on the right path," Bendapudi said.
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