LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Kim Schatzel, president of Towson University in suburban Baltimore, will become the 19th president of the University of Louisville on Feb. 1, 2023.

The U of L board of trustees ratified Schatzel's appointment and $925,000 base salary during a special meeting Wednesday.

Schatzel, 66, brings a mix of academic and business credentials as well as a track record of success for Black students at Towson, which has a greater share of nonwhite students than U of L.

Schatzel, who has led Towson since 2016, was one of about a dozen university presidents who applied for the U of L job, said trustee Raymond Burse, who led the presidential search.

Burse said he was impressed by the fact that Black men graduate at a higher rate than the general student population at Towson, which also boasts an overall graduation rate that exceeds U of L's.

"She was intentional about programs and activities she put in place to make the difference and the change, and that's what sold me on her," Burse told WDRB News.

During a news conference Wednesday, Schatzel said she is committed to meeting the U of L's trustees desire for a president who will stay in the job at least seven years.

"I want to make it real clear: You're stuck with me," she said. "This is a fabulous institution. It's the opportunity of a lifetime."

Schatzel added that "transformational change" takes time to achieve and she brushed off a question about her age by saying she ran a half-marathon last year in 2 hours, 19 minutes.

"I'll be OK in my 70s," she said.

Schatzel replaces Neeli Bendapudi, who led the university from 2018-21. Bendapudi, the former provost of the University of Kansas, left U of L in December 2021 to become president of Penn State University. Mary Nixon, chairwoman of the board of trustees, said U of L was "shocked" by Bendapudi's departure after less than four years on the job.

Other than Bendapudi, U of L has had a turbulent succession of interim administrators since the board forced the resignation of James Ramsey, who had led the university for 14 years, in 2016.

Towson is similar to U of L in some ways: Both are co-located with their states' largest cities have about 20,000 students. U of L is a top-tier research university, however, while Towson is working to be recognized as a second-tier research institution.

Burse said Schatzel also brings a track record of political acumen, having secured state funding for Towson's priorities from the Maryland legislature.

"She was able to work with them to get things for Towson," he said. "We're looking for the same thing here."

Schatzel is a professor of marketing who began her academic career in the late 1990s following about a decade of business experience as an manufacturing executive. From 1989-93, she co-founded and led ICM/Krebsoge Corp., a powdered metal components manufacturer that supplied automakers, according to her detailed resume submitted to U of L.

She graduated from Washington University in St. Louis in 1978 and earned a doctorate in business administration from Michigan State University in 1999.

Before joining Towson, Schatzel was the provost and interim president of Eastern Michigan University.

Contract with long-term incentives

Schatzel's employment contract is similar to the deal U of L had with Bendapudi, but with a key difference, Nixon told WDRB News. Like Bendapudi, Schatzel will get a $200,000 annual retirement bonus in addition to her base salary. However, Schatzel will forfeit the retirement money if she does not stay for the five-year term, whereas Bendapudi's $200,000 annual payments vested annually. (Bendapudi's base salary was $875,000 when she left U of L).

"We want her to stay, and it's pretty common in university president contracts to put some kind of carrot out there," Nixon said.

Another consideration in setting Schatzel's compensation, according to Burse and Nixon, was that the university president be paid more than the university athletics director.

Schatzel will earn $1.12 million annually if her retirement incentive is included, whereas U of L athletics director Josh Heird earns an $850,000 salary and is eligible for a $125,000 in annual incentive, according to a U of L spokesman.

While Nixon said she loves U of L sports, "It can't be the thing that overrides educating students."

Like Bendapudi, Schatzel will be required to live at Amelia Place, the Cherokee Triangle mansion owned by the university's real estate foundation, according to her contract. The president is expected to use the home for fundraising events and off-hours meetings, though Ramsey was not required to live there and remained in his Oldham County home during his tenure.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this story incorrectly identified the institution from which Schatzel received her undergraduate degree. It is Washington University in St. Louis.

Reach reporter Chris Otts at 502-585-0822, cotts@wdrb.com, on Twitter or on Facebook. Copyright 2022. WDRB Media. All rights reserved.