After nearly two years without a permanent president, the University of Louisville celebrated new President Neeli Bendapudi’s official first day Tuesday.
Shaking hands and walking alongside Louie, the school’s mascot, Bendapudi paused on the steps of Grawemeyer Hall Tuesday morning to address the crowd of around 200 school employees and reporters.
“There’s no other place I’d rather be than here today,” Bendapudi said. “We’re here for the students — to make sure we create the best place for them to learn and thrive and go on and solve problems that we can’t even imagine today.”
Bendapudi accepted the position in April, becoming the university’s first permanent female president and president of color. Previously, she served as the provost at the University of Kansas.
Soon after UofL’s board of trustees named Bendapudi to the position, many in the UofL community, especially students, expressed excitement over the school’s future. The scandal-ridden last few years were behind them, supporters said, and UofL’s reputation could be repaired with Bendapudi in charge.
Many echoed those thoughts Monday and Tuesday, taking to social media to welcome Bendapudi to campus. Monday afternoon, the official UofL Twitter account asked people to use #WelcomeNeeli and #WeAreUofL to “share your words of welcome and encouragement.”
We want to extend a warm welcome to @UofLPresNeeli from afar while we are away at Kentucky Leadership Academy! Hope you’re having a phenomenal first day as an official CARD‼️ #WelcomeNeeli pic.twitter.com/5yQrHsB665
— UofL SGA (@UofLSGA) May 15, 2018
— Louisville WBB (@UofLWBB) May 15, 2018
— UofL Research and Innovation (@UofLInnovate) May 15, 2018
“We have work to do,” Bendapudi said Tuesday morning. “Our best days are ahead.”