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Kim Schatzel named next University of Louisville president

Kim Schatzel is named U of L's next president
Breya Jones
Kim Schatzel is named U of L's next president.

Last updated at 5:01 p.m.

The University of Louisville Board of Trustees has named Kim Schatzel as the institution’s next president.

Schatzel comesmost recently from Towson University in Maryland. She is the 19th president to lead the university. The board approved Schatzel in a unanimous vote. She'll start her new job Feb. 1.

Schatzel’s salary will be $925,000 a year, in addition to $200,000 annually into a retirement plan. Her contract, which includes benefits, extends for five years. After that period, the Board of Trustees can choose to renew it.

“My husband Trevor and I are thrilled to be joining the U of L community and look forward to embracing the university community, the City of Louisville and the commonwealth of Kentucky as our new home," Schatzel said in a news release. "And we look forward to joining the more than 169,000 U of L alumni from around the globe in cheering on our Cardinals."

Schatzel is a first-generation college student. She grew up in New York and attended Washington University in St. Louis, where she got a bachelor’s degree in biology and economics. She received a doctorate in business administration with focuses in marketing and management of technology. She is also a marketing professor.

A key part of the Board of Trustees search was finding a person who would commit to the university long-term. Schatzel said she was ready to do that.

“You’re stuck with me. This is a fabulous institution, this an opportunity of a lifetime,” Schatzel said. “I also know to make the kind of transformational change everyone wants to participate in … it takes time, so I am committed for that time.”

Schatzel said she plans to use her first few months as president to meet with faculty, staff, students and the Louisville community to identify the university’s needs.

One ongoing challenge Schatzel will be tasked with is diversity, equity and inclusion, particularly in the wake of the police killing of Breonna Taylor and the subsequent racial justice uprisings.

She was awarded by Maryland’s Associated Black Charities for her work in diversity and inclusion at Towson.

While under her leadership, Towson saw an increase in equity, including Black, Latino and Pell Grant students having the same graduation rate as the overall student population.

Schatzel said she plans to bring the same work to U of L.

“The first and most important thing is to make a commitment to the fact that you want inclusive excellence on a campus — that all students, inclusive of all demographics and all identities, thrive inclusively and that they succeed at the institution itself,” Schatzel said.

U of L has been looking for a new president since last December when Neeli Bendapudi left the role to accept the president position at Penn State University.

Following Bendapudi’s departure, the Board of Trustees named Executive Vice President and University Provost Lori Stewart Gonzalez as the school’s interim president.

Gonzalez held leadership positions at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center, the University of North Carolina, Appalachian State University and the University of Kentucky.

“While this is a period of change and transition, I can speak with absolute confidence that our work will continue and that the spirit of the U of L community will continue to shine as it has throughout centuries,” Gonzalez said when she was appointed to the position.

Gonzalez had been at the university since April 2021 when she was appointed interim president in December.

“She has proven already in the short time that she’s been here to be a courageous, principled leader. She’s developed deep relationships everywhere she’s been,” Board of trustees chair Mary Nixon said at the time of Gonzalez’s appointment.

Gonzalez said, at the time, her focus would be addressing the ongoing funding challenges and issues caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Gonzalez also planned to focus on the school's anti-racism work.

“We want to make sure that it’s an equitable campus, where no matter where you start or where you come from, you will thrive on this campus,” she said.

As her first act as interim president, Gonzalez appointed Deputy Athletic Director Josh Heird as interim athletic director. Heird has since filled that role permanently.

Gonzalez will return to her role as executive vice president and university provost for U of L.

Those weren’t the only shake-ups in key positions at the university in recent months.

In January, U of L men’s basketball former head coachChris Mack left his position. Heird later appointed former U of L and NBA playerKenny Payne to the head coach position.

Rebecca Feldhaus Adams contributed to this story.

Breya Jones is the Arts & Culture Reporter for LPM. Email Breya at bjones@lpm.org.

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