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Dr. Neeli Bendapudi

Dr Neeli BendapudiTitle:  President, University of Louisville

When Dr. Neeli Bendapudi took the helm as president of the University of Louisville in 2018, challenges such as COVID-19 and George Floyd weren’t even envisioned. According to her university profile, Bendapudi’s stated goal upon arrival was to “celebrate diversity, foster equity and strive for inclusion.” That commitment was tested this year when former star basketball player Butch Beard released a strongly-worded letter to Bendapudi stating that the university has failed to demonstrate a commitment to a diverse athletic department and coaching staff and to recognize the contributions of former Black players. He asked that his name no longer be associated with the institution. Bendapudi quickly responded that Beard’s concerns were “very legitimate” and within a week announced that another U of L basketball great, Darrell Griffith (“Dr. Dunkenstein”), would return to the school as a university ambassador, working on an anti-racism agenda. Bendapudi has a Ph.D. in marketing from the University of Kansas and master’s and bachelor’s degrees from Andhra University in India. She previously served as dean of the University of Kansas Business School, where she increased undergraduate enrollment by 62%.

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