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'This is not goodbye.' | UofL President Neeli Bendapudi named as new head at Penn State

Bendapudi will remain in her official role as UofL president through the end of December, a spokesperson for the university said.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — It's official, President Dr. Neeli Bendapudi will be leaving the University of Louisville next year to become the 19th president at Penn State University.

Bendapudi released a statement announcing her leave following a Penn State Board of Trustees meeting on Dec. 9 where she was nominated and appointed.

She will begin her new position on or before July 1, 2022. Bedapudi will remain in her official role as UofL president through the end of December, a spokesperson for the university said.

"The decision to embark on a new chapter in my professional journey was not an easy one," she said. "Leaders of great institutions are simply temporary stewards called to take great care of the mission and the people and to leave them better than they found them."

She went on to recount the numerous achievements and hurdles her administration has faced since taking office in 2018, including improving the academic profile of incoming students and the university's commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion.

"And we have done it all during an unprecedented worldwide pandemic and through the painful tragedies of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd," she said. "I have complete confidence this important work will continue and that the University of Louisville will rise to greater heights."

The UofL Board of Trustees will meet on Dec. 16 to decide on an interim president and start the search for Bendapudi’s replacement.

A source at UofL told WHAS11's Doug Proffitt that Bendapudi broke the news to staff members during a meeting on Monday.

"This is not goodbye," Bendapudi said. "Over the next days and weeks, I will work closely with the Board of Trustees to ensure a smooth transition. I will always carry Louisville and the Cardinals in my heart."

Michael Wade Smith, vice president for university relations and chief of staff, will be joining her at Penn State as well.

"I can not wait to get to work," Bendapudi said during her appointment.

Bendapudi will be stepping into her new role as the first woman and first person of color as Penn State's president. 

The current president Eric Barron is retiring in 2022.

Smooth leadership transition

Political and campus leaders have expressed sadness over the pending departure of the University of Louisville's president. But attention is turning to the upcoming search for her successor. School leaders promised a smooth transition Thursday after Neeli Bendapudi was hired to become Penn State’s next president. 

Bendapudi says she'll work with UofL trustees to “ensure a smooth transition.” 

She predicts the school is on a course to “rise to greater heights.”

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