LOUISVILLE (WHAS11) -- University of Louisville's newest president began her first day on the job Tuesday morning.
Neeli Bendapudi received a warm welcome from more than a hundred faculty members and students as she walked into Grawemeyer Hall. She's the first woman and first person of color to lead the university.
She walked through campus with her guide, Louie, at her side preparing for her first day on the job. It's her biggest career move yet and the support is strong.
"It's more than I could've ever expected. Warmer, more genuine," Dr. Bendapudi said.
She spoke to the crowd, both energized and ready for work, acknowledging the university's recent past and how she intends to change the morale.
"I give you my word, that we will all work together to make sure you see us as a great place to invest. Your trust, support your guidance are needed from us," Bendapudi said.
She said her priorities are simple, the university cannot lose sight of its students.
"I also think it's a really important priority to get all the faculty and staff, who've been through a lot, as you know, but have stayed loyal through it all, to give them a sense that we're all in this together,” Bendapudi said. “My sole job here is to make sure I'm creating the environment for them to flourish."
The day marks a change in direction for a community hit hard by secrecy, sex scandals and NCAA sanctions, under her predecessor Dr. James Ramsey.
"Rebuild trust. Rebuild confidence among some people who said I'm not quite sure. To say, 'No...we're a great university.' Our best days are ahead. We need your support. Come on in," Bendapudi said.
While it is only the first day on the job, we asked her what she hopes her legacy will be, her answer was to leave the university in better shape than when she found it.
Bendapudi will throw out the first pitch at the IU versus UofL baseball game Tuesday at 6 p.m.