Community Engagement

Addressing the needs and interests of our diverse communities locally, statewide, nationally and internationally.


Students take over Breeders’ Cup social media

by Alicia Kelso

Louisville’s Churchill Downs is used to being in the spotlight on the first Saturday of each May. This year, the iconic racetrack will be in the spotlight on the first Saturday of November as well.

The 35th running of the Breeders’ Cup Championships return to Churchill Downs Nov. 2 and 3 – the event’s first time back in Louisville since 2011. It will mark the ninth time the race has been held in the Derby City.

The Breeders’ Cup started in Hollywood Park, California, in 1984. What was originally a one-day, seven-race event has grown into a two-day, $30 million experience attracting the best horses, trainers and owners from around the world. It has also become the unofficial end of the thoroughbred-racing season.

A handful of University of Louisville students has had front row access throughout all of the planning and promotions for the event. Sixteen students in Karen Freberg’s COMM 510 (PR and crisis) class are working with the Breeders’ Cup team to develop social media strategy and marketing for the event.

The students have been working on collaborative communications since before the fall semester even began. The students have studied and analyzed literature related to strategic development, content creation, influencer marketing, public relations and social media management and communication. They have also been able to implement their learnings to develop a public relations and social media strategy promoting the Breeders’ Cup event.

“To have the opportunity to work with Breeders’ Cup is truly a once in a lifetime opportunity to help bridge the gap between education and the industry,” said Dr. Freberg, associate professor in strategic communications. “Our students are expected to have hands-on experience and applied skills as they graduate and enter the workplace, and in a span of four months, our students will be able to work on one of the biggest global horse racing events in the industry.”

Freberg said this is the biggest client she has worked with for a class project. The opportunity to do so came together from her friendship with Joey Wagner, of J Wagner Group. The two have collaborated before on other projects.

“He has always been super supportive of the work we are doing at UofL. He was the one who introduced me to the Breeders’ Cup and the idea of collaborating together for this class came about,” Freberg said.

The project actually began in late 2017 and Freberg communicated the opportunity to her students – both graduate and undergrad – once they were enrolled in the class.

One of those students is Katie Wells. She is a graduate student who serves as a group leader with Berry Craig IV. Wells said the group has done both primary and secondary research on both the Breeders’ Cup and Breeders’ Cup Festival to see what type of content is likely to create the most engagement.

“We noticed in the past, there was little engagement from the Breeders’ Cup accounts and we are hoping to change that this year,” Wells said.

The students have access to the Breeders’ Cup social media accounts and have been monitoring their posts closely. They have also created appropriate responses as needed for Facebook and Twitter.

“By increasing engagement, we are hoping to allow those following on social to have a great experience, too,” Wells said.

In addition to researching, creating content, executing and monitoring, Freberg’s students have also undergone training as part of the class. All students will complete their HubSpot Academy in social media certification by the end of the semester. They also have the option to obtain Hootsuite’s Social Media Marketing certification.

For Wells, her favorite part has been developing content and creating measurable objectives for the campaign.

“Most classes, particularly in graduate school, are theoretically-based. However, ours is very much an applied course. Having the chance to receive hands-on experience is an outstanding opportunity,” she said. I like knowing that my work isn’t just being proposed – it’s being implemented, too. Being able to see our work being utilized by such a high-end client is absolutely incredible.”

Freberg said that enthusiasm has yielded “impressive” results so far.

“We are in the final stretch in preparing, which is exciting,” she said. “They have been doing some of the best work I have seen during my time here at UofL. I am very proud of them.

Smoketown Neighborhood Plan moves forward with the help of MUP students

by Kelly L. Kinahan, Ph.D., AICP

On Wednesday, October 31, Mayor Fischer announced a Request for Proposals, through the Office of Advanced Planning, for the creation of a neighborhood plan for Smoketown. The specifications in the Request for Proposals makes direct reference to the work of the fall 2017 PLAN 652: Neighborhood Planning Studio course, which created “A Document to Inform the Smoketown Neighborhood Plan,” noting that the new plan "should continue and supplement the process that was initiated by [A Document to Inform the Smoketown Neighborhood Plan]. Much of the background data, community input, visioning and draft recommendations may be incorporated into the new plan document and/or serve as the foundation on which to build upon in creating a new Smoketown Neighborhood Plan.” At last week’s press conference, Mayor Fischer specifically thank the MUP students for their role in creating this important foundational document. This marks the first instance of a student plan moving forward as a component of the official neighborhood planning process for Louisville Metro. Congratulations to all of the students that were part of the 2017 Neighborhood Planning Studio course: Jamie Crawford, Hannah Crepps, Willow Dietsch, Kendra Harruff, Grant List, Eric Matravers, Wyatt Kunzman, and Brian Wortinger.

Law magnet at Central H.S. producing top students

University of Louisville senior Lazaro Donis-Munoz is a vice president in student government and is aiming to become a lawyer. He says the University of Louisville began preparing him for a successful career long before he set foot on the Belknap Campus. Donis-Munoz took advantage of classes taught by UofL Brandeis School of Law faculty and students while he attended Central High School in Louisville. 

“The things you learn from those classes at Central directly translate to the university,” Donis-Munoz said. “I’m currently studying constitutional law and political science and a lot of the things we’re doing are the same things we learned about at Central.”

Donis-Munoz and 36 other Central students, most of whom are minorities, came up through the law magnet program and are currently attending UofL. It’s part of UofL’s Signature Partnership which is designed to improve education and economic opportunities for west Louisville residents. Joe Gutmann is a UofL graduate, former prosecutor and current UofL law school faculty member who teaches at Central and leads the law magnet program.

“If people knew the commitment of this university towards our kids as much as they know the athletic department, they’d be really proud of the university,” Gutmann said. “UofL is doing amazing things to help people.”

Gutmann, Donis-Munoz and fellow UofL student and Central High School graduate Elliott Kelly Jr. talked about their experiences and the success of the UofL/Central H.S. partnership on UofL Today with Mark Hebert.

UofL joins prestigious group advising United Nations on sustainability solutions

by Gary Mans

What does the University of Louisville have in common with the Columbia University, Princeton University and Oxford University? All are members of the United National Sustainable Development Solutions Network.

UofL has joined 684 universities and research centers throughout the world to advise the United Nations on sustainable development. The announcement was made today at the Louisville Sustainability Summit, which UofL is hosting for the first time. 

“Inclusion in this international effort recognizes our efforts over the decades to impact our world in a meaningful way when it comes to sustainability,” said UofL President Neeli Bendapudi. “From the Conn Center looking for renewable energy sources and our university-wide efforts to reduce our carbon footprint to our recent creation of the Envirome Institute that focuses on health sustainability, we have a long history of trying to leave a better planet.”

Additionally, UofL will be a founding member of the U.S. Solutions Network later this year.

 “The UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network is honored to welcome the University of Louisville to the global network,” said Columbia University Professor Jeffrey D. Sachs, advisor to the Secretary General of the UN and director of the Sustainable Development Solutions Network. “The SDSN looks forward to working closely with the Envirome Institute and city and community leaders to advance the Sustainable Development Goals. Our efforts together will help to advance well being in Louisville and around the world.”

The national and regional networks support the localization of the 17 goals set out by the UN and agreed to by 193 nations in 2015. Local networks will promote long-term pathways for sustainable development, promote high-quality education and research collaboration for sustainable development, and support governments in understanding and addressing the challenges of sustainable development.

Through these efforts, the networks are working to create a future in which poverty has been eradicated, the planet is protected and people are ensured the ability to enjoy peace and prosperity.

“We feel a tremendous sense of responsibility to be a founding member of this nation’s grassroots effort,” Bendapudi said. “All of us at the university in collaboration with our community partners look forward to spearheading efforts to better understand how our environment, in the broadest sense of the word, impacts us as individuals.”

Led by Aruni Bhatnagar, Ph.D., the Smith and Lucille Gibson Chair in Medicine, the UofL Envirome Institute takes a holistic approach to researching how the human-environment interrelationship impacts peoples’ lives. In addition to building on Bhatnagar’s pioneering work establishing the field of environmental cardiology, UofL will incorporate community engagement and citizen science to introduce a singular, new approach to the study of health.

“Our researchers, staff and students will explore new concepts associated with examining the elements of a single person’s overall environment and determine how that affects their lives. The impact this will have will be felt well beyond Louisville,” Bendapudi said.

UofL grows its west Louisville presence with studio space in Portland

Story by Morgan Watkins from the Courier Journal... read here

Trager Family, Republic Bank Foundation gift to enhance optimal aging institute at UofL

by John Drees

The Republic Bank Foundation and the Trager family have pledged substantial funding to enhance a world-class institute to promote research and innovation in the field of optimal aging at the University of Louisville.

UofL President Neeli Bendapudi announced the gift at her inauguration as the university’s 18th president on the steps of Grawemeyer Hall. The donation will enhance UofL’s Institute for Sustainable Health and Optimal Aging, which connects providers in the aging services community to resources for older adults, caregivers, businesses, service providers and researchers. The institute will be renamed the Trager Family Institute for Optimal Aging. Additionally, the gift will create the Republic Bank Foundation Optimal Aging Clinic, which will apply the research conducted and offer hands-on services to its clients.

“The Trager Institute for Optimal Aging will bolster our current efforts and launch new initiatives in research, treatment and programming that will improve the quality of life for our older citizens,” Bendapudi said. “Louisville is a hub for aging care businesses, insurance companies and health care organizations. Our goal is to create partnerships that will leverage this expertise to improve the lives of people in the Commonwealth and throughout the world.”

The Trager Family Foundation and Republic Bank Foundation will contribute equally to the Trager Institute for Optimal Aging. Bendapudi called the contributions “generous and significant.”

“As both a family and organization, our roots with the University of Louisville run deep.  So, at the beginning of this new chapter for the university, with much optimism for the city, the university, and President Bendapudi, we felt that it was important to show our support,” said Steve Trager, chairman and CEO of Republic Bank. “Considering the importance of the eldercare industry to Louisville’s economic development, we are proud to partner with the University of Louisville to introduce the Trager Family Institute for Optimal Aging.  It is our hope that this gift will help develop a world-class conduit that eldercare companies can partner with in research, innovation, and career development.  Additionally, local citizens will become beneficiaries of the Institute’s efforts through the newly established Republic Bank Foundation Clinic.”

“On behalf of the entire Trager Family and the Republic Bank Foundation, we are excited to be able to support one of President Bendapudi’s and the University of Louisville’s core focuses, aging and eldercare,” Trager said.

UofL, Red Bird Clinic provide access to health care in Appalachia

Accessed by winding roads, tucked away in the mountains of southeastern Kentucky is the Red Bird Dental Clinic, a beacon of hope for many residents of Clay, Bell and Leslie counties.

Geographic and economic conditions create limited access to oral health care — the next closest dentist is a 45- to- 90-minute drive.

“Without Red Bird, most people here would simply have no dental care. It’s extremely important to this community,” said Revelle Berry, a long-time patient of the clinic.

More than a year ago, the University of Louisville School of Dentistry began a collaboration with the Red Bird Dental Clinic, offering a new clinical site rotation for students, while expanding Red Bird’s ability to serve more people.

“Generations of poverty have greatly exacerbated health conditions that need extensive, late-stage treatment, follow-up and support,” said Kari Collins, executive director of the Red Bird Clinic Inc., and Red Bird Mission Inc. “Our vision is of one of a stronger, sustainable community and UofL is an important partner in carrying out this vision.”

The Red Bird Clinic Inc., includes both dental and medical components. It grew out of the Red Bird Mission Inc., which started in 1921 with a private school, and expanded to include job training, clothes closet, food pantry, adult education and senior citizen services.

“The services offered through Red Bird are so important for the people of this region, and we are pleased to have UofL reach across the state to engage with us as we strive to become a healthier community,” said Kentucky Senate President Robert Stivers.

“The clinical experience at Red Bird enhances the education of our students with enriching cultural and clinical practice experiences that will make them compassionate, exceptional dental health care providers,” said the dean of the UofL School of Dentistry, Gerry Bradley, BDS, MS, Dr.Med.Dent.

Fourth-year dental student Sarah Jestel spent much of July at the Red Bird Dental Clinic for an Area Health Education Centers program requirement.

“The patients were so appreciative of the work we completed, especially those individuals requiring extractions,” she said. “Many came in with elevated blood pressure and had been in pain a long time.”



Dr. Bill Collins with patient
Dr. Bill Collins with patient



The students learn under the supervision of Bill Collins, DMD, dental director for the Red Bird Dental Clinic. Two other UofL alumni, Susan King, DMD, and Bob McGuinn, DMD, along with former dean of the University of Kentucky College of Dentistry, Sharon Turner, DDS, JD, also serve on rotation as gratis faculty to oversee the UofL students.

“Students encounter varying levels of difficulty, including emergency situations and medically compromised patients. They work out of their comfort zones and increase their confidence levels and speed. They also learn practice management skills,” Collins said.

Since the collaboration started, dental students have helped provide care for almost 600 patients, and completed nearly 700 procedures for many who are uninsured or under-insured.

Individual donors like McGuinn, along with the Good Samaritan Foundation and Delta Dental of Kentucky, help make it possible.

“We fully support the Red Bird Dental Clinic mission and look forward to the continued oral health benefits it will bring southeastern Kentucky,” said Delta Dental of Kentucky’s CEO Jude Thompson. “Without the University of Louisville, access to care would be extremely difficult, and we’re proud Louisville is represented by such an esteemed group of students.”

The use of a mobile dental unit funded by Avēsis increases the clinic’s ability to serve those without access to care. This includes a new outreach to individuals who are actively engaged in substance use treatment. Adding oral health care helps support their efforts to achieve and maintain recovery. 

“As a Kentucky Medicaid dental benefits administrator serving approximately 1.1 million children and adults, Avēsis endeavors to support new and innovative opportunities that increase access to quality dental health care across the state,” said Jerry Caudill, DMD, State Dental Director for Avēsis.

“It takes many partners and donors to help us address the numerous challenges facing the underserved here in Appalachia, and we are thankful to all those who give and serve here,” Collins said.

UofL named nation’s best for serving African American students

UofL is the nation’s top university for serving the needs of African American students, according to a national study released Tuesday.

A report card from the University of Southern California’s Race and Equity Center named UofL as one of three universities tied with the highest score, a 3.5 on a 4-point scale. The other schools were the University of California-San Diego and Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts.

Scores were based on the following factors:

  • An institution’s percentage of black undergraduates and how that compares to the overall black population, ages 18 to 24, in that university’s home state
  • Equity between the percentage of black men and women as it compares to the percentage of men and women across all racial and ethnic groups nationwide — about 56 percent women and 44 percent men
  • The six-year graduation rate for black students as it compares to an institution’s overall graduation rate
  • The ratio of black students to black full-time professors

UofL President Neeli Bendapudi said she is proud of the ranking. But she noted that the university is not standing still in its efforts to improve in all areas of diversity.

“Those kinds of recognitions tell students that if they come here they will be very, very welcome,” she said. “I also think it’s attractive to all students who want to come and be educated in a diverse environment that prepares them for the world of work.”

Passport grants help UofL programs improve health for thousands of Kentuckians


UofL affiliates have created several health programs aimed at improving the lives of many Kentuckians, thanks to the grants provided by Passport Health Plan.  

Passport Health Plan is a community-based, nonprofit care organization that has been administering Medicaid benefits in Kentucky for over 20 years. Through their IHOP, or Improved Health Outcomes Program, Passport provides grants to other community advocates striving to build health-related programs for Kentuckians. One of their IHOP partners includes UofL. 

At UofL’s School of Nursing, the grant money is helping mothers and caregivers of special needs children fight against depression.

And, at the Institute for Sustainable Health and Optimal Aging, they brought a free health clinic and healthy-eating classes to over 500 Hispanic residents in Shelby County. Anna Faul, at the Institute for Sustainable Health, said that none of this would be possible without the grant from Passport. 

“They’re reaching people who are very hard to reach. This is a very big success story for them,” said Faul.  

High School students examine mental health stigma in KY teens


Parents who refuse to drive their children to therapy because they don’t believe in mental health treatment. School counselors who have told students to stop crying because they’re “fine.” Teens further ashamed of mental illness because of negative portrayals in the media. These are some of the experiences that a high school student group, mentored by a University of Louisville clinical psychologist, has gathered from peers across Kentucky during yearlong research into factors that contribute to mental health stigma in teens.

Allison Tu, a senior at duPont Manual High School who led the student group, and Stephen O’Connor, PhD, associate director of the UofL Depression Center who guided the students in research, will present findings during the Kentuckiana Health Collaborative Community Forum on Tuesday, Sept. 11, from 8 to 10 a.m. at the UofL Clinical and Translational Research Building, 505 S. Hancock St. After the forum, a Question. Persuade. Refer. (QPR) Suicide Prevention Training by the Louisville Health Advisory Board will take place.




Stephen O'Connor, Ph.D.
Stephen O’Connor




The student group, comprised of teens across the state, is called the Student Alliance for Mental Health Innovation and Action (StAMINA) and is supported by the Kentuckiana Health Collaborative, a nonprofit organization that aims to improve health and the health care delivery system in greater Louisville and Kentucky.

StAMINA conducted a needs assessment of the state and held focus groups in urban and rural areas with high school students and parents to uncover what interferes with students acknowledging they have mental health issues and receiving treatment. The group also interviewed mental health professionals and pediatricians.

Factors that contributed to mental health stigma among high school students included negative representation of mental health in media and stigma from peers and parents who do not have a positive attitude about mental health, Tu said. The group found differences between rural and urban residents.

“Because there is more racial and ethnic diversity in urban settings, one of the big drivers of mental health stigma is ethnic heritage,” Tu said. “African-American and Asian-American students talked a lot about how culturally, mental health was often ignored. With rural students, generally there was more stigma resulting from religious factors. Some students said they would talk to their parents about mental health issues, and their parents would respond, ‘you’re not praying enough.’”

Messages that parents express about mental health impact a child’s views, said O’Connor, who guided the research design, and taught the students how to lead focus groups and conduct qualitative data analysis.

“The gatekeeper for getting children to treatment is often going to be a parent, so parental views on mental health are likely going to impact whether a child is taken to treatment,” O’Connor said. “The parent also is helping the child understand what they’re experiencing, so if the parent doesn’t have a good idea about what symptoms of mental illness represent, then the child is probably not going to understand either.”

Solutions to mental health stigma among teens may include a new mental health education requirement for high school freshmen or a social media campaign to amplify the visibility of resources, said Tu, who also stressed the need for parents to be educated on mental health issues and resources available for their children.

UofL recognized as top LGBT-friendly university by three national groups


The University of Louisville recently hit the trifecta, receiving three national top rankings for its support of the LGBTQ community. 

The rankings include:

“These awards are a direct result of UofL’s commitment to building an inclusive and LGBTQ-friendly environment on campus and in our community,” said UofL President Neeli Bendapudi. “I am so proud of our efforts and look forward to seeing how we continue to grow in the future.”

Brian Buford, executive director of The LGBT Center, says these accolades are well-deserved, but the university’s work is not finished.

“There is still a lot to do to remove barriers for LGBTQ students and make sure they have all the resources they need. But I do think that honors like these tell us we are heading in the right direction and that the hard work and investment has made a difference,” Buford said. “Especially in a southern state, being recognized for LGBTQ inclusion is a big deal and also during a time when we are seeing protections rolled back at the national level.”

Buford said the university’s widespread dedication to inclusiveness and recently-implemented initiatives contributed to this year’s awards. For example, the Human Resources Department implemented changes that allow employees to change their gender-marker, the Housing and Residence Life staff opened a new residence area that caters to LGBTQ students, the Speed School of Engineering created trans-friendly restrooms and the university is adding new courses to the LGBT Studies minor each year.

“All these advances really add up to create a welcoming space,” Buford said.

Owensboro Health, UofL partner on new family medicine residency program


Owensboro Health and the University of Louisville School of Medicine are partnering to create the first family medicine residency program in Owensboro. The program will be located at Owensboro Health’s Parrish Medical Building and is scheduled to open on July 1, 2020.

“By establishing a family residency program in Owensboro, we hope to improve the health of our region for years to come,” said Greg Strahan, president and CEO of Owensboro Health. “This program gives Owensboro Health a pivotal role in educating the next generation of physicians and will help meet an important need for more primary care in our area.”

The three-year program is expected to open with a class of six resident physicians and admit an additional six physicians each year. Residents will undertake a robust curriculum of classroom studies and clinical rotations, working alongside expert instructors and practicing physicians from a variety of specialties. They also will provide primary care at Owensboro Health’s family medicine location on Parrish Avenue, which means expanded health care access for area patients.

“Part of our vision for this program is that some physicians will want to continue practicing in Western Kentucky after they have completed their residency,” said Steve Johnson, vice president of government and community affairs for Owensboro Health. “For our system to be working toward that vision, with a valuable partner like UofL, is an exciting development for this region.”

The agreement between the two health care systems establishes UofL School of Medicine as the program’s academic sponsor, a key step toward obtaining approval and accreditation by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education. Under the affiliation agreement, UofL will provide a program director and faculty and also lend its expertise to help the program achieve and maintain accreditation.

“UofL has achieved success with its family medicine residency program in Glasgow, Ky., in terms of building relationships in the community and improving primary care,” said Brent Wright, MD, UofL School of Medicine associate dean for rural health innovation, and vice chair for rural health and professor in the Department of Family and Geriatric Medicine at UofL. “We plan to achieve the same success in Owensboro.”

Rural-based graduate medical education programs are important to physician distribution since physicians tend to practice within a 100-mile radius of where they did their residency training, Wright said.

Law student spent summer providing legal aid in rural KY

Caitlin Kidd, a 2L at the Brandeis School of Law, spent the summer of 2018 in Covington, Kentucky. She was there as a student fellow with the Rural Summer Legal Corps, a national organization that connects law students with civil legal aid organizations to address pressing legal issues facing rural communities. 

Read more

More than 400 UofL students pitch in for annual community service event

More than 400 first-year students at the University of Louisville pitched in for SOUL — Student Outreach Uniting Louisville — UofL’s annual day of service. It’s the largest service event at UofL. 

Read more

UofL student and alum secure local nonprofit’s largest donation ever

A semi-truck delivered $20,000 worth of free hygiene products to La Casita Center, a Louisville nonprofit that serves the local Latino community. The donation — from Essity, an international hygiene and health products company — is the largest La Casita has ever received.

Read more

UofL meeting behavioral health needs in rural Kentucky


Rural areas in the United States face a shortage of behavioral health practitioners. As CNN recently reported, a new study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine found that 47 percent of non-metropolitan counties don’t have access to a psychologist. The shortage extends to psychiatrists, nurse practitioners and a cadre of behavioral health resources including shelters, hospitals and community support groups.

The Institute for Sustainable Health & Optimal Aging at the University of Louisville is working to meet this need in rural Kentucky. This fall, the institute will place 38 students specializing in behavioral health into a dozen rural health care sites across 10 rural and underserved communities.

“Older adults are particularly affected by the lack of behavioral health practitioners,” said Anna Faul, PhD, the institute’s executive director. “Isolation and depression are common issues for older adults, with 20 percent of rural older adults diagnosed with depression. Not having access to behavioral health care can severely worsen conditions and lead to physical decline. Furthermore, mobility limitations can make it difficult for older adults to drive long distances to get the care they need.”

Locations where the students will be placed include:

  • Kentucky River Medical Practice (Henry County)
  • Kentucky One Health Primary Care Associates (Shelby County)
  • J. Sampson Family Medicine Center (covering Barren, Hart, and Metcalfe Counties)
  • Exceptional Senior Living (Oldham County)
  • Multi-purpose Community Action Agency (Bullitt and Shelby Counties)
  • Tri-County Community Action Agency (Oldham and Trimble Counties)

Several practices, while in Jefferson County, serve older adults in rural areas:

  • Family Community Clinic (Jefferson County)
  • University of Louisville AIM Clinic (Jefferson County)
  • University of Louisville Family & Geriatric Practice (Jefferson County)
  • University of Louisville PNES Clinic (Jefferson County)
  • Park DuValle Community Health Center (Jefferson County)
  • Presbyterian Homes and Services of Kentucky (Jefferson County)

A primary goal of this program is to increase the geriatrics behavioral health workforce in rural communities. Both undergraduate and graduate students across multiple disciplines are involved. Many of the masters and doctoral-level students are participating in the institute’s Flourish Behavioral Health Graduate Internship. The internship, funded by a four-year federal grant, is part of the institute’s Flourish Network, a program focused on team-based care coordination for older adults.

UofL Cardinals embrace community service

 By UofL Athletics
July 3, 2018
Louisville, which has ranked in the top five in service for four-consecutive years, accrued approximately 9,000 hours of community service for the 2017-18 school year.
Louisville, which has ranked in the top five in service for four-consecutive years, accrued approximately 9,000 hours of community service for the 2017-18 school year.


Earlier this week, a handful of student-athletes from women’s basketball, women’s soccer, volleyball and men’s swimming and diving spent the afternoon with about 100 children with cancer and other illnesses. Their community service was part of Spirit Day at Camp Quality Kentuckiana, an organization that serves children with cancer and their families by providing year-round programming, experiences and companionship.

This type of service is nothing new for the Cardinals. This year, UofL’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee continued its partnership with the West End School by starting a pen pal program. The West End School provides at-risk boys from pre-kindergarten through eighth grade with an environment to excel in academics and build character. UofL student-athletes were paired up with students in the third and fifth grade classes and sent letters back and forth throughout the school year. The pen pals met each other in April during an activity-filled day at the Speed Art Museum.

Basketball player Ryan McMahon said the best part about the program was “having some fun with them, seeing the different activities, seeing them at that age and giving them any advice that I can from when I was that age.

“It [the partnership] brings everybody together and puts perspective into the student-athlete’s life, and just taking a little time out of your day you make another kid’s day.”
Earlier this year, 45 student-athletes from nine UofL teams volunteered to put on a three-day event with the Project Life and Be the Match organizations. The event worked to increase the bone marrow donor registry to help those with blood cancers and blood diseases. Throughout the three days, there were six drives that added 130 potential donors to the bone marrow registry.  

These efforts are just part of the reason the University of Louisville athletics department finished third in April in the 2018 NCAA Division I Team Works Helper Helper Community Service Competition for its community outreach efforts.

Louisville, which has ranked in the top five in service for four-consecutive years, accrued approximately 9,000 hours of community service for the 2017-18 school year. The Cardinals had a 97-percent participation rate, with 656 student-athletes, including spirit group members, volunteering throughout the community.

NCAA Team Works, which coordinates community service efforts at NCAA championships, and Helper Helper, a volunteer management and tracking platform, launched the community service competition to recognize student-athletes who give back to their communities. The three-month competition ran from January through March with the winning schools’ victories being decided based on the number of service hours completed and participation of student-athletes.

During the competition’s three-month period, Louisville accumulated 3,350 service hours.

Louisville’s athletics teams partnered with 193 nonprofit organizations over the course of the year, including hosting events with Girl Scouts, Girls on the Run, American Red Cross, American Heart Association, and Metro Parks Adaptive and Inclusive Recreation.

UofL Med students providing medical care in remote areas of the globe

Forty four University of Louisville medical school students are traveling this summer, providing medical care to hundreds of people in remote areas of the globe.

The second year medical students travel with and learn from UofL faculty as part of the Global Education Program which is directed by Bethany Hodge.

Hodge says students and faculty are setting up “pop up primary care centers” in a rain forest in Ecuador, along the Amazon River in Brazil and in a rural part of Tanzania. People sometimes wait for hours in the hot sun to see the doctors and students from UofL.

“We’re teaching them tropical medicine. We’re teaching them social determinants of health and we’re cultivating their compassionate heart for people who have less than they do” Hodge says.

The future doctors also need an adventurous streak. “There’s a lot of peeing in holes in the ground and eating bugs” Hodges says. “Those things really happen.”

About 30 percent of the students in every UofL School of Medicine class go on a global health experience which is a little higher than most other medical schools according to Hodge.

Listen to the entire interview with Hodge on “UofL Today with Mark Hebert”:


Bethany Hodge, assistant professor of pediatrics -
Dr. Bethany Hodge – Director of Global Education in School of Medicine


Major gift establishes institute incorporating community engagement in study of health

LOUISVILLE, Ky. –  The University of Louisville today announced the first multimillion dollar gift of President Neeli Bendapudi’s tenure to establish the Envirome Institute at the School of Medicine. The gift, $5 million, from the Owsley Brown II Family Foundation, supports the first institute dedicated to the study of the human envirome. Taking a holistic approach to researching how the human-environment interrelationship impacts peoples’ lives, the institute will build on the pioneering work of Aruni Bhatnagar, Ph.D., the institute’s director, in the field of environmental cardiology. The institute will incorporate community engagement and citizen science to introduce a singular, new approach to the study of health.

Twenty-five years ago, the Human Genome Project completed the first map of our genetic code, revealing how our genes relate to our health, and potentially our susceptibility to disease. Built on a new vision of health, the Envirome Institute pioneers actionable knowledge about all forms of health and how they are affected by the environment beyond genomics. This gift from Brown catalyzes existing resources and adds new capabilities toward the ambitious, long-term mission of studying the human envirome with the same precision and rigor applied to decoding the human genome.

“All of us at the University of Louisville are grateful to Christina Lee Brown for the trust she has put in us to tackle such a large and complex idea as how our broad environment impacts our lives,” Bendapudi said. “Her generosity will enable our group of researchers, staff and students to explore new concepts associated with exploring the elements of a single person’s overall environment and determine how that affects their lives. The impact this will have will be felt well beyond Louisville.”

“This isn’t just the University of Louisville’s Human Envirome Institute. It is Louisville’s Human Envirome Institute,” Brown said, “Each of us, individually, must put health, broadly understood, in the center of all of our public and private efforts. And we are encouraged by the will and determination of the new president, Neeli Bendapudi, to immediately step in and support the Institute’s efforts and importance to both the city of Louisville and the university.”

“Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity — the University of Louisville serves as the perfect home for this new unique, holistic, interdisciplinary, educational model. It is truly a world-class organization,” Bhatnagar said.

The institute will open a door to a healthier future in Louisville and across the globe. The research of Bhatnagar and colleagues has pioneered the field of environmental cardiology and begun to uncover the important influence of the environment on heart disease. The institute, by studying the relationship of our health to the natural and the social world around us, will amplify the potential of this broad and promising territory.

Humans live in complex, variable and diverse environments that are fashioned by their unique mix of history, culture and social organization. Until recently, we lacked the material and conceptual tools required for studying the health effects of the natural, social, cultural and economic dimensions of the human environment as a whole. As in the graphic Circle of Harmony and Health (below), health should be understood holistically as psychological, intellectual, spiritual, cultural, nutritional, economic and environmental health.

This institute serves as a unifying capstone organization over several existing centers including the Diabetes and Obesity Center, the Superfund Research Center and the Tobacco Regulation and Addiction Center. Together these centers have successfully attracted more than $100 million in extramural funds over the past decade. This new interdisciplinary, connected institute creates new potential to expand those resources significantly. Additionally, a Center for Healthy Air, Water and Soil will be established within the Envirome Institute to advance the work that the Louisville community began five years ago.

The Envirome Institute also introduces a more public science and opens a welcoming door for the residents of Louisville. Enviromics can involve the participation of whole communities in the process of data collection as well as in the benefits from health initiatives that may be free or subsidized. As part of a medical institution, the institute is committed to healing and helping turn discovery into actionable change, with Louisville as a living, urban laboratory.


Aruni Bhatnagar, Ph.D.
Aruni Bhatnagar, Ph.D.


More about Aruni Bhatnagar, Ph.D.

The newly appointed director of the Envirome Institute, Bhatnagar is the Smith and Lucille Gibson Chair in Medicine. He also is director of two University of Louisville centers, which now fall under his leadership within the Envirome Institute – the Diabetes and Obesity Center and the American Heart Association Tobacco Research and Addiction Center.

Bhatnagar’s work has led to the creation of the new field of environmental cardiology. His studies show how pollution affects the heart and blood vessels and how exposure to polluted air affects the risk of obesity and diabetes. His research, supported by several grants from the National Institutes of Health, has led to the publication of more than 250 research papers and 20 book chapters. He has mentored 55 students, fellows and trainees.


Christy Brown
Christy Brown


More about Christina Lee Brown, Activist & Philanthropist

Christy Brown is a global leader in creating new ways to empower “citizen scientists” to lead healthier lives by advocating for a culture of health using nature as the standard and encouraging all decisions to be made through the lens of health. She believes passionately in the potential of urban and rural communities to effect positive change by working together, at the same time celebrating their commonalities and differences.

Having a strong passion for community led Christy to become a co-founding board member of the Berry Center. Its mission is to accept no permanent damage to the ecosphere, taking the human health of local communities into consideration.

Understanding that healthy air, water and soil are the keys to the health of all life, Christy founded the Institute for Healthy Air, Water & Soil in 2014. As the institute began to lean into its work, a bigger mission began to occur all around, attracting both local and national ambassadors. The work of the Institute for Healthy Air, Water & Soil will transition into the newly founded Center for Healthy Air, Water & Soil. 

Mayor, UofL medicine dean to open Medical Mile walking path on HSC campus

by Jill Scoggins


Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer and University of Louisville School of Medicine Dean Toni Ganzel, MD, will join with students, faculty, staff, patients and visitors to the UofL Health Sciences Center to launch the new Medical Mile walking path at the UofL Health Sciences Center.

The ribbon-cutting will take place at 12:15 p.m., Tuesday, May 22, at the Medical Mile starting point on the sidewalk next to the Health Sciences Center Plaza near Kornhauser Library, 500 S. Preston St.

The Medical Mile follows a 1-mile path from the HSC Plaza north to East Muhammad Ali Boulevard, east to South Hancock Street, south to East Chestnut Street, west to South Floyd Street, north to East Muhammad Ali again, and finishing up by going south on South Preston back to the starting point. A map of the path can be found hereThe mile is marked along the way with the Medical Mile graphic image and with one-fourth, one-half and three-quarter mile markers as well.

The creation of the Medical Mile was part of the School of Medicine’s SMART Wellness Task Force and the Being Well Initiative, said School of Medicine Chief of Staff Karan Chavis, and is the product of the work of the committee under the leadership of former co-chair Miranda Sloan and current co-chair Tamara Iacono.

“We know that walking is great physical activity that virtually anyone can do, and with the sidewalks we have surrounding our buildings, we have a ready-made way to create a dedicated walking space for people,” Chavis said. “Through the spring and summer, we are encouraging people to create ‘walking trains,’ picking up people along the way and walking together.”

Community Engagement

University of Louisville

2323 S. Brook St.

Louisville, KY 40208

(502) 852-6026

Office Hours

M-F 8:30am to 5:00pm

No holiday hours

About us
Social Media