Dr. Gregory Postel, the University of Louisville’s interim president, met with local media Tuesday morning to discuss his priorities after just three weeks in the position. Postel has been with UofL for 23 years, most recently serving as interim EVP of Health Affairs, a role he continues to maintain.
Postel said the media availability meeting was an important opportunity because he has an obligation to be transparent.
“My style is open communication,” he said. “Because of that, we tend to be forthcoming with documents. It’s not necessary to file for open records requests when the information is publicly offered up on our website. We’ll do our very best to maintain that as long as I’m in this position.”
Postel outlined his initial priorities, including the accelerated growth of the university.
“For this to be a vibrant organization for years and years to come, it’s important to focus on opportunities to expand and offer more services in the areas where we’re needed and can be of value to community,” he said.
Postel also noted that the administration is currently working on the budget and will present it to the Board of Trustees in May. Because UofL is not raising tuition this year, the budgeting process is expected to be a bit more challenging, he said.
“We are holding true to that (no increase in tuition) commitment. I’m excited about that for our students, both existing and those joining the university in the coming year,” Postel said. “But that also poses challenges for us tasked with achieving a balanced budget because we don’t have additional revenue. It is an opportunity and a challenge that we gladly accept.”
Postel has also spent much of his first few weeks in Frankfort meeting with the Governor and state legislators on how to rectify UofL’s probationary status issued by the university’s accrediting body, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, in December.
“It is important to note that we still have full accreditation. We are making sure the university is responding in every way possible to concerns about accreditation that have been posted by SACS,” he said. “All of the legislators I’ve talked to are keenly aware of the issue and understand how critical it is for these issues to be resolved with SACS. They all have very good intentions to help the University of Louisville through this process.”
Any documents that pertains to this issue, whether prepared by the university or by SACS, will be shared with the campus community on the Louisville.edu/president website. UofL has until March 3 to respond to SACS’ most recent letter, which is also available online.
Other topics posed by the media during a brief Q&A session included Postel’s dual role as interim president and interim EVP of Health Affairs, the national search for a permanent president and performance-based funding of state institutions.
Postel said it is possible for him to maintain his position as Interim EVP of Health Affairs while serving as president because of the teams that are in place at the university.
“The bottom line is I have to just be very careful about my priorities. I am spending my time on those things that are extremely important to both campuses,” he said. “I’m very efficient, I work a lot of hours, I delegate and it’s not forever, so that’s why it works.”
He added that it is important to maintain his position at HSC because that campus provides a substantial part of the university’s livelihood, representing about 55 percent of faculty and about 80 percent of research.
Search for a permanent president
The search for a permanent president is a long, multi-step process that entails a search committee and a search firm. Postel said he was told to expect about a year and a half in the position.
He added that he is not actively campaigning for the job as president, but is “always happy to do what UofL asks me to do.”
“If asked to serve, I would certainly consider it,” he said.
Postel was asked about his opinion on performance-based funding, a topic Governor Matt Bevin has proposed and discussed most recently at the State of the Commonwealth Address earlier this month.
“I’m very much in favor of performance-based funding. Even though I’m an academic at heart, I have a very business-like approach to running an organization because businesses have to be viable,” he said. “To be held accountable and paid at least in part based on some kinds of metrics is an expectation we should all have.”
Postel said this approach could be challenging because different universities may have different perspectives about what they contribute, but he favors key metrics such as:
- Producing more graduates
- Getting students their degrees in a reasonable amount of time
- Making sure graduates are employable
“I think these are the types of things we can all be supportive of. What are the workforce needs in the city and the state and are we meeting them?” Postel said.
Postel replaces Dr. Neville Pinto, who was named the new president of the University of Cincinnati in December. He joined UofL’s School of Medicine in 1994 as an assistant professor of radiology specializing in neuroradiology. He later became the chair of the Department of Radiology.
In 2011, Postel was the founding chairman of the board for University of Louisville Physicians, and later took on the added role of CEO. He was a key player in unifying dozens of medical practices under the ULP umbrella.
Postel was named vice dean of Clinical Affairs in 2014, and interim EVP for Health Affairs in 2015. As EVP, he directs approximately 1,000 faculty members and 3,600 students.
He earned his medical degree from Case Western Reserve University in 1988 and his undergraduate degree from the College of Wooster in Ohio in 1984.
Postel’s meeting is available below in its entirety.