In this episode of “Where Y’all Really From,” originally released in September, hosts Dan Wu and Charlene Buckles sat down with University of Louisville President Dr. Neeli Bendapudi. She was the first woman and the first person of color to lead the university.
Bendapudi was brought on at U of L following some serious scandals. And in the corporate and institutional worlds, it’s not unusual to see women and BIPOC replacing white male leaders in times of controversy. “Boards or groups tend to pick leaders who are non normative, don’t look like everybody who went before them, when things are really, really tough,” Bendapudi said.
“It’s called the glass cliff… Their likelihood of success is less, because they’re not walking into something that’s smooth sailing.”
How can people in that position succeed when it almost seems like they’re set up to fail? “My mission now is to make sure there are many women and people of color who are in positions of power,” Bendapudi said, “so that if one person fails, you could absolutely say that person is a bad leader, but you wouldn’t be able to say, ‘well, we tried a woman president—that didn’t work.’”
Bendapudi announced her departure from U of L on Thursday. She’s headed to serve as the president of Penn State University, and while that’s a new job for her, there will be something familiar about it—she will be the first woman and first person of color to lead that university.
Listen to the episode:
Learn more about the show and subscribe for free at whereyallreallyfrom.org.
“Where Y’all Really From” is part of the Louisville Public Media Podcast Incubator. We get support from the Community Foundation of Louisville, Podchaser, Rankings.io and the Eye Care Institute’s Butchertown Clinical Trials.