The University of Louisville traces its roots to a charter granted in 1798 by the Kentucky General Assembly to establish a school of higher learning in the newly founded town of Louisville. It ordered the sale of 6,000 acres (24 km²) of South Central Kentucky land to underwrite construction, joined on April 3, 1798 by eight community leaders who began local fund raising for what was then known as the Jefferson Seminary. It opened 15 years later and offered college and high school level courses in a variety of subjects. It was headed by Edward Mann Butler from 1813 to 1816, who later ran the first public school in Kentucky in 1829 and is considered Kentucky's first historian.
Despite the Jefferson Seminary's early success, pressure from newly established public schools and media critiques of it as "elitist" would force its closure in 1829.
Eight years later, in 1837, the Louisville City council established the Louisville Medical Institute at the urging of renowned physician and medical author Charles Caldwell. As he had earlier at Lexington's Transylvania University, Caldwell rapidly led LMI into becoming one of the leading medical schools west of the Allegheny Mountains. In 1840, the Louisville Collegiate institute, a rival medical school, was established after an LMI faculty dispute. It opened in 1844 on land near the present day Health sciences campus.
In 1846, the Kentucky legislature combined the Louisville Medical Institute, the Louisville Collegiate Institution, and a newly created law school into the University of Louisville, on a campus just east of Downtown Louisville. The LCI folded soon afterwards. The university experienced rapid growth in the 20th century, adding new schools in the liberal arts (1907), graduate studies (1915), dentistry (1918), engineering (1925), music (1932) and social work (1936).
In 1923, the school purchased what is today the Belknap Campus, where it moved its liberal arts programs and law school, with the medical school remaining downtown. The school had attempted to purchase a campus donated by the Belknap family in The Highlands area in 1917 (where Bellarmine University is currently located), but a citywide tax increase to pay for it was voted down. The Belknap Campus was named after the family for their efforts.
In 1931, U of L established the Louisville Municipal College for Negroes on the former campus of Simmons University (now Simmons College of Kentucky), as a compromise plan to desegregation. As a part of U of L, the school had an equal standing with the school's other colleges. It was dissolved in 1951 when U of L desegregated.
During World War II, Louisville was one of 131 colleges and universities nationally that took part in the V-12 Navy College Training Program which offered students a path to a Navy commission.
In the second half of the 20th century, schools were opened for business (1953), education (1968), and justice administration (1969).
Talk of U of L joining the public university system of Kentucky began in the 1960s. As a municipally funded school (meaning funding only came from the city of Louisville), the movement of people to the suburbs of Louisville created budget shortfalls for the school and forced tuition prices to levels unaffordable for most students. At the same time, the school's well established medicine and law schools were seen as assets for the state system. Still, there was opposition to U of L becoming public, both from faculty and alumni who feared losing the small, close-knit feel of the campus, and from universities already in the state system who feared funding cuts. After several years of heated debate, the university joined the state system in 1970, a move largely orchestrated by then Kentucky governor and U of L alumnus Louie Nunn.
The first years in the public system were difficult, as enrollment skyrocketed while funding was often insufficient. Several programs were threatened with losing accreditation due to a lack of funding, although schools of nursing (1979) and urban & public affairs (1983) were added.
John W. Shumaker was named U of L's president in 1995. Shumaker was a very successful fund raiser, and quickly increased the school's endowment from $183 to $550 million. He developed the REACH program to encourage retention. In 1997, he hired athletics director Tom Jurich, who restored the athletics program and raised over $100 million to raze abandoned factories and old parking lots next to campus and replace them with on-campus athletic facilities, which vastly improved the aesthetics of the Belknap Campus. Academically, U of L moved closer to parity with the state's flagship University of Kentucky as retention rates and research funding increased, and average GPAs and ACT scores were much higher for incoming freshman.
James R. Ramsey, the university's 17th president, continued the endowment and fund raising growth started by Shumaker. However, Ramsey added more emphasis on improving the physical aspects of the Belknap Campus. To this end, he started a million dollar "campus beautification project" which painted six overpasses on the Belknap Campus with a U of L theme and planted over 500 trees along campus streets, and doubled the number of on-campus housing units. The university's federal research funding also doubled under Ramsey, and three buildings were built for nanotechnology and medical research. The university's graduation rate also increased from 30 percent in 1999 to 52 percent in 2012.
On June 17, 2016, Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin announced that the entire Board of Trustees of the university would be immediately disbanded and replaced and that Ramsey would be stepping down, and this was confirmed in a statement issued by Ramsey on the same day. Ramsey offered his resignation at a Board of Trustees meeting on July 27, 2016, which was accepted by the board. He will remain as head of the University of Louisville Foundation.
From 1895 to 2016, the university's Belknap Campus featured a Confederate monument, built before the campus grew to surround the land on which it stood. Commemorating the sacrifices of Confederate veterans who died in the American Civil War, it was erected by the Muldoon Monument Company in 1895 with funds raised by the Kentucky Woman's Confederate Monument Association. Due to controversy in 2016, the statue was moved from its original location to Brandenburg, Kentucky. Relocation started in November and was completed in mid-December.
U of L through its School of Medicine and University Hospital is known for its innovations in the field of medicine, including:
The University of Louisville offers bachelor's degrees in 70 fields of study, master's degrees in 78, and doctorate degrees in 22. The 2009 annual report of Arizona State University's Center for Measuring University Performance ranks U of L in the top public research universities in the United States based on its nine measure assessment of Total Research, Federal Research, Endowment Assets, Annual Giving, National Academy Members, Faculty Awards, Doctorates Granted, Postdoctoral Appointees, and SAT/ACT range.
The University of Louisville Brandeis School of Law's Louis D. Brandeis Society awards the Brandeis Medal in tribute to Louis Brandeis, a former U.S. Supreme Court justice from Louisville.
In December 2016, the University of Louisville was placed on accreditation probation by its accrediting agency, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. The agency stated that the university was placed on probation due to actions taken by Governor Matt Bevin that "...violated rules that require that universities be independent".
U.S. News & World Report's 2017 edition ranked University of Louisville's undergraduate program tied for 171st among national universities.
Admission to U of L is considered "selective" by U.S. News & World Report. A total of 9,430 applications were received for the freshmen class entering Fall 2015; 6,758 applicants were accepted (71.7%), and 2,797 enrolled. Men constituted 50.9% of the incoming class; women 49.1%.
Among freshman students who enrolled in Fall 2015, SAT scores for the middle 50% ranged from 490–620 for critical reading, and 510–620 for math. ACT composite scores for the middle 50% ranged from 22–29. The average high school GPA for incoming freshmen was 3.60.
The university consists of 12 schools and colleges:College of Arts and Sciences (1907)
College of Business (1953)
College of Education and Human Development (1968)
Graduate School (1918)
J. B. Speed School of Engineering (1925)
Kent School of Social Work (1936)
Louis D. Brandeis School of Law (1846)
School of Dentistry (1887)
University of Louisville School of Medicine (1837)
School of Music (1932)
School of Nursing (1979)
School of Public Health and Information Sciences (1919–1924; re-established in 2002)
In addition to their nationwide partial tuition reimbursement programs, UPS (United Parcel Service) offers U of L (along with Jefferson Community and Technical College) students who work overnight at Worldport, the company's worldwide air hub at Louisville International Airport, full tuition reimbursement through a program called Metropolitan College. This program also offers reimbursement for $65.00 of book costs for each class, and awards bonus checks to students in good standing at the end of each semester and upon reaching certain credit hour milestones. Employees additionally are eligible for full health insurance coverage. Currently over 75 percent of the workers at the air hub are students.
The University of Louisville also has an Honors Program. Incoming freshmen can apply to be in the Honors Program if they meet the following requirements: a 3.5 cumulative high school GPA and a 29 on their ACT. Current students can apply for the Honors Program if they are able to maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.35 or higher. Courses through the Honors Program focus on reading, writing and discussion. Students in the Honors Program also benefit from priority registration for classes, smaller class sizes, and unique study abroad opportunities.
The university has three campuses in the Louisville area, the Belknap, the Health Science, and the Shelby. It also has an International Campus in Panama City, Panama, as well as various satellite facilities in the state of Kentucky and abroad:
Acquired in 1923, the Belknap Campus is the school's main campus. It is located three miles (5 km) south of downtown Louisville in the Old Louisville neighborhood. It houses seven of the 12 academic colleges and features one of the casts of Auguste Rodin's The Thinker in front of the main administrative building, Grawemeyer Hall. The grounds of the campus were originally used as an orphanage, several of the original buildings used.
The Belknap Campus has expanded greatly in recent years, with land housing abandoned factories in the area being purchased and redeveloped. Projects built since 1998 include Papa John's Cardinal Stadium and adjacent Trager Center fieldhouse, Owsley B. Frazier Cardinal Park (which includes Ulmer Stadium for softball, Trager Stadium for field hockey, Cardinal Track and Soccer Stadium, Bass-Rudd Tennis Center, locker rooms, a playground and a cushioned walking path), Jim Patterson Stadium for baseball, Ralph R. Wright Natatorium, Owsley Brown Frazier Sports medicine Center, and a lacrosse stadium. With new parking at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium, non-resident parking was moved there and the parking lots near campus were redeveloped with new dormitory buildings, including the Bettie Johnson Apartments, Kurz Hall, Minardi Hall, and Community Park.
Other points of interest on the Belknap Campus include the Rauch Planetarium; the Covi Gallery of the Hite Art Institute, named for the painter Marcia Hite and her husband Allen; and the final resting place for former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis D. Brandeis under the portico in the Brandeis Law School. Surrounded by, but not part of the campus, is the Speed Art Museum, a private institution that is affiliated with the University of Louisville. The Kentucky State Data center, the state's official clearing house for census data and estimates, is located next to Bettie Johnson Hall.
Since 2008 the school has purchased three large tracts of land adjacent to the Belknap Campus, 55 acres (220,000 m2) to the school's northwest campus, 17 acres (69,000 m2) to the school's east campus – south of Hahn and 39 acres (160,000 m2) south of the Speed School of Engineering. New student housing has been completed on one of the northwest segments with student parking slated for the other. A new engineering and applied sciences research park is planned for the land south of the Speed School of Engineering. It serves as the centerpiece of a Signature Tax Increment Financing (TIF) district, designed to stimulate economic growth in an area around U of L's Belknap campus. The TIF district covers more than 900 acres stretching from Belknap Campus south to the Watterson Expressway. The Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority recently approved the TIF, paving the way for what could be an estimated $2.6 billion over 30 years.
In 2009, the university unveiled its new master plan for the next 20 years with efforts from U of L Foundation and other affiliate partners. Several important projects under construction or planned at that time included a new student recreation center, soccer stadium, new residence halls and academic buildings. Furthermore, the reconstruction of the I-65 ramps to the Belknap Campus, converting the four lanes of Eastern Parkway into a two-lane road with bike lanes and a landscaped median to improve pedestrian access to the Speed School, the moving of several university offices to allow the existing facilities at Arthur Street and Brandeis Avenue to be converted to commercial property and restaurants. The Yum! Center (a men's basketball and volleyball practice facility) was completed in the fall of 2007. A 12,000-square-foot (1,100 m2) Olympic sports training/rehab center adjacent to Trager Stadium is also under construction. Additionally, Trager Plaza, a small plaza with a fountain, statue, and garden has been built with donations by the Trager Family on the south part of campus. The $37.5 million Student Recreation Center, located on the Fourth Street corridor along the western border of campus, opened in October 2013. The Province, The Bellamy and Cardinal Towne are three new student housing developments built to the southwest of campus, near the recreation center. All three were built by private developers, and The Province was built in tandem with U of L's properties. In the short term, university provost Shirley Willihnganz expects the university to continue partnerships with private entities to build student housing.
On another note several athletic facilities are being renovated, and the new $8 million academic center will be located beneath the Norton Terrace at the south end of Papa John's Cardinal Stadium. It will be centrally located between two of the university's cornerstone buildings, the Swain Student Activities Center and Papa John's Cardinal Stadium. It will have seating capacity for over 5,300 fans and will feature a 15,500 square foot training center that will include identical locker rooms for each team, coaches' offices and a sports medicine training room. This stadium will be the second largest project the athletic department has undertaken behind Papa John's Cardinal Stadium. Furthermore, a $4 million expansion of Jim Patterson Stadium includes the addition of 1,500 chair back seats, two-tiered ground level terraces, a visiting team locker room, and a 6,400 square foot terrace atop the chair back seats connecting the first and third base sides. The new Jim Patterson Stadium will have a total capacity of 5,000. Along with the $2.75 million expansion of U of L's softball stadium will feature a team clubhouse with a locker room, a video room, and a players' lounge. The Dan Ulmer Stadium will see the addition of 200 chair back seats, bringing the seating capacity to 1,000. The project also will add a 2,380 square foot fan terrace wrapping around the back of the stadium, as well as a new press box that will more than double its current size.
The U of L Health Sciences Center, also called the med campus, is located just east of Downtown Louisville in the Louisville medical park which contains two other major hospitals and several specialty hospitals, and it houses the remaining five colleges. This is the school's original campus, being continuously used since 1846, although none of the original buildings remain. Buildings of note on the HSC include the fourteen story Medical Research Tower and the ten-story University Hospital.Construction is finished for a recently opened, downtown Louisville Cardiovascular Research Innovation Institute building to be directed by a researcher, Stuart Williams from the University of Arizona; and an eight-story, $70 million biomedical research building. Faculty and students also work with neighboring hospitals including Kosair Children's Hospital, as well as outreach programs throughout Kentucky, including in Paducah, Campbellsville, and Glasgow.
The U of L Health Sciences Campus has seen a large amount of new development in the past decade, include the completion of 3 new buildings (Baxter Research Complex, Cardiovascular Research Tower, and the Jackson Street Medical Plaza). Work is ongoing on the Biolab Research Tower, with a January 2009 completion date projected.
In 2007 U of L announced plans to create a nine-acre medical research park on the so-called Haymarket property roughly bounded by Market, Preston, Brook, and Jefferson Streets, along I-65 in Downtown Louisville, now called the Nucleus Research Park, with 1,000,000 square feet (93,000 m2) of research space. Nucleus, Kentucky's Life Science and Innovation Center, was established in 2008 by the University of Louisville Foundation to integrate U of L resources with those of the region to transform Louisville into a major life science research hub. Nucleus is assisting in the development of U of L's Health Science Campus downtown as well as improving the physical and economic health of Kentucky and the region.
Nucleus' work is integral to the development of the research park currently underway at U of L's Haymarket 30-block property in downtown Louisville. Nucleus Innovation Park will house multiple facilities in close proximity to expedite collaboration and shared expertise among researchers and companies creating a vibrant technology business district along the city's healthcare/university/riverfront corridor. The project is expected to cost $300 million and would be constructed from 2009 to 2017. A 200,000-square-foot, eight-story, $18 million building, is the first in a series of structures, broke ground in July 2011, and is expected to open in June 2013.
An important project adjacent to the Downtown Health Sciences Campus was the conversion of the Clarksdale Housing Complex into a new mixed income development called Liberty Green.
The 230-acre (0.93 km2) Shelby Campus is located on Shelbyville Road near Hurstbourne Parkway in Eastern Louisville. This campus was originally the home of Kentucky Southern College, a Southern Baptist liberal arts college that operated from 1961 to 1969. After the college folded, it transferred all its assets and liabilities to U of L. It currently only has three buildings which are used for night classes and seminars, although construction of a $34.6-million Center for Predictive Medicine, a Level 3 biosafety facility, is in the works. The Shelby Campus is also home for the building which houses the Information Technology Resource Center (ITRC) for homeland security. The ITRC conducts communications and IT research for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security as well as seminars and training in emergency preparedness and response. When completed, the impressive ShelbyHurst Office Campus will have over 1.5 million square feet of modern office space managed, developed and leased by NTS Development Co., in partnership with the U of L Foundation. The first three projects are in full swing.
The U of L Shelby campus is undergoing a major renovation, with two new entrances to the campus off Hurstbourne Parkway. The overall goal is to develop 108 acres (0.44 km2) of the 230-acre (0.93 km2) campus for business, office, technology and research use, now known as the ShelbyHurst Research and Office Park. The university will spend $7.9 million on the road improvements on the campus. The roadway improvements began in August 2008, with work on a new four-lane boulevard through the campus, bordered by bike lanes, sidewalks, and will be heavily landscaped. The 600 North Hursbourne – Transformation is evident at the busy northeast corner of ShelbyHurst with the completion of 600 North. The LEED-certified, 125,000-square-foot office building is 80 percent leased and serves as corporate headquarters to Churchill Downs, NTS, Semonin Realtors and Stifel Nicolaus.
500 and 700 North Hurstbourne Planning and design is currently underway for 500 and 700 North, ShelbyHurst's newest properties. With construction set to begin later this year, these properties will have between 100,000 and 130,000 square feet of Louisville's most prestigious office space. ShelbyHurst was designed around a four-lane boulevard through the campus bordered by bike lanes and wide attractive sidewalks. Special attention was given to enhancing green space and improving the life of the surrounding community. The green design of the entire development, combined with the convenience of a new boulevard and modern throughways, will facilitate driving, walking and biking through the campus.
The University of Louisville runs a sister campus in Panama City, Panama, which has an MBA program. The full-time program takes around 16 months to complete and enrolls about 200 students. It is currently ranked the 4th best MBA program in Latin America.
The university also offers professional MBA programs in Athens, Hong Kong, Singapore and other parts of Asia. Their collaboration partner in Singapore is Aventis School of Management.
U of L operates the Moore Observatory in Oldham County, an astronomical observatory. There are also plans to purchase several hundred acres in Oldham County for the school's equine program.
The University of Louisville library system is a member of the Association of Research Libraries. U of L's main library branch is the William F. Ekstrom Library, which opened in 1981. The four-story building finished an expansion in March 2006, which increased its total size to 290,000 square feet (27,000 m2) and shelving capacity to over 1.3 million books. It is one of only five universities in the U.S. to have a robotic retrieval system, which robotically places books in humidity-free bins. The University of Louisville libraries were the seventh academic institution in North America to have such a facility.
There are five other libraries at the university, with a combined total of more than 400,000 volumes of work:Archives and Special Collections
The Margaret M. Bridwell Art Library
Dwight Anderson Memorial Music Library
Kornhauser Health Sciences Library
Brandeis Law School Library
In 2009, the Kersey Library at the J. B. Speed School of Engineering was converted to an academic building named the Duthie Center for Engineering. The library's collection was fully integrated into Ekstrom Library on January 15, 2007.Total enrollment is 22,293 as of Fall 2012.
76.2% of students are Kentucky residents.
44.0% of students are from Jefferson County (down from 64% in 1995)
Average ACT Score: 25.2 as of Fall 2013 (up from 20.7 in 1995)
6-year graduation rate: 53.5% (2012) (up from 33% in 2004)
- Panama 196*
- China 250
- India 148
- Egypt 69
- Canada 41
- Indiana 1,380**
- Ohio 197
- Florida 132
- Tennessee 121
- Georgia 114
Note: *Panama enrollment includes U of L's Panama City program, which offers a full-time MBA program. Note: **Beginning in 1998, as part of a reciprocity agreement with Indiana University Southeast in New Albany, Indiana, U of L began offering in-state tuition to residents of Clark, Floyd, Harrison, Washington, and Crawford counties in Indiana (residents of Metro Louisville wishing to attend IUS receive the same benefit)
The university has 12 housing options on its campuses:The Bellamy
Cardinal Towne – Located on 1830 S. 3rd Street, it opened to over 400 students on August 15, 2011. It has an assortment of restaurants on the 1st floor.
Center Hall (demolished summer 2015)
Bettie Johnson Hall
Herman & Heddy Kurz Hall
Miller Hall – A freshman-only co-ed residence hall located near the Swain Student Activities Center. Mold was found in October 2012 forcing students to relocate.
Billy Minardi Hall
Threlkeld Hall – A co-ed residence hall for honors students. Located right next to the Swain Student Activities Center.
Unitas Tower – Named after football legend Johnny Unitas who attended the school from 1950 to 1954, the tower is easily visible from many parts of campus and is located by the School of Music.
Wellness House (demolished summer 2015)
U of L's student maintained radio station, WLCV, began airing in 1968 and is broadcast on the internet and on a low level AM signal that reaches most of the Belknap Campus. U of L holds a prominent role in the city of Louisville's "Public Radio Partnership" which features three NPR stations under one roof, including the school's namesake WUOL-FM which broadcasts classical music. The school also holds one-third of the seats on the Partnership's board of directors.
There is also an independent student-run weekly newspaper, The Louisville Cardinal. The newspaper was founded in 1926, and has maintained financial and editorial independence since 1980. The newspaper is overseen by a board of local media professionals and run by a student editor in chief.
Inside U of L's Student Activities Center is The Floyd Theatre, a 228-seat movie theater operated by the Student Activities Board. The theater is capable of running both 35 mm prints and DVD projection. The Floyd features a Thursday night film and another on Saturday & Sunday nights. Also, there is a recently instituted monthly Midnight Movie that runs on the last Friday of every month. The theater primarily shows independent and foreign films that get limited or no run in Louisville's many commercial theaters. Shows are open to all students, as well as the public.
The Louisville Cardinals (commonly referred to as "the Cards") are the student athletes representing the university. There are 13 women's and 10 men's teams, all of which participate in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Louisville was invited to the ACC on November 28, 2012 and began play in 2014. The Cardinals are well known nationally in men's basketball with three national championships and 10 Final Four appearances, ranking 5th in NCAA Tournament wins, 9th in winning percentage, and from 2nd to 5th in annual attendance every year since 1984. The current head coach of the men's basketball team is Rick Pitino. For the 2015–16 season, the men's basketball team held a self-imposed postseason ban due to a sex scandal involving recruits and former players.
In recent years other Cardinal teams have gained national prominence. The women's basketball team, coached by Jeff Walz and led by first team All-American Shoni Schimmel, has been to two straight Sweet 16s and have been ranked in the top 10. In December 2008 the Cardinals broke the Big East paid attendance record when 17,000 fans filled Freedom Hall to watch the Cards defeat rival Kentucky, and later that season advanced to the NCAA championship game, losing to Connecticut. The Cardinals returned to the NCAA final behind Native American star Shoni Schimmel in 2013, losing again to Connecticut, The following season, the Cardinals filled the KFC Yum! Center with over 22,000 fans, including an estimated 1,500 Native Americans from 40 states, for the final scheduled home game of the graduating Schimmel. Other U of L teams with recent post season success includes track and field (two individual national championships), volleyball (consecutive Sweet 16 appearances and a three-peat as Big East Tournament Champions from 2008 to 2010, and Atlantic Coast Conference Champions in 2015) and baseball (two College World Series appearances and consecutive Big East conference titles). The volleyball team has also accomplished achievements such as Head Coach Anne Kordes being named Coach of the Year in 2015, Senior Setter for Louisville, Katie George being named Atlantic Coast Conference Player of the Year, and Freshman Libero, Molly Sauer being named Freshman of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year. All U of L locally broadcast games airing on the school's flagship affiliate WHAS-TV Louisville are televised on every cable provider in Kentucky.
The university's Athletic Department, led by Tom Jurich, is currently undertaking an expansion of its facilities, with the main focus of the project to expand Papa John's Cardinal Stadium (football). The project, funded both privately and publicly, is expected to begin in 2017. Major changes in the stadium include field level suites, closing off the end zone, and making the stadium as a whole more luxurious.
Notable among a number of songs commonly played and sung at various events such as commencement, convocation, and athletic games is the University of Louisville fight song, Fight! U of L!, written by Robert Griffith. Also notable is All Hail, a fight song written by current Athletic Pep Band director Al Greener.