“We are an urban Institute sitting in the center of a city that’s majority minority. We have a responsibility—particularly on the West End.”
Written by Sarah Kinbar | Photo by Mary Helen Nunn
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When Douglas Craddock, Jr. talks about his day-to-day experience working as Interim Vice President for Community Engagement at the University of Louisville, he describes it as an opportunity, not a job. His mindset is oriented to improving student, faculty, and community experiences within the constructs of the organization, and because he understands and navigates administrative pathways with ease, he’s able to focus on relationships.
“Some days consist of working with the deans of our colleges and understanding the needs and desires they have for their individual student bodies, supporting their units — whether it’s academic programming — working with a development officer to improve a program, or even addressing staff and faculty grievances,” he says. In a nutshell, he adds, he and his department create solutions “to make sure that people are being treated fairly and with empathy.”
Other days are spent moving throughout Louisville. These movements are purpose-driven. “One of our core pillars is that we are a community of care,” he says. “We are an urban Institute sitting in the center of a city that’s majority-minority. We have a responsibility — particularly on the West End.”
This rolls off the tongue, not as a rehearsed speech, but as an authentic accounting of how he lives and breathes. The strategic meetings he participates in quickly distill to action on a granular level.
Douglas is only a few years into his UofL journey. Having completed his doctoral work at the University of Alabama, he brought his talents to Louisville and a desire to uncover and deliver ways in which the university can improve and elevate the external community.
“I have the chance to be a part of the work we do around community-engaged research, the work we do around community service, and how we build partnerships and collaborations around teaching,” Douglas says.
“I’m the university’s bridge, our connection, our liaison between our internal community, which is our faculty, our students, and our staff, and our external community members and constituents, from our elementary, middle, and high schools to our nonprofit organizations that do great work throughout the city, all the way to our elected officials and anything in between.”