University of Cincinnati taps University of Louisville official as new president

Photo credit: University of Cincinnati

CINCINNATI (AP) – The University of Cincinnati on Saturday named as its 30th president: a former longtime professor who’s been serving as acting president at the University of Louisville.

The Ohio school’s board of trustees met in special session to approve Neville Pinto to lead the public university of more than 44,300 students. Pinto was a University of Cincinnati chemical engineering professor from 1985 until 2011, when he became dean of the engineering at Louisville.

“I am so moved by this – to come back to the university that nurtured me as a faculty member,” said Pinto, who pledged “true commitment” to focus on students in his leadership style.

“Is it good for the students? That’s how I make my decisions,” he said after being introduced.

In a statement, Robert E. Richardson Jr., chairman of UC’s Board of Trustees, said Pinto returns to the university with a “remarkable record.”

“He has established a stellar record as a collaborator who can work with community and corporate partners. He will be a great asset as UC launches our new 1819 Innovation Hub,” he said.

Richardson chaired the presidential search committee that had been looking for a new president since Santa Ono left to lead the University of British Columbia in June.

Beverly Davenport, the provost and senior vice president for academic affairs, had been serving as UC’s interim president. The University of Tennessee Board of Trustees on Thursday unanimously approved the appointment of Davenport as the first female chancellor of that public university system’s flagship campus in Knoxville.

Pinto, who was born in Mumbai, India, was educated at the Indian Institute of Technology in New Delhi, and at Penn State University, where he earned a doctorate in chemical engineering. Pinto, 58, and wife Jennifer have three children.

The Cincinnati school’s enrollment has been growing to record levels, and it plans to launch an innovation hub to work with businesses and foster multi-disciplinary research. The school has undergone a restructuring of its public safety leadership in the aftermath of the 2015 traffic-stop shooting near campus of a black motorist by a university police officer. Since-fired officer Ray Tensing is scheduled for a May 25 murder trial in Cincinnati after his first trial for the shooting ended in a mistrial.

Pinto is expected to take over at UC in February.

Larry Benz, chairman of the University of Louisville board, thanked Neville for “steady leadership” that helped “steer the university through some tough times toward a bright future.” Benz said in statement that he and Pinto have been discussing a transition plan and that a board of trustees meeting will be scheduled soon to plan for the leadership change.

There has been considerable turmoil at the school of more than 22,000 students. Kentucky Republican Gov. Matt Bevin abolished and replaced the university’s governing board this summer, leading to the resignation of then-president James Ramsey. But the Democratic attorney general sued, and a judge blocked the order. Bevin has appealed.

Meanwhile, the university’s accrediting body recently put the school on probation for one year over concerns of “undue political influence.”