President: Tori Murden McClure, MDiv, JD, MFA

Year founded:1814. In Louisville since 1920.

No. of employees:Approximately 250 full-time


Spalding University is a small, historic, private, Catholic institution that offers bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral programs in a range of areas of study, in person and online. Spalding offers graduate healthcare academic programs in athletic training, clinical mental health counseling, clinical psychology, nursing, occupational therapy, social work, and beginning in 2022, physical therapy. Spalding is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. Its athletic teams compete in NCAA Division III.

Awards / Recognition:

Spalding was certified as the World’s First Compassionate University by the Compassionate Action Network.

Spalding has been named a top-five college in Kentucky by College Choice.

College Raptor named Spalding – which offers most classes in six-week blocks rather than traditional semester-long terms – among the nation’s top five colleges with nontraditional schedules.

Niche ranks Spalding the No. 2 Best College for Nursing in Kentucky.

President McClure holds the distinctions as both the first woman and first American to row a boat unassisted across the Atlantic Ocean and the first woman and first American to ski to the geographic South Pole. She also, notably, served in 2020 as the Vice Chair and Interim Chair of the NCAA Board of Governors – the highest governing body of collegiate athletics.

What is the vision/mission of Spalding?

Spalding’s mission statement reads, “Spalding University is a diverse community of learners dedicated to meeting the needs of the times in the tradition of the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth through quality undergraduate and graduate liberal and professional studies, grounded in spiritual values, with emphasis on service and the promotion of peace and justice.”

Spalding’s vision statement: “Spalding University aspires to become the first choice for students of compassion and service, distinguished for cultural diversity, celebrated for a rigorous yet nurturing environment, emulated for interdisciplinary collaborations, and acclaimed for contributions to the community”.

What are Spalding’s roots to Louisville?

In 1920, the campus of Spalding – then known as Nazareth College – was established in downtown Louisville by the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth as the first four-year Catholic college for women in Kentucky. The institution traces its roots to 1814 with the founding of Nazareth Academy by Mother Catherine Spalding and the Sisters in Nazareth, Kentucky, in Nelson County. Spalding became co-ed in 1973.

What needs / gaps is the Doctor of Physical Therapy program addressing? What are the goals for the program?

Spalding is accepting applications now at for the inaugural Fall 2022 cohort of a hybrid Doctor of Physical Therapy program, with lecture courses to be delivered online and lab courses to be held on campus inside a 21,500-square foot, fully renovated, state-of-the-art health professions academic building. The new Doctor of Physical Therapy program will help fill the need and demand for skilled, compassionate physical therapists while immediately becoming a cornerstone graduate program on campus. There are expected to be 47,000 new jobs in physical therapy in the country over the next 10 years, so a need clearly exists.

Supported by a $2 million grant from Kosair Charities, Spalding will also stand out by offering opportunities in pediatric physical therapy, which is a critical need. Spalding will create Kentucky’s first residency and fellowship programs in pediatric physical therapy.

Located at 961 S. Third St., the new Kosair Charities School of Physical Therapy and Center for Interprofessional Education will achieve the goal of expanding a corridor of health professions academic buildings on the south end of campus, fostering a spirit of interprofessional collaboration among Spalding programs and showing the university’s commitment to healthcare education in downtown Louisville.

How do you partner with the healthcare community?

For years, Spalding’s academic programs have enjoyed myriad relationships with hospitals, clinics and other healthcare providers in placing students in clinical, practicum and fieldwork training across a range of disciplines.

Many of Spalding’s healthcare partnerships are rooted in the university’s commitment to equity in healthcare and a dedication to serving underserved populations. For example, Spalding recently was awarded a grant of $1.049 million from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Health Resources and Services Administration to support psychology doctoral students and social work master’s students who provide behavioral health services in integrated primary care settings in medically underserved areas of Louisville. The sites partnering with Spalding are Family Health Centers’ Iroquois, Portland and Southwest branches; the Shawnee Christian Healthcare Center; and the Smoketown Family Wellness Center.

The School of Nursing partners with Baptist Health Systems and Humana on providing discounted tuition to registered nurses who enroll in Spalding’s RN-to-BSN and RN-to-MSN programs. Kindred Rehab Services employees are similarly eligible for a tuition discount in Spalding’s post-professional Occupational Therapy Doctorate program.

What is one thing you wish others knew about Spalding?

Many are definitely aware of it because it has meant so much to the families who visit there, but Spalding consistently works to raise awareness of and increase traffic to the on-campus gem that is the Kosair Charities Enabling Technologies of Kentuckiana assistive technology resource center, or enTECH.

A division of the Auerbach School of Occupational Therapy, enTECH, at 812 S. Second St., is loaded with an array of assistive technology devices and equipment that can be loaned out to clients of all ages, many of whom are children, who face cognitive challenges and physical differences. enTECH is also fully staffed with occupational, physical and speech therapists who provide a range of therapy and assessment services and who integrate assistive technology in their work with clients. Affordable, expertly staffed and rich in technology, enTECH is an extraordinary resource to the community.

What makes Spalding different from competitors?

Certainly there are plenty of small, private, regionally accredited universities in Kentucky, but no others offer the opportunity to attend college or grad school in the downtown of a major city, blocks from major healthcare and commerce centers.

Spalding is also one of the state’s most diverse private universities and has the most diverse graduate student body of any private institution.

Spalding also stands out as the only NCAA Division III member in Louisville. The Golden Eagles sponsor 18 varsity athletic programs, providing hundreds of student-athletes the opportunity to participate in collegiate athletics in Louisville. Over the past year, Spalding has added varsity programs in men’s and women’s lacrosse and co-ed archery.

Have you had to pivot strategies over the years?

Spalding’s mission is to meet the needs of the times, so it is ready and willing to pivot and change when called upon. When President McClure took over in 2010, she placed an emphasis on limiting spending and working to lower Spalding’s debt. Eleven years later, Spalding is on a strong financial footing, which helped it weather the pandemic storm, and it is well-positioned to invest in new academic programs, including the Doctor of Physical Therapy program, that will grow and sustain the university while training professionals who are needed in the community.

Even as Spalding has been frugal under President McClure, the campus has more than doubled to 23 acres during her administration, with renovations made to nearly all buildings. In 2019, Spalding opened a $7 million, 7-acre athletic acre athletic fields complex, transforming an unused tract of industrial land along South Ninth Street into a home for soccer, softball and lacrosse on campus that is as fine as any facility in NCAA Division III.

The social and racial strife in our country – and in this city – in 2020 compelled Spalding to lean even more into its commitment to social justice. The university recently launched an innovative bachelor’s program in criminal justice studies that places a unique emphasis on teaching restorative justice and criminal justice reform. Spalding also has invested in and raised awareness for its School of Professional Psychology’s Collective Care Center, which is Louisville’s only – and one of the nation’s only – behavioral health clinics to specialize in treating racial trauma.