As a longtime member of the Board of Trustees and a former board Chair, Paul M. Ratterman has for years been one of the most influential leaders of Spalding University, and the institution has become an important part of his life.
Now, when he advocates for Spalding in the community or when he votes on a board action, he’ll have the additional sense of purpose and pride that comes with being an alumnus of the university.
Ratterman earned the degree of Doctor of Education (EdD) in Leadership from Spalding’s College of Education and celebrated Thursday, June 3 on the first day of Commencement. Ratterman’s wife, Kim, a Spalding nursing alumna, performed the ceremonial hooding of her husband.
“It’s amazing,” said Paul Ratterman, who joined the Spalding board in 2007 and served as chair from 2014-18. “I never thought I would be a Spalding alum, but here I am. Doing the program changes a lot of how you look at life. It’s a lot of work, but it’s definitely worth it.”
Ratterman, who serves as Managing Director of Fixed Income Capital Markets for Stifel Financial, is one of three Spalding trustees who have recently earned their EdD from the College Education, along with Dr. John P. Malloy, who also participated in Thursday’s Commencement as part of the Class of 2020, and Dr. Rick Blackwell (2018).
As a veteran of banking and investment for more than 30 years as well as an instructor of the American Bankers Association’s Stonier Graduate School of Banking and the ABA International School of Banking, Ratterman was already well-equipped with professional and teaching experience before he sought his doctorate.
But he was intrigued by the opportunity of the EdD program to build on his MBA and professional experience by conducting in-depth research and taking on the challenge of academic rigor.
Ratterman was part of an eight-person cohort for the 2021 EdD, and he said the small size of the cohort was valuable in offering a supportive network for the students. Making those friendships will be his favorite memory of the EdD process, he said.
“We all became very, very close, and that interaction was really where the learning takes place,” Ratterman said. “The faculty was also awesome and did a great job.”
He said the EdD program’s guest speakers and panel discussions on leadership topics – including those of the Abramson Leadership Exchange, which are moderated by Spalding Executive in Residence and former Louisville Mayor Jerry Abramson – were an enriching addition to the standard curriculum.
“I’d have to rate the quality (of the program) very highly,” Ratterman said. “The Spalding EdD program gave me the opportunity to go much deeper into a topic than I ever would have been able to. And the diversity of the program, diversity of the class allowed me to see things from many different perspectives that I would not have been able to before.”
The doctorate will help expand his opportunities to teach in higher education, said Ratterman, who plans to contribute to the Spalding EdD in the future and be an active alumnus.
Ratterman’s doctoral capstone project was titled, “An Exploration of Ethics Education in U.S. Graduate Banking Schools.”
He interviewed curriculum directors of banking schools around the country about how they teach ethics to students, and he said those banking schools are now eager to read his research conclusions in order to consider ways potentially to improve their programs. Ratterman hopes to publish his findings in a scholarly journal.
Ratterman said serving on the board and studying at Spalding have been rewarding and meaningful.
“It’s exciting to see the growth of the campus from when I started on the board,” he said.
We were much different back then. We’ve more than doubled the campus. We have exciting initiatives in healthcare and physical therapy. Talking to the outside community about Spalding and what it’s doing and how it’s changing lives and the diversity of the school is really powerful. It’s neat to be a part of that.”