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Commencement 2021 | A rundown of Spalding’s university award recipients

Bios of outstanding faculty member, top senior students, Caritas medalists, faculty emeritus

Steve Jones

Spalding safely returned to in-person Commencement activities Thursday-Saturday, June 3-5, 2021 in celebration of the classes of 2021 and 2020. For 2021, Spalding celebrated a total of 585 graduates who have earned or will earn bachelor’s, master’s or doctoral degrees. The number of graduates in 2020 was 486.

Spalding also honored five individuals for 2021 with the university’s highest awards for faculty, undergraduate students, and alumni. Two retiring faculty members were also honored with the designation of professor emeritus. Here is a rundown of those awards and honors:

BOARD OF TRUSTEES’ OUTSTANDING FACULTY AWARD – Dr. Donna Elkins, Professor, School of Communication

In addition to teaching a range of undergraduate communication courses at Spalding and being an outstanding instructor, Dr. Elkins has been an invaluable resource to her colleagues on the faculty, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

As Director of the Center for Teaching and Learning and as an expert in online and hybrid teaching, Dr. Elkins was instrumental in helping faculty who needed guidance in suddenly shifting their courses online at the onset of the pandemic. She conducted or arranged for multiple trainings for faculty and has been a constant, available resource over the past year.

Dr. Elkins’ helpfulness, compassion and positivity have earned her the admiration of her colleagues on the faculty, and she has helped build their confidence in learning new ways to teach.

In addition, Dr. Elkins teaches in the Master of Science in Business Communication program, chairs or serves on multiple important faculty committees on campus, and is a dedicated researcher and scholar who frequently presents at conferences and publishes journal articles.

COMMENCEMENT 2021
*Home page for info and links to ceremony replays and programs
*Read President McClure’s Commencement address and top 10 list
*Tons of photos on Spalding’s Commencement Facebook album
*Graduate features and Q&As

Jaz'Myne Ware with Tori Murden McClure
Jaz’Myne Ware (blue), with President Tori Murden McClure, received the Mother Catherine Spalding Service Learning Award.

MOTHER CATHERINE SPALDING SERVICE LEARNING AWARD – Jaz’Myne Ware, Bachelor of Science in Social Work

This award is presented to a graduating senior who embodies the spiritual values of faith, hope and charity, which emulate the university’s founder, Mother Catherine Spalding.  Ware was chosen for having made a mark on the Spalding community as well as the greater community of Louisville through her service, intellect, and passion for social justice.

Ware completed her senior practicum at Family Scholar House, contributing more than 460 hours of unpaid service in support of single parents and their children as the parents pursue their educational and career goals.

In addition, she has been a work-study in the Spalding Library and is heavily involved in campus organizations and activities.

Ware has been praised by faculty for her deep critical thinking and desire to make connections and integrate her classroom experiences. She made the Dean’s List seven times while maintaining an excellent GPA.

An advocate for equity and social justice, Ware participated in demonstrations last year in support of racial justice, and she is a leader in Spalding’s Sexuality and Gender Acceptance student organization.

Ware has been described as, “cheerfully involved in everything, deeply giving of herself, and a strong advocate for those who have been underrepresented and historically oppressed.”

Ware’s long-term goal is to work in low-income communities of color. She also aspires to raise awareness about the need for social workers and improve young people’s understanding of social work, in order to grow the profession and foster systemic change.

Kristen Garren
Kristen Garren, recipient of the Mother Rose Meagher Senior Award

MOTHER ROSE MEAGHER SENIOR AWARD – Kristen Garren, Bachelor of Science in Social Work

The Mother Rose Meagher Senior Award is presented annually to a member of the senior class who has performed well academically and has a proven record as a mature leader and member of the campus community.

Garren was an exemplary student who earned high praise for the meaningful, diligent work she did during her senior practicum at Frazier Rehabilitation Institute. During 475 hours of unpaid service, she supported patients with spinal cord injuries and illnesses with their cases, helping them attain durable medical equipment and receive appropriate care.

Garren’s practicum supervisor described her as a joy to work with and someone who is kind, respectful and empathetic.

In having developed an understanding of trauma-informed care, Garren would like to pursue a career in social work in a medical setting, advocating for patients and families who are navigating the complex health care system. Her effectiveness in social work and understanding of others’ needs is deepened by her background teaching and working in public schools.

Ware, who also earned a minor in addiction studies, is a nine-time Dean’s List selection who has achieved a near-perfect GPA. She has been praised by faculty for her valuable contributions to class discourse.

Her professionalism, helpfulness and proactive approach as a work-study in the Spalding Library and at the enTECH assistive technology resource center have also been praised.

Spalding Alumna of the Year Vicki Hines Martin with Tori Murden McClure at Spalding Commencement
Caritas medalist Vicki Hines-Martin

CARITAS MEDAL (Alumna of the year No. 1) – Vicki Hines-Martin

At a time when the nation and world continue to celebrate the contributions of nurses during the pandemic, School of Nursing graduate Dr. Vicki Hines-Martin, who received the degrees of Bachelor of Science in Nursing (1975) and Master of Arts in Education (1983) from Spalding, was one of two School of Nursing graduates this year to be presented with the Caritas Medal. It is considered the university’s highest honor.

An educator and researcher who is acclaimed for her work focused on health disparities, access to care and healthcare needs of minority populations, Hines-Martin serves as Associate Dean for the University of Louisville School of Nursing’s Office of Community Engagement and Diversity Inclusion, as well as Director of Community Outreach for the U of L Health Sciences Center’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion.

Hines-Martin has been on the full-time faculty at U of L since 1998. She has also taught at the University of Kentucky, Indiana University Southeast and Jefferson Community and Technical College and served on a range of national journal editorial boards, advisory panels and peer review boards.

In addition, from 2019-20, she was President of the International Society of Psychiatric Mental Health Nurses, and she has served in a variety of roles since 1980 with the Kentucky Nurses Association, including Co-Director of the Kentucky Nurses Helping Nurses Project in 2020.

In addition to her Spalding degrees, Hines-Martin earned a PhD in Nursing from the University of Kentucky (1994) and a Master of Science in Nursing from the University of Cincinnati.

Spalding Alumna of the Year Mary Romelfanger with Tori Murden McClure
Caritas medalist Mary Romelfanger 

CARITAS MEDAL (Alumna of the year No. 2) – Mary Romelfanger

The other School of Nursing graduate to be honored with the Caritas Medal was Mary Romelfanger (BSN, 1976), who has been a longtime leader, administrator and consultant in geriatric and senior care who recently became the Director of Operations for Hildegard House.

Romelfanger, who received the degree of Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Spalding in 1976, has been a longtime leader, administrator and consultant in geriatric and senior care who recently became the Director of Operations for Hildegard House, Kentucky’s first and only comfort care home. Hildegard House provides a home and compassionate care for individuals at the end of life who have no home or loved ones to care for them so that they may die with dignity.

Romelfanger previously served as Associate Director for the University of Louisville School of Medicine’s Institute for Sustainable Health and Optimal Aging (2013-16), and she was Vice President for Clinical Services for Presbyterian Homes and Services of Kentucky (2008-09). From 1994 to 2005, Romelfanger was Director of the U.S. Office of Health Services for the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth, and before that she spent 14 years as Deputy Executive Director of the Kentucky Board of Nursing.

Romelfanger’s civic service includes membership on the Board of Directors of ElderServe since 2016. She also served on the Kentucky Legislative Research Commission Alzheimer’s and Dementia Workforce Assessment Task Force, the Kentucky Council on the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, the U of L Department of Family and Geriatrics Advisory Board and the Spalding School of Nursing Advisory Board.

She has recently served as a COVID-19 testing and vaccination volunteer.

DESIGNATION OF FACULTY EMERITUS – Dr. Joseph Maloney, Professor, School of Nursing

Maloney was one two retiring faculty members from the School of Nursing to be honored by the trustees, who deemed that they have left a lasting mark on the university by displaying an intense love of learning and teaching, a powerful dedication to their students and a strong loyalty to Spalding that will be remembered and appreciated for years to come.

Maloney served and taught for 18 years in the School of Nursing. In recent years he has taught in the Bachelor of Science in Nursing program in the areas of medical/surgical nursing and pharmacology. His tenure at Spalding followed a 27-year career in the U.S. Army Nurse Corps. In addition to teaching, Dr. Maloney has published more than 30 scholarly articles.

Spalding Faculty Emeritus Brother Ignatius Perkins and Tori Murden McClure
Faculty Emeritus Brother Ignatius Perkins

DESIGNATION OF FACULTY EMERITUS – Brother Ignatius Perkins, PhD, Chair and Professor, School of Nursing

Brother Perkins has been a key figure in nursing education at Spalding during its century-long history in downtown Louisville, having served two separate stints as Nursing Chair during more than a decade of total service on the faculty. In addition, Brother Perkins is one of the country’s leading scholars on bioethics and medical ethics, as well a leader in Catholic health care who has held numerous leadership roles within the Dominican Friars. Brother Perkins was Chair of the School of Nursing from 2003 to 2005 while dually serving as Dean of the College of Health and Natural Sciences. He returned to the role of Nursing Chair in 2019. Brother Perkins, who is a graduate of the nursing school and the College of Education, is a past recipient of the Caritas Medal as Alumnus of the Year.

At Commencement, it was also announced that the conference room in the Republic Bank Academic Center will be renamed in honor of Perkins.

2020 AWARD WINNERS

In 2020, the Caritas Medal was awarded posthumously to the late Dr. Perry Sangalli (Doctor of Education, ’98), who was the longtime President at St. Xavier High School and a longtime Spalding trustee. Last year’s Outstanding Faculty Award recipient was Dr. Brenda Nash of the School of Professional Psychology. Psychology Professor Dr. Kenneth Linfield, who retired last year, received the designation as Faculty Emeritus. The undergraduate student award winners were Sally Rother, BFA in Creative Writing, Mother Catherine Spalding Service Learning Award; and Kasim Alsalman, BS in Business Administration, Mother Rose Meagher Senior Award.

MORE | Learn about 2020 honorees