Community Assembly Recap: 8/11/2023

Spalding President Tori Murden McClure with Nancy Bash Award of Excellence winner Elizabeth Simpson

For Spalding University faculty and staff, the academic year began on Friday, August 11 with the year’s first Community Assembly. There were many new faces, some important updates, and a selection of deserved awards. If you were unable to join us, here is a summary of what you missed.

President Tori Murden McClure opened the assembly with her ever-present challenge to faculty and staff: If you can recite Spalding’s mission statement from memory, you get twenty dollars cash on the spot. Dr. Samuel Fitzpatrick, Assistant Professor of English in the School of Liberal Arts claimed the prize!

Dr. Cicely Cottrell, Associate Professor and Chair of Criminal Justice Studies, gave a thoughtful Invocation that drew connections between learning and one’s sense of community: Students need that feeling of connectedness. They need to feel heard and valued. We all need healthy relationships, which come from love. Many thanks to Dr. Cottrell for reminding us of these simple truths.

Jana Abrams Levitz, Executive Director of Human Resources, introduced new faculty and staff. In addition to asking our newest colleagues to come to the front and say their name and position, Inspired by Hayley Davis of Human Resources, Jana also challenged each person to tell the community their favorite way to eat a potato. This drew many oohs and ahhs, and became a running theme for the rest of the assembly. Many of us are still processing some of the answers to this hard-hitting question.

Dr. Melissa Chastain provided the group with some updates on a change of location for several departments. Advising moved from the 2nd floor of the ELC to the 3rd floor of the Library. Student Affairs moved into the space previously occupied by Advising. And Graduate Admissions moved to the 3rd floor of the ELC. Needless to say, all signage in the ELC is currently under review and will be updated ASAP. Also, the Kentucky Room on the 1st floor of the Library is now the Career Design Center, headed up by Deb Whistler, Director of Design Thinking and Social Innovation.

Jane Mostue, Director of Academic Advising and Student Success, offered up some details on student enrollment and retention. Spalding has 134 incoming first-year students this fall, the most since Fall of 2018! There are 56 transfer students, and 82% of current students are returning. Jane also reminded faculty to participate in the Week One Enrollment Census, which is crucial for financial aid. Faculty are also encouraged to use progress reports to give kudos and feedback to students and to help keep up with student challenges. Look for email links from Jenna Salins to help with all of this. Last year faculty submitted 1,217 alerts, a terrific response rate! Keep it up, everyone. If anyone needs group or one-on-one training, help with Navigate or just a refresher, please contact Jane Mostue or Katherine Walker Payne.

The Center for Accessibility and Learning Equity (CALE) is Spalding’s Academic Support Services hub. CALE Director Katherine Walker-Payne asked all faculty to help normalize student usage of this important campus resource. Eagle Scholars, the Reading and Math Labs, and the Writing Center all offer important one-on-one help and accessibility services for academic and housing needs. Tutor Me, an online platform, is also available. And newly added this year is our English Language Learners (ELL) service headed up by specialist Kirsten Benson. Faculty are encouraged to invite CALE representatives to their classes.

Dr. Patty Spurr, Professor, Director of Health Science and Faculty Senate President, spoke next and began by reaffirming the mission of the Faculty Senate. After introducing Spalding’s Faculty Senators and noting the current list of committees, Dr. Spurr appealed for positions that need to be filled: President and Vice President (must be tenured faculty), Secretary, and Director-at-Large. These positions have since been filled by Dr. Dori Parmenter, Faculty Senate President, Dr. Michelle Reiss, Vice President, Dr. Hannah Richardson, Secretary, and Dr. Eliza Zuber, Director-at-Large.

Madison Martin, Director of Student Engagement and Chair of the Staff Advisory Council (SAC), offered the assembly updates about SAC. Dr. Allison From-Tapp will serve as co-chair, and Heather Ellis will serve as secretary. Also, the Halloween Decorating contest is back this year. Start planning now and sign up!

As we all know, cybersecurity has been a growing concern for decades. Recently, the National Student Clearinghouse was hacked (thankfully, no Spalding student information was exposed), and just this summer, Morehead State suffered a cyberattack that disabled its portal and Colleague systems. Spalding Chief Operating Officer of Finance and IT Ezra Krumhansl had much to share with the group on this subject. Our university policies have been updated, and risk assessment has been done and will continue. Most significant is the implementation of a new employee security training program, including phishing tests to encourage faculty and staff to use the new fish-shaped icon in Outlook to report suspicious emails and attachments. Ezra rewarded some recent participants who successfully reported one of the test emails with boxes of Swedish Fish candy, and one faculty member who mistakenly opened the email, was brave enough to stand up, and was rewarded with a can of Spam (queue the Monty Python references). Look for more test emails this fall, as well as monthly short-form lessons featuring short videos and quizzes.

Ezra also announced the new Equitable Access program for undergraduate course materials. This new feature will charge students a per-credit-hour flat fee for books and promises to make costs for students more predictable. Annual fees for course materials will also simplify financial aid and payment plans. Faculty should note that this program will require textbook orders to be submitted 90 days before the start of the semester, so plan accordingly. Branding for this program is forthcoming with a timeline of rolling it out for Session 4.

Spalding’s new Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) and Title IX Coordinator Andrea Bolden introduced herself to faculty and staff at Community Assembly. A review of DEI resources is underway and new Title IX regulations will be coming this October so expect to hear more from Andrea soon.

Chris Hart, Chief of Staff and Dean of Operations, and Ron Allgood, Director of Campus Safety, offered some significant updates. After reading the Campus Safety Mission Statement (written by our officers), it was announced that as of June 1st, 2023, all campus safety officers are Spalding staff– there are no subcontractors. Campus Safety is a 24/7/365 department with 3rd shift desk coverage at both residence halls.

The university recently re-established the Campus Safety Committee. This committee will meet once per session. Look for committee meeting re-caps on the Spalding blog page. Recent changes discussed in the first committee meeting include the implementation of swipe-only access for campus buildings and the recent review of all emergency procedures including building surveys and lockdown options. The committee is dedicated to increasing the frequency of safety-related communications beyond the Annual Security Report. Ongoing projects for Fall 2023 include replacing old security cameras, adding some new cameras, deploying a text-enabled panic button, reorganizing the Campus Safety webpage, and publishing a new Campus Safety brochure. And finally, in 2024, we hope to see improvements to ID card technology with possible mobile credentials and upgraded incident reporting software. The next Campus Safety Committee Meeting is Monday, September 11, 2023, at 2:30 pm in the Library Lecture Lounge.

Dr. Elizabeth Dyer, Director of Institutional Effectiveness, delivered the welcome news that Spalding has passed its five-year SACSCOC review with a very small follow-up report. Additionally, the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) awarded Spalding’s Clinical Mental Health Counseling program an eight-year accreditation, the maximum term possible! Congratulations to all involved and jobs well done.

Next, Athletic Director Brian Clinard shared some impressive statistics with the assembly: SLIAC Conference Tournament Championships for baseball and softball; two NCAA regional appearances with baseball winning the school’s first-ever NCAA tournament game; five conference tournament appearances; 59 SLIAC Academic All-Conference honorees; 25 Academic All-District honorees; and two Academic All-Americans. Spalding was the only school in the D-III conference to have multiple 4.0 GPA honorees this season for baseball, and the only school in Kentucky and SLIAC to have students included. Michael Newsom was the SLIAC nominee for the DIII Commissioner’s Award. Spalding athletics programs have a cumulative departmental GPA of 3.19 and only three Spalding athletic programs have a cumulative GPA below a 3.0. This fall we have 275 student-athletes on campus, the most ever. The Eagle Excellence (Mental Health) program launches this fall. And finally, a shout out to Associate Athletic Director Lisa Bash-Defrees on starting her 19th year with the department.

Our first 2023-’24 Community Assembly wrapped up with the obligatory “popcorn” announcements. And finally, Jana Abrams Levitz returned to the mic to bestow Service Anniversaries awards of five, ten, and most notably 20 years to employees. Chris Hart, Dr. Kevin Borders, Dr. Patty Spurr, and Dr. Pattie Dillon were 20-year employees The assembly concluded with the announcement of the Nancy Bash Award Nominees, Aileen McPhillips, Charles Jones, Brandi Duggins, Joel Schaffer, Liz Dallmann, and Nancy Crowhorn, and this year’s Nancy Bash Award Winner Elizabeth Simpson, who has been at Spalding for 40 years. Cheers to Elizabeth, and to all who were nominated.

And if you managed to read this entire and hopefully comprehensive summary of the August 2023 Spalding University Community Assembly then I feel compelled to share with you a very important fact: my favorite way to eat potatoes is fried in a cast iron skillet, hold the Spam.