Spalding Founders’ Day Weekend to celebrate the start of university’s 100th year in downtown Louisville

Steve Jones

Spalding University will begin the celebration of its 100th year as an institution located in downtown Louisville with its annual Founders’ Day Weekend, Thursday-Sunday, Oct. 1-4.

Spalding’s location is a source of pride for the university made all the more significant in light of the ongoing demonstrations in the name of racial and social justice.

Founders’ Day Weekend will include a slate of free, public virtual activities, including Spalding’s annual 24-hour Giving Day fundraiser on Thursday Oct. 1; a series of free, public “Alumni College” mini-workshops led by Spalding faculty; and a Sunday Mass conducted by the Most Rev. Joseph E. Kurtz, Archbishop of Louisville, at the Spalding Mansion Chapel.

There will also be reunions for the five- and 10-year anniversaries of every graduating class since 1950.

The Alumni College mini-workshops are new to Founders’ Day this year. Free and open to the public, the hour-long virtual sessions feature Spalding faculty from a range of academic disciplines discussing historical and current-affairs topics related to race, politics, health care, Kentucky literature and design thinking.

The Founders’ Day Weekend events will begin a 12-month celebration of Spalding’s 100th year downtown. Through Founders’ Day 2021, the University will share alumni and history stories on Spalding’s website and organize community service projects and special events, in accordance with public health guidelines during the pandemic.

“Spalding’s mission statement says we are a diverse community of learners dedicated to meeting the needs of the times,” Spalding President Tori Murden McClure said. “Set on a path by the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth, we are proud to have been in downtown Louisville for 100 years, and we will be here for the next 100, meeting the needs of the times, educating future leaders and promoting peace and justice.

“We welcome the public to join us over Founders’ Day Weekend in celebrating Spalding’s rich history and commitment to the future of our neighborhood.”

About Spalding’s history

Spalding is a private, Catholic institution that was founded in 1814 as Nazareth Academy by Mother Catherine Spalding and the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth in Nelson County, Kentucky.
In the fall of 1920, the Sisters established the downtown Louisville campus under the name Nazareth College – Kentucky’s first four-year Catholic college for women – at the Tompkins-Buchanan-Rankin Mansion at 851 S. Fourth St.

In 1973, the university, then called Spalding College, was incorporated as an independent, urban, coeducational institution in the Catholic tradition for students of all traditions. It assumed its current name of Spalding University in 1984 in recognition of the range of academic programs it offered.

In 2011, Spalding was certified as the world’s first Compassionate University by the Compassionate Action Network.

Spalding’s campus has expanded to nearly 25 acres, with buildings and green spaces located primarily along South Second, South Third, South Fourth, West Kentucky and West Breckinridge streets. The campus also includes a seven-acre athletic fields complex that opened in 2019 west of the primary campus, between South Eighth and South Ninth streets.

Founders’ Day Weekend activities
Here is a rundown of the public virtual Founders’ Day Weekend activities, including Alumni College sessions:

All Day – Spalding’s Annual Giving Day: Spalding will hold its fifth annual all-day fundraiser – 24 hours focused on generating donations from within Spalding’s community of faculty, staff, alumni and friends of the university. Beginning at 12:01 a.m. Thursday and going through midnight, donations can easily be made online at

Noon-1 p.m. – Alumni College: Anne Braden’s “A Letter to White Southern Women,” with Dr. Pattie Dillon, Chair of the School of Liberal Studies and Professor of History
6-7 p.m. – Alumni College: African American Involvement in Local and State Politics, with Dr. Deonte Hollowell, Assistant Professor of History and African American Studies, and Executive in Residence Jerry Abramson

11 a.m.-Noon – Alumni College: From Nazareth Academy to Spalding University: A brief history of a great university, with Dr. Kurt Jefferson, Dean of Graduate Education
Noon-1 p.m. – Alumni College: Before the Anti-Racist Movement there was Black Studies, with Dr. Tomarra Adams, Dean of Undergraduate Education, and Dr. Ricky Jones, Chair of Pan-African Studies at University of Louisville
1-2 p.m. – Alumni College: The New Essential Kentucky Novels, with Professor Kathleen Driskell, Chair of the School of Creative and Professional Writing, and MFA in Writing alumni Silas House, Crystal Wilkinson and Katy Yocom
2-3 p.m. – Alumni College: Design Thinking and Creative Innovation: Leaning into Change, with Professor Deb Whistler, Associate Professor and Director of the Creative Arts program

11 a.m.-Noon – 2020 Founders’ Day Mass, with the Most Rev. Joseph E. Kurtz, Archbishop of Louisville
2-3 p.m. – Alumni College: Health Care Today – Whom Do We Really Care About? with Brother Ignatius Perkins, Chair of the School of Nursing