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.”

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Spalding President Tori Murden McClure and trustees Paul Ratterman and John Malloy at Commencement
Spalding President Tori Murden McClure and trustees Dr. Paul Ratterman, left, and Dr. John P. Malloy at Commencement on June 3, 2021. Ratterman and Malloy both celebrated earning their EdD in Leadership.

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.

SPALDING’s DOCTORATE IN LEADERSHIP | EdD overview | Faculty bios | Videos and testimonials

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.”

Spalding 2021 EdD Cohort at Commencment
The entire 2021 EdD Cohort after Commencement Thursday, June 3, on the steps of Columbia Gym.


James G. Rissler, President and CEO of the Presbyterian Church (USA) Investment and Loan Program, was recently named the new chair of the Spalding University Board of Trustees, and Tomarra Adams, a former program director and assistant dean at the University of Louisville, is now Spalding’s Dean for Undergraduate Education. They are among the new appointments and hires in leadership positions announced by the university for the 2018-19 academic year.

Rissler, who has been a Spalding trustee since 2012, will serve as board chair for two years. He has led PCUSA’s Investment and Loan Program since 2015 and before that served as the program’s Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer.

Rissler replaces Paul M. Ratterman, Managing Director of Fixed Income Institutional Sales at Stifel Financial, as the Spalding board chair after Ratterman served two two-year terms. Ratterman remains on the board.

Adams, Spalding’s new undergraduate dean, began work on Aug. 1. She was previously Director of Undergraduate Studies in the U of L Department of Pan-African Studies and an Assistant Dean in the College of Arts and Sciences with responsibilities in Advising and Student Services.

professional head shot of Jim Rissler
Jim Rissler

Adams, who was a tenured member of the U of L faculty, holds a PhD in social work jointly from U of L and the University of Kentucky. A licensed clinical social worker, she also holds a master’s degree in social work from U of L. Her undergraduate degree is in psychology with a minor in Pan-African studies.

“My passion has been to create space for students to be successful and be their advocate within higher education,” Adams said. “I have facilitated this passion through the lenses of Pan-African studies and social work – meeting students where they are while being committed to social justice and social responsibility. I am excited to be a part of the Spalding community, which embraces a mission centered on meeting the needs of a diverse body of students, impacting and engaging an urban community, and promoting peace and justice. It is uplifting to be among scholars and professionals who demonstrate this same passion in their own work every day and watch them make it a part of the fabric of the institution. I am inspired.”

Other faculty leadership positions that have been filled for 2018-19: Shannon Cambron, permanent chair of the Spalding School of Social Work after previously serving as acting chair; Stacy Deck, program director, bachelor of science in social work program; Pamela Elzy, program director, doctor of nursing practice program; Deborah Whistler, program director, bachelor of fine arts in studio art program; and Frederick Williams, a program director who has been hired to develop curriculum for a program in criminal justice studies with an emphasis on criminal justice reform.

New trustees on the Spalding board this year are: Mark B. Carter, Chief Executive Officer, Passport Health Plan; Christe S. Coe, a nurse practitioner who is a former member of the Kentucky Board of Nursing and Spalding’s 2018 Alumna of the Year; Pattie Dillon, the faculty trustee who is the chair of the Spalding School of Liberal Studies and an associate professor of history; Roger McClendon, who recently retired as Chief Sustainability Officer at Yum! Brands; and Eric Schwartz, Chief Investment Officer for Schulte Hospitality Group.

Spalding’s other board officers are: First Vice Chair James A. Morris, Vice President of Finance for Baptist Health Louisville and La Grange; Second Vice Chair Angela Leet, President of ALEETCO; and Secretary John P. Malloy, Vice President of Gas Distribution for Louisville Gas and Electric Company and Kentucky Utilities Company.

Spalding is working to build the fields of its dreams, and the Golden Eagles are looking for the support of Louisville’s leaders.

Louisville Metro Council representatives Rick Blackwell and Angela Leet, who are Spalding trustees, hosted fellow council members and trustees, as well as other government officials, on Thursday, March 15, for a progress update on the proposed Spalding athletic fields complex between South Eighth and South Ninth streets, about four blocks west of campus.

Spalding President Tori Murden McClure, Chief Advancement Officer Bert Griffin, Athletic Director Roger Burkman and architect Sabak, Wilson and Lingo gave presentations on the scope of the project, which will transform an abandoned 7.4-acre tract of asphalt into two soccer fields and one softball field for the NCAA Division III Golden Eagles.

Spalding, which announced the fields proposal in 2015 and wrapped up site preparation work last month, is making a fundraising push to get the project complete.

“From the Spalding side, obviously the project is very exciting and is more growth for Spalding,” Blackwell said. “From the city perspective, it’s really an opportunity as well. You’re taking something that was really an eye sore and turning it into something that’s a real treasure. We’re grateful for Spalding being able to do that, and hopefully we can have some city involvement as well to make it happen.”

University officials aren’t seeking public funding for the fields, but they sought Thursday to win the support of leaders to spread the word about the benefits of the project, which would create a large urban green space in the South of Broadway (SoBro) area and provide community access to high-quality sports facilities.

“When you have investment like this that happens in the community, other people are willing to start making investments,” Leet said. “As soon as you pick up something that looks like a blighted site and improve it and make it look like what it can be, others buy in and believe in that thought. They join the enthusiasm. And I believe this is the beginning of what will be.”


A true home field

The Spalding athletic fields project is seen as a game-changer, literally, for the school’s student-athletes.

The complex will provide on-campus home fields for the first time to the men’s and women’s soccer and softball teams. Lacrosse and field hockey programs could be started.

The soccer teams currently play at Champions Trace a few miles from campus and work their games and practices around the schedule of Collegiate High School, which is the primary tenant.

The softball team has moved home fields multiple times over the years and currently plays at Holy Cross High in Shively, about a 20-minute drive from Spalding. Again, the high school holds scheduling priority, so Spalding must work around it, sometimes leading to late-evening practices.

“It’s just going to help the overall student-athlete experience of the players on our team,” men’s soccer coach Adam Boyer said. “It will bring them closer to the university as a whole, to have their own facility they can call home.”

Spalding’s teams would be the primary tenants of the new fields, but the university plans to invite other school and club teams to rent them. The lighted, synthetic-turf fields would allow for year-round use. A fieldhouse with changing rooms and a concession stand is also planned.

“It’s an area (of downtown) that really kind of needs it,” Blackwell said, “and it’s really going to spur a lot of opportunities as well. Think about if you have not only Spalding activities but other activities during the summer. If you have two soccer fields, you have the opportunity to do some tournaments and have a lot of folks down here participating. That’ll spur opportunities for people to add amenities, restaurants and all kinds of other investments with it. That’s what we’re hoping for from the city side.”

Though Spalding was making its case to members of the Metro Council, the university is not asking for public money to help fund the project. McClure said the point of Thursday’s gathering was to provide information and encourage government leaders to express support for the project in their communities.

Spalding is hopeful that the city will eventually assist in safety and beautification work to the public spaces around the site, such as improving the sidewalks and street-lighting in the area.

McClure said that once Spalding raises all the money it needs, the fields could be completed in 3-4 months.

“Because we are a private university, it’s been a little more challenging to find those dollars,” said Leet, who chairs the Spalding board’s advancement committee. “So we’ve really had to work hard to find those community partners who believe in what we’re trying to accomplish here, who believe in the idea of improving the neighborhood.

“The beautiful thing of it is we have more than 20 trustees who have been on board for several years now with what we’re trying to accomplish, and they’ve been working hard to utilize their contacts and influence in their areas of expertise to try to make this happen. And I think that’s what we’re seeing here today.”

Greening initiative continues

The Spalding athletic fields complex is the latest – and largest – project in university’s greening initiative, which also included the creation of Mother Catherine Spalding Square in the center of campus in 2014 and the repurposing last fall of an abandoned asphalt lot into Trager Park at the corner of South Second and West Kentucky. (More than 100 trees are set to be planted this spring at Trager Park, a substantial addition to a neighborhood that has only a 9 percent tree canopy – below the 15 percent recommended for central business districts by American Forests.)

Like with those other greening projects, the fields complex would remove acres of impervious surfaces in SoBro and decrease the amount of stormwater that enters the city’s sewer system.

As an incentive, the Metro Sewer District has already approved about $250,000 in stipends to Spalding to complete the work, according to Sabak, Wilson and Lingo.

“There are some huge (greening) improvements that Spalding has already done. Those are really investments in the community,” said Blackwell, the president of DeSales High School who earned his master’s degree in religious studies from Spalding in 1995 and is now pursuing his doctorate of education in leadership at the school. “It makes us more believable when we talk about the (Spalding athletic fields) being a community investment because you’ve seen what Spalding has already invested in the community. This, too, will be not only for our athletes but for the community. It’s huge.”


Rendering of softball field
Rendering of softball field
Rendering of propose Spalding athletic complex fieldhouse
Rendering of fieldhouse
Rendering of overhead view of proposed Spalding athletic fields - two soccer fields and a softball field
Overhead rendering of full complex

Consultant and entrepreneur Dana Jackson has been a member of Spalding University’s Board of Trustees since 2004. Jackson, who received a master’s degree in psychology from Spalding, is the CEO of Dana Jackson Consulting, which focuses on results-based leadership development and organizational transformation. Jackson is also a partner with Better Together Strategies consulting firm, which specializes in leadership development, building public-private partnerships and working with nonprofit organizations on community change and economic development. She has also served as executive director of the Network Center for Community Change and in leadership roles for Kentucky’s Department of Community Based Services.

What’s it been like to be a longtime member of Spalding’s board, and what has it meant to you to serve in that role?

Spalding has a special place in my heart, not only because it’s where I got my master’s degree but because of the mission of Spalding. Spalding really is focused on a population that I care deeply about with folks who have often been disenfranchised. Spalding’s social justice focus is another thing that is really near and dear to my heart. I know for me, as a graduate student at Spalding, it was sort of a tough time in my life, and I really feel like if I had been at another institution, I maybe would have gotten lost. Some of the personal difficulties I was having, it was like a season of loss in my family. I lost a lot of people who were very dear to me during the time I was a student there. Had I been at a larger institution or an institution that was not so focused on student support and really getting to know students, I probably would have stepped away from my education. The faculty and staff at Spalding did not let that happen. They helped me change the narrative of my life, and I’m forever grateful for that.

How does the work you’re doing now and throughout your career align with the mission of Spalding to be a diverse community of learners and be grounded in compassion and social justice, and do you see Spalding carrying out that mission when you visit campus?

The mission of Spalding really in many ways is sort of my life’s mission. It’s of high importance to me. I’ve spent the majority of my working career really focused on equity, closing opportunity gaps and disparities, particularly around child well-being, community well-being and education. I really think that’s the work that Spalding does as well. I think the best way to do that work is with the understanding of equity, with a spirit of compassion and to do it with a lens and focus on social justice. That’s how Spalding does its work, and it holds education as the great equalizer. I think that shows up in the demographics of the student body. It’s all in the DNA of the leadership at Spalding, and it’s in the DNA of the offerings at the college.

Are there any programs or undertakings at Spalding that stand out to you that you consider a priority as a board member or hope to work on or have an impact on?

Continuing to hold on to and increase this notion of being a diverse community of learners. I’m really interested in the Muhammad Ali scholarship program (which gives $5,000 in need-based aid to first-year students and is renewable for up to four years), and I’m very much interested in the focus on restorative justice and restorative practices. … I don’t actually think you can talk about restorative justice without thinking about and being open to discussions about disproportionality and inequity, and I think that Spalding is well-positioned in the community – based on this notion of being a compassionate university and really embracing restorative practices and being a diverse community of learners – to really be a leader as our community continues to not only think about but take actions around more equitable outcomes in education.