Other than Commencement, the Running of the Rodents is Spalding’s oldest annual tradition, held each spring around Kentucky Derby season as a fun break from the “rat race” of upcoming exams and the end of the school year. This joyful event for students, faculty and staff was held for 47 consecutive years until last year, when, unfortunately, the pandemic forced us to take a pause. Led by the Student Government Association, Spalding is proud to announce that next week, festivities surrounding the week of the Running of the Rodents will return, leading up to a modified, socially distant, livestreamed version of our rat derby on Thursday, April 22.

RELATED: 2019 Running of the Rodents ‘Rat Recap’

More information and reminders will be shared next week, but Rat Week activities will kick off Monday afternoon, with a Spring Carnival at Trager Park sponsored by the Residence Hall Association. (See info below.)

For all events, remember to practice social distancing, wear a mask (including for outdoor events) and complete the CampusClear assessment before coming to campus.

Here is the schedule:

Monday, April 19

RHA Spring Carnival, Trager Park, 3-7 p.m.: Join the RHA and our campus residents for yard games and activity stations, including cornhole, ladder golf, giant Connect 4 and a tie-dye station. (Bring your own items to tie-dye.) There will be popsicles and lemonade for attendees. Also, to benefit Family Scholar House, bring a donation of school supplies to be entered into a raffle. The raffle winner will receive a prize from the Campus Store.

Rat Race Photo Archive, Library Huff Gallery, all day (Monday-Thursday): A video of photos will be on display.

Tuesday, April 20
Lemon Juleps, College Street Café, lunch hours: The Café will serve Spalding’s traditional Running of the Rodents beverage. The Library will have a fun display with the history of the drink.

Derby Hat Social Media Contest, enter by noon: Create a Running of the Rodents or Kentucky Derby hat and please submit a photo of it to [email protected] or tag @spaldinguniversity on Instagram by noon. The winner will receive a Rat Race T-shirt.

Rat Race Photo Archive, Library Huff Gallery, all day: A video of photos will be on display.

Wednesday, April 21

Way Back Wednesday, all day: Please share your Rat Race photos from previous years on social media and tag @spaldinguniversity on Instagram, @spaldingu on Twitter or @spaldinguniversity on Facebook. Or email your photos to [email protected]

Rat Race Photo Archive, Library Huff Gallery, all day: A video of photos will be on display.

Thursday, April 22

Modified Running of the Rodents, 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.: More information to come next week on the details of this year’s socially distant races!

Rat Race Photo Archive, Library Huff Gallery, all day: A video of photos will be on display.


Spalding University student-athletes were treated to a quick basketball shoot-around and a pep talk from rapper and entrepreneur Percy Miller, aka Master P, on Friday afternoon at Columbia Gym.

Miller spoke to the Spalding athletes about the importance of education as well as the opportunities and relationships that can be created and strengthened through playing sports. An excellent basketball player, Miller went to the University of Houston on an athletic scholarship, later attended Merritt College in California. He briefly played in the NBA.

“Education is so important,” he told the Golden Eagles. “Without that, you’re going to make the wrong choices and decisions. …  Keep chasing those dreams and those goals and know that education is going to take you a long way. … Everybody might not make it to the NBA or the WNBA, but you can use this as a tool to get you to different places and to see and build those dreams and goals.”

Miller used the trip to Spalding on Friday as an opportunity to meet with and console two local families who have recently lost teenagers to tragedies – 18-year-old Richard Harper and 13-year-old Ki’Athony Tyus.

The visit with the families and with the Spalding athletes was arranged by Louisville community activist and anti-violence advocate Christopher 2X, who works with Miller as a community and public relations ambassador for Miller’s professional Global Mixed Gender Basketball League. In February 2018, Columbia Gym became a site of that organization’s Balling for a Cause youth basketball and leadership camps, which promote peace and life skills.

“Once (Miller) started to learn more about Spalding’s mission regarding social justice and he’s learned more about how Spalding has become a beacon of light for members of the community, he said it would be good to meet those families there,” Christopher 2X said. “‘Let me give those words of encouragement at Spalding and the Columbia Gym.’”

Last June, Christopher 2X was awarded an honorary doctorate for public service from Spalding.

Rapper Percy Miller, aka Master P, posed with Spalding student-athletes on Feb. 8, 2019
Rapper Percy Miller, aka Master P, posed with Spalding student-athletes on Feb. 8, 2019

Spalding is having a huge Spirit Week starting Monday, Feb. 4 and leading up to Homecoming on Saturday, Feb. 9! It’s a great time to let loose and have fun with everyone, and to cheer on our Golden Eagles’ men’s and women’s basketball teams during their Homecoming doubleheader against MacMurray.

The basketball games on Saturday will be at 1 p.m. (women) and 3 p.m. (men) at Columbia Gym, and that night, from 9 p.m.-1 a.m., we’ll have a Gatsby-themed Homecoming dance at the College Street Ballroom. Everyone should expect lots of awesome music, dancing, an amazing backdrop for pictures, endless snacks to keep your energy up, and, of course, we will find out who our kings and queens are!

This is a time for everyone to forget about school for a couple of hours and just hang out with all of your friends. At last year’s Homecoming dance, about 120 student attended. We want to double that number this weekend. The more people, the more alive the party can be.

Each day of Spirit Week has a theme:

Monday: PJ Day

Tuesday: Jersey Day

Wednesday: Duo Day

Thursday: Throwback Thursday

Saturday (Game Day): Blue and Gold

Saturday night (Dance Night): Wear whatever you feel comfortable dancing in, but with the Gatsby theme, it wouldn’t hurt to sport your best 1920s costume!

If you’re a Spalding student, here is the link to vote for kings and queens. (You must sign into your Spalding account to access the Google link.)

Homecoming and Spirit Week are organized by Spalding’s Campus Activities Board  (CAB), which seeks to make students’ campus-event ideas come to life. We try to provide students with things to do on a down week, and we want to build up school spirit. If you want to join CAB, contact me at [email protected]

I hope everyone gets into the spirit for Spirit Week and can make it to the games to support our Eagles on Saturday!


As part of Founders’ Weekend, Spalding University hopes alumni and the community at large will come get acquainted with its newest campus green space on Oct. 5-6 and take time to eat, drink and play some games.

Spalding welcomes the public to its inaugural free Founders’ Weekend Fall Festival at newly opened Trager Park from 4-9 p.m. that Friday and Saturday. There will be lawn games, including a nine-hole miniature golf course, inflatables, food trucks and beer served by Great Flood Brewing. AT&T Fiber is another sponsor.

The park is located at the corner of South Second and West Kentucky streets, and free parking will be available at the former Kroger building.

Bellissimo and Georgia Sweet Potato Pie Co. will offer food on Friday, and Street Food King will on both days.

“I think there will be a good variety of activities – food, games, music, the Spalding community and the nearby community, too, “ said Shaun McDonough, Spalding’s new director of student activities and recreation. “So I think it’ll be a great mixture for everyone.

“This being a big activity in Trager Park is really great, and I know in my role, I’m looking at what can we use that space for, whether it be intramurals or other things in the future.”

Trager Park is a 2.2-acre grassy park with 100 newly planted trees. It opened in November 2017 after the property was transformed from an unused asphalt lot. The fall festival will be one of the first official university events held at the park, and it’ll certain to be the biggest so far.

“We’re just seeing how things are growing at Spalding and how we’re just trying to do more,” McDonough said.

With alumni in town for reunion weekend and visiting prospects and their parents on campus, Spalding is hoping for a big festival crowd. The Spalding festival will also be the same weekend as the St. James Court Art Show, held up a short distance away in Old Louisville, and Spalding hopes St. James fans will stop by Trager Park afterward.



Ahead of the start of fall classes, Spalding’s new traditional first-year students were introduced to campus with the three-day Engage orientation program. (Check out lots of pictures and tag yourself or folks you know in the Engage/Welcome Week album on  the Spalding Facebook page.)

We used Engage as a chance to catch up with several of the new freshmen – about 190 traditional first-year students have registered for classes – to get their thoughts on coming to Spalding and why it was a good fit.

Why Spalding?

“The reason I chose this school is because I feel like they genuinely care about their students, and I think (Engage) is a good example of that. The fact that it’s a small school, there is a really good teacher-to-student ratio. They obviously want you to succeed. It’s a really diverse atmosphere. Stuff like Engage, not a lot of schools do an orientation like this, so I think they really want you to feel comfortable.” Kelly McCulloch, psychology major, Clarksville High School

“My teacher recommended it. He had an Ivy Plus program, and he set he set us up with like high-level liberal arts schools. He knew I didn’t want to go out of state, so he looped me into Spalding. I came on a campus visit, and they showed me the nursing department, and I just knew it. I like small classes. The faculty is really nice.”Hailey Wentworth, nursing major, Fern Creek High School

“I knew I wanted to come to a school in Louisville because there are a lot of job opportunities outside of school around Louisville. Like if you want to get into art, you go to Louisville. I chose this school because I like the smaller classes.” – Kadyn Wilson, studio art major, Central Hardin High School

“I wanted to come to a smaller school. (A big university), that’s too big for me. I wanted a smaller environment. I like that the class sizes are smaller so that more so, if you need that one-on-one help, you can have that. … It was nice, the people were nice. I felt welcome, and like I said with the small environment, it was just a nice feeling. … Nursing is something I always wanted to do, and they’re known for their nursing program.” Baileigh Haskins, nursing major from Ballard High School

“The (men’s golf) coach tried to recruit me, and when I came on campus, I really liked it. I love that it’s in downtown Louisville, and I’m just about 30 minutes away from home, so it’s just like home. I like the coach, and I decided to come here. … I like the location of the school. It’s sort of perfect. You can do anything. There’s a bunch of stuff to do. So when I’m not on the golf course or at work, there’s always something to do.” – Hayden Hope, Christian Academy of Indiana grad, men’s golf athlete

“I took a Norton class at my high school, and my nursing teacher graduated from Spalding. That’s how I got to know Spalding. … The reason I want to be a nurse is because I’m a diabetic, and I want to teach and become a diabetic educator. A big way to get there is to become a nurse, and you can get certified after you become a nurse.”  – Whitney Bundy, nursing major, Jeffersonville High School grad

“I know a lot of people who taught at (alma mater) Providence High School came here for their master’s or doctorate. That’s one thing that got me interested. I thought, ‘Oh, this must be a really interesting school.’ The main reason that I chose Spalding is that it has the occupational therapy program, and I know a lot of people come here for that, and it’s one of the few in this area that has a really good occupational program.” – Emma Wade, health science major with plans to bridge into occupational therapy graduate program, Providence High School grad

“It’s a good fit for me because everybody is more social here. Everybody gets to know everybody, and you get to figure out new things from different people. It’s very diverse, very open. I thought that was pretty cool.” – Troy Amanor, studio art (graphic design) major, Western Hills High School grad

“I like the block scheduling and the class sizes, and I liked how everyone was super inclusive. If you have a question, they’ll always answer it or find someone to answer it. ” – Taylor Skrine, education major, Nelson County High School grad

“It was close to home, and I like the small-community environment. My visit was uplifting and made me feel at home.” – Madi Jaggers, health science major with plans to bridge into occupational therapy graduate program, Pleasure Ridge Park High School grad

More on the appeal of a small campus

“With the size of campus, you can’t really get lost, and even if you do while you’re looking for a building, someone will tell you, ‘It’s right there, right across the street!’ I come from a smaller town, so moving to the bigger city, I thought I would be scared living in downtown, but the campus is really safe, and we’ve made our group of friends already. We meet up in the lobby and say, ‘Hey, let’s go do something. Let’s go get ice cream.'” – Taylor Skrine, Nelson County grad

“I’m already used to a small community of people. There were 113 people in my graduating class. Everybody knew everybody. … So it feels very familiar. I know people who are like, ‘There are 3,000 people in my freshman class,’ and I’m like, there are less than a few hundred in mine, so that makes it seem very similar to high school.” – Emma Wade, Providence grad

“My high school graduating class was 72 people. It’s a very small school – 300 people total in the whole school – so I definitely was not even thinking about going to a big college. And I like the small campus because I feel like you get connections with almost everyone. It’s a new start, which is really good.” – Kelly McCulloch, Clarksville grad






There is nothing like the excitement and resources of a big city.

That’s why Spalding University, a top five college in Kentucky (College Choice 2017 & 2018),  is a dynamic option for prospective college students.

Spalding, with a 23-acre campus in downtown Louisville, Kentucky, is located within miles, if not blocks, of many of the state’s most active sources of commerce and culture. Many of the companies and nonprofit organizations where young adults most aspire to work are right near campus. As are some of the state’s coolest restaurants, music and sports venues, museums, galleries, shops and parks.

So for students eager to live in a big city while also wanting to attend a small university, Spalding shapes up as a great choice.

“I love that Spalding is close to everything,” said sophomore Jessica Nelson, who is an art major from Somerset, Kentucky. “I have many different places to explore, and I have access to a lot of things that small towns don’t. Being able to explore (professional) options in Louisville while I’m younger will definitely give me a feel for my future jobs and internships.”

SmartAsset named Louisville as a top city for new college grads, and ZipRecruiter ranked Louisville as having a top-10 job market nationally. Perhaps that’s a reason why 70 percent of Spalding alumni choose to live in Louisville after college.

“Living in Louisville after college is my plan,” said Spalding sophomore Ethan Thornton, who majors in business administration with a concentration in marketing.  “It’s a city on the come-up, and attending Spalding is a great way to live in a big city while still feeling like everything is close by.”

Thornton said he loves that campus is near the business sector of the city, making it less intimidating to venture out to network or pursue internships and jobs.

“It’s also really refreshing knowing that these employers can reach out to Spalding references easily,” he said.

Before coming to Spalding, Nelson, who is studying pre-art therapy, said she had never been to an art museum because there are none in her hometown.

“Being open to all the opportunities to see art only five minutes from my dorm was amazing,” she said. “I really enjoy going to the Speed Museum and getting inspiration for my homework and projects.”

Nelson said she and her friends enjoy bike riding around town, and she likes to visit a nearby butterfly farm on the weekends. She also enjoys exploring thrift shops and downtown festivals to check out art that’s for sale.

“There is much more to look at in Louisville,” she said.

As for campus life, Nelson, who lived in Morrison Hall last year and has moved into the Spalding Suites this summer, said Spalding’s community of students, faculty and staff is small enough that she can get to know a lot of people, “if not everyone,” on campus.

“But,” she added, “I still have the perks of living in a big city.”

“I’m very happy with my decision to attend Spalding,” Nelson said. “Most colleges don’t get as personal with their students to guide them where they need to be.”



Spalding Director of Student Engagement Anna Foshee is earning her master of science in business communication degree (MSBC), which is a popular program for Spalding employees who choose to continue their education. With commencement coming up at 10 a.m. Saturday, June 2, Foshee, who is Manual High School and Butler University alumna, discussed her experience as a Spalding grad student.

What’s your favorite memory while going through the MSBC program?

I’ve really enjoyed getting to know other people at the university who work here because a lot of folks are in this program, so it’s kind of introduced me to a lot of different departments – advancement, athletics, admissions. One thing that was really meaningful was that I, along with two other Spalding folks from admissions, were asked to do a joint capstone project, which I think was the first time they ever allowed a group capstone. That was something that meant a lot to all of us, and we were excited to present a really good piece and sort of expand the options for students moving forward as far as group projects and assignments moving forward.


What accomplishments are you most proud of as a student at Spalding?

I was really proud of myself for completing the finance course because I’m someone who typically struggles with math and sciences, and Professor (Derek) Bonifer was the instructor for the class, and he was really amazing at sort of relating it back to everyday life and how you can use finance not only in the business sense but in the personal sense. That made it really relatable. That was a class I was really proud to complete with top marks and actually feeling like I learned some really important and useful things.

What is your favorite spot on campus?

I probably spend the most time on campus in the courtyard outside of the library and Teilhard Hall. It’s nice and shady, and I love that space. I also really like the Kentucky Room in the library because it looks out onto that space, and it’s very calming and just sort of a really nice, shaded view of campus. I look to go in there to work and study.

Is there anything else you’d like to share about your student experience at Spalding?

Just in general, this program has been challenging for me because it was the first time I’d ever had to do coursework online, which I think is a really important skill to have in today’s world. And I think it’s important for me to have experience for when I communicate with students that I’ll have a better understanding of where they’re coming from and the situations they might be in when it comes to online learning. Also, I’m just really excited to utilize the skills I learned in the MSBC program in my work here at Spalding to help better serve as a developer of student leadership and positive communication and effective communication in the workplace. I think it’s going to serve me well.

Great weather? Check.

Brand new park on campus? Check.

Friday afternoon was a perfect time to get outside at Spalding University.

In what the Office of Student Engagement hopes will become a tradition, Spalding held its first Field Day on Friday afternoon under sunny skies and warm temperatures at 7-month-old Trager Park. About 50 students, faculty and staff played dodge ball and kickball, had a water balloon fight and bounced around in a bouncy house all in the spirit of getting outside and enjoying college life together.

Anna Foshee, Spalding Director of Student Engagement, said the Field Day was organized in response to  feedback from lots of current and prospective students who have been wanting to see more intramural sports and activities on campus. She said her office hopes to develop more intramural programs next school year.

The Field Day was perhaps the first large campus event to take place at Trager Park, the 2.2-acre green space at the corner of Second and Kentucky streets that opened in November after being converted from an abandoned parking lot. The sodded lawn is now established and bright green, and more than 100 trees have been planted. The park was built with the idea in mind of being a site for intramural sports and campus events.

“This is amazing. It’s so nice,” Foshee said. “Besides using it for events, just showcasing it to students and making them aware of its existence and making them aware that they can access it whatever they want, that’s important. It’s going to be awesome for campus events, campus culture.”

Michaela Patton, Campus Activities Board president, said the entire third floor of Morrison Hall, where’s she’s the RA, was excited to come to Field Day.

“This is what Spalding is all about,” she said. “We’re family. It was a great chance for everybody to get together outside before the weekend starts, and with summer about to start and a lot of people going home for the summer, it was a great chance to enjoy being  together as a campus community.”

Patton, a junior, said the creation of Trager Park has made for a transformation in the lower part campus and that she believes the green space will benefit students and members of the neighborhood for years to come.

“It’s an amazing place,” she said. “It’s so open. It’s a great investment. It’s a great way to get the people on campus active.

“It used to be a big blob of parking lot and rocks. Now when I drive down this street with family or a friend, I point out the window at the park and say, ‘Hey, that’s my school!’ That’s amazing.”

Even some future Spalding students stopped by Field Day.

Spencer County High School seniors Andrea Nation and Sonyia Helton, who are committed to attend Spalding and study nursing next fall, accepted the invitation from the admissions office to come by Field Day to visit campus and meet some of their future classmates.

“I feel like it’s very welcoming,” Helton said. “It’s such a small-knit, tight college campus. Everyone knows everyone. I think this was a chance to get a jump and get a feel of how everyone treats each other and how friendly everyone is.”

Nation said she chose Spalding because it is close to home, has a low student-to-faculty ratio and has six-week block scheduling.

Visiting on Friday provided the chance “to meet new people, see new faces in making that transition from high school to college,” she said.



The Rev. Elizabeth Hinson-Hasty, who is the faculty chair of theology at Bellarmine University, will give the Spalding University Keenan Lecture from 7-8:30 p.m. March 27, 2018  in the lectorium of the Egan Leadership Center, 901 S. Fourth St. It’s a free, public event.

Hinson-Hasty is an author and a frequent public speaker on the church’s role in addressing issues of social and economic justice. You can read her professional bio and curriculum vitae at this link.

The title of her lecture will be “Insights from the World’s Great Religious Traditions for an Alternative Social Logic,” and Hinson-Hasty will discuss why she reframes the debates over poverty, wealth inequalities and the destruction of our natural environment from the perspective of the problem of wealth. As the lecture title suggests, she’ll offer insights from religious traditions for an alternative social logic about the issues of wealth.

She plans to spend most of the second half of the lecture taking questions from the audience. Those attending or interested in the subject matter are encouraged to use the hashtag #imagineweareone on social media.

The Keenan Lecture is an annual discussion of religious themes that’s presented by Spalding’s School of Liberal Studies.

Hinson-Hasty is author of three books, including most recently last summer’s “The Problem of Wealth: A Christian Response to a Culture of Affluence.” Her Keenan Lecture will be related to topics in that book. She also wrote “Dorothy Day for Armchair Theologians” in 2014 and “Beyond the Social Maze: Exploring Vida Dutton Scudder’s Theological Ethics” in 2006. She was a c0-editor of two other books, both published in 2008 – “Prayers for a New Social Awakening” and “To Do Justice: Engaging Progressive Christians in Social Action.”

Here’s an interview with Hinson-Hasty that gives more insight on what to expect from her lecture.

Can you summarize some of what you hope to talk about?

What I’m interested in doing is to highlight why I framed the issue of wealth inequalities and responses to poverty as the problem of wealth. But then in the lecture, I also want to emphasize what religious traditions offer as an alternative. So I’ll highlight at Islamic banking and look at Buddhist ecomonics as well as give some specific examples of things people have done to address wealth inequalities. My hope is to really get into conversation with people about what the alternatives may look like. There are some examples in the book, “The Problem of Wealth,” that actually come from the Louisville area, and I’ll offer some of those specific examples.

How do you describe what your newest book is about?

It is about reframing debates on poverty and wealth inequalities from the perspective of how we create wealth and why that matters. I look at the two dominant forms of wealth creation in the U.S. but also the larger global economy and highlight the impact, particularly, of how neoliberalism arguably accelerates poverty and creates poverty in the U.S. and worldwide. So it’s a challenge to that to think about, what then are the policies and also the practices that invite us to live by an alternative social logic?

Everyone is invited and encouraged to come obviously, but who more specifically are the types of people you think would be interested in coming to hear your Keenan Lecture?

Definitely religious leaders. Also, I recently gave a series of lectures related to the book at Austin College in Sherman, Texas, and who came there were economists on the faculty and also local people who are involved in alternative forms of businesses, you know, smaller businesses. I would say who would be interested would be anyone who is concerned about wealth inequality and the impact on U.S. society and what that means to basic necessities like education and food. There are a variety of groups.

Why do you think people should look at religious traditions to extrapolate lessons about economics and societal issues?

Primarily, because historically, economics is always taught alongside history, moral philosophy or theology. It wasn’t until the late 19th or early 20 century that the disciplines were separated. Actually it’s more recent that the Western academy has separated out economics as a standalone discipline. The term “economics” is rooted in the Greek work, “oikos,” which means household. In theological writings, that refers to managing right relationships in God’s household. … What I’m trying to do is to reclaim that earlier emphasis (of economics being tied to other disciplines). It’s just to say, OK, I’m a religious leader and a theologian, but economics and business and wealth creation shouldn’t be separate from questions of ethics and philosophy and theology and history and other disciplines. I think that partly is what has led to the huge wealth divide that we see in the U.S. and globally today. We have to bring the conversation back into the kind of complex web that really it’s mired in.

Your book describes learning “the ethic of enough.” Can you speak to that?

There are a number of questions raised about that in the book, even about how we define what wealth is. In U.S. society, we think about wealth as a material success. But that’s not true in all cultures. We’re kind of impoverished in that way in the U.S. that we’re not as well-aware that wealth is also abundance in relationships and understanding that we’re part of the larger web of life. From others’ perspective, that’s part of our poverty.  … All the world’s great religions really question if the unlimited right of individuals to increase their own wealth is a good in itself. You see in each of the religious traditions a kind of alternative social logic that emerges.


2018 Spalding Keenan lecture graphic - a road sign that points to 'poverty' in one direction and 'wealth' in the other. Lecture is March 27, 7-8:30 p.m.
The 2018 Keenan Lecture by Elizabeth Hinson-Hasty will focus on ways to decrease disparities in poverty and wealth.

Spalding University will host about 150 higher-education faculty, staff and students from around the state tomorrow, Friday, March 2 for a conference that will examine ways to improve civil dialogue on campuses, including using talking circles, and to have productive conversations about difficult topics.

Spalding will be the site of the all-day Kentucky Engagement Conference, sponsored by the Kentucky Campus Compact, which is a coalition of public and private college and university presidents from around the state joined to fulfill the civic purposes of higher education.

The title of the conference is “Civil Dialogue: Approaches and Applications” and will include information on the use of talking circles and restorative practices.

Chandra Irvin, director of the Center for Spiritual Renewal
Chandra Irvin, director of the Center for Spiritual Renewal

The point of the conference is to ask, “How do we get past those fears and anxieties that keep us from really talking to one another about things that really matter?” said Chandra Irvin, director of Spalding’s Center for Spiritual Renewal. “And how do we do it in a civil way that moves us forward as a community and a society?”

“When tensions are very high like in today’s times – and people stake their claims that they’re over here on this side and that you’re on that side – we decide that to prevent us from arguing we’re not going to talk. Then, we don’t make any progress. I don’t learn anything from you, don’t learn why and how you came to think the way you do or what’s important about what you’re saying or what I might not have heard before. What is it that we share? Do we have a greater purpose that we share?

“When we engage in civil dialogue, or have talking circles,” Irvin continued, “we can find those places where we have interconnection, agree and have common goals and visions. When we take that time to slow down and do that and let silence to help us interpret and feel and sense what the other person has just expressed from the depths of their heart, it’s a whole difference experience.”

According to its website kycompact.org, the Kentucky Campus Compact, which has its offices at Northern Kentucky University, helps campuses forge effective community partnerships and provides resources and training for faculty seeking to integrate civic- and community-based learning into the curriculum.

Friday’s conference will run from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and includes a keynote address from Spalding President Tori Murden McClure at 9 a.m., titled, “Taking a Risk: Why Difficult Conversations Matter.”

There also will be training about talking circles, which are a dialogue and problem-solving method embraced at Spalding, and skill-building workshops on a range of issues, including restorative justice.

Spalding faculty, staff and students interested in attending can email Liz Eader at the Center for Peace and Spiritual Renewal at [email protected]

Irvin said that after McClure’s speech, several Spalding presenters will give brief explanations on the process of talking circles and the ways they are used at Spalding. That’ll include ways faculty members use them in the classroom and how students view them.

The conference attendees will then form groups to have talking circles.

“They’re very intentionally designed and created safe spaces,” she said, “so that those who participate can engage in those most challenging conversations, those that nobody really wants to talk about like, ‘We could, and I want to, but I would dare not because I become too vulnerable, or I may hurt somebody’s feelings, or it’ll get too heated and the next thing you know, we’ll be fighting.’”

Irvin said talking circles engage participants emotionally and spiritually with one another, and “the participants can identify something much greater than themselves – a purpose and a meaning greater than themselves – and discover how they’re interconnected with one another and their shared vision in the midst of serious differences.”

She said participants realize their individual and collective gifts and wisdom, then “are able to use that wisdom to find solutions that serve everybody.”

The talking circles have guidelines about sharing talking time while also allowing participants not to speak, if they desire, and there’s an object positioned in the circle that symbolizes the group’s connectedness and another object that’s passed around to the person who’s speaking. Silence is also interwoven into the process in order to ponder what a person has said or for upcoming speakers to gather their thoughts.

“It’s designed to respect the worth and dignity of everybody and to allow them to bring their true and best selves forward,” Irvin said.

Irvin said Spalding uses talking circles in a variety of ways, including matters of student discipline, faculty disagreements, faculty-student disagreements and departmental strategies. She said she also has used talking circles in her personal life with friends and relatives.

“It’s a great skill to have and develop,” she said.