In continuation of our Immigrant Stories, features highlighting students who identify as immigrants, we spoke with  Mário Gouvêa Ransan. Mário, a candidate in the EdD: Leadership program, holds two degrees from Spalding — an MA in Teaching and an MEd in Instructional Leadership. He was a graduate of the inaugural  JCPS Aspiring Leaders program at Spalding. Mario was born in Brasil and moved to the United States when he was 12.

If you feel comfortable doing so, share a little about your family and your experience of when and why you came to the United States? Were there any challenges you/your family faced?

We came to the United States when I was 12 years old and my sisters and I spoke almost no English. I did not have a good experience while in middle and high school. Unfortunately, the teachers I had did not have the tools or training to help support an ELL student and I graduated High School with a very low GPA. This experience is what inspired me to be a teacher. I strive to make sure that no child has to go through the same experience I went through.

Why did you decide to come to Spalding?

I came to Spalding after speaking with Professor Todd about the alternative certification program. I was convinced of the program due to our shared mission and vision when it comes to education, equity and expectations we should hold for our teachers and students.

EdD: Leadership | Program Overview | College of Education
MA in Teaching | Program Overview
MEd in Instructional Leadership | Program Overview

What has your experience been like as an immigrant student at Spalding, and are you happy/proud to now be a part of the Spalding community?

I’ve felt welcomed at Spalding since day one of class. I have two master’s [degrees] from Spalding and am now working on my doctorate. Every single professor I’ve ever had has been encouraging and has helped me grow as a student and as a leader. I am very proud to be a Spalding student and am very happy with the time I’ve spent here.

Are there ways people could be more supportive of immigrant students?

I think one important thing is just being aware of who the immigrants within your room are and knowing the challenges that exist for those students. Even if the student is coming from an English-speaking country, there are important cultural differences that are crucial in being able to help students find success. Awareness is key. Spalding University as a whole always strives to be inclusive in all things, with a heavy focus on equity, and I appreciate that a lot.

What do you hope to do with your degree from Spalding, and does your immigrant experience influence your goals for your academic career, your professional career or your life?

My immigrant experience is a big driving force behind my goals. I am an educator and am striving to become an administrator within JCPS. My goal as an educator has always been to be the teacher that would have helped me be successful when I was in school. My goal as an administrator is to inspire and teach new teachers to be able to help all kids from all backgrounds and cultures find success. I hope to one day be able to grow this impact even further so that no child has to go through what I went through in school.

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.”

COMMENCEMENT | Schedule, livestream links and more information
PHOTOS | See hundreds of images and tag yourself and your loved ones in Spalding’s Facebook album

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.


Spalding will celebrate graduates from the classes of 2020 and 2021 during Commencement this week, June 3-5, 2021. In the leadup, Spalding is featuring graduates from a range of academic programs. Today’s featured graduate is Dr. Sara Story, Associate Professor in Spalding’s Auerbach School of Occupational Therapy, who has earned the degree of Doctor of Education: Leadership from the College of Education. Dr. Story is now a three-time alumna of Spalding, where she also earned her bachelor’s in health science and master’s in OT. She also has a doctorate in OT. 

What was it like to finish your degree during the pandemic? 

I remember being in class the weekend the world shut down. With the unknown looming over us, my cohort and I spent our last “normal” weekend pushing through to learn the best methods for setting up our research studies. Little did we know that weekend would be our last in-person event and we would be tasked with additional obstacles as we began our capstones. The unknown of the world and the unknowns of research were stressful. However, my cohort, “The Great 8” (our group nickname) stayed connected and pushed through. In a time where stress and worry could’ve overtaken us, we linked arms (virtually) and continued to hold each other up. We agreed we to cross the finish line together, and that is exactly what we will do on June 3.

MORE | Learn about Spalding’s Doctor of Education (EdD) in Leadership

Describe something you have done or accomplished at Spalding that you are proud of:

I’ve been able to make lasting friendships and strong community connections with agencies that I knew nothing about before the EdD program. My new connections to community members, agencies, and even my cohort mates have helped me become a stronger educator and influence the students I’m privileged to teach with amazing ways to help serve and access community resources.

What is something personal about your journey to graduating from Spalding that people may not know but that you’d like to share and that you are proud of? 

After accepting my seat in the EdD program, I found out I was expecting my third child. My daughter was born during the launch week of EdD 902. I was proud to have this moment and show my children that no matter your goals in life, you can accomplish anything you set your mind to. I was able to virtually participate in class and continued to progress through the curriculum. Regardless of the circumstances, my family was always there to help see me through. I’m proud my children were able to see me accomplish something for myself, even when it required a lot of hard work. It was great for them to see how a family bonds together to help support someone they love. So this degree is for me, but it wouldn’t be possible without my husband, three kids (A,E & I), and my parents.

What are your next steps with this degree – job, pursuit of another degree, etc.?

Celebrate with a trip to a Disney World! My parents’ 50th wedding anniversary and my EdD degree completion occurred in the same week. So we are going as one big happy family to Disney.


With Commencement approaching on June 1, Spalding is publishing a series of stories and Q&A’s that highlight students from a range of degree programs who are set to graduate. Next up is Kay Vetter, who is earning the degree of Doctor of Education: Leadership (Ed.D.). She also serves as Spalding’s Executive Director of Institutional Effectiveness, overseeing matters related to the university’s accreditation and institutional compliance.  

What is your favorite Spalding memory?
They day of the solar eclipse and a real sense of real community in sharing that experience with coworkers, students and families. It was a special point in time, a unique event that was made special by experiencing it with others around me. Celebration and learning came together, as was evidenced by the fun and interesting conversations I had that day.

Which accomplishments are you most proud of during your time at Spalding?
One would be leading Spalding through our last Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) regional accreditation process with fantastic outcomes.

Another would be finishing and successfully defending my doctorate last month.

What’s your favorite spot on campus?
Sitting under the arbor outside the ELC, especially when it is full of pink blossoms in the spring.

At Spalding, we like to say that, “Today is a great day to change the world.” For many of our students, Commencement is a world-changing experience. After graduation, how do you plan to change the world, big or small, and who inspires you to be a #spaldingworldchanger?
This is a really hard question to answer. The most honest answer to this question is that I will try to be the best person I can be, to challenge myself to be kind and to continue to grow and be self-reflective in terms of my actions and my words. To try and remember to bring positivity, critical thinking and fun to my job and to support my coworkers and students. In short, bring light into my world.
Who inspires me to be a world changer? Children, and their excitement at seeing the good in people and the world.

Is there anything else you would like to share about your Spalding experience?
I have been through some good times and some tough times while I have been at Spalding, and I am impressed with how resilient and creative the faculty and staff are when we are faced with challenges. There is something really special about this institution and the people and students who are a part of it. I cannot find the words to describe it, but you can feel it when you are here.


Audience members of Saturday morning’s inaugural session of the Abramson Leadership Exchange heard from a panel of some of Louisville’s most accomplished communications leaders about best practices for crisis communication and management, and the panelists offered multiple examples of how their organizations responded to past crises.

About 100 people attended the session at the Egan Leadership Center’s Troutman Lectorium to hear from moderator Jerry Abramson, the former Louisville mayor who now serves as Spalding’s Executive in Residence, and panelists Chad Carlton, President of C2 Strategic Communications; Laura Douglas, retired Vice President of Corporate Responsibility and Community Affairs for LG&E and KU Energy; Phil Lynch, retired Vice President and Director of Corporate Communications at Brown-Forman; and Thomas Noland, Senior Vice President of Corporate Communications for Humana.

Each panelist gave a presentation detailing a few real examples of crises they’ve encountered in their careers. Then there was a lengthy Q&A session with audience members.

“I’m really pleased with how our first Exchange session went, and our panelists provided so much wisdom and insight,” Abramson said. “I think the members of the audience were entertained and heard a lot of valuable information that they can apply to their own organizations should a crisis occur.”

The Abramson Leadership Exchange is presented by Spalding’s Ed.D.: Leadership program in partnership with the Young Professionals Association of Louisville (YPAL) and Ignite Louisville.

The panel discussions are designed to align with the kind of high-level dialogue and idea-sharing that takes place in the Ed.D: Leadership program.


All 2019 sessions of the Abramson Leadership Exchange will have topics related to media and communications. The next session is tentatively scheduled for Aug. 3 and will focus on finding authentic information in the era of social media and fake news. The final session of 2019 is tentatively scheduled for Nov. 9.

View more Abramson Leadership Exchange photos from the album on the Spalding University Facebook page.

The back of a man in the audience raising his hand to ask a question to on-stage panel
From left to right, panelists Chad Carlton, Tom Noland, Laura Douglas and Phil Lynch, and moderator Jerry Abramson. (Photos by Marty Pearl, Special to Spalding University)


An audience member raises his hand to ask a question to the on-stage panel
An audience member raises his hand to ask a question.








Jerry Abramson holding a microphone and speaking
Spalding Executive in Residence Jerry Abramson.  

Spalding University’s Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) in Leadership Program, in partnership with Ignite Louisville and Young Professionals Association of Louisville (YPAL), welcomes the public to the launch of the Abramson Leadership Exchange – a series of executive panel discussions moderated by former Mayor Jerry Abramson and featuring leaders from public-sector, corporate and nonprofit organizations.

The first Abramson Leadership Exchange discussion will be held 9-11 a.m., Saturday, March 2 at Spalding’s Egan Leadership Center. The topic will be crisis management and communication, and the panelists will include Chad Carlton, President of C2 Strategic Communications; Laura Douglas, retired Vice President of Corporate Responsibility and Community Affairs for LG&E and KU Energy; Phil Lynch, retired Vice President and Director of Corporate Communications at Brown-Forman; and Thomas Noland, Senior Vice President of Corporate Communications for Humana.

Audience members will have an opportunity to ask question to the panelists and Abramson, who now serves as Spalding’s Executive in Residence.

The event is free and open to the public on a first-come, first-served basis, but because space is limited, attendees must register online on the Abramson Leadership Exchange: Crisis Management event page or at under the EVENTS label. Coffee, donuts and free parking next to the building will be provided.


“We want to give folks some real-life insight into why and how leaders in a variety of fields make the kind of decisions that they do for their organizations,” Abramson said. “Our panelists have high-level experience participating in the process of decision-making that required them to take into account budgetary considerations, safety concerns, politics and public relations, as well as the interests of a wide range of stakeholders.”

Future sessions of the Abramson Leadership Exchange are scheduled for Aug. 3 and Nov. 9. Topics for the other 2019 sessions will also be related to media and communication.

“The thoughtful conversations that will take place through the Abramson Leadership Exchange align with the kind of dialogue and sharing of ideas that are a key component of Spalding’s Ed.D.: Leadership Program,” said Dr. Linda LaPinta, director of the doctoral program. “Mayor Abramson is one of the most experienced and respected leaders in our state, and this is a fantastic opportunity for current and aspiring leaders from all sorts of organizations to engage with him and these distinguished panelists.”


Abramson has been in his role at Spalding since last spring. He serves as a guest lecturer for undergraduate and graduate courses, helps develop programs such as a continuing-education certificate for city and county managers, and represents the university in the community.

Nicknamed “Mayor for Life” for having served five total terms as the leader of Louisville’s city government before and after its merger with Jefferson County, Abramson has also served as Kentucky’s Lieutenant Governor and as Deputy Assistant to President Obama and the White House Director of Intergovernmental Affairs.

About Spalding’s Ed.D.: Leadership Program: Spalding’s doctoral degree in Leadership is a terminal degree designed for senior or mid-management organizational leaders. The program prepares students with the knowledge, skill and evidence-based practice to impact policies and advance for-profit and not-for-profit businesses and educational organizations. The program has numerous community and global partners. The Ed.D. in Leadership is well-suited for individuals with careers in business, health care, social services, the arts, education and more. Additional information is available at

About Young Professionals Association of Louisville (YPAL): YPAL provides leadership development, educational opportunities and philanthropic support to Louisville’s Young Professionals for the benefit of the local community. The mission of YPAL is to connect, engage and develop metro Louisville’s young professionals through community, professional and social opportunities. Additional information is available at

About Ignite Louisville: Ignite Louisville, a program of the Leadership Louisville Center, prepares high-potential professionals, typically between 25-45 years old, for expanded opportunities in career and community leadership. Offered twice a year, Ignite Louisville is a six-month life-changing personal and professional development experience that produces the skills, confidence, problem-solving abilities and connections essential to realizing leadership potential. Participants gain hands-on experience in civic leadership and working effectively as a team through the Ignite Louisville Challenge. They also gain heightened visibility within the community. Additional information is available at