Kosair Charities announced Wednesday that it has awarded a grant of $2 million to Spalding University in support of its new School of Physical Therapy and the ongoing project to transform a campus building into a state-of-the-art health professions academic center that will house the Doctor of Physical Therapy program. That building will now bear Kosair Charities’ name.

The 21,500-square-foot building located at 961 S. Third St. will be named the Kosair Charities School of Physical Therapy and Center for Interprofessional Education, Spalding announced. The technology-rich facility will be the site of the laboratory courses for Spalding’s new DPT program, which will admit its first cohort in Fall 2022. The building will also feature spaces for student study and collaboration.

The major grant, which was announced a press conference Wednesday, continues a 25-year philanthropic relationship between Kosair Charities and Spalding in support of academic programs and facilities – particularly in healthcare – that are designed to make a positive impact on the lives of children and families.

Consistent with the mission of Kosair Charities, the School of Physical Therapy will feature programming and partnerships that emphasize a commitment to pediatric physical therapy while seeking to help fill a regional need for physical therapists. Among the highlights:

  • Planned post-professional residency and fellowship in pediatric PT that are unique to Kentucky, led by faculty who are board-certified in pediatric physical therapy.
  • Mentoring opportunities in teaching, provided by veteran faculty, for interested physical therapists, including ones in post-doctoral pediatric neurorecovery fellowships.
  • Opportunities for physical therapy program graduates to become board-certified pediatric physical therapists.

“Kosair Charities’ history and mission has long been interwoven into the fabric of Spalding University, with our first grant in 1996. We are thrilled to announce a grant totaling $2 million to support the newly named Kosair Charities School of Physical Therapy and Center for Interprofessional Education at Spalding University,” said Keith Inman, President of Kosair Charities. “A portion of these funds will allow the creation of Kentucky’s first residency and fellowship programs in pediatric physical therapy. Kosair Charities is proud to be a part of this milestone moment for our state and community.”

KOSAIR CHARITIES SCHOOL OF PHYSICAL THERAPY
Doctor of Physical Therapy Program | Overview | Entry-level track | Post-professional track
From May 2021 | Announcement of the new School of Physical Therapy 

Spalding’s DPT program has already been approved by the university’s regional accrediting body – the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) – and is seeking to become the fourth DPT program in Kentucky to be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). Student applications are open now for Fall 2022, with more information available at spalding.edu/physicaltherapy.

Construction on the Kosair Charities School of Physical Therapy and Center for Interprofessional Education is scheduled to be completed by late 2021.

Rendering of the facade of the Kosair Charities School of Physical Therapy and Center for Interprofessional Education at Spalding University
Rendering of the facade of the Kosair Charities School of Physical Therapy and Center for Interprofessional Education at Spalding University, 961 S. Third St.

“We are grateful and honored to receive this grant from Kosair Charities in support of the new School of Physical Therapy and the construction of a state-of-the-art building that will enhance teaching and learning while also supporting a campus-wide culture of interprofessional education and collaboration,” Spalding President Tori Murden McClure said. “The service-minded missions of Spalding and Kosair Charities align so well, and the long, strong relationship Spalding has had with Kosair Charities is so valuable to us. We are extremely proud to have another building on our campus bear the name of Kosair Charities, whose impact on our community and the lives of children cannot be overstated.

“We hope and expect that a great deal of the students who come to our PT school will stay in Louisville after graduation to practice here, including many who will pursue a pediatric specialty. Our new PT school will also create mentoring opportunities for pediatric PTs to become professors, enhancing pediatric PT education in our region for years to come.”

BUILDING DETAILS

The purchase and renovation of the building – which was acquired by Spalding in 2019 and is well-known in Louisville as the former longtime home of the V.V. Cooke Chevrolet dealership – represent one of the largest capital projects in Spalding history, totaling about $7 million. The newly renovated building expands a Spalding health professions corridor along South Third Street that already includes the Kosair Charities College of Health and Natural Sciences Building, 901 S. Third (home of the occupational therapy, athletic training and natural sciences programs), and the Republic Bank Academic Center, 981 S. Third (nursing and social work).

The building will feature three skills labs for on-site laboratory instruction as well as an anatomy education center with an anatomy wet lab and accompanying dry lab featuring models and technology for virtual anatomy instruction.

Rendering of the interior of the Kosair Charities School of Physical Therapy and Center for Interprofessional Education at Spalding University
Rendering of an interior of the Kosair Charities School of Physical Therapy and Center for Interprofessional Education at Spalding University, 961 S. Third St.

An atrium with natural light coming through the tall windows along Third Street will provide collaborative and lounge space for students. Another student lounge will be upstairs.

Schaefer Construction is the general contractor for the project. Schmidt Associates is the architecture partner. Spalding continues to raises funds to cover capital costs.

“We cannot thank Kosair Charities enough for their support of this first-class healthcare academic center in downtown Louisville,” Spalding Chief Advancement Officer Caroline Heine said. “Kosair Charities continues to help Spalding carry out its mission of meeting the needs of the times by preparing compassionate, skilled therapists and healthcare professionals, and we hope others will follow their lead in supporting this important work.”

CENTER FOR INTERPROFESSIONAL EDUCATION

The location of the building between other health science centers on campus, along with its technology resources, makes it an ideal location to be the future center of Spalding’s initiative to expand interprofessional education (IPE) across its academic healthcare disciplines.

The new anatomy labs are expected to be used by students and faculty from science programs across the university, and Spalding expects to use the new building to host collaborative IPE student experiential learning activities.

“In real healthcare settings, physical therapists, occupational therapists, nurses, social workers and mental health professionals work side by side every day,” McClure said. “At Spalding, we are committed to introducing our students to those interprofessional experiences as a part of our teaching, with a common thread of emphasizing compassion, equity and justice in healthcare.”

Rendering of atrium of Spalding School of Physical Therapy building
An atrium will offer student collaborative and study spaces and lots of natural light along Third Street in the School of Physical Therapy Building. / All renderings courtesy of Schmidt Associates

Spalding University is set to build on its proud tradition of healthcare education in downtown Louisville with the launch of a Doctor of Physical Therapy program in the fall of 2022, along with the full-scale renovation of the campus building that will house it.

The entry-level Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) program will be delivered in a hybrid, low-residency format of online lecture courses and in-person laboratory experiences, which will be held one week each month in the state-of-the-art facility that is currently being transformed on South Third Street.

The purchase and renovation of the 21,500-square-foot building at 961 S. Third – which was acquired by Spalding in 2019 and is well-known in Louisville as the former longtime home of the V.V. Cooke Chevrolet dealership – represent one of the largest capital projects in Spalding history, totaling about $7 million, while demonstrating the university’s commitment to investing in projects and activity downtown.

Construction is scheduled for completion in late 2021, enhancing a prominent section of Third Street and helping expand a Spalding health science corridor along Third that includes the Republic Bank Academic Center (home of nursing and social work programs) and the Kosair Charities College of Health and Natural Sciences Building (occupational therapy, athletic training, natural sciences).

The new Spalding School of Physical Therapy will offer an entry-level DPT track for aspiring physical therapists as well as an online post-professional track for practicing PTs who want to earn a doctorate.

The application period for Spalding’s Doctor of Physical Therapy program will open June 15, 2021, but students may learn about the program and request more information now at spalding.edu/doctor-of-physical-therapy.

In addition, to help fill a regional need for physical therapists with specialty training and board certification in pediatric physical therapy, the new Spalding School of Physical Therapy plans to create a post-doctoral residency and fellowship in pediatric PT. The School of Physical Therapy is planning partnerships with pediatric clinicians to provide mentoring opportunities for practitioners who want to teach in a DPT program.

View of 961 S. Third St., future home of the Spalding School of Physical Therapy
View from 2020 of 961 S. Third St., future home of the Spalding School of Physical Therapy

“Spalding’s mission is to meet the needs of the times, and for decades Spalding has been meeting a critical need in our community by preparing compassionate, skilled healthcare professionals and front-line workers,” Spalding President Tori Murden McClure said. “Spalding has pondered creating a physical therapy program for a decade, and over that time, the need and demand for physical therapists, including those skilled in working with children, have only increased. Our physical therapy program will help meet that need, and seeing this program become a reality is a proud achievement in the century-long history of our downtown campus.

“The transformed building on Third Street will be a beautiful addition to the south end of campus, a tremendous resource to our students and the latest example of our unwavering commitment to a thriving downtown Louisville.”

SPALDING UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF PHYSICAL THERAPY
*Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) overview
*Entry-level DPT track info
*Post-professional online DPT track info
*Request more information

The DPT program has already been approved by the university’s regional accrediting body – the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) – and is seeking to become only the fourth DPT program in Kentucky to be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE).

Spalding has appointed Dr. Elisa Zuber, who has more than 35 years of experience in physical therapy education with an expertise in developing new programs, to be the inaugural Chair of the new School of Physical Therapy as well as Director of the DPT program.

Zuber has been a faculty member, director of clinical education and program director at several PT and PT assistant programs. She also spent 11 years as Associate Director of the Department of Accreditation for the American Physical Therapy Association. She is a 2021 Fellow of Louisville’s Healthcare Enterprises Network.

“This program has been designed with the student in mind and caters both to students coming straight from college and nontraditional students who are already in PT practice,” Zuber said. “We have assembled a veteran faculty, and we are excited to begin forging partnerships with clinical sites regionally and nationally that will provide rich learning experiences for our students.”

Other program highlights:

  • The low-residency format of the entry-level track, in which students participate in online lecture courses for the majority of the semester and come to campus monthly for in-person lab experiences, means that out-of-town students will not need to move to Louisville to attend PT school. Students can continue to live anywhere in the country while traveling to Louisville each month for in-person labs.
  • The post-professional track of the DPT is fully online.
  • A bachelor’s degree is not required to enter the Spalding DPT program. Undergraduate students without a bachelor’s will spend their first year in the program working toward credits that will be applied to earning the degree of Bachelor of Science in Health Science from Spalding.
  • Spalding expects to enroll about 40 students each fall in the entry-level track of the DPT and about 10 per year for the post-professional track.

“Physical therapy continues to be a growing field, and Spalding’s DPT program will be an appealing option for students locally, including our own undergraduates, and nationally, given our campus’ ideal location in the heart of Louisville and near all the city’s major healthcare centers,” Spalding Provost Dr. John Burden said. “We continue to add excellent, experienced faculty, including multiple instructors who are board-certified in pediatric physical therapy. The positive impact this program will have on our community will be significant.”

Rendering of one of the labs in the School of Physical Theraphy building
The renovated building will feature a variety of lab spaces. // Courtesy of Schmidt Associates

More building details:

The renovated, two-story building at 961 S. Third St. will be the home of the School of Physical Therapy and its faculty. The building will feature three skills labs for on-site laboratory instruction as well as an anatomy education center with an anatomy wet lab and accompanying dry lab featuring models and technology for virtual anatomy instruction.

An atrium with natural light coming through the tall windows along Third Street will provide collaborative and lounge space for students. Another student lounge will be upstairs.

Schaefer Construction is the general contractor for the project. Schmidt Associates is the architecture partner.

Spalding is currently fundraising to cover the costs of work on the building, which has not been named. The Gheens Foundation has contributed a lead gift of $200,000. Those interested in supporting Spalding may contact advancement@spalding.edu or visit https://alumni.spalding.edu/give/.

“This forward-thinking, technology-rich facility will be a gem for physical therapy and overall healthcare education in downtown Louisville for years to come, and this project is evidence of how committed Spalding is to helping prepare compassionate, skilled therapists and healthcare professionals to go out in the world and help those in need,” Chief Advancement Officer Caroline Heine said. “We are grateful for those who are providing financial support for this project, and we welcome others to come forward and support this important work.”

Added Spalding Dean of Graduate Education Dr. Kurt Jefferson: “This learning space will foster interdisciplinary and interprofessional collaboration among students and faculty across our health science and health professions programs and will be a site of innovation and inspiration. Consistent with the Spalding mission, we will instill in our students a commitment to diversity, justice and equity and the need to care for underserved populations.”

Rendering of atrium of Spalding School of Physical Therapy building
An atrium will offer student lounge and study spaces and lots of natural light along Third Street. // Courtesy of Schmidt Associates

An appropriate motto for today’s Spalding University Creative Arts Department would be: If you have an idea of something you’d like to make, we have the tools you’ll need. Lots and lots of them.

The art program – and the capacity for students to bring their concepts to life – has been bolstered this academic year with the unveiling of the Spalding Makerspace, a series of large rooms in Mansion East that are newly equipped with both state-of-the-art digital art technology and a bevy of traditional wood- and metal-working  machines.

“It’s a pretty exciting moment for the art program and the Spalding campus as a whole,” said Assistant Professor of Digital Media Josh Azzarella, who has overseen the acquisition of a 3D-printer, a laser cutter and other high-tech devices in the new Makerspace.

The high-tech pieces combine with the many saws, shears and welders in the new wood and metal shop to create a Makerspace that will be heavily integrated into the curriculum of an art department that’s focused on introducing students to design thinking and how it applies to a range of ways to build and make.

Shawn Hennessey welds in the Spalding Makerspace
Hennessey uses welding tools in the Spalding Makerspace.

“Oh, man, we are so lucky,” said Assistant Professor of 3D Art Shawn Hennessey, who is also Creative Arts’ studio technician and the manager of the wood and metal shop. “We have this great confluence of high and low tech. We have all these low-tech options, so that people can still work with their hands, and we also have all these high-tech things for students to utilize their technical prowess or use a computer to make something physical. I think it’s a cool program because you can go back and forth between the two.”

The goal is that by graduation, Creative Arts students who use the Spalding Makerspace will be proficient in using the array of high- and low-tech equipment and have a broad understanding of creative problem-solving. They will learn many ways to make art and manipulate materials while developing skills to land a job in a field that regquires design thinking and craftsmanship.

“The things that students do here at Spalding are concept-driven,” Hennessey said. “They have an idea of something they want to make, or a project they want to do, and that steers them, and they gather the skills along the way.”

LEARN MORE | Overview of Spalding’s Creative Arts program
RELATED | Read a Q&A with Creative Arts Professor Shawn Hennessey

Here’s a rundown of some of the equipment in the new Spalding Makerspace:

DIGITIAL/HIGH-TECH SPACES

3D laser-cutting printer: After a design is entered into a computer, the Glowforge laser cutter burns it onto wood – etching, engraving and cutting with very fine and precise lines and curves.

In the span of a few minutes on a recent afternoon, Azzarella cut and engraved a half-dozen wooden key chains.


3D printer: The Creative Arts Department is acquiring a Formlabs Fuse 1 3D printer that creates pieces using powdered nylon and a laser through a process called selective laser sintering.

The high-tech printers will enable Spalding art students and faculty to use their imagination to create not only interesting pieces of art but also explore how creativity and design thinking can be applied to make functional devices and inventions in all kinds of settings and fields.

Because that printer is capable of making products that are flexible and bendable, Azzarella foresees the Creative Arts Department collaborating with faculty from Spalding’s Auerbach School of Occupational Therapy to make assistive-technology devices and modifications for people with disabilities.

They’ve already had success.

Using a different 3D printer, Azzarella and occupational therapy Associate Professor Dr. Sara Story teamed up to design and build a small plastic attachment that fits on a toy baby stroller belonging to a 2-year-old girl who was born a limb difference and only one hand. With Azzarella and Story’s modified device, which cost only 42 cents to produce, the girl is able to use both arms to push and steer the stroller that she loves so much.

RELATED WLKY-32 STORY | Little girl with ‘lucky fin’ gets help playing with toys from Spalding

“If we’re able to do that for more kids or more people in the community, that’s amazing,” Azzarella said. “It’s fulfilling in a way that I haven’t really felt before. … We kind of changed the world of a little girl’s life.”

Hennessey, who builds puppets and puts on community puppet shows through Squallis Puppeteers, agreed.

“I want our students to understand that you don’t just have to make something to sell,” he said. “(By using your creativity) you can actually improve your community.”

A digital sewing machine: Students design a fabric pattern on a computer, which then sends the file to the sewing machine to stitch the pattern at a high speed. Azzarella said it’s a neat machine for students interested in embroidery.

Virtual reality technology: By wearing an HTC VIVE headset and using Google Tilt Brush software, students can paint virtually in a panoramic, three-dimensional setting. It’s a useful tool for students who are interested in designing video games or virtual environments. “Students can paint like they would on a canvas,” Azzarella said, “but we can enter that painting, walk into it and through it and around it and look at it from every different vantage point.”

Spalding Professor Shawn Hennessey uses a metal cutter in the Spalding Maker Space
Hennessey uses a metal cutter.

WOODSHOP/METAL SHOP

The large studio at the end of the lower level of Mansion East has been updated and equipped with nearly 20 new pieces of professional-grade wood- and metal-working machinery. The shop provides art students with a foundation for learning to use traditional three-dimensional materials in a safe, clean, well-supervised setting.

Hennessey said he’s had fun seeing dozens of students quickly gain confidence using saws, drills, metal shears, sanders and welding machines that may have originally felt intimidating.

“I’ve been really trying to challenge my students, ‘Go use the welder,’” he said. “I want to empower them to feel like that they can do it. Also, just teaching all students simple but important skills like how to use a tape measure and how to do these concrete things that will affect other areas of their life, I’m excited about that and proud of that.”

Here are some of the wood-working and metal-working machines in the Spalding Makerspace:

Table saw: The SawStop saw has an electronic braking safety system that instantly stops the blade if anything other than wood comes close to it.

Planer: For smoothing and planing the rough edges off boards.

Band saw: To make rounded and precise cuts on boards.

Belt/disk/spindle sanders: Capable of smoothing all sizes and shapes of wood.

Drill press: For drilling precise holes or making circular cuts.

Knife grinder: For sanding and sharpening knives and blades.

Compound miter (or chop) saw: For making cross cuts with circular blades – useful in building picture frames.

Shaper: For making joinery and complex cuts.

A Spalding Creative Arts student cuts a piece of wood on a table saw
A student cuts a piece of wood on a table saw.

Lathe: For turning wood.

Welders and plasma cutter: For manipulating and cutting metal with intense heat and flames.

English wheel: For rounding sheets of metal.

Shrinker stretcher: For stretching or shrinking metal.

Throatless shear: For cutting metal on a curve.

Sand blaster: For smoothing metal.

Combination sheer/brake/roll: For cutting and rolling metal.

Faculty Focus Friday is a Q&A series that highlights individual faculty members in various academic programs around Spalding University. Today’s featured faculty member is Shawn Hennessey, Assistant Professor of 3D Art and Studio Technician for Spalding’s Creative Arts department (BFA in Studio Art program). He teaches courses and supervises Spalding’s new Makerspace, which features a range of woodworking, metalworking, 3D printing and laser-cutting equipment. Hennessey studied sculpture as an undergraduate at the University of Cincinnati’s College of Design, Architecture, Art and Planning, and he holds a Master of Fine Arts degree in painting and drawing from Ohio State University. Hennessey was an adjunct instructor at Spalding before joining the faculty full-time in 2019. Hennessey and his wife, Nora Christensen, run Squallis Puppeteers, a prominent nonprofit organization that builds puppets and does puppet shows across the community.

What do you like about working and teaching at Spalding?

Oh, my gosh, I love Spalding. Spalding is the school I wanted to teach at when I moved here to Louisville. The thing I liked about Spalding is that it wasn’t too big, wasn’t too small, wasn’t too exclusive, and I just always really loved the students. (As a Spalding adjunct,) I taught a lot of adult-accelerated classes, and I always had non-art majors, and they were just always great folks. I like the atmosphere here. I like the place. It didn’t take itself too seriously as a school. People were serious about learning, but it was unpretentious. The faculty has always been very friendly, and I just felt comfortable here.

What has been like to join the full-time faculty in the art department?

It’s a dream come true. It’s a job I always wanted. … (In an initial meeting with Program Director Deb Whistler), we really hit it off about some key things, primarily about the idea that art didn’t have to be about making things for galleries, or making things for rich people to buy. It could be, but it could also be about solving problems and interacting with the community and making your town or your world a little bit better place – that art has the power to do that. We both had this idea of how art functions. For me, that came from being a puppeteer for about 10 years at that point.

Spalding professor and student in the woodshop of the Spalding Makerspace
Assistant Professor Shawn Hennessey demonstrates a wood saw cut to student Sarah Thornsberry in the Spalding Makerspace.

What is your academic specialty or area of experience?

My art expertise is all over the place. Photography and print-making are the two things I haven’t done much of, but other than that, I’ve dabbled in pretty much everything. I’m totally a jack of all trades. My undergrad is in sculpture and 3D art. My grad is in painting and drawing. My graduate thesis show was mostly conceptual art; it was almost like graphic design murals. I was making weird books. Then I got more and more into conceptual art when I got out of graduate school. Because I hate going to gallery openings and things like that – it’s just not my bag – I stopped participating in the art world for a while. Then I met Nora and started doing puppet shows. The story I always tell is being on stage with My Morning Jacket in a puppet I finished that day in front of 9,000 people. I thought, “I’m spoiled now.” I really like the interactivity of puppetry. So I would say through Squallis, my focus in terms of being an artist is really on art and social practice, making art that is interactive and somewhat performative and that is collaborative. That’s where my heart lies. Academically, I’m very interested in art and music, and art and culture in general. I taught an art and music class, so a lot of what I taught wasn’t just about art-making or music-making. I would bring in television and being able to explain that “Flight of the Conchords” and Stephen Colbert are perfect ways to understand post-modernism. That would get my students’ attention. But while I was an adjunct teaching these classes, I would also be trying to make some extra money by remodeling people’s homes and building kitchens and bathrooms and getting really good at making stuff. So when this job came along – a combination of teaching two- and three-dimensional art and running a shop and studios – it was everything I’d always done. It’s working with tools, I always run the spaces at Squallis and keep them organized, and I’ve been teaching for 20 years. So it all fit together perfectly for me.

LEARN MORE | Spalding’s Creative Arts department and the BFA in Studio Art
MEET THE FACULTY | Spalding’s full slate of Creative Arts professors

What do you in your role as Studio Technician at Spalding?

Shawn Hennessey welds in the Spalding Makerspace
Hennessey uses welding tools in the Spalding Makerspace.

I’m the manager of the Makerspace and studios. I manage this MakerSpace (in Mansion East), and I keep an eyeball on all the other spaces. If they need something, or if something needs fixed or set up, I take care of it. Like we’ve been setting up lots of new equipment and making sure spaces are safe and free of hazards, and I have been working really hard at making sure we are maximizing usage of our space. We’ve also been trying to open our spaces to be more collaborative. This (Mansion East) Makerspace is now a collaborative space that any faculty or staff can come through during open hours. We’re working with occupational therapy and other departments.

Why is Creative Arts at Spalding a good option for high school students looking to study art in college?

I think what sets Spalding’s art department apart – it’s in the name. Instead of calling ourselves “Fine Arts,” we call ourselves, “Creative Arts.” I feel like that opens it up a lot. Fine arts implies that you’re doing something that is so polished, and that is fine. You can still make gallery-style art. But to say it’s “Creative Arts,” that puts a focus on the creativity and the problem-solving part. We’re interested in teaching people how to use creativity as a tool. We want to train people to utilize their own creativity and expand and hone that. Students who come in may not know what they want to do. I think that’s what’s great about this program. You don’t have to pick. You don’t have to come into this program and say, “I’m a sculptor,” or “I’m a painter, or “I’m a ceramicist.” You can say, “I’m a creative person, but I’m not sure what I want to do.” And we will teach that person and sort of mold them, and (let them find a path.) Who knows what these students will do, but we’re going to set them up to use the skills.

How do you summarize the new equipment in this Makerspace as a resource for students?

Oh, man, we are so lucky. We’ve gotten a lot of great tools. We have this great confluence of high and low tech. So have all of the low-tech tools – a drill press and a band saw – things that most wood shops have. We have all these low-tech options, people can still work with their hands. I still teach my students how to make boxes and measure with a tape-measure and things like that. We also have all these high-tech things like a laser cutter and a plasma cutter. There are all these opportunities for students to utilize their technical prowess or use a computer to make something physical. I think it’s a cool program because you can go back and forth between the two.

What is an interesting thing that you keep in your office?

I have a puppet show in my office. You could say I have a time machine in my office. It doesn’t work. (Laughs.)

What is the most rewarding part of your job?

Working with students, working with young people. But really just working with all different kinds of people – so the faculty, too. It’s no fun to be in a vacuum, especially as an artist. That was the thing I really hated about the presumed life of an artist. When you come up in the art world, you’re made to think you have to work in your studio, head down, make stuff, and that’s the life of an artist. I found that to be very miserable. I wanted to be around other people, and I wanted to make stuff with other people and help other people make stuff. When people come to me and say, “I want to make this thing,” I say, “Great, let’s talk about it! What does it have to do? How do you see it?” That’s really exciting to me.

At Spalding, we like to say, “Today is a great day to change the world.” How do you think your role at Spalding is helping you to change the world or helping your students to change the world?

One things I’m really proud of is I’m empowering people to use tools, particularly young women. A lot of our art students are women. When I started teaching here, very few of the young women I had in classes would go near the tools.  I’ve been really trying to challenge my students: “Go use the welder.” I want to empower them to feel like that they can do it. Also, just teaching all students simple but important skills like how to use a tape measure and how to do these concrete things that will affect other areas of their life. I’m excited about that and proud of that.

READ MORE | Faculty Focus Friday archives

A new historical marker was unveiled on Thursday morning at Spalding University’s Columbia Gym that commemorates the building at 824 S. Fourth St. as the location where a young Muhammad Ali learned to box.

The marker unveiling took place one day before what would have been Ali’s 78th birthday on Jan. 17. On Ali’s birthday two years ago, Spalding officially changed the name of its athletic building back to Columbia Gym.

A red bicycle hangs over the entrance of Columbia Gym as a tribute to Ali and his first encounter with Louisville Police Officer Joe Martin, who ran a boxing gym in the lower level of the building and became Ali’s first trainer.

Bronze Columbia Gym historical marker reads: At Columbia Gym, a young Muhammad Ali, then Cassius Clay, told Louisville Police Officer Joe Martin he was going to "whup" whoever stole his bike. Martin became Alis first train. Martin introduced Ali to regional audiences through the local boxing show, Tomorrows Champions and encouraged him to compete in the 1960 Rome Olympics.
The new historical marker outside the front entrance of Columbia Gym, where a red bike also hangs as a tribute to Muhammad Ali.

The Columbia Gym historical marker, which is located next to the front steps of the main entrance, is one in a new series of Ali-related markers around the city that are produced by the Kentucky Historical Society and that celebrate the legendary humanitarian and boxer’s Louisville roots. The series of markers is supported by Louisville Tourism, which also developed the Footsteps of Greatness tour of Ali-related landmarks in Louisville that includes Columbia Gym.

On Thursday, Ali’s brother, Rahman Ali, joined Spalding President Tori Murden McClure in pulling off the cloth cover to reveal the Columbia historical marker.

“That sense of striving, that sense of passion, that sense of wanting to make the world a better place is what (Muhammad Ali) stood for,” McClure said.

In what has become a key piece of Louisville history, in 1954, 12-year-old Muhammad Ali, then known as Cassius Clay, parked his new red bicycle outside the building at 824 S. Fourth St. while he went inside to attend the Louisville Home Show. When he came back out, the bike had been stolen. An angry Clay found Martin there and reported the crime, telling Martin that he planned to “whup” whoever took the bike.

Martin told Clay that before he could do that, he better first learn to fight. He then introduced Clay to training at the Columbia Gym, setting in motion what would become a storied amateur boxing career that included winning a gold medal at the 1960 Rome Olympics.

Tori McClure addresses crowd at press conference outside Columbia Gym
President McClure addresses the crowd outside Columbia Gym.

Spalding acquired the building years later, and Columbia Gym is now the home of Spalding’s NCAA Division III volleyball and men’s and women’s basketball teams, as well as the Golden Eagles’ athletic department offices and the historic Columbia Auditorium, where many campus and community events are held. Spalding’s student fitness center, weight room, athletic training room, locker rooms and health clinic are located on the lower level, where Joe Martin’s boxing gym once was.

A series of photo panels on the wall of the lower level pay tribute to the red bike story and Ali’s ties to Spalding. As a teenager, Ali had a part-time job across the street from the Columbia Gym at what was then the Spalding library.

Muhammad Ali Center President and CEO Donald E. Lassere, Louisville Tourism Vice President of Destination Services Zack Davis, Kentucky Historical Society Community Engagement Coordinator Ali Robic, Spalding Dean of Graduate Education Dr. Kurt Jefferson and Spalding Athletics Head Strength and Conditioning Coach Danielle Lavender also spoke at Thursday morning’s dedication.

Lavender, who trains Spalding’s student-athletes in the Columbia Gym, said they draw inspiration from training in the same general space where Ali began his journey to athletic greatness.

“It’s awesome working in this building every day,” Lavender said. “It’s me with 150 athletes, and every day they are trying to come in and do better. Over our doors, (inspirational messages) say, ‘Effort is everything,’ and they know that.  With this historical marker now and everything we have up in the hallways (alluding to Ali), they know, ‘You better give it your all down here.'”

About the Kentucky Historical Marker Program: The Kentucky Historical Marker Program, administered by the Kentucky Historical Society in cooperation with the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, tells Kentucky’s story through on-the-spot history lessons that connect the history, communities and items housed in the Commonwealth’s many historical organizations. The program makes Kentucky’s history accessible to the public not just on markers along the state’s roadways, but also online at www.history.ky.gov/markers and via the Explore Kentucky History smartphone application available free at iTunes and Google Play. 

With a big crowd in attendance on a perfect, clear night, Spalding University broke in its new athletic fields complex on the evening of Oct. 23 with a grand opening celebration that won’t be forgotten anytime soon.

About 800 fans gathered under the lights of the 7.3-acre complex between South Eighth and South Ninth streets to watch the Golden Eagles’ men’s and women’s soccer doubleheader, as well as a grand opening ceremony and ceremonial “First Kick” of soccer ball between games.

It was the culmination of nearly six years of private fundraising for the complex and about six months of construction, which was overseen by general contractor Schaefer Construction. The finished product will be a source of pride and achievement for the university for years to come.

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer praised Spalding President Tori Murden McClure, Athletic Director Roger Burkman and the entire university community for being unafraid to take on big projects.

“And this was a big project,” the mayor said.

“What I love about Spalding is that you guys work hard each and every day,” Fischer said, before alluding to McClure’s most famous individual athletic feat. “It’s kind of like rowing across the Atlantic Ocean, one stroke at a time. If there’s something to be done, you can bet on this team here at Spalding. The kind of hope that you all represent, the persistence that you represent, it’s come true here tonight with this great facility. It’s a wonderful bridge for hope for our entire community. Tori, Roger, and the entire team, thank you very much on behalf of our great city. Wonderful job.”

LEARN MORE ABOUT THE FIELDS PROJECT AND HOW TO SUPPORT IT

VISIT THE OFFICIAL WEBSITE OF SPALDING ATHLETICS 

Located on the site of a former unused industrial brownfield and about four blocks west of the primary campus, the athletic complex provides for the first time an on-campus home for Spalding’s men’s and women’s soccer and softball teams, which have previously had to travel to high school facilities around the city to practice and host games.  The complex includes two turf soccer fields and a turf softball field that are lighted and can be used year-round. The Spalding softball team will begin playing at the complex during the upcoming spring 2020 season.

Spalding University Athletic Fields lit up at dusk
The Spalding University Athletic Complex was lit up on the edge of downtown during the Oct. 23 grand opening soccer doubleheader.

“Now (the soccer and softball programs) have a place that they can call their own,” Burkman said. “It’s a game-changer. You think about it from a recruiting standpoint and how it’s going to level that playing field, so to speak. And you can already see on the faces of our athletes how excited they are. When you talk to them about it, they just start smiling, and they just light up. And in the prospects who come to campus, you can see their eyes light up as well.”

New Spalding sports programs are set to make the complex their home as well.

Spalding is already in the early stages of adding men’s and women’s lacrosse, utilizing the soccer field that is also lined for that sport. Though a full plan for the creation of men’s and women’s lacrosse programs is still being developed, the university recently posted job openings for a men’s coach and women’s coach.

The other soccer field is lined for field hockey, allowing Spalding to explore adding a program in that sport, too.

The complex will also be available for outside clubs and schools to rent.

Surrounded by dozens of new trees and extensive landscaping, the fields complex also helps beautify the neighborhood at a site where there was previously nothing but asphalt and weeds. It continues Spalding’s effort to green and transform urban spaces south of Broadway. In recent years, the school turned a 2.2-acre parking lot into Trager Park – a grassy public recreational space at the corner of South Second and West Kentucky – and built the Mother Catherine Square green space in the center of campus at South Third and West Breckinridge.

More photos | Look back at months’ of the athletic fields’ construction progress and the grand opening on Spalding’s Facebook page.

Spalding University’s field of dreams project is officially off and running on S. Ninth Street, with shovels in the ground and ballgames not far off.

On Friday, April 12, Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer and Metro Council President David James  joined Spalding President Tori Murden McClure, Athletic Director Roger Burkman and Spalding Board of Trustees Chair Jim Rissler in the official groundbreaking of the 7.4-acre athletic fields complex between Eighth and Ninth Street. All the coaches and student-athletes from the Golden Eagles’ soccer and softball programs surrounded them and helped celebrate the start of the construction phase of the project that will give those teams an on-campus home for the first time.

Spalding is building two turf soccer fields – expected to be ready for competition by mid-fall 2019 – and a turf softball field (ready by spring 2020) that will be lighted and available for use year-round.

“I want you all to think about the impact all of you are having on our university, our community and all of these young people you see standing behind me (thanks to your support of the fields project),” Burkman said. “They’re really the reason why we do what we do. … I’m so thankful that (the softball and soccer teams) will have a place to call their homes.”

To be built on the site of a former industrial tract that had long been unused, the new Spalding fields will also beautify the Ninth Street corridor while providing a community resource. The fields, which could also be used for field hockey and lacrosse, will be available for other schools and clubs to rent. Men’s soccer coach Adam Boyer said he envisions the fields being the site of future youth clinics and camps and other types of service events.

“There is no doubt about it that this will be one of the coolest Division III facilities in the country and provide a wealth of benefits to our student-athletes,” Boyer said. “It’ll be a huge boost to our overall student-athlete experience in addition to improving our ability to recruit players to our programs. We’re looking forward to seeing the impact these fields have on our entire student population at Spalding – from intramural opportunities to being a unified source of school provide.

“These fields are a dream come true.”

McClure has said that the athletic fields are, literally, a game-changer for Spalding’s student-athletes and will position them to grow and succeed.

“When you’re a Division III student-athlete, you’re truly a student first and an athlete second. But I firmly believe that college athletics is not extra-curricular; it’s extra curriculum,” she said. “You learn the persistence, the endurance, the resourcefulness that it takes to make a difference not just on the field but in the real world.”

Spalding purchased the property, located between South Eighth and South Ninth and bounded by West Kentucky and West Breckenridge streets, in 2014, and it is using raised funds to build the fields complex. Fundraising continues, and information on how to support the project is available here.

The fields complex is the latest example of Spalding’s initiative of transforming urban spaces, including ones covered with impervious surfaces, into community resources that beautify campus and the neighborhood. In 2017, Spalding transformed an unused 2.2-acre parking lot at the corner of S. Second and W. Kentucky streets into Trager Park, a public green space with 100 new trees. Other recently created green spaces include Mother Catherine Square in the center of campus.

“This is one of those projects you dream of not just as a president of a university or as a student but also as a mayor, to say, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if we had a great big green swath in our city, right here by Ninth Street, a gateway to the west, an extension to a college campus?’ It’s awesome, and it’s here,” Fischer said. “The persistence and the tenacity of Spalding that you all demonstrate each and every day has led to this tremendous announcement we have today. This is a wonderful thing.”

Fischer spoke at Spalding on the eve of the start of the mayor’s Give A Day week of service program, and he praised Spalding for becoming the world’s first certified compassionate university  and he noted that Spalding will be a partner with the city in the Lean Into Louisville program.

Fischer said the city celebrates “what Spalding has done for our city in terms of the soul of our city, the conscience of our city.”

“The Sisters at Spalding and the staff and faculty have really helped set the pace for so much of what we do,” Fischer said. “… Spalding is always there when it comes to making a statement, whether it comes to commemorating Muhammad Ali and the Columbia Gym, or Lean Into Louisville, or being a compassionate university, or in helping make our city an even more beautiful place. This complex is a great win for Spalding and a great win for our city.”

Schaefer Construction is the general contractor for the project. Sabak, Wilson and Lingo Inc. is Spalding’s architecture and civil engineering partner for the fields. Schaefer Construction also announced it is making a $50,000 donation to the fields project on Friday.

Other comments from Friday’s groundbreaking

*Mirza Ugarak, men’s soccer player: “The new sports facility will be a tremendous resource for current and future students to mature into adults who will make the world a better place.”

*Kayla Strehle, women’s soccer player: “Spalding has shown us all just how much it cares about women’s sports with two-thirds of this complex being dedicated to women’s teams.”

*Ally Klein, softball player: “Coming to Spalding has allowed me to build friendships with my teammates and create memories on the field that will last a lifetime. … Having our own field is honestly the one missing piece in what has been an amazing college athletic experience. … It’ll make us better students and better athletes and help bring our community together.”

 

Spalding University announced Wednesday, Sept. 5, that it has reached a milestone in its ongoing, largest-ever capital fundraising campaign: surpassing $30 million in total contributions since 2014. They have supported new construction projects, facility improvements and academic and scholarship programs that broadly impact campus and student life.

The $30.4 million raised to date is a record for a Spalding campaign, and it far outpaces the original fundraising goals – $20 million by 2020 – set by the university’s board of trustees when it voted to launch the campaign four years ago. The goal was officially upped to $30 million in 2016.

“We are extremely grateful for the individuals and organizations who have stepped forward in support of our campaign and the mission and progress of Spalding,” Chief Advancement Officer Bert Griffin said. “We’ve made improvements all over campus and have not used any tuition dollars to make it happen.”

Spalding President Tori Murden McClure added: “Through this campaign, we have provided our students and the community with more resources and services while making our campus greener and more beautiful. We are grateful to our many partners who are helping us meet the needs of the times and change our community for the better.”

Some highlights of the $30 million capital campaign:

● Nearly $11 million in student scholarships and fieldwork stipends have been or will be distributed by way of the campaign, including more than $4 million in federal grants for clinical psychology and social work students from the Health Resources and Services Administration.

● More than $7 million has been donated or pledged in support of a greening initiative that has beautified the 23-acre downtown campus. Completed projects include the Mother Catherine Spalding Square green space on West Breckenridge Street between South Third and South Fourth and 2.2-acre Trager Park, which, in partnership with Louisville Gas and Electric Company and the Trager Family Foundation, opened last fall at the corner of South Second and West Kentucky. The Trager Park site was formerly an unused asphalt lot.

Ongoing outdoor projects are the seven-acre athletic fields complex between South Eighth and South Ninth streets that will be the home of Spalding’s NCAA Division III softball and soccer teams, and the Contemplative Garden at Spalding University, which will be a meditation space at 828 S. Fourth St. that is designed to honor Trappist Monk Thomas Merton and His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

Thanks to a recent anonymous $500,000 challenge grant, installation of the playing surfaces at the fields complex is expected to begin this fall, and it could be ready for competition by late spring 2019.

FROM WHAS: Spalding works to build Ninth Street ‘Field of Dreams’

● Kosair Charities has contributed more than $1.2 million to Spalding in support of the Kosair Charities Enabling Technologies of Kentuckiana (enTECH) assistive-technology resource center, the Auerbach School of Occupational Therapy and the Spalding School of Nursing.

RELATED: Spalding, enTECH receive $275,000 grant from Kosair Charities

● A $500,000 challenge grant from the James Graham Brown Foundation has helped raise $1 million to develop programs focused on restorative justice and restorative practices as well as Spalding’s Center for Behavioral Health.

● Nearly $1 million was raised to renovate the lower level of the Columbia Gym into a student fitness center and lounge.

● Other facilities that have undergone major improvements and modern updates are the Republic Bank Academic Center, which is the home of Spalding’s nursing and social work programs; the Spalding Library; the historic Tompkins-Buchanan-Rankin Mansion; and the Egan Leadership Center Lectorium.

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.”

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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

In honoring the location on its campus where legendary heavyweight champion and humanitarian icon Muhammad Ali first learned to box in 1954, Spalding University announced that it has officially changed the name of its athletic and activities building back to Columbia Gym.

The announcement comes on Wednesday, Jan. 17, which would have been the Louisville native Ali’s 76th birthday.

Spalding President Tori Murden McClure said in 2016 that the board of trustees planned to change the name of the building at 824 S. Fourth Street from the Spalding University Center to Columbia Gym. That had been the name of the former boxing gym located in the lower level of the building that was run by Louisville police officer Joe Martin, who became Ali’s first trainer.

In a tale that has become a key piece of Louisville history, 12-year-old Ali, then known as Cassius Clay, attended a Louisville Service Club event at the building and parked his new red Schwinn bicycle outside. When he came back out, the bike had been stolen. An angry Clay informed Martin about the theft and told him that he planned to “whup” whoever took the bike.

Martin told Clay that before he tried to do that, he better learn to fight first, leading him to start training in the Columbia Gym and begin a storied amateur career.

Not long after Ali’s death in 2016, Spalding hung a replica of Ali’s red bicycle over the front entrance of the building to serve as a tribute to Ali and Martin’s first encounter.

“As Spalding continues its legacy of service and compassion, the red bike story and Columbia Gym remind us of Muhammad Ali’s triumphant career in and out of the ring,” McClure said. “On this, the Champ’s birthday, may we all look inward and seek our role in making the world a better place, following his remarkable example.”

The building houses the NCAA Division III Golden Eagles’ home basketball and volleyball court, a 2,400-seat venue that continues to be called Derek Smith Gymnasium. The university’s athletic offices and student fitness center, lounge and health clinic are in the lower level where Martin’s Columbia Gym once was. There is also a ballroom and auditorium in the building.

A series of photo panels have been recently placed on the wall in the lower level of the building that detail Ali’s history there and with Spalding, and photos and inspirational quotes from Ali help decorate the facility.

“Our students are motivated daily by the history that began here with the red bike story,” Spalding athletic director Roger Burkman said. “It should inspire us all to not only compete at our highest level but also to serve others at an equally high level.”

Spalding acquired the building years after Ali trained there, but he had other ties to the school. As a teenager, he worked across the street from Columbia Gym in Spalding’s library, and he maintained a lifelong friendship with members of the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth who ran the college.

In addition, McClure is an Ali family friend and was an early employee of the Muhammad Ali Center. A year ago on Ali’s birthday, Spalding announced the creation of the Muhammad Ali Scholars program, which awards about $1.2 million of need-based scholarships every year.The Ali Scholarship provides traditional, first-year students up to $5,000 per year of assistance to attend the school. It’s renewable for up to $20,000 over four years.

Related: Spalding’s official athletics website

Photo panels displaying the history of Muhammad Ali's red bike story and his ties to Spalding.
A series of photo panels in the lower level of Columbia Gym detail Muhammad Ali’s famous red bike story and his ties to Spalding.