President Tori Murden McClure (Photo: Lightspeed Productions)

Spalding University held its annual Commencement ceremonies June 2-4, 2022, with President Tori Murden McClure delivering an address to the graduates. Her speech also included her annual list of maxims titled, “10 Things That I Think I Know.” Here are her full remarks:

There are many lies traditionally told on commencement day. One such lie is, “This is your day.  This is not your day. The evening may belong to you, but the day belongs to those who raised you, and to those who have supported you. It marks and end, not to your suffering, but to their suffering.

It is a day that some thought they might never see. Shortly, you will move your tassel from right to left, and you will leave. Those who helped you through the corridors of Spalding University will cheer. It is not that we do not love you. We do. But, we need no longer worry about whether you will pass your last exam. No more listening to you whine about the heftiness of your many assignments. No more pretending to be interested in your esoteric wanderings along the existential plains of academic syllabi.

This day belongs not just to you, but to all those who helped you reach this goal. Their gentle smiles hide deeper emotions. For some the sense of relief must border on hysteria. This hysteria may exhibit itself in the flash of cameras and in bragging about your accomplishments in unnaturally loud voices. Share the joy of this day with your friends and families. We all could use a little more joy in our lives.

We are in the Columbia Auditorium. This building holds a special place in my heart. In 1954, a twelve-year-old boy rode his red bicycle to this building. He was upstairs eating hotdogs and popcorn when someone stole his bicycle. The boy was distraught as he reported the crime to a police officer who taught boxing downstairs in the basement. The boy was named Cassius Clay. He began his boxing career downstairs. The world would come to know him as Muhammad Ali. The red bicycle over the front door of this building is our tribute to Muhammad Ali.

Muhammad touched billions of lives. He touched Spalding University, one of his first jobs was working in our library, and Muhammad touched my life.

In 1998, I failed to row a boat alone across the Atlantic Ocean. Not long after that failure, I went to work for Muhammad Ali. When he knew I was ready Muhammad said, “You don’t want to go through life as the woman who almost rowed across the ocean.” In 1999, I went back and I succeeded in rowing a boat alone across the Atlantic Ocean.

During that successful journey, I had a run-in with a hurricane named Lenny. At the height of that storm, I went out on deck to pick a fight with God. “If you put this in my path to do, why are you making it so difficult?” That was not an easy time, and this … right now … is not an easy time.

I agree with Adrienne Maree Brown when she wrote:

“Things are not getting worse, they are getting uncovered. We must hold each other tight and continue to pull back the veil.”

Graduates, it does not take an education to see pain, but it takes an education to do something about that pain. As you reenter the broader world you must make a living (your parents and guardians are counting on this), but be sure to make a life as well as a living. It is more important to be a person with meaning than it is to be a person of means. What you have in life is not nearly as important as who you have in your life.

I encourage you to be bold. In the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson:

“Speak what you think today in hard words and tomorrow speak what tomorrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradict every thing you said today.”

 It should not surprise you that Emerson also wrote: “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds …”

The three things about which I care today are: 1 ) Compassion 2) Justice 3) Fun.

Let’s begin with compassion. The Latin root of passion is the word “pati.” It means suffering. What you are passionate about you are willing to suffer for. The prefix “com” means “with.” Compassion is a willingness to suffer with another. We do not turn away from people in pain because we do not care. We turn away from people in pain because we do not know what to do. Education teaches us what to do, how to help, and sometimes it teaches us to sit still and listen.

Justice comes from the Latin “iustus” meaning upright, equitable, lawful, and proper. Our world has never implemented a full measure of justice. As a result, our world has never experienced a full measure of peace. These are things for which we must continue to strive with every fiber of our beings.

One of the greatest tests in life is to make the most of our gifts. For those of us who believe the source of those gifts is some higher power, how we use our gifts is an act of faith. No one of us is perfect. Each person is a blend of dust and divinity.  Each is mortal and each heroic. It is up to us – it is up to you – to close the gap between the promise of humanity and the performance of human beings. I firmly believe that human beings are capable of traversing the distance between possibility and fact.

The journey may not be easy. We all face obstacles, each and every one of us. We all have mountains to climb and oceans to traverse. We all tangle with storms. We all face waves. We take on the challenges before us one step at a time. If you do hard things … compassion and justice are hard things … you will need to set aside some time to laugh, and you will need to give yourself permission to laugh.

Hillaire Belloc wrote: “Nothing is worth the wear of winning but laughter and the love of friends.”

I commend you for reaching this milestone in life. I commend you for your achievements and for the achievements you are yet to make. Spalding University has prepared you well. As scholars you are creative individuals.  You possess a clarity of mind and an energy of will. I have no doubt you shall meet the challenge of the coming years.

As I wind this up, it is my job to fill your head with platitudesone or two of which you might actually remember. Socrates said, “All I know is that I know nothing.” I will freely admit don’t know anything for sure, but, I will end with ten things that I think I know:

1. Silence is golden, and, if silence you fail you, duct tape is silver.

2. It is never wrong to do the right thing, but that does not make it easy.

3. Road blocks only block the road … they do not block the grass, the path, the water, or the way less traveled … road blocks just block the road.

4. It is never too late to have a happy childhood … I have had several … I have many more planned. Or the corollary, I may grow old, but I will never be old enough to know better.

5. After a wrong turn, a step backward is a step in the right direction.

6. Learn from the mistakes of others, you cannot live long enough to make them all yourselves.
   a) Or the corollary, it is difficult to become old and wise if you are not first young and stupid.
  b) There are gradations of stupid: stupid, level one gets you heart, stupid level two gets others hurt, stupid level three involves police and lawyers and you might never own your own home.
  c) Avoid all levels of stupid that begin with the phrase, “Hey hold my beer ‘nd watch ‘this.”

7. Do not burn bridges. Just loosen the bolts a little each day.

8. If you have to keep something that you are doing a secret … then perhaps you should not be doing it.

9. Is an important one for and university presidents, don’t take yourself too seriously … no one else does

10. Do not believe everything you think. Or as Socrates said, “all I know is that I know nothing.”

I have tremendous confidence that when you leave Spalding as alumni you will go out. You will teach, heal, feed, and build. You will inform, advocate, comfort, and guide. You will criticize, organize, contribute and in a hundred other ways, you will serve people and causes. You do you.

Last words from me today belong to the wise (if not old) soul of the poet Amanda Gorman:

“When the day calls us to stand together.
We envision a land
That is liberated, not lawless;

We create a future
That is free, not flawless.

Over and over, again and again,
We will stride up every mountain side,
Magnanimous and modest.

We will be protected and served
By a force that is honored and honest.
This is more than protest —
It’s a promise!”

Jefferson County Public Schools (JCPS) has been awarded a grant from the Wallace Foundation worth up to $8.2 million over five years to help develop and support equity-centered school leaders, the school district announced Wednesday, and Spalding University’s College of Education will be a partner in training those leaders.

JCPS was one of only eight districts nationally awarded funds from the Wallace Foundation’s Equity Centered Pipeline Initiative. The grant will provide professional learning opportunities, mentorship and programming to strengthen the leadership pipeline for school principals with a focus on equity.

“This grant offers us the tremendous opportunity to develop and support principal candidates ‘on the bench’ as well as those new to their positions,” JCPS Superintendent Dr. Marty Pollio said. “We know that effective principals have a strong, positive influence on students and schools, impacting student achievement across an entire school. Having a comprehensive, aligned principal pipeline will produce  leaders who can help bring our district’s vision of equity to fruition.”

As it relates to Spalding, the Wallace grant will support the College of Education’s JCPS-focused Aspiring Leaders principal preparation program, which launched in 2020-21 and is now on its second cohort.

JCPS will receive $1.79 million in each of the first two years of the grant. If the grants are successfully renewed in years 3-5, the district would receive a total of $8.2 million.

Funding from the grant will create the Jefferson County Leadership Academy (JCLA), which will offer aspiring administrators workshops and programming to introduce them to the duties and expectations of an assistant principal and principal, along with mentoring and internship opportunities. In addition, JCLA will provide executive coaching sessions for current administrators.

*Overview | BS in Education | MA in Teaching | MEd in Teacher Leadership | MEd in Instructional Leadership | MA in School Counseling | EdD: Leadership | Rank I Certification
*Faculty Bios
* Related | JCPS Aspiring Leaders providing ‘invaluable’ training to future principals

JCPS will partner with Spalding, the University of Louisville and the Kentucky Department of Education to provide certification programs, professional development and mentoring based on equity-centered leadership to new and aspiring principals.

“Spalding University and its College of Education are proud to be partners with JCPS in developing equity-centered leaders in our public schools, and we are grateful for the Wallace Foundation for investing in this meaningful work,” Spalding President Tori Murden McClure said. “The grant from the Wallace Foundation will support ongoing work to further embed equity-centered leadership within all aspects of Spalding’s Aspiring Leaders principal preparation program, including its curriculum, assessments and clinical field experiences. This work goes hand in hand with the Spalding mission of compassion and commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion.”

In addition, Spalding is continuing work with the JCPS Diversity, Equity, and Poverty Division to refine a leadership equity screener that requires Aspring Leaders candidates to reflect on and demonstrate equity-centered leadership. The Spalding School of Social Work will also be providing cultural humility training for the Aspiring Leaders candidates with an emphasis on restorative practices and leadership, said Dr. Glenn Baete, Director of Advanced Programs in the College of Education.

“Through our collaboration with JCPS to provide the Aspiring Leaders Program to JCPS teacher leaders seeking administrative certification, the College of Education is committed to developing equity-centered learners,” Baete said. “The Wallace Foundation grant will help us deepen and accelerate that work.”

The Wallace Foundation works nationally to foster equity and improvements in learning and enrichment for young people, and in the arts for everyone.

“Spalding University’s College of Education is excited for the opportunity to work in partnership with so many wonderful local, state and national groups to strengthen P-12 school leadership for the ultimate benefit of children in Louisville,” said Dr. Kristen Harris, Chair of the School of Education.

Video from March 2020, announcing Spalding-JCPS Aspiring Leaders program:

Spalding University as an institution and President Tori Murden McClure as its top executive were both announced last week as award recipients from Louisville Business First. President McClure was named to Business First’s 2021 list of Greater Louisville’s Most Admired CEOs, and Spalding has received a Business Impact Award for its contribution to furthering racial justice and equality (subscription link).

Spalding, McClure and the other honorees will be recognized at an event at the Galt House on Nov. 9 as well as in the Nov. 12 edition of Louisville Business First.

Spalding is one of  six organizations to be honored with a Business Impact Award, which goes to “companies or organizations who have taken specific steps to assist their employees or community during the Covid-19 outbreak and/or to further racial justice and equality,” according to Louisville Business First.

Spalding was an outward supporter of protests against racial injustice in downtown Louisville in 2020 and hosted two demonstrations on campus. Since 2020, it has leaned into its social justice mission, launching curriculum for its Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice Studies program that uniquely focuses on restorative justice and criminal justice reform; developing the Collective Care Center as Louisville’s only behavioral health clinic focused on treating racial trauma; appointing Collective Care Center director and psychology faculty member Dr. Steven Kniffley to be Chief Diversity Officer; launching a professional development/continuing education training program for outside groups in antiracism; and earning a $200,000 grant from the James Graham Brown Foundation to support diversity and equity initiatives.

McClure, who is in her 11th year as President at Spalding, is one of 25 chief executives in a range of industries to make the list of Most Admired CEOs for 2021. Louisville Business First describes the Most Admired CEOs program as one that recognizes “outstanding chief executives and those holding equivalent titles” who are “innovators, standard-bearers, role models and exceptional leaders. Their contributions impact the company they head as well as the community in which they serve. A commitment to financial success, quality, workplace wellness, diversity and philanthropy are hallmarks of an exceptional and admired chief executive.”

Spalding is the only organization in 2021 to be honored both for Business Impact and for having one of the Most Admired CEOs.

During her time at Spalding, McClure has overseen an expansion of the university’s downtown campus to 23 acres, including the creation of two on-campus parks totaling more than 3.5 acres, a 7-acre athletic fields complex on Ninth Street and the acquisition and renovation of the Republic Bank Academic Center, which houses the schools of nursing and social work. Spalding is currently renovating a 22,500-square foot building at 961 S. Third Street that will become the home of the new Kosair Charities School of Physical Therapy and Center for Interprofessional Education.

Over the past 18 months, she guided Spalding into the aforementioned diversity and inclusion initiatives while also leading the university to a transition in spring 2020 to fully remote learning at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, a safe partial return to in-person operations in Fall 2020 and a safe full return to in-person operations in Fall 2021.

In 2020, McClure wrapped up a term on the NCAA’s Board of Governors – the highest-governing body in collegiate athletics. She served as Vice Chair and, for a brief period, Interim Chair of the Board of Governors as the NCAA addressed the pandemic’s impact on competition and championships.

McClure’s historic athletic feats have certainly also earned her admiration in her hometown of Louisville. She is well-known as the first woman and first American to row a boat unassisted across the Atlantic Ocean, having done so in 1999. A decade earlier, she became the first woman and first American to ski to the South Pole as part of an expedition group.

In August 2021, a major stage musical titled, “ROW,” based on McClure’s life and memoir made its world premiere at the acclaimed Williamstown Theatre Festival in Massachusetts. An audio version of the musical debuted in April on Audible.

Spalding President Tori Murden McClure sent the following message to Spalding students, faculty and staff on Thursday, Aug. 19, 2021.

Dear Spalding Community,

We can’t wait to kick off the fall semester on Monday.

It has been exciting to have our new first-year students on campus this week for Engage, and by this weekend, all of our new and returning residential students will be moved in. Then on Monday, for the first time in 18 months, the majority of our classes will once again be held in person.

Our faculty and staff who were working remotely throughout the pandemic are back in the office as well, and in-person services and office hours are available for academic and student services departments across campus.

It is a momentous time as the depth of conversations and the joy of events and activities that can only be achieved in face-to-face settings – and that are key to the university experience – are restored on a broad scale.

As we prepare to reunite fully next week, I ask everyone to commit to doing their part to maintain a safe and healthy campus. The cooperation and responsible behavior of all students, faculty and staff is critical to get through the surge caused by the COVID-19 Delta variant.

Please review our Healthy Together at Spalding webpages, including the information on procedures for if you have been exposed to COVID-19. Students, please make sure to review this message from Dean of Students Janelle Rae from Monday, Aug. 16.


When you arrive on campus on Monday, please remember that a face covering is required for all individuals in all indoor settings, except for your own residence hall room or private office or whenever you are eating. I do not intend to mandate masks any longer than is necessary this year, but it is absolutely necessary right now with Delta cases on the rise.

In addition, I urge you, if you have not already, get vaccinated for COVID-19! The vaccines are safe, free and easily accessible, and the data couldn’t be clearer that they work.

From March 1 to Aug. 16, 2021, 86.8 percent of COVID-19 cases and 90.5 percent of COVID-19 hospitalizations in Kentucky were among partially vaccinated or unvaccinated individuals, according to the Governor’s Office.

We are planning an on-campus vaccine clinic the week of Aug. 29, with more information to follow.

We also plan to implement mandatory on-campus testing for COVID-19 for unvaccinated employees and those students in high contact and congregate settings such as athletes and residents who have not been vaccinated.


I am excited that once again, a full slate of events and activities will be taking place on campus, with many planned around the start of the fall semester. These are fun, meaningful and safe, and please plan to attend as many as you can. Thank you to the dozens of folks who have worked hard to organize these special events.

* Mon.-Sat., Aug. 23-28: Welcome Week – A wide variety of mixers, meet-and-greets, games, informational sessions, and athletic events all across campus. Check out the full Welcome Week schedule here, and here is a Facebook event for the entire schedule.

* Mon., Aug. 23: WDJX Campus Crash, 11 a.m.-1 p.m., Mother Catherine Square – Stop by as 99.7 WDJX broadcasts live from campus on the first day of classes. There will be tents set up with free Spalding T-shirts and masks, snacks and other prizes.

* Thurs., Aug. 26: Convocation, 10-11 a.m., Columbia Gym Auditorium and online – This traditional event welcomes our community to all of the excitement a new academic year brings and inspires us to live into our mission. Louisville Urban League President Sadiqa Reynolds will deliver our keynote, and I will distribute a mission coin to each new Spalding student. All new students are encouraged to attend in person. All others are encouraged to join virtually, with the link to do so in your Wednesday, Aug. 18 email from Dean Tomarra Adams.

* Sat., Aug. 28: Eagle Fest, 6-10 p.m., Trager Park – Our inaugural fall free concert is our biggest welcome-back event of the week. Joslyn and the Sweet Compression and DJ Alli will perform, and there will be food trucks, giveaways and vendors. The Student Involvement Fair, with information on campus clubs and activities, will be held on site. Arrive early for a free T-shirt. Families are welcome.

This is an exciting time for our campus, and we are set for another tremendous year at Spalding. Please mask up, get a vaccine and pledge to do what it takes to keep yourself and our campus community safe. I can’t wait for us to work and learn together and to have a lot fun along the way.

See you Monday!


Tori Murden McClure 
Spalding University President 


Spalding University President Tori Murden McClure sent the following message to the campus community on June 25, 2021:

Dear Spalding Community,

Thank you for your cooperation in helping us achieve a safe and successful 2020-21 academic year amid the challenges of COVID-19.

The teamwork of the campus in implementing and complying with our health and safety protocols can’t be commended enough, and our faculty and students exhibited tremendous adaptability in delivering and completing an abundance of classes in a remote format. Additionally, much of our campus community has taken the safe, responsible step of getting vaccinated for COVID-19.

In these ways, Spalding has played its part in helping our community stay safe. The pandemic certainly isn’t over, but the promising decrease in COVID-19 cases locally and nationally and the increase in vaccinations have positioned us to transition safely to campus operations in 2021-22 that will much more closely resemble pre-pandemic life.

We believe that a vibrant campus with rich in-person learning is essential to the college experience at Spalding, and we look forward to a return to that engaging environment.

Starting this fall, we expect that nearly all classes that were moved from in-person to a remote format due to the pandemic will return to a face-to-face setting.

Here are other changes and updates in policies and protocols, effective July 1. All are subject to change.


● After June 30, Spalding’s indoor mask mandate will be lifted for individuals who have been vaccinated for COVID-19.

● If you are not fully vaccinated, continue to wear a mask and practice physical distancing in all public, indoor settings on campus. Unvaccinated individuals should follow prevailing CDC guidelines for preventing illness and the spread of the virus.

● Any vaccinated individual who prefers to wear a mask in any setting will be welcome to do so. Even though masks won’t be required for all, it would be appropriate to continue carrying and wearing a mask as a courtesy to others who may feel more comfortable with having people wear them in close quarters.

● Hand sanitizer dispensers installed across campus during the past 15 months will remain in place. Regardless of your vaccination status, please continue to use them regularly as well as practicing frequent, thorough hand-washing throughout the day.


● At this time, COVID-19 vaccines are not mandated for any member of the Spalding community, but they are strongly encouraged. Please get vaccinated! The university is reviewing whether or not to require vaccines and will notify the campus community if a change in policy takes place.

● If a student has any questions about the safety or efficacy of vaccines or is unsure where to get a shot, please contact the Eagle Care Health Clinic at [email protected]. Information on vaccine sites near your area can be found at

Room configurations/capacity

● Offices and classrooms will return to normal configurations, in accordance with CDC and state and local guidelines.

● Capacity for on-campus events will return to their pre-pandemic levels.

● Full fan capacity at athletics events will also return, unless otherwise mandated by our conference.

● The College Street Café dining hall will operate at normal capacity.

On-campus housing

● Residence hall rooms may return to double-occupancy.

● Isolation facilities will continue to be utilized as needed.

Daily health assessment

● At this time, we will continue to require all students, staff, faculty and visitors to complete and pass the #CampusClear daily health assessment before coming to campus each day. In the instances in which we have had positive cases within our campus community, we have found #CampusClear to be an effective method for individuals to notify the university. You can learn more about #CampusClear and access links to download the app here.

● Regardless of vaccination status, any individual who is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 should not come to campus.

Spalding will continue to abide by federal, state and local guidelines, and any of the above policies are subject to change based on the state of the pandemic.

This is a time of tremendous hope for our campus and our country, and, again, the best way to ensure the safety of yourself, your loved ones and our university community is to get vaccinated.

Enjoy a great, safe summer. We can’t wait to see everyone on campus in August.

All the best,



Tori Murden McClure
President, Spalding University



Spalding University held its annual Commencement ceremonies June 3-5, 2021, with President Tori Murden McClure delivering an address to the graduates. Her speech also included her annual list of maxims titled, “10 Things That I Think I Know.” Here are her full remarks:

What a strange time this has been. People talk about the return to normal. Normal is a fantasy. There is only change. Resistance to change, and, later, more change. There is a saying, “The only creature who welcomes change is an infant with a dirty diaper.” Nonetheless, change is constant. And at this moment in time, change is necessary.

The world we are giving to our graduates is broken. Look around at people with gray hair … we broke it. When I finished college, we talked about polarized sunglasses not polarized positions, polarized news outlets, or polarized people. Life at the polar extremes is cold, desolate, and best avoided.

Thirty years ago, I skied 750-miles across Antarctica to the geographic South Pole. The average temperature was minus-25 degrees. It was a land of ice, wind, and hardship, but I submit to you that it was warmer and more welcoming than some of the polar extremes of our modern discourse.

Demonizing those with whom we disagree demonstrates a failure of imagination and a stunting of our empathy. Abraham Joshua Heschel observed: “To be or not to be is not the question. The vital question is how to be and how not to be … .”

When I am asked to speak to groups of elementary age children, I love to say, “Raise your hand if something bad ever happened to you.” Then, to all the children who raise their hands I say, “Good for you!” Those children respond with confusion, “WHAT?!” I go on to explain that what we learn from hardship, from failure, and from tragedy informs our character. I tell children, the bad things that happen to you are not your story. What you do with the bad things that happen that is your story. When we use our experience with “bad things” to assist others when they are in distress, we are making good out of bad.

COMMENCEMENT | Hundreds of photos on Spalding’s Facebook page | Links to individual school celebrations, replays, programs | Graduate features

In the past eighteen months, we have endured some measure of a shared global crisis. We must ask ourselves whether we will allow the experience to alter are characters for good or for ill. The ill effects are plain. It seems as if our ears have become fragile, our tempers are on a hair trigger, and that our favorite pastime has become passing judgment on other people.

“How shall we be, and how shall we not be?”

To answer this question, I bring to mind people whom I admire. People I consider my mentors. The teachers, coaches, and friends who stood at the forks in the road of my life. Graduates, perhaps some of the people sitting nearby stood at the forks in the road of your lives.

While I was in Divinity School at Harvard, I worked with homeless people. One afternoon, in a particularly rough part of Boston, one homeless man stabbed another. I was the first to respond. I will spare you the gory details, but when I left that chaotic scene, I was not aware of the blood-soaked towel that I had thrown over my shoulder. When got on the subway to make the journey back to Harvard I was fuming with anger. No one looked in my direction.

It was as if I was invisible. Before long, I noticed the towel and I assumed that it was the bloody towel that had made me invisible. I my fury grew. I got off the train at Harvard Square. Harvard … one of the most privileged places on the planet. I remained invisible. Fury turned to rage, and I crossed Harvard Yard like a bowling ball. Students and faculty got out – of – my – way. As I approached Memorial Church on the far side of Harvard Yard, the Reverend Doctor Peter J. Gomes was coming down the stairs.

Peter knew me. This was not the first time Peter Gomes witnessed my brokenness. He placed himself directly in my path. Peter saw me. He was black. He was gay. He was an ordained minister. He was a Republican. In short, he was not like other faculty at Harvard University. Peter asked, “What’s up with the towel?”

Growling with rage, I sputtered the details of what had happened. I ended with, “The towel makes me invisible.” Peter smiled. His was a smile filled with sadness and with empathy. Then, he told me, “It is your anger that makes you invisible.” Each time I find it difficult to navigate the rage, I am reminded of Peter Gomes, “It is your anger that makes you invisible.”

It is OK, even admirable, to have a fire in your belly. I have had one there most of my life. Take care how you put that fire to use. Fire as a tool is neutral. We can use it to warm the chill of a cold world, we can use it to cauterize a wound, or we can use it to torch our world to cinders. If you use your fire in the spirit of the Spalding University Mission “to meet the needs of the time,” you will be using your fire for good.

You have graduated. A few of you might be just a little bit proud. I am okay with that. Pride is not a bad thing. I had a Buddhism Professor who taught that “If you must have an ego, have an ego as big as the Himalaya Mountains.” I thought my professor was wrong, and I thought he was wrong because he was a man. Women are not allowed to show ego. We display too much pride, people knock us down. (To be fair, it is usually other women who knock us down.) Nevertheless, I learned the truth of my professor’s words when I went to work for Muhammad Ali. Muhammad Ali had an ego as big as the Himalaya Mountains.

In 1954, a twelve-year-old Cassius Clay rode his red Schwinn bicycle to this building, which is now Spalding’s Columbia Gym. He was upstairs eating hotdogs and popcorn when someone stole his red bicycle. He said, “I’m gonna wump somebody up.” Bystanders sent young Cassius Clay to report the crime to a police officer in the basement. “I’m gonna wump somebody up. He stole my bicycle.” Joe Martin, the police officer, was a boxing coach. Officer Martin explained to this young man that if he wanted to beat someone up he should learn to box.

White policeman. Black boy. Happy ending. Too many encounters between white police officers and black boys are more ending than happy, but these are not stories for today.

“How to be, and how not to be.”

Muhammad Ali had an ego as big as the Himalaya Mountains. He also had a special kind of humility. He was the greatest, and wherever he went, he lifted others up. Muhammad was not perfect. No one is perfect. Muhammad could be cruel. In his younger years, he occasionally used the fire in his belly to scorch others. But in his later years, when I knew him, he was magnificent.

I went to work for him shortly after I had failed to row a boat alone across the Atlantic Ocean. I had rowed 3,000 miles when I got hit by a hurricane. There is nothing special in this, all of us face storms. All of us tangle with waves. The point is, when I went to work for Muhammad Ali, I believed myself to be a monumental failure.

Muhammad Ali lifted up. He reminded me that a failure is not someone who falls. A failure is a person who does not get back up. When he judged I was ready, he told me, “You don’t want to go through life as the woman who almost rowed across the ocean.” He was right, I went back and I completed that journey.

Graduates, you have completed your Spalding journey. You have earned your degree. I will not begrudge you the power and privilege that come with this achievement. I challenge you to use these gifts to imagine a better world and to work toward achieving it. I challenge you to close the gap between the promise of humanity and the performance of human beings.

Extend your empathy and your grace to others. Share your passion and knowledge in ways that include rather than exclude. Exclusion breeds resentment, bitterness, and self-doubt among those we leave out. Inclusion creates hope and it opens opportunity, and it builds the bridges of friendship and love.

One of the greatest gifts an educated person brings to a community is the ability to imagine a better world, a kinder reality, a more perfect union. You cannot build what you cannot imagine. Imagination allows us to empathize with people whose experiences we do not share. Imagination helps us to learn and to understand by projecting ourselves into the place of another. It does not take an education to see the pain on our streets, but I hope that as Spalding graduates you will use your education to do something about that pain.

You have worked hard to reach this milestone. You have won this honor for yourselves. Hellaire Belloc wrote, “Nothing is worth the wear of winning but laughter and the love of friends.” I hope you will take time to enjoy laughter and the love of friends.

I am proud of you. And you look GOOD today!


As I wind this up, it is my job to fill your head with platitudes one or two of which you might actually remember. Socrates said, “All I know is that I know nothing.” I will freely admit don’t know anything for sure, but, I will end with ten things that I think I know:

1. Silence is golden and if silence fails you, remember that duct tape is silver. I wish real life came with a mute button.

2. If the carrot is big enough you can use it as a stick.

3. Road blocks only block the road … they do not block the grass, the path, the water, or the way less traveled … road blocks just block the road.

4. This one of for those of you who identify as male. Gentlemen, a recent study found that women who carry a little extra weight live much longer than the men who … mention … it.

5. It is never too late to have a happy childhood … I have had several … I have many more planned. Or the corollary, I may grow old, but I will never be old enough to know better.

6. Learn from the mistakes of others; you cannot live long enough to make them all yourselves.
a) Or the corollary, it is difficult to become old and wise if you are not first young and stupid.

b) There are gradations of stupid: stupid, level one gets you heart, stupid level two gets others hurt, stupid level three involves police and lawyers and you might never own your own home.

c) Avoid all levels of stupid that begin with the phrase, “Hey hold my beer ‘nd watch ‘his.”

7. Do not burn bridges. Just loosen the bolts a little each day.

8. If you have to keep something that you are doing a secret … then perhaps you should not be doing it.

9. Is an important one for and university presidents, don’t take yourself too seriously … no one else does

10. Do not believe everything you think. Or as Socrates said, all I know is that I know nothing.

I have tremendous confidence that when you leave Spalding as alumni you will go out. You will teach, heal, feed, and build. You will inform, advocate, comfort, and guide. You will criticize, organize, contribute and in a hundred other ways you will serve people and causes.  When this commencement service ends let your service to the world begin anew. I know you will make Spalding proud. You will make your friends and families proud.

In the words of Seneca: “As is a tale so is life, it is not how long it is, but rather how good it is that matters.” Your lives need to matter.

Spalding President Tori Murden McClure sent the following message to the campus community on Tuesday, May 20, 2021:

Dear Spalding Community,

You have likely seen that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revised its COVID-19 guidance last week, declaring that it is now safe for fully vaccinated individuals to stop wearing masks indoors and outdoors. Governor Beshear has also amended the Kentucky mask mandate, which now no longer requires fully vaccinated people to wear a mask.

While it is extremely encouraging to see the decline in COVID-19 cases and the increase in people who have received vaccines, we have decided that Spalding University will maintain its mask policy as-is through the remainder of the 2020-21 academic year. That means that through June 30, 2021, all students, employees and visitors must continue to wear a mask at all times while indoors on campus, except for when they are in individual offices or residential rooms, or when seated and eating at the College Street Café’. As of May 18, 2021, about 36 percent of Kentuckians are fully vaccinated. That is good progress, but it also means that nearly two-thirds of our population is not yet vaccinated. With this in mind, it feels appropriate and responsible that we continue our masking policy, especially during Commencement, which will be, by far, our largest set of indoor gatherings of the year.

Masks and social distancing will be required for all attendees at our upcoming Commencement ceremonies, June 3-5. Graduates, please remind your guests that they will need to wear a mask before they go inside a campus building, regardless of their vaccination status. Free “Spalding Graduate” masks will be distributed to the graduates, and other free masks will be available for guests.

Continuing our consistent, standard policy with everyone in masks will be the safest, easiest way to hold class and interact on campus. Further, maintaining the status quo on our masking policy will eliminate the burden – and any anxieties – on our faculty and staff in having to check every day who is or is not truly vaccinated and who is or is not allowed to go without a mask.

Spalding has been successful in having a low number of COVID-19 cases this year, and we believe that the 100 percent compliance that we have achieved in our masking policy is a big reason why. We can’t thank our students, faculty and staff enough for their cooperation in wearing masks without complaint. It’s been an amazing group effort.

We are, of course, all eager to get back to a more normal way of life, and we are excited to return to holding a majority of our classes in person next fall. Spalding will review our masking policy this summer. It is my sincere hope that the vast majority of the campus community will be vaccinated and that we will be able to set aside our masks in the coming year. We encourage you and your loved ones to get vaccinated for COVID-19. The vaccines are free and easily accessible and have been proven to be safe and highly effective. Anyone 12 and older is now eligible for a vaccine in Kentucky.

Thanks again for your cooperation and willingness to work together.

All the best,


Tori Murden McClure
Spalding University President

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

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.”

*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 [email protected] or visit

“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

Dear Spalding Community,

I am excited to share the schedule for our in-person Commencement ceremonies, to be held on campus June 3-5, 2021. We will hold ten ceremonies over three days, with the events divided up by academic program. A few academic programs will have a combined ceremony with other programs, and a couple larger academic programs will hold two ceremonies in order to ensure social distancing. Provost Burden and I will attend every event to confer degrees.

Remember that our 2020 graduates are also invited back to walk in this year’s Commencement with the Class of 2021. Academic leaders, please remember to share all updates and instructions about your program’s Commencement ceremony with last year’s grads as well.

Note: Two academic schools – the Auerbach School of Occupational Therapy and the School of Creative and Professional Writing – are having virtual Commencement ceremonies this year.

Here is the 2021 Spalding Commencement schedule:

Thursday, June 3, 2021
11 a.m. – Combined: School of Liberal Studies, School of Natural Science and Bachelor of Science in Health Science, College Street Ballroom, 812 S. Second St.
2 p.m. – Creative Arts Department, College Street Ballroom, 812 S. Second St.
5 p.m. – College of Education, Columbia Gym Auditorium, 824 S. Fourth St.

Friday, June 4, 2021
11 a.m. – Master of Science in Athletic Training, Troutman Lectorium, Egan Leadership Center, 901 S. Fourth St.
2 p.m. – Master of Science in Nursing and Doctor of Nursing Practice, Troutman Lectorium, Egan Leadership Center, 901 S. Fourth St.
5 p.m. – Bachelor of Science in Nursing, Columbia Gym Auditorium, 824 S. Fourth St.

Saturday, June 5, 2021
10 a.m. – Combined: School of Business and School of Communication, Columbia Gym Auditorium, 824 S. Fourth St.
Noon – Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Master of Arts in Psychology, College Street Ballroom, 812 S. Second St.
2 p.m. – Doctor of Psychology in Clinical Psychology, College Street Ballroom, 812 S. Second St.
5 p.m. – School of Social Work, Columbia Gym Auditorium, 824 S. Fourth St.


Graduates, please take the time in the next week to order graduation regalia through our vendor, Jostens. The link to order your cap, gown and other items is:

The Spalding Campus Store is handling regalia orders from Jostens. Students may either have their orders shipped to the Campus Store (“ship to school” option) for pickup or shipped to their homes. The deadline for “ship to school” is April 26, and the deadline for home shipping is April 29.

The Campus Store, which is located in the south end of the Egan Leadership Center at 901 S. Fourth St., can be reached at [email protected] .

Note about regalia: The graduation “stole” is optional.

Guest tickets

In order to reduce capacity and ensure social distancing, each graduate is allowed a maximum of two guests. We are finalizing a ticketing system and will share information about distributing tickets soon.

Safety protocols

Everyone attending Commencement must be symptom-free and will be required to wear a mask and practice social distancing outside of their family unit. To help ensure Commencement is as safe and successful as possible, we encourage all our students, faculty and staff, and their loved ones to get a COVID-19 vaccine. The vaccines are now available for anyone 16 and older.

Commencement webpage

Information and updates about this year’s Commencement can be found at

We are excited to celebrate our graduates soon!

All the best,

Tori Murden McClure

Spalding University President

Spalding University President Tori Murden McClure sent the following message to the campus community on Monday, March, 29, 2021:

Dear Spalding Community,

What a year it has been. I am extremely grateful for your dedication, cooperation, and fortitude as we endured the past twelve months. Last week, we announced that we will have a series of in-person Commencement ceremonies in June. I know many of you are wondering what our classes and campus operations will look like in Fall 2021.

Thanks to the increasing availability of highly effective vaccines, I am pleased to say that Spalding University plans to have the majority of its classes in-person next fall. By early August, I expect that most of the faculty and staff will return to our offices for the majority of the work week. The year has taught me, that Spalding University is not housed in buildings. It exists in the minds and the hearts of our students, staff, and faculty. Nonetheless, the University thrives when we are together. Kindness blooms. Friendships grow. We cultivate gratitude and respect toward one another. We challenge one other to live with courage and with integrity in our ever changing world.

As we reimagine how we work and study together, I hope we will consciously rearrange our spaces to foster collaboration, innovation, and healthy human interaction. I attribute much of our success in the last twelve months to our having built a strong and supportive mission-driven culture prior to the start of the pandemic. In recent weeks, I have noticed a diminution of our cohesion. When we lose touch with one another, it is more difficult to live and breathe the mission of Spalding. In our mostly virtual year, there has been less spontaneity, less humanity, and less fun. There is a great deal of learning, coaching, and mentoring that happens in all directions when we are together.

Many of us will benefit from increasing our work-life or school-life separation. This year, we have not been working from home so much as living at work. Without the natural boundaries of space and time, it has been difficult to turn-off, to relax, to spend time with family or friends without unfinished work intruding on our thoughts and leaving us with a breathless hunted feeling.

I am excited. I have missed the brainstorming and raucous good cheer that happens over lunch in the Spalding Café. I look forward to quicker communication and fewer misunderstandings as we return to being able to speak to one another in person. New and continuing students will begin class registration on April 12. All students are encouraged to speak with their advisors about their classroom needs and to make the course selections that best meet their goals and academic program requirements.

To ensure that next school year is as safe and successful as possible, we strongly encourage each of you to get a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as you are eligible. Governor Beshear announced last week that he expects all Kentuckians 16 years and older to be able to sign up for vaccines starting April 12. Let’s continue to work together to finish this year safely. Please get vaccinated when you can. Greater days are ahead.

All the best,


Tori Murden McClure
President, Spalding University