Spalding’s Board of Trustees has bestowed the rank of Professor Emeritus and the title of Emeritus Professor of Psychology on Kenneth Linfield, PhD, a long-serving faculty member in the School of Professional Psychology.

Professor Emeritus Linfield has left a lasting mark on the University by displaying an intense love of learning and teaching, a powerful dedication to their students and a strong loyalty to Spalding that will be remembered and appreciated for years to come.

Ken Linfield
Dr. Kenneth Linfield

Following a career as a Methodist pastor, Dr. Linfield has served 21 years at Spalding. He is said to have always viewed his work as an extension of his ministry.

Dr. Linfield has spent the past 13 years as the Director of Graduate Training, taking on the major responsibilities of student advisement, admissions, tracking, and policy execution. He is an expert in quantitative methods, statistics, program evaluation and design and research ethics. His interests also include various elements of religious faith and spirituality, and the relation of religion and spirituality to a broad range of mental health issues, including positive elements such as well-being.

He is an associate editor of the American Psychological Association journal Psychology of Religion and Spirituality. He wrote a graduate textbook on Program Evaluation, and he has coauthored a wide range of articles and chapters.

Dr. Linfield is said to have “left an indelible mark of quality on all of his professional activities, both within the School of Professional Psychology and across the broader Spalding community. He has embodied the concept of compassion across all his professional endeavors.”

Every year at Commencement, the Spalding Board of Trustees bestows the Outstanding Faculty Award to a member of the Spalding faculty whose work embodies the mission of Spalding University. The recipient will have made a significant impact on students in areas such as teaching; advising; facilitating student research; promoting peace, justice and cultural understanding; providing support services; encouraging extracurricular activities; or any other aspect of student life.

The recipient of the 2020 Spalding Outstanding Faculty Award is Brenda Nash, PhD, Full Professor in the School of Professional Psychology.

Dr. Nash serves as the Director of Clinical Training in Spalding’s prestigious Doctor of Psychology in Clinical Psychology program, and on July 1, she will assume the role of Chair of the School of Professional Psychology. Dr. Nash has been on the full-time faculty at Spalding since 2006 and has served as Clinical Director since 2011, overseeing students’ practicum and internship placements. The rate at which a university’s PsyD students are placed at internship sites accredited by the American Psychological Association is perhaps the most important measure of the quality of the program. Under Dr. Nash’s direction, Spalding’s APA-accredited internship match rate has, remarkably, been 100 percent for the past four years.

In addition, this year, she became the first Spalding faculty member to serve on the state’s Board of Examiners of Psychology, as appointed by Gov. Beshear.

LEARN MORE | Spalding’s PsyD program overview
PERFECT MATCH RATE | 100% of Spalding PsyD students land at APA-accredited internship sites
LEARN MORE | Spalding’s Bachelor of Arts in Psychology overview

Moreover, Dr. Nash has co-authored two scholarly book chapters this year, and she is also collecting data on the effectiveness of mindfulness-based groups for correctional officers in rural Kentucky, a grant-funded contract that has also supported student training. For the past decade, she has led a Research Interest Group (RIG) organized around women’s issues.

Dr. Nash specializes in working with survivors of trauma, including sexual and physical abuse, childhood abuse, domestic violence, automobile accidents and catastrophic loss.

In a very recent example of her compassionate leadership, Dr. Nash and SOPP faculty organized Friday’s Show of Solidarity demonstration, during which students, faculty and staff lined S. Fourth St., standing silently in support of the Black community and against racial injustice.

Dr. Nash has been described as having “a clear passion for the field of psychology, and more specifically for the training and education of future psychologists. She models compassion, self-reflection, and commitment for her doctoral students and pushes her peers to be better supervisors, educators, and clinicians.”

Spalding’s Doctor of Psychology in Clinical Psychology program has once again achieved perfection in a key measurement of the quality of a PsyD program – matching all 31 members of its doctoral Class of 2021 with a professional internship at a site accredited by the American Psychological Association.

It figures to end up as the fourth straight year that Spalding’s School of Professional Psychology will record a 100 percent internship match rate for PsyD students in APA-accredited sites. Along with 2020, Spalding had perfect match rates in 2017 and 2018, and the university will also be able to claim the accomplishment for 2019 if one internship site soon gains APA accreditation, as expected, SOPP Chair Dr. Steve Katsikas said.

Spalding’s 100 percent match rate is well above the national average of  80 percent for PsyD programs, Katsikas said.

“We are thrilled that we have yet another 100 percent APA-accredited match rate for our program,” he said. “It is a testament to the students’ hard work, the faculty investment in their education and the excellent work of previous interns who have made Spalding’s program one with a stellar reputation.”

The internships are a requirement for PsyD students to earn their doctorate. All doctoral psychology programs in the United States require a full-time, 1,800- to 2,000-hour internship for the degree, and the selection process is competitive.

Katsikas explained that the process of applying for internships is similar to the process of applying to graduate programs. Students apply nationally to one-year internship programs that align with their training goals. The internship sites interview students from all over the country and rank them.

“Each internship has the option to become APA-accredited, which is the highest form of accreditation,” Katsikas said. “These sites are the most competitive, and there are fewer sites than applicants. Looking at a program’s match rate and, specifically, match rate to APA-accredited programs is among the best measure of program quality.”

Katsikas said Spalding has established “pipelines” with multiple APA-accredited internship sites. Those sites are impressed with Spalding students’ training, so they keep taking new students year after year. Moreover, Katsikas explained, Spalding students make for attractive internship candidates because they have significantly more clinical hours and experiences than most PsyD students.

PsyD OVERVIEW | Details on Spalding’s nationally ranked program
SCHOOL OF PROFESSIONAL PSYCHOLOGY FACULTY | Bios on all doctoral and undergrad professors

Spalding’s 120-credit-hour PsyD program, which has been accredited by the APA since 1991, was recently recognized as one of the 50 best in the nation by and was the only program in Kentucky to make the list.

Katsikas, who was named the state’s 2019 Psychologist of the Year by the Kentucky Psychological Association and this year became the President of the KPA Board of the Directors, said that during this time of uncertainty and anxiety brought on by the coronavirus, it’s important that Spalding continues to train skilled, compassionate mental health professionals.

“Two-thirds of our program graduates are spending the majority of their professional time with underserved populations,” he said. “We could not be prouder of our students, who embody the Spalding mission and take it with them into their careers.”

Telehealth uses information and communication technologies to enable healthcare providers to connect with patients at a distance. While telehealth has been slowly gaining traction in healthcare for more than two decades, the Coronavirus is proving to be a tipping point. Social distancing, along with school and clinic closures, has necessitated the use of telehealth to provide health-related services.

Spalding University is nurturing innovation in the areas of both telehealth and distance education.

In 2008, I partnered with Kosair Charities’ Enabling Technologies of Kentuckiana (enTECH) assistive technology resource center, a state-designated assistive technology resource center located on Spalding’s campus,  to develop a pilot telehealth program that provided occupational therapy services to young children in rural Kentucky. This was funded through a grant by the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky.  I’m proud that this early research, as well as my work with national and international organizations, has contributed to the global advancement of telehealth.

RELATED | Faculty Focus Friday Q&A with Dr. Jana Cason
RELATED | Dr. Cason, expert on telehealth, honored for innovative practice in OT
VIDEO | Watch one of Dr. Cason’s recent lectures on telehealth

Other Spalding faculty and staff who are fluent in telehealth are preparing students “to meet the needs of the times” – a tenet of Spalding’s mission. Here are examples of other ways the university is embracing telehealth delivery and educating students about it:

  • Dr. Norah Chapman, Associate Professor in the School of Professional Psychology, has evaluated evidence-based telepsychology interventions.
  • Students pursuing the Auerbach School of Occupational Therapy’s Assistive and Adaptive Technology Certificate or post-professional Doctor of Occupational Therapy (OTD) degree can acquire telehealth competencies through an interdisciplinary online course – Introduction to Telehealth.  Students learn about telehealth terminology, technologies, standards and guidelines, practice considerations, clinical applications and telehealth outcome research.
  • All Spalding graduate students in a health-related field will have the opportunity to take the course, Introduction to Telehealth, as an elective beginning in Fall 2020. In addition, telehealth-related educational content for healthcare administrators, clinical directors, and undergraduate students is on a fast-track development.
  • Spalding is also meeting the needs of the times via its on-campus Comprehensive Outpatient Rehabilitation Facility (CORF), which provides coordinated, multidisciplinary rehabilitation services. In response to the coronavirus and need for social distancing, CORF administrators are exploring telehealth as a way to continue to provide high-quality physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy and social work services.
  • The School of Professional Psychology’s Center for Behavioral Health is also implementing telehealth services.  Additionally, the School of Professional Psychology is making telehealth delivery available to all practicum students for continuity of care.

The coronavirus has necessitated the rapid adoption of telehealth across all healthcare sectors.  As a result, it has forever changed the landscape of how health-related services are delivered.

Spalding University is proud to live its mission as “a diverse community of learners dedicated to meeting the needs of the times.” Assuring that our students in health-related fields are provided with opportunities to graduate as competent users of telehealth is just one of the many ways we are fulfilling our mission and meeting the needs of the times.

The future is now, and Spalding is leading the way.

Dr. Jana Cason, DHSc, OTR/L, FAOTA, is a professor in the Auerbach School of Occupational Therapy. She was the recipient of the 2019 Emerging and Innovative Practice Award by the American Occupational Therapy Association for her work and research on telehealth in OT.

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 Dr. Amy Young, Associate Professor and Associate Director of Clinical Training in the School of Professional Psychology. Dr. Young, who earned a PsyD in Counseling Psychology from Carlow University in Pittsburgh, is a member of the American Psychological Association and Kentucky Psychological Association. 

What do you like about working and teaching at Spalding?

I get to help with training the next generation of psychologists, which is something I never thought I would be doing as a student. I never saw myself as being an educator, which is a wonderful surprise and is just as rewarding as having a practice.

What is your academic specialty, areas of expertise or research?

I am a clinical psychologist, so my area of area expertise is around mental health and abnormal psychology. I had a forensic internship experience at a men’s prison with the department of corrections. My specialty has been addictions, so I deal a lot with substance abuse treatment, homelessless and individuals who end up incarcerated due to their mental illness. Today in my private practice I still focus on addiction work, but I also do a lot of couples counseling (as well as counseling of) families in crisis, and families who struggle with infertility. In Louisville there are not a lot of resources for individuals who have miscarriages or in the process of in vitro fertilization (IVF), egg donation or surrogacy. The Food and Drug Administration now requires mental health screenings, and there are not a lot of psychologists who are willing to do that and certainly not for an affordable price. For about three years now, I have been doing those screenings, which is again not what I thought I would be doing, but because of the needs of the community and the women in need, I wanted to do it. Getting to help all of these people have families has been very rewarding.

LEARN MORE | Bachelor of Arts in Psychology program
LEARN MORE | Doctor of Clinical Psychology (PsyD) program
LEARN MORE | School of Professional Psychology faculty bios

Why is psychology a good option for new students to consider as their major? 

I think psychology gives you a good background for lots of different things. Certainly if you want to be a therapist and want to do counseling or work with folks in crisis, obviously a psychology degree is for you and can give you great preparation for that. I also really feel like if people want to do work in business, sales, marketing, human resources and all of those jobs that require you to have people skills, I feel like psychology is a good place to start your education. We have lots of students that end up going to graduate programs, but their psychology degree has set them up to understand human behavior and help them be a leader in their career. All of that knowledge can be applied to so many different aspects of your life and will just make you a happier person.

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

Everything in my office has meaning to me, and I love interior design, so when I decorated my space I tried to bring in things that make me feel inspired and connected. When people come to my office the things people usually notice first are the women in my office. A picture of my great-grandmother is hanging up on my wall, and she was incredibly lucky because she was able to go to school during a time when only men went to school. My great-great-grandfather made her promise that her children would all go to school and receive an education. So her daughter, who is my grandmother, became the first woman in her county to graduate from high school and receive a diploma. Of course, when I was growing up with her, she told me how important it is to have an education and if you have degrees and skills, you are able to be self-sufficient and you do not have to rely on others. So I think this was a strong legacy of women who believed in education and that it is a way to be self-empowered and fulfilled. When I see that picture I feel like they got me started on a good path, and I would not be the person I am today if I didn’t have that legacy about women and education. That portrait makes me smile, and I feel like they would be proud and would love Spalding and Mother Catherine.

What is the most rewarding part of your job?

I had my babies last year, so this past Commencement season was the first time I had ever seen graduation from a parent’s perspective. It was really rewarding to watch the ceremony and the recognition of completing their degree. We have a specific hooding ceremony for the doctorate and master’s student, but it was the first time I had seen it through the lens of the parents. I watched students look for their families and giving their parents hugs afterwards and seeing grandparents crying, and it was so rewarding. It reminded me of all the people in the students’ lives that helped them get to graduation day. As professors we see students in our world, but it reminded me of all the people that love that student. Being a parent, it made it really rewarding because parents are trusting us with their children.

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 change the world or the world of your students?

Helping people to see all the ways people are struggling helps them to be better in the world. So if you see someone who has an anger problem, it is probably because that person is in pain. If you see someone that is acting more hostile, or someone who is discriminating against others, it’s because that person is suffering and isn’t thoughtful. Helping students understand that when you see people in distress it is because of a whole bunch of complicated factors. People are not good or bad, but some combination of the two, so the more students get that and understand human behavior, it makes them more thoughtful and compassionate as they go out to change the world.

RELATED | Faculty Focus Friday blog archives

Mayor Greg Fischer and the Louisville Metro Police Department have called upon the community-building expertise of staff and faculty members at Spalding University to assist in a key initiative to improve relations between the police and residents in Louisville.

Chandra Irvin, Spalding’s Executive Director of Peace and Spiritual Renewal; Janelle Rae, Director of Inclusive Engagement; and Dr. Steven Kniffley, Assistant Professor in the School of Professional Psychology and the Associate Director of the Center for Behavioral Health; are members of the project management team of the city’s Synergy Project, a year-long program designed to bring police and residents together to discuss ways to strengthen their relationship. The Synergy Project is part of the city’s Lean Into Louisville initiative.

The public is invited to Spalding’s campus on Tuesday, Dec. 17 to learn about the Synergy Project and join the discussion. Spalding will host a public action session – a guided conversation in which residents can communicate and share ideas directly with police officers – from 6-7:30 p.m. at the College Street Ballroom, 812 S. Second St. It’s one of several action sessions that will take place around town in the coming year.

“When people talk about an issue that’s going on, they’ll say, ‘What can I do?’ (Participating in Tuesday’s action session) is definitely something you can do,” Irvin said.

Synergy Project Public Action Session
When: 6-7:30 p.m., Tuesday, Dec. 17
Where: College Street Ballroom, 812 S. Second Street

In the News | Courier Journal feature on the Synergy Project

Residents speak at a Synergy Project meeting on Spalding's campus
Mayor Greg Fischer, standing, and residents talked at a recent meeting for the Synergy Project that was held on Spalding’s campus. A public action session will take place 6 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 17, at Spalding’s College Street Ballroom.

The Synergy Project is intended to explore the tensions that exist between the significant societal values of public safety and individual rights and determine how to create and maintain a balance between the two, according to the city. Synergy will explore these tensions in order to mobilize actions for city-wide systemic change so every person in every part of the community can thrive.

The Synergy Project is modeled after The Illumination Project, an initiative undertaken in Charleston, South Carolina, after the 2015 hate crimes at Emanuel AME Church.

Irvin helped develop the Illumination Project, which also was a year-long program in which dozens of facilitated community conversations were held to discuss tensions between police and residents. At the end of the year, a strategic plan was unveiled, which continues to be revised and implemented today.

“There are lessons that we learned in Charleston that helped to inform how I am viewing and receiving feedback here,” Irvin said. “What I know is important is that we lean into the tension rather than leaning away from it. Really, that’s the only way that we’re going to connect in very genuine ways because clearly we don’t all have the same experiences and we don’t all think the same way.”

Irvin has helped the Synergy Project use a “polarity” framework that recognizes and values people’s different points of view.  It’s an approach that Irvin, Rae and others at Spalding have used to foster meaningful conversations on campus about a range of issues.

“We want to bring people together  despite differences – and actually invite differences – so that we can learn from one another and learn how to move to greater places with one another,” Irvin said.

The Synergy Project is bringing together individuals from all parts of the community – residents, academia, business, youth, faith-based organizations, law enforcement, and political leaders – in hopes of creating an opportunity for police and community to work together in a safe, open and respectful environment. The project hopes to identify root causes of distrust and find actionable solutions to move the city forward.

Irvin and Rae are helping to devise and carry out the programming and guided discussions of the Synergy Project. Kniffley, meanwhile, is researching and collecting data, along with Spalding Doctor of Clinical Psychology students Carson Haynes and Heather Dombrowsky.

Spalding's Chandra Irvin and Janelle Rae standing in front of a room of people seated around tables
Spalding staff members Irvin and Janelle Rae are part of the Synergy Project project management team. Psychology faculty Dr. Steven Kniffley is as well, working with grad students to collect and analyze data.

“This is a great example of a way to change the world,” Rae said of Spalding’s involvement. “Doing this work with the community and on behalf of community is in line with our Spalding mission. It’s our mission to embrace diverse people, and it’s our mission to create peace and promote social justice and to be of service in our communities. A big piece of this is learning from one another, learning about each other’s experiences so that we can actually be a connected community.

“I think it makes sense with our mission to train more and more people to engage productively with each other.”

Kniffley said that as a citizen of Louisville, he felt it was important to be a part of the Synergy Project.

“But then specifically as an African-American male,” he said, “just recognizing that there has always been tension between communities of color, specifically black communities, and law enforcement, to be a part of the effort that’s going to create a more meaningful relationship between the groups, I’m happy to be a part of that. Our goal is to use meaningful conversations that lead to actionable, tangible recommendations that the steering committee will then vote on and formulate into our final report.”

He added: “I think Spalding’s affiliation with the Synergy Project is consistent with our values of being a compassionate university, with being committed to issues of social justice and being at the forefront of change in the Louisville community.”





Spalding University held its annual Commencement ceremony on Saturday at Canaan Christian Church, conferring bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees to 614 students. Spalding also extended its tradition of conferring honorary degrees to members of the public who have made contributions to the greater good as well as awards to outstanding alumni, faculty and undergraduate students.

This year, the Spalding Board of Trustees presented three honorary doctorates – to business and community leader Ulysses Lee “Junior” Bridgeman (Honorary Doctor of Laws), to Humana co-founder David Jones Sr. (Honorary Doctor of Public Service) and to Sister of Charity Federation NGO representative to the United Nations Sister Teresa Kotturan, SCN (Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters).

Spalding presented the Caritas Medal – its highest honor for alumna of the year – to nursing leader Shirley Powers, who earned her bachelor of science in nursing from Spalding in 1972.

Dr. Pattie Dillon, Associate Professor of history and the Chair of the School of Liberal Studies, was named the Outstanding Faculty Award winner for 2019.

Spalding bestowed the honor of Faculty Emeritus/Emerita on three long-serving faculty members who are retiring with at least 25 years of service each at the university – School of Business Assistant Professor of Management David Hudson, School of Nursing Professor and Graduate Program Director Dr. Pamela King and School of Natural Science Associate Professor of Mathematics Dr. Marlene Will.

The two undergraduate student award winners were Teresa San Ngyuen, Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, who received the Mother Catherine Spalding Service Learning Award; and Kelsey Hamilton, Bachelor of Science in Education (Secondary and Middle Grades), who received the Meagher Senior Award.

Here’s a closer look at the honorary degree recipients and award winners from 2019, and congratulations to them all:

Honorary Doctor of Laws – Junior Bridgeman
He’s the owner and chief executive officer of Heartland Coca-Cola Bottling Co., LLC, which owns and operates a Coca-Cola production and manufacturing facility in Lenexa, Kansas, and 17 Coca-Cola distribution facilities sprinkled across the American heartland.

Prior to the 2017 acquisition of the Heartland bottling operations, Bridgeman was the owner and chief executive officer of various companies operating over 450 restaurants in 20 states, including 263 Wendy’s restaurants and 123 Chili’s restaurants, and his companies received several prestigious awards within the industry.

Bridgeman attended the University of Louisville, where he graduated in 1975 with a Bachelor’s degree in psychology. He was a three-year letter-winner and starter on the U of L basketball team, receiving All-American honors as a senior. He played professionally from 1975 to ’86 as a member of the Milwaukee Bucks and Los Angeles Clippers.

Bridgeman serves or has served on multiple governing boards, including for Meijer Inc., Churchill Downs, the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame, the James Graham Brown Foundation, Simmons College, the West End School and U of L, where he was board chair.

Bridgeman’s personal honors include membership in the Junior Achievement Business Hall of Fame and the Kentucky Entrepreneur Hall of Fame and being named a recipient of the Volunteers of America Tribute Award for Outstanding Service to the Commonwealth of Kentucky; the John Thompson Foundation Outstanding Achievement Award; and the Coach John Wooden Key to Life Award.

Honorary Doctorate of Public Service – David A. Jones Sr.
He co-founded Humana Inc. in 1961 and served as chief executive officer for 37 years and board chair for 44 years prior to retiring in 2005. He served as founding board chairman of Hospira until his retirement in 2007. He is a retired director of Abbott Laboratories and several other companies.

Jones was a member of The Business Roundtable and co-founder and past chair of the Healthcare Leadership Council, a group of about 50 CEOs of the nation’s largest health care organizations.

Jones, a native of Louisville, Kentucky, and his wife, Betty, have five children and 11 grandchildren.  He earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Louisville in 1954, where he won the outstanding senior award.  He also became a Certified Public Accountant that year. After three years of Navy service he entered Yale University, earning a law degree in 1960, while also serving on the economics faculty from 1958 to 1960. He received the Yale Law School Medal in 1990 and the Yale Medal in 1992.

In 2003, he received Romania’s highest civilian award, the Order of Merit, for his role from 1990-2006 in rebuilding that nation’s devastated health care system.

He also holds honorary doctorates from the Chicago Medical School, the Claremont Graduate School, the University of Louisville, Middlebury College, Transylvania University and Ovidius University, Constanta, Romania.

Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters – Teresa Kotturan, SCN
In her role as the NGO representative at the UN for the Sisters of Charity Federation, Kotturan’s primary objective is to bring the concerns of the 2,700 members of the federation and all those with whom and to whom they minister in 26 countries to the global stage of the UN. She is committed to raising awareness through the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure that all people live in peace and prosperity.

Kotturan has been a Sister of Charity of Nazareth for 49 years and previously served as Vice President of the SCN. She has also served as the Provincial Superior of the India Province for eight years.

Kotturan works to ensure that the voices of women religious and those they serve are heard. She strives to raise awareness for pressing global concerns such as poverty eradication, lack of access to education, human trafficking, human rights, global citizenship, migration and inter-religious dialogue, social development, financing for development, climate change and environmental sustainability.

Caritas Medalist (Alumna of the Year) – Shirley Burns Powers
The 1972 graduate of Spalding with a bachelor of science degree in nursing contributed to the advancement of health care and the profession of nursing in Louisville. She served  as the Chief Information Officer for Norton Hospital and implemented the first clinical information system in the state. She advanced to become Administrator for Norton Hospital and Senior Executive Officer for Norton Healthcare.

Upon retirement, Shirley started Powers Consulting Inc. and worked as Coordinator of the Greater Louisville Workforce Consortium for the Kentucky Hospital Association and Jefferson County Public Schools to implement the health care magnets in three high schools. She has served as a consultant to the Humana Foundation on a tour to Romania to assist in the writing of a health care plan for that country and to Spalding University on matters of nursing and finance. Burns has served on the boards of many organizations, including ones focused on health care, nursing and helping children. Among the myriad awards and honors she’s received, Burns was a recipient in 1996 of a Lifetime Achievement Award from Spalding for Leadership in Nursing. Now she is receiving the university’s highest honor for any alum.

Outstanding Faculty Award – Pattie Dillon
With courses on the Civil War and Reconstruction, Jim Crow, gender history, and U.S. history since 1945, she has been praised for creating curriculum that is both rigorous and relevant to current events, and she is well-known around campus as being a very engaging teacher.

Dillon has undertaken scholarship work with the National Council for History Education, the Lilly Conference on College Teaching, and the Association for Interdisciplinary Studies.

Dillon serves as Faculty Senate President and the Board of Trustees’ Faculty Representative. She is also the faculty mentor for the mission societies and has served on several search committees. Off campus, she serves as President of the Kentucky Association of Teachers of History; as school board member for St. James Catholic School; as a member of the Dialogue on Diversity Conference Committee; and as Lead History Scholar for the Rivers Institute at Hanover College and the NEH Picturing America Grant’s Picturing America’s Changing Landscapes Workshop.

Designation as Professor Emeritus – David Hudson
He has taught of range of management courses in the School of Business while also possessing knowledge and experience in human resources, sales, marketing and public relations. He has been a faculty athletic representative for the Golden Eagles’ athletic program, and he is a 20-year U.S. Army veteran

Designation as Professor Emerita – Pam King
She has trained scores of nurses, nurse practitioners and other health care leaders as the director of the graduate nursing program. Outside of Spading, she has volunteered at the Family Community Clinic, which provides medical care to individuals and families who lack health insurance, and she’s used her position there as a platform to provide service learning opportunities for Spalding students.

Designation as Professor Emerita – Marlene Will
Dr. Will has spent most of her adult life associated with Spalding. She earned a bachelor’s degree in math and a master of arts in teaching at Spalding, then spent more than four decades as a professor at the university, where she also earned her doctorate in education. In teaching a variety of math courses – from college alegbra to statistics, as well as mathematics for teachers – Dr. Will played a part in the college journey of countless students from all manner of majors and degree programs.

Mother Catherine Spalding Service Learning Award – Teresa San Nguyen
Annually, this award recipient embodies the spiritual values of faith, hope and charity, which emulate Spalding’s founder, Mother Catherine Spalding. On campus, Nguyen has been a work-study in the library and a psychology tutor. Off campus, she has been heavily involved with the Vietnamese Eucharist Movement, leading youth groups there, and she volunteers at Centerstone in the crisis management center.

Mother Rose Meagher Senior Award – Kelsey Hamilton
This award goes annually to a person who has performed well academically and has a proven record as a mature leader and member of the campus community. Hamilton has been praised by faculty for her academic excellence, work ethic, maturity, judgment, helpfulness and creativity. As a work-study in the College of Education and as a student teacher at the Brown School, she has been praised for her initiative to complete tasks, her professionalism and her knowledge of mathematics content. She has also been a successful member of the Spalding track and field team and active member of the Kentucky Education Association Student Program. Hamilton collected more than 500 children’s books for the Rutherford Elementary Reads program.

It’s Commencement weekend at Spalding University! Festivities kicked off Friday with the Baccalaureate service and individual college, school and program award ceremonies. There are tons of pictures from the day on Spalding’s Facebook page within the “Commencement Activities 2019” album. Please like, share and tag yourself or others in the pictures, and do the same after the university Commencement service (10 a.m. Saturday at Canaan Christian Church). Here’s a look at some of Spalding’s new grads who participated in Friday’s events.

Haitian earthquake victim now a Spalding nursing grad
Nine years ago, Witchina Liberal’s home in Haiti was destroyed by the earthquake that devastated that country.

This weekend, she is graduating with the degree of bachelor of science in nursing from Spalding and set to add a member to her young family.

Liberal attended Friday’s Baccalaureate service on Friday nearly nine months pregnant with her son, who is due on June 23 and will be named Jeremiah. She said she expects to look back on pictures from this weekend years from now with him.

“I can say I have a career now, and I will be able to provide for him, give him everything I didn’t have growing up. I’m happy,” said Liberal, who was accompanied Friday by her husband and friends from their church.

She added with a laugh: “He’s been a good boy. I didn’t have too much trouble with him while I did the nursing program.”

At the time of the earthquake, 15-year-old Liberal was at home, but she was cooking in a kitchen that was in a different part of the building.

“Fortunately, none of my family members died, but we lost everything,” she said. “None of us were in the house at the time. But it was horrifying. A lot of people died.”

Liberal moved from Haiti to Florida in 2010 to finish high school. She also attended a community college in that state before moving in 2016 to Louisville, where she had family. She picked Spalding to finish out her BSN the next year because she “liked how they were so welcoming,” Liberal said.

“It’s hard, but it’s doable,” she said of the nursing degree. “It can be done, but it’s challenging. I enjoyed it. The professors were really helpful, really helpful.”

Commencement weekend felt bittersweet for Liberal. In November, a few weeks after she learned she was pregnant, Liberal lost her mother, who was still living in Haiti. She has had her mom on her mind as she approaches graduation. Liberal said she barely slept Thursday night as she stayed up thinking about her.

“I’m proud of what I have done, but it has been rough,” she said.

Liberal plans to be a neonatal intensive care unit nurse. At some point, she’d like to provide nursing and medical care in her home country, which she has visited every year since moving to the United States.

“That’s part of my plan,” she said. “I’d like to go back and help.”

Former Spalding golfer now a mom and grad
Bachelor of science in natural science graduate and former Spalding golfer Megan Shirley Faust had a special young guest at Friday’s Baccalaureate Service – her 2-month-old daughter, Madalyn.

Spalding student Megan Faust, in blue cap and gown, holding baby, Madalyn, in a car seat
Spalding student Megan Faust and 2-month-old daughter Madalyn after Baccalaureate service on May 31, 2019.

“It’s pretty awesome being able to experience it with her and her be in the moment with me,” Megan Faust said. Years from now, “I can show her what I did, and she’ll want to do the same.”

She said attending Spalding has been “a really great experience,” citing the experience of being an athlete and a student, as well as the bond she had with the golf team.

Faust was a senior on the 2017-18 Spalding team that won the first-ever St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference championship for women’s golf.

“That history is pretty awesome, being one of the first people to set those standards,” Faust said.

During her final academic year, Faust has had a new experience.

“Instead of going to practices and workouts and tournaments, I’m a mom and a student,” she said.

Faust currently works as a Certified Nursing Assistant in a nursing home. She said she may at some point pursue a job in human resources.

College of Ed master’s grad: ‘I feel like I’ve gained a family here’
Destiny Nichole Livers, a teacher a Foster Elementary School who is earning the degree of master of education in teacher leadership, said she would recommend Spalding to other aspiring or current teachers.

“I loved Spalding. The staff is very supportive,” she said.

Livers, who taught fifth grade the last three years and who will move to third grade as a team leader next year, said she’s learned about methods and best practices at Spalding that she is eager to take back to her school and share with her colleagues.

“If someone is looking for a supportive family, not just professors – I feel like I’ve gained a family here at Spalding – then you would like Spalding,” Livers said. “If you want the college where you really don’t know your professors, then go somewhere else. But here, like I told Dr. (Kristen) Harris, (the Spalding program director), ‘You’re stuck with me for life.'”

Livers was the winner of the Outstanding Master’s Thesis Award for her program.


With Commencement approaching on June 1, Spalding is publishing a series of stories and Q&A’s that highlight students from a range of degree programs who are set to graduate. Next up is Cristi Embry, who is receiving the degree of bachelor of arts in psychology.

That Cristi Embry is now the first member of her family to graduate college is a memorable achievement. The fact that she’s achieved it as a 39-year-old mother of four adds even more to the accomplishment.

But most remarkably, she also overcame a brain tumor in order to earn the right to walk across the stage at Spalding’s Commencement on Saturday.

That walk will be a proud moment for a woman who achieved a lifelong goal by fighting through the pain caused by the noncancerous tumor as well as the effects it had on her ability to concentrate and study.

“I was strong, and I persevered,” said Embry, who is graduating cum laude.

Three years ago – during her second year at Spalding – Embry went to see a doctor after suffering from increasingly severe headaches and sudden problems with depth perception and her balance and coordination. She thought she might have a inner-ear infection.

The tumor was discovered. She was transported immediately in an ambulance to another hospital for surgery the next day.

“I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, I can’t die. Who’s going to take care of my kids?'” Embry recalled.

Embry underwent 10 hours of surgery to remove the tumor, which was found to be the size of the surgeon’s fist. She then had a second surgery a month later to insert a shunt to help the movement of fluid in her brain. Soon after that she had a third surgery to treat an infection that developed after the first operation.

Last August, Embry’s tumor began to grow back more aggressively than was anticipated, requiring her to undergo six weeks of radiation treatments to counter the growth. (It hasn’t grown any more since then.)

The tumor, which will always remain at some size and is now being monitored, still causes her pain and discomfort, with the headaches and vision problems persisting. Going to four-hour classes and spending extensive time at home on the computer were physically taxing.

Though there were times, including this school year, when she thought about permanently stopping her studies at Spalding, she enjoyed her time as a student and her interactions with faculty too much to not finish.

“I looked forward to school,” Embry said. “It was a hobby. It was an escape. It was a distraction. I love learning. I love sitting in class with adults, with professors, and just loved the experience, so it was worth it to me.”

Through it all, she missed only one six-week session, and she completed her psychology degree in January.

Recently, she went by herself to the registrar’s office to collect her diploma.

“That was a special day I’ll never forget,” she said. “It was a celebration. It wasn’t about anybody but me. I cried, but nobody saw me. It was incredible. It was just like, ‘This is the most beautiful piece of paper.’”

She now has the diploma hanging next to her desk at home, and she looks at it every time she walks by.

Embry started at Spalding five years ago, fulfilling a desire she’d had her entire adult life to continue her education. She quit high school when she became pregnant with her first child.

She later completed her general education diploma and worked multiple jobs, including in an accounting office of a direct-mail company and in the office of an attorney. She also went through training to become a certified nursing assistant, but that never felt like a career she wanted. What she wanted was to attend college.

“I always loved school,” she said. “I love learning. I like to read and have always been really curious, and I just love knowing stuff. I just felt like there was something bigger out there and that I needed school to get where I wanted to go.”

She heard about Spalding about a decade ago from a classmate in that CNA training program and kept it in mind. She finally enrolled as a Flex student majoring in psychology and began taking two evening courses a week.

She said she found Spalding’s faculty and staff, including her adviser, Cindy Green, to be extremely supportive, and Embry loved the dialogue and critical thinking that her classes generated. After her tumor diagnosis, Embry said she felt especially fortunate to be taking psychology courses and to be taught by psychologists, because her interactions felt like a type of therapy. She had courses that examined sickness, suffering, death and spirituality, and she reflected on her own experiences.

“All the psychology professors are just, wow,” Embry said. ” … It feels so good to be in their presence. … The coursework was a healing process in itself. I never would have thought about those things or written about the tumor, ever, on my own. Being in that setting, you’re forced to look at things critically in that way.”

Though she’s finished with school, Embry still enjoys driving through or stopping by campus.

“I love it here,” she said. “It doesn’t feel like a business. It feels like friends and family. And it’s something of my own. I’m a mom, I’m a wife; that’s who I am. But this (when I’m at Spalding) is mine. It’s my time. These are my people, and I just feel good here.”

Embry continued: “Yes, the diploma is important, and, yes, finishing is important. But really it is just a journey and it improves your whole life and the way you look at the world and the way you look at people and the way you look at yourself. I don’t know another way that I would get that without Spalding.”

Embry said she plans to attend graduate school, and she’d like to become a counselor at a community agency, perhaps one serving young mothers.

Here’s more from Cristi Embry …

What is your favorite Spalding memory?
What comes to mind is Dr. Kathleen Nesbitt and my very first class was her writing class. She did a competition where we watched a news clip and had to write down all the scary or nervous words we could think of, and I won. I really like her, really respect her. I think she helped build my confidence. So I’d say my favorite memory was that very first night of class. She asked are there any new students to Spalding and are there any brand-new students to college? I raised my hand, and there were several other people. I was like, (sigh of relief). I’m going to be OK.

Which accomplishment are you most proud of from your time at Spalding?
Not quitting. Not giving up, even when I wanted to, even when I think it would have been totally justifiable and excusable.

What’s your favorite spot on campus?
The Mansion is my favorite building. A lot of my favorite classes have been there, so I just have a lot of good memories there and have learned a lot from a lot of smart people.

At Spalding, we like to say that, “Today is a great day to change the world.” For many of our students, Commencement is a world-changing experience. After graduation, how do you plan to change the world, big or small, and who inspires you to be a #spaldingworldchanger?
A lot of professors have inspired me to change the world, and if I really like a professor, I’m going to let them know and let them know what they’ve done for me. Every professor I’ve done that to, they’re like, ‘It’s nothing I did. It’s you.’ I’ve thought about that and taken that, and everybody can change the world. Attitudes are contagious, and being nice and friendly and smiling, it does something for people. I do that. Being kind, that it is a way to change the world. All day, every day, when you come in contact with people, just be kind.

With Commencement approaching on June 1, Spalding is publishing a series of stories and Q&A’s that highlight students from a range of degree programs who are set to graduate. Next up is Sharon Serrano, who is earning the degree of bachelor of arts in psychology.

What is your favorite Spalding memory?
It’s hard to choose a specific memory. My entire time melded together to create an everlasting fondness that is literally unforgettable.

Which accomplishments are you most proud of during your time at Spalding?
The true friendships I’ve made and cherish, the outstanding grades I’ve worked so tirelessly for, and in general, just how much I’ve thrived here.

The tulip poplar tree in the Mansion Complex courtyard
The tulip poplar tree in the Mansion Complex courtyard.

What’s your favorite spot on campus?
The giant tulip poplar tree between Mansion East and West. In the 1970s, my grandmother graduated from Spalding. She is one of the biggest reasons why I chose to transfer here. Every day I get to walk past that tree like my grandmother had, and it’s like I am following in her footsteps – looking up through those leaves like she did, knowing that I, too, am in this place and this moment for a reason.

At Spalding, we like to say that, “Today is a great day to change the world.” For many of our students, Commencement is a world changing experience. After graduation, how do you plan to change the world, big or small, and who inspires you to be a #spaldingworldchanger? 
I want to change how hospitals see human trafficking. An emergency room physician should be able to see and treat a child who was trafficked. There is no reason these patients should be invisible, no matter how busy the emergency room gets.

Everyone here inspires me, from the custodians to the president of Spalding herself! Ms. Pat comes to work every day with a smile on her face, and she always asks me about my day. My professors challenge me to grow and examine the world. The president inspires me to push myself harder and make it farther every day.

Is there anything else you would like to share about your Spalding experience?
This is the most amazing institution. I am in awe of everything that is accomplished in this school and everything I have done here. Everyday I am reminded that being here is a privilege!