During the 2020-21 academic year, we will be highlighting some of the Recognized Student Organizations (RSO) on the Spalding University campus.  Today’s featured RSO is the Spalding Environmental Alliance (SEA), and information has been provided by staff advisor Leah Cover, Instruction and Learning Services Librarian, as well as Elizabeth Dyer, Director of Institutional Effectiveness. Contact [email protected] for more information.

What is the purpose or mission of the organization?

Since 2019, the Second Street Garden – located across South Second Street from Spalding’s College Street Center building – has been maintained mainly by the student organization Spalding Environmental Alliance (SEA), formerly known as Spalding Local Urban Gardeners (SLUG). In early 2020, SEA collaborated with students from a Presentation Academy Ecology course to maintain the garden.

The mission of the Spalding Environmental Alliance is to encourage students, staff and faculty to learn from and contribute to group discussions on pressing environmental issues such as climate change; to provide activities that foster outdoor appreciation as well as physical and emotional enrichment, such as hiking and gardening; and to promote environmental action through green projects both on and off campus and in collaboration with the community, especially the Second St. Garden.

Who can get involved in the organization?

Any undergraduate or graduate students can become members of SEA, and staff, faculty and alumni are welcome to help out with projects and activities.

What are some activities or projects that the organization participates in?

During summer 2021 there have been several projects underway:

Restoring all 12 raised beds at the Second Street Garden – removing weeds, tilling the soil and mulching. In addition:

* Pumpkins! We planted a crop of sugar-pie pumpkins, which are medium-sized pumpkins that make excellent pies as well as jack-o-lanterns. Each pumpkin vine will produce 6-10 pumpkins. Our plan is to sell the best-looking pumpkins for a low price to the Spalding community and sell all the rest to our dining services to convert into pumpkin pies. The funds raised will be donated to our Pelican Pantry.

* Sunflowers! As we return to campus this fall, we’re all going be experiencing some anxiety and uncertainty. Therefore, we will be offering free bouquets of cheerful sunflowers and other flowers from the garden throughout the fall to add something bright and beautiful to your space.

Trays of small green plants set to be planted in the Second Street Garden across from Spalding
A tray of plants being tended by SEA.

* Live plants! This fall we will be offering small planters of purple lavender, lamb’s ear, or marigolds, so you can have a live plant of your own. Which will you choose –  the soothing smell of lavender, stroking a soft lamb’s ear leaf, or the bright blooms of a marigold? In addition, the produce from our small assortment of vegetable plants will be donated to Pelican Panty each week.

What is a great memory you’ve had as part of the organization, or accomplishment of your organization that you’re proud of?

In spring 2019, SEA organized an Earth Day planting and learning day-long event. In the morning, the group prepared the soil and planted numerous vegetables and wildflowers. Over a shared lunch, a guest speaker from U of L discussed urban agriculture. It was a beautiful sunny spring day, and we had great turnout from students and staff.

Why should someone check out your organization, and what should they expect if they do?
SEA student leaders will be planning other events and activities for the Fall semester. Keep an eye out for some outdoor activities in addition to gardening!

Plants growing in the Second Street Garden near Spalding University
Plants growing in the Second Street Garden. Spalding’s College Street Center building is in the background, across South Second Street.

What information can you share about the community garden?

The community garden has been the site of various projects and collaborations in the past three years. We have some great visions from students and staff for maintaining and expanding the garden and its resources throughout the next year and beyond. Get in touch if you have a green thumb and ideas for this plot of land!

If you would like more information on joining – or starting – an RSO on campus, contact Director of Student Leadership and Service Learning Anna Foshee at [email protected]. If you have Spalding login credentials, you may also visit the Virtual Student Involvement Fair

Kris Kirchner reflects on his time at Spalding University as one of accomplishment, affirmation, service and personal growth.

The 2021 Spalding Creative Arts graduate and a three-year leader of the Sexuality and Gender Acceptance (SAGA) student organization said he is proud of how he has helped bring students together to find community and better understand LGBTQ issues.

Kirchner, who identifies as pansexual and transmasculine, said he also has been personally supported by Spalding faculty and staff and built meaningful friendships with classmates and others in the Louisville community.

“I was lucky to have so many friends, and the queer community, even outside of SAGA, is really amazing,” Kirchner said, adding that Spalding’s Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) center has supported him throughout his college journey. “Living on campus was great because I could kind of learn to be myself and have that space. I found a community of friends, and they helped me just let me be me.”

Kirchner said he has grown more confident in his art, including bringing more of himself and his identity into his work, as opposed to painting only exterior objects or scenes he observed in the world. His experience and emotions as a trans person were the subject of his senior thesis.

“It took me forever to get to a space where my interior thoughts were worthy of the gallery space,” he said, “and I got to create this work that I’m really happy about and that I really think is an interesting dialogue that people should hear about.”

CREATIVE ARTS  | BFA program overview

A mural that read "Change the World, Change One Mind" in the Spalding art studios
Kris Kirchner painted this mural in the hallway of the Creative Arts studio spaces in the south wing of Morrison Hall.

Kirchner served as the social media manager for SAGA. He made graphics and flyers and created the organization’s Instagram account – @SAGA_Spalding – as a way to raise its prominence and promote events. He also helped organize a SAGA informational event for any student on campus – including those who knew little about LGBTQ terminology or issues – in order to increase understanding and promote inclusiveness.

“I enjoyed being able to give back and create an environment where I made these cool friends,” Kirchner said. “SAGA allowed me to educate people. … I came from a town where not many people knew about LGBTQ issues, and I had to do all my own research. I was still learning when I came to college. Providing that (informational session) so that we could have better allies and have people understand (was rewarding).”

Kirchner’s involvement in SAGA led to him getting to know members of other Recognized Student Organizations across campus as well as non-Spalding organizations around Louisville. He said Spalding’s location in downtown Louisville made Pride and other LGBTQ events easily accessible.

SAGA was limited in its activity since spring 2020 due to the pandemic, but Kirchner encouraged underclassmen to step in to help organize events next school year when on-campus activities will be more prevalent. He said involvement in SAGA was an extremely valuable part of his college experience.

Kirchner was among the Creative Arts students who painted murals in the hallways of the student studio spaces in the south wing of Morrison Hall earlier this month. In Kirchner’s mural, the phrase “Change the world” is repeated over and over in black paint, with the phrase “Change one mind” written out in golden in the center.

He said changing the world by changing one mind at a time had been his goal with SAGA to increase understanding and acceptance.

“I hope I left a mark there,” he said.

Spalding University’s Black Student Alliance will host a virtual edition of one its signature events on Wednesday and Thursday with the third annual Elmer Lucille Allen Conference on African American Studies.

Allen, a 1953 graduate of Spalding (then called Nazareth College) who became the first Black chemist at Brown-Forman, will also be one of the featured presenters at the conference. Allen, an accomplished artist who specializes in ceramics, will give a presentation about her art at 6 p.m. Thursday.

Due to the pandemic, this year’s conference will be presented virtually via HD Meeting.  Dr. Deonte Hollowell, Spalding Assistant Professor of History and African American Studies and the BSA’s faculty advisor, will help lead the conference, which is free and open to the public. The full conference schedule can be found below.

*BSA provides supportive space for students
*Faculty Focus Q&A | BSA Advisor Deonte Hollowell

*Follow the BSA on Instagram at @spaldingbsa
*Email [email protected] for more info

2021 Elmer Lucille Allen Conference on African American Studies

Presented by Spalding University, the Black Student Alliance and the West Louisville Women’s Collaborative

Day 1, Wednesday Feb. 24, 2021

12:30 p.m. – Introduction – Dr. Hollowell & BSA (Program Preview)

12:45 – Statements from the Writing Center and Spalding Equity Groups

1– 2:30 – HIST 383 Student Presentations – Works in Progress

4 – Performance by Alex Betts (Waterworks Dance Company)

4:30–5:30 – AAS 300 Student Presentations – Works in Progress

5:45 – 6:45 – Local Grassroots Organizer’s Forum

Day 2, Thursday Feb. 25

3:30-4 – BSA Day One Overview/Day Two Preview

4:15 – Student Presentations – Internships and Research Assistants

5:30–6 – WLWC Presents A Hip Hop Tribute to Elmer Lucille Allen

6– The Artistic Contributions of Elmer Lucille Allen

Closing Remarks from Spalding President Tori Murden McClure, Dr. Hollowell, Dean of Undergraduate Education Dr. Tomarra Adams, Dean of Students Janelle Rae

Spalding University is spotlighting members of its campus community every Friday during Black History Month, including, this week, the Black Student Alliance student organization. 

Since 2018, the Black Student Alliance (BSA) has existed at Spalding to provide advocacy and a social network for Black students as they navigate college.

During a year in which Louisville and the country have been focused strongly on issues related to racial equity and justice, the BSA has provided an important space for students of color to communicate with each other and feel supported.

“We have been able to provide a sense of community for Black and Brown students on campus,” said Savasia Thompson, who is in her second year as BSA President. “Especially now and recently, with the Black Lives Matter protests and the death of Breonna Taylor, we have just been trying to support. … We try to touch Spalding’s Black and Brown populations in several ways – socially, educationally. We know there are lots of issues our students are facing, and we are trying to help supplement and create resolutions for that.”

Thompson, a senior majoring in creative writing, said the organization has advocated on behalf of Black students on issues around campus while always working to promote a culture of diversity, equity and inclusion.

The BSA also hosted a welcoming mixer last fall for first-year students of color to meet each other and faculty members, and Thompson said the BSA has supported the enhancement of the Pelican Pantry as resource for any member of the Spalding community who be experiencing food insecurity.

The organization also sponsors educational programming throughout the year, with one of its signature events on tap next week – a virtual edition of the third annual Elmer Lucille Allen Conference on African American Studies. The conference, named for the 1953 Spalding (then Nazareth College) grad who became the first Black chemist at Brown-Forman as well as a highly accomplished artist, will take place Wednesday-Thursday, Feb. 24-25. It includes a presentation on Thursday from Allen, showcasing her artwork.

The conference is free and open to the public. (SEE FULL SCHEDULE AT BOTTOM OF STORY)

MORE | Follow the BSA on Instragram at @spaldingbsa | Email [email protected] for info

BSA meetings during the 2020-21 academic year have been limited, but post-pandemic, the organization expects to meet more regularly. During 2019-20, they met every week, and sessions included a check-in period in which members could share concerns and experiences that often then were shared with university leaders.

The BSA was founded in 2018 by then-Spalding student Jerre Crenshaw, a Liberal Studies major who was one of the first students to graduate with the university’s new minor in African American Studies. She developed the BSA as part of her praxis credit of the minor. Dr. Deonte Hollowell, an assistant professor of history and African American Studies who leads the AAS minor, is the BSA’s faculty advisor.

Spalding BSA President Savasia Thompson
Spalding BSA President Savasia Thompson

Thompson, a graduate of Manual High School, said she was eager to get involved in student organizations when she got to Spalding. She put her name on the ballot for a few BSA leadership positions, and ended up being elected president.

“I do find it to be a great honor to be president because I have a very good relationship with so many entities around Spalding,” she said. “I know a lot of people in financial aid, a lot of people in the Writing Center, where I also work, a lot of people in Human Resources. I’m very familiar with the campus, and I thought, ‘Well, if I want to make a difference, why not start at home (and get involved on campus)?'”

Thompson said the national attention that was cast on issues of race in 2020 was important because it showed the country “that there is a lot of work to be done” to achieve equity and justice in the United States.

Thompson said that her family has always provided an opportunity for her to share her feelings and emotions regarding racial issues and experiences, but that she knows not all of her peers have had that opportunity.

“So I hope that I’ve been able to support them,” said Thompson, who used to be a neighbor of David McAtee and who has friend who was a close friend of Breonna Taylor. “All these different issues have hit very close to home.”

2021 Elmer Lucille Allen Conference on African American Studies

Presented by Spalding University, the Black Student Alliance and the West Louisville Women’s Collaborative

Day 1, Wednesday Feb. 24, 2021

12:30 p.m. – Introduction – Dr. Hollowell & BSA (Program Preview)

12:45 – Statements from the Writing Center and Spalding Equity Groups

1– 2:30 – HIST 383 Student Presentations – Works in Progress

4 – Performance by Alex Betts (Waterworks Dance Company)

4:30–5:30 – AAS 300 Student Presentations – Works in Progress

5:45 – 6:45 – Local Grassroots Organizer’s Forum

Day 2, Thursday Feb. 25

3:30-4 – BSA Day One Overview/Day Two Preview

4:15 – Student Presentations – Internships and Research Assistants

5:30–6 – WLWC Presents A Hip Hop Tribute to Elmer Lucille Allen

6– The Artistic Contributions of Elmer Lucille Allen

Closing Remarks from Spalding President Tori Murden McClure, Dr. Hollowell, Dean of Undergraduate Education Dr. Tomarra Adams, Dean of Students Janelle Rae





For both LGBTQ+ students on Spalding’s campus who are seeking a supportive space, and for non-LGBTQ+ students who are interested in understanding more about the gay and transgender community, Spalding’s Sexuality and Gender Acceptance (SAGA) student organization is eager to help.

SAGA student leader Kris Kirchner said the organization meets at least twice every six-week academic session, usually around lunchtime, providing a place for friendship and safe dialogue among LGBTQ+ students and their allies. It also hosts a few special events per year, including its signature, year-ending drag show.

As Pride Month and the 2019-20 academic year wrap up this week, SAGA will have finished another year as a successful student organization. It’s rotated a dedicated group of student leaders since it was founded about 10 years ago, originally under the name Unanimity. SAGA was the 2019 winner of the Student Government Association’s Pelican Cup as an outstanding Recognized Student Organization, and it received a 2020 grant from SGA.

Kirchner said SAGA is always looking to grow its membership and welcome students to attend events. Last year’s events included a movie night and a holiday cookie-decorating night, and Kirchner said the group will likely add a tie-dye decorating party in 2020-21 and may participate in a student panel discussion.

Kirchner said following @SAGA_Spalding on Instagram is the best way to stay updated and learn how to get involved.

LEARN MORE: Follow @SAGA_Spalding on Instagram  
FROM PRIDE MONTH 2019: Nursing student Bridget Pitcock is dedicated to eliminating LGBTQ health disparities

Kirchner said SAGA is planning an August Welcome Week info meeting in which any student is invited to learn about the organization and ask questions and learn about LGBTQ+ labels, and what LGBTQ+ life is like. A similar SAGA event last year called, “What’s the Tea, Cis? An LGBTQ Q&A and How to Welcome Queer People in Your Space” – in which Kirchner led a student conversation over lunch and iced tea – was well-attended and well-received by students from multiple universities.

“Sometimes it’s hard to get people to support and understand if you don’t open up to those questions,” said Kircher, a junior who majors in Creative Arts. “I’m really excited to be a part of that and make it not just a great social group for LGBTQ students but we can also speak up for issues of LGBTQ students and educate and make it a place for people to learn and grow.”

“We said, ‘Here’s what the flag means.’ ‘Here’s how sexuality and gender and romantic attractions are different.’ It’s just the simple things that aren’t often talked about.”

SAGA faculty/staff advisor Laura Detmering said the organization embodies the Spalding mission.

“As a student organization, they have promoted compassion and acceptance on campus through their varied activities and a safe space for members of the LGBTQ community and allies to connect socially on campus,” Detmering said. “SAGA is an essential organization in today’s climate, bringing pride and compassion to Spalding’s campus.”

If not for the closure of campus due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Black Professional Nurses Alliance (BPNA) would have been holding its inaugural Juneteenth conference on Friday — capping off a meaningful first year for one of Spalding’s newest Recognized Student Organizations.

The conference, which likely would have included a panel discussion regarding the experiences of black healthcare workers and the health inequities facing black citizens, as well as free health screenings, had to be canceled, like all other on-campus events since March.

Nonetheless, BPNA has quickly and successfully established itself as an important organization to foster dialogue about the issues facing aspiring black nurses, and the conference it was set to hold on Juneteenth is likely to be rescheduled in a virtual setting or in person once the campus reopens next academic year.

BPNA focuses on building a safe space where African-American nursing students can speak openly on previous and current experiences as they relate to race.  The goal of the organization is to create an atmosphere that will build solid relationships on and off campus that will further advance positive outcomes for African Americans during their campus experience at Spalding University.

School of Liberal Studies Administrative Assistant Tiffany Jacobs, who serves as BPNA’s staff counsel, said 2020 Master of Science in Nursing graduate Aiesha Cole played an integral role in starting the organization. Cole also served as the 2019-20 President of BPNA.

“Aiesha, along with other nursing students, felt a strong need to establish the BPNA to create a safe space for black students to connect, decompress and support one another as they work through the nursing program,” Jacobs said.

In its first year, BPNA’s membership grew to more than 20 undergraduate and graduate nursing students, who met every Wednesday. Jacobs said that despite the students’ busy schedules with class and clinicals, the weekly attendance at meetings was strong, evidence of how supportive the group was.

When it does take place, the BPNA plans to model its conference after the annual Elmer Lucille Allen Conference on African American Studies, which is co-sponsored by the Black Student Alliance (BSA) – a popular RSO that started in the 2018-19 academic year.

Multiple students are members of both BPNA and BSA. Jacobs said that several students from those organizations have been participating in the recent protests against racial injustice in response to the deaths of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and other black Americans.

New Spalding Dean of Students Janelle Rae praised both the BPNA and BSA along with the leaders who helped get the organizations started.

“Student success in college is strongly influenced by your support network,” Rae said. “Student organizations like BPNA and BSA are particularly important for black students at a predominantly white institution to support their positive identity development, share their unique experiences as marginalized and oppressed people in this world, and to have a place of refuge where they do not have to code switch. These are liberating spaces that are necessary for survival in a racist world.”

Students who are interested in joining BPNA should contact Jacobs at [email protected] and those interested in joining BSA may contact Faculty Advisor Dr. Deonte Hollowell at [email protected].

Juneteenth resources

For Juneteenth, Spalding’s Equity Collective – a group of faculty and staff leaders on campus focused on issues related to diversity, inclusion and equity – recommended the follow anti-racism resources to faculty and staff:

Tiffany Jacobs, BPNA Staff Counsel, also recommended the following links that can be used to become informed about issues and advocacy regarding black Americans: