Spalding: In the tradition of the sisters

Tori Murden McClure
President, Spalding University

Since 2010, I have had the honor of serving as president of Spalding University, a historic, private, Catholic institution in downtown Louisville. Our spiritual values guide us in all that we do.

Spalding was founded by the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth in Nelson County in 1814. The sisters moved the institution — then called Nazareth College — to its current location in 1920, and we are approaching the 100th anniversary of Spalding’s service and education in downtown.

We look forward to the next 100 years while staying true to our history.

The sisters haven’t operated Spalding for many years, but our mission is rooted in their influence. Our mission statement begins, “Spalding University is a diverse community of learners dedicated to meeting the needs of the times in the tradition of the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth.”

That part of the mission statement has always been really valuable to me because whenever we are faced with a difficult choice, I ponder, “What is the tradition of the Sisters of Charity, and how would they address this issue?”

The answer I imagine is always in line with what thoughtful, courageous and compassionate human beings would do. “In the tradition of the Sisters” has given me courage to take a stand on difficult issues.

Evidenced by their ministries and mission work around the world to promote peace and justice and to care for underserved populations, the sisters display courage and compassion that we admire and that we strive to instill in our students at Spalding.

In 2011, Spalding was certified as the world’s first Compassionate University – a testament to our dedication to service and the promotion of peace and justice.

When I spoke at the Vatican in 2016 about the Charter for Compassion and Compassionate Cities, I made reference to the parable of the Good Samaritan who helped a suffering traveler who had been left beaten on the side of the road. I said that we must bless and give thanks for all our Samaritans. The Samaritan is someone who can feel solidarity with the suffering of others and has the courage to work to alleviate the suffering.

I believe the sisters embody the spirit of the Samaritan, and we at Spalding seek to embody the spirit of the sisters.

Our academic programs place an emphasis on experiential learning and fieldwork that help serve underserved populations. Our newest undergraduate academic major is Criminal Justice Studies, which, in meeting the needs of the times, has a unique focus on teaching restorative practices and criminal justice reform.

In the tradition of the sisters, we also have worked to lift up our neighborhood.

In recent years, Spalding has invested significantly in greening and beautifying campus and the neighborhood, including building two on-campus parks. Now Spalding is set to unveil its grandest transformation yet – a 7.2-acre athletic fields complex on South Ninth Street that will, for the first time, provide an on-campus home for our NCAA Division III men’s and women’s soccer and softball programs. We think it’s as nice as any soccer and softball facility in our conference, if not all of D-III.

We intentionally built the complex on an unused tract along Ninth Street as a symbol of Spalding’s desire to help that stretch of downtown that connects east and west. The facility will be available for outside clubs to rent.

We invite the public to a grand opening of the fields for our soccer games on Oct. 23.

And we invite all students interested in a college experience that emphasizes service, peace and justice and that is grounded in spiritual values to consider Spalding.

Tori Murden McClure
President, Spalding University