Spalding University
Founders’ Day 2020

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Each year, Spalding reserves the first weekend of October for gathering its community to honor the selfless contributions of our foundresses.

Spalding’s annual Founders’ Day Weekend was held virtually Thursday, October 1 – Sunday, October 4, 2020.

This year’s Founders’ Day Weekend marked the 100th anniversary of Spalding University’s downtown Louisville campus, and the beginning of our Centennial Celebration.

If you weren't able to join us on Founders' Weekend, you can still catch up on the festivities:

Check out one of the new essential Kentucky novels authored by our MFA alums:

Catch up with President McClure:

Each year, Spalding University reserves the first weekend of October for gathering its community to honor the selfless contributions of our foundresses. Founders’ Day Weekend 2020 marks the 100th anniversary of Spalding University’s downtown Louisville campus.

Celebrating 100 Years of
Education in Downtown Louisville


On October 4, 1920, five Sisters of Charity of Nazareth welcomed a handful of students to the Tompkins-Buchannan-Rankin Mansion at 851 South Fourth Street for the first classes held at Nazareth College. Dedicating themselves to an enduring tradition of education, service, and compassion, these women succeeded in laying the foundation of today’s Spalding University.
2020 was a special Founders’ Day Weekend as we kicked off our Centennial Celebration, reflected upon the remarkable history of our university, and imagined what the next 100 years will hold for our compassionate community of  world-changers.

Students sitting around table outside
Ollie with students

Spalding Firsts:

  • First Catholic four-year women’s college in Kentucky (1920), Nazareth College, Louisville. Founded as Nazareth Academy, whose heritage connects directly to Spalding University, opened in 1814 in Nazareth, Kentucky
  • First library science courses taught at a college for the first time in Kentucky (1929)
  • First nursing education outside a hospital in Kentucky (1933)
  • First American college to offer a course in cancer treatment (1946)
  • First undergraduate nursing degree in Kentucky (1949)
  • First to admit Black students in the city of Louisville (1950)
  • First college in Kentucky to offer a master’s degree in library science (1952)
  • First college to offer the doctorate in clinical psychology (PsyD) in Kentucky (1982)
  • Spalding offers the first Doctor of Education (EdD) degree in the state (1990)
  • First Master of Fine Arts program in Kentucky (2001)
  • Spalding becomes the first certified “Compassionate University” in the world (2011)
  • First master’s degree in Athletic Training in Kentucky (2015)
  • First Certified Financial Planning® program (School of Business) in the city of Louisville (2019)
  • First Doctor of Social Work degree at a private institution in Kentucky (2020)

Source: “Meeting the needs of the times: A brief history of Spalding University," By Dr. Kurt W. Jefferson, Spalding University

Highlights of the weekend will include:

    • Spalding’s Annual Giving Day - October 1
    • Class of 1970 Golden 50th Reunion Medallion Ceremony and Brunch - October 4
    • Class Reunions for each Spalding class celebrating a 5- or 10- year reunion (e.g. ‘15, ‘10, ’05, etc.)
    • “Alumni College”  - mini classes taught by SU faculty and alumni*
    • Much more to be announced.

    To volunteer to help plan your class reunion, contact David Clark at dclark07@spalding.edu.

    Stay tuned to SU Alumni  Facebook and Instagram pages for upcoming announcements about Founders’ Day Weekend activities and events.

    Ollie with students
    * If you have any suggestions for Alumni College course topics that may be of interest to you or fellow alums, please email Chief Advancement Officer Caroline Heine at cheine@spalding.edu.
    “As I try to imagine those early days, I know St. Paul’s reminder to Timothy to ‘bear your share of hardship for the Gospel with the strength that comes from God’ was equally true of the women who dared to open Kentucky’s first four-year, liberal arts college for women. We stand on their shoulders.”
    Miriam Corcoran, SCN