Spalding University


Spalding University is a private Catholic university in Louisville, Kentucky.[2] It is affiliated with the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth.[3]

Spalding University
Spalding University
Former names
  • Nazareth College
  • Catherine Spalding College
  • Spalding College
Established1814; 208 years ago (1814)
Religious affiliation
Catholic (Sisters of Charity of Nazareth)
Academic affiliations
Kentuckiana Metroversity
PresidentTori Murden McClure
Colors   Blue & gold
NicknameGolden Eagles
Sporting affiliations
NCAA Division III – SLIAC (changed from NAIA in 2007)
MascotOllie the Eagle


Spalding University traces its origins to Nazareth Academy, one of the oldest educational institution west of the Alleghenies.[4] Nazareth Academy was founded in 1814 by the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth and was located in Nelson County near Bardstown, Kentucky.[3] Spalding was named after Mother Catherine Spalding, foundress of the Sisters.[3]

In 1829 the legislature of the Commonwealth of Kentucky granted the school a charter allowing the school to confer degrees. In 1920, the Sisters opened Nazareth College in Louisville, Kentucky's first, four-year, Catholic college for women.[3] The Louisville and Nazareth campuses merged. In 1969, the school was renamed Spalding College and in 1971 all instructional activity was moved to the Louisville campus. In 1973, Spalding College became co-educational and an independent college in the Catholic tradition open to students of all faiths and backgrounds. In 1984, Spalding College became Spalding University.[5]


Spalding offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in the areas of health sciences, natural sciences, social sciences, humanities, and education.[6]

Location and facilitiesEdit

Administration Building

Located in downtown Louisville, Spalding University's urban campus is located between the main business/government district of the city and Old Louisville in an area referred to as the South of Broadway (SoBro) neighborhood.

851 mansionEdit

When Spalding University, originally called Nazareth College, opened in 1920, its sole building was the 1871 structure known as the Tompkins-Buchanan-Rankin House. This Italianate building was designed and built by architect Henry Whitestone for the family of Joseph T. Tompkins, a wealthy dry-goods merchant and importer. Later, the Buchanans and Rankins lived here. George C. Buchanan was a distiller who aspired to make the mansion one of the greatest in Louisville, and had it redecorated in 1880.[7] Although the facade of this Italianate structure has disappeared, the north and south sides of the original building are visible; on the north are three deeply projecting bay windows, and on the south, a two-story loggia. In 1918 the residence was vacant, so the Sisters of Nazareth purchased it for $75,000 as the site of the college they planned to open in Louisville. The fact that this house is one door north of Presentation Academy, also operated by the Sisters, was fortunate.[7]

As successive owners occupied the mansion, they added such treasures as a hand-tooled leather ceiling from Florence for one parlor, ebony mantels, and a large hand-carved hat-rack, which Mr. Buchanan purchased at the New Orleans Exposition. The stained glass of the mansion is one of its outstanding features. When Dr. John Coolidge, one-time Director of Harvard's Fogg Art Museum, visited Louisville, he said that Spalding University had the most marvelous display of nineteenth-century stained glass he had ever seen.

Erected in 1942, the Administration Building, which was attached to the front wall of the 1871 building, fills not only the space of the two lots north of the original building but also that of the former terrace in front of the mansion. The old stained glass street number, 851, no longer faces the street, but it still gleams brightly in the passageway between the newer building and the old Whitestone mansion.

In December 1973 the mansion was designated a Kentucky Landmark. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in April 1977.[8]

Today, the Mansion and the complex it forms with its adjoining wings are used primarily for academic and faculty offices and classrooms. In addition to all of the College of Education's programs, the academic units based in the Mansion are business, liberal studies, creative and professional writing, psychology, communication and criminal justice studies.

Spalding's Center for Behavioral Health, a nonprofit public clinic supported and staffed by the School of Professional Psychology, is located in the east wing of the complex, and Spalding's Center of Peace and Spiritual Renewal is located on the top floor of the central Mansion. Mass is still held every Tuesday in the Mansion chapel.

The primary administrative operations of Spalding University no longer are housed in the Mansion and now are based in the Egan Leadership Center (901 S. Fourth St.), where the office of admissions, most student services and the academic deans are located, and the Third Street Academic Center (845 S. Fourth St.), where the offices of the president and provost exist, as well as the finance, institutional effectiveness, human resources and advancement/fundraising departments.

Egan Leadership CenterEdit

The Egan Leadership Center is located at 901 South Fourth Street and is named after Spalding's former president, Sister Eileen Egan. Sister Egan served the university for 25 years until her retirement in 1994.[3] Containing over 33,000 square feet (3,100 m2) on three floors, the building houses a 125-seat lectorium and the university bookstore on the first level. The second and third floors house student services offices, such as admissions, the office of the registrar, financial aid, advising and student development and campus life.[9]

Teilhard HallEdit

Home of the Spalding art department, with studio classrooms and individual studios offered to students participating in the program.

Morrison HallEdit

Originally opened in 1961, the residence formerly known as Our Lady of Louisville Hall only housed 116 students.[10] An addition was constructed and opened in 1968 bumping the total occupancy to 350 residents. In 1970 the hall was renamed in honor of Sister Charles Mary Morrison who served as registrar and Dean from 1925 to 1950. The building currently houses undergraduate and graduate students in 165 dormitory-style rooms on the north side of the building and shares the south side with the Kentucky College of Art and Design (KyCAD).

Spalding SuitesEdit

The Spalding Suites opened in the fall of 2011 and are designed as apartment-style living for students who choose to live on campus.[10] The Suites were designed for true community living as all residents share a common living room, kitchen and bathroom within their suite.

Residents can choose to live in a private bedroom within an 8-person suite, a double bedroom within an 8-person suite or a double bedroom within a 4-person suite. Bedrooms come equipped with a standard twin size bed, desk and chair, cable box, and wardrobe. All bedrooms have windows and blinds and a private lock.

Columbia Gym (and its ties to Muhammad Ali)Edit

The building at 824 S. Fourth St. is the home of Spalding's men's and women's basketball and women's volleyball teams, as well as the Golden Eagles' NCAA Division III athletic department. It is also famous as the location where Louisvillian Muhammad Ali was introduced to boxing as a young boy in 1954. At that time, the boxing gym in the lower level of the building was called the Columbia Gym. The lower level of the building is now the site of Spalding's student fitness center, lounge and health clinic as well as the athletic department offices. The first level includes the basketball/volleyball courts as well as a 700-seat auditorium. An upper level includes a ballroom that is used for campus events.

The building's name was changed from Spalding University Center to Columbia Gym[11] on Jan. 17, 2018 in honor of Ali's history there. The renaming took place on what would have been Ali's 76th birthday. The introduction of Ali (then Clay) to boxing at Columbia Gym was serendipitous and has become a key part of Ali lore. He stopped by the building for a Louisville Service Club event that was occurring upstairs and offered free snacks. He parked his red Schwinn bicycle out front while he went inside, and when he came back out, it had been stolen. An irate Clay was told out to report the theft to a local police officer named Joe Martin, who was on site because he also happened to run the Columbia Gym and train young boxers. Clay informed Martin that his bike had been stolen and said he planned to beat up the thief. Martin replied to Clay that if he wanted to do that, he better learn to fight first, leading him to try boxing.

In honor of Ali and Martin's encounter, a replica red bike now hangs over the front entrance of Columbia Gym.

In 1963 Spalding University purchased the former Columbia Auditorium for use in administrative, recreational, athletic, religious, and cultural events, including public lectures by notable public figures. The auditorium seats about 700 people in its main floor and balcony.[12]

The building was designed by Louisville architect Thomas J. Nolan in 1925 in a classic style in accordance with Vignola. The external walls are of Bedford limestone with buff brick trim. Interior floors and staircases are marble. The Knights of Columbus commissioned the building to serve as a center for their many activities.[12]

After the economic depression of 1929, the Knights of Columbus could not maintain it, so it was used by other groups. During World War II it was a service club for military personnel. It was also used by the Louisville Orchestra in that group's early days. Perhaps the best-known use of the gymnasium in the building was the housing of Golden Gloves Boxing events during the 1950s. It was there that Cassius Clay (later Muhammad Ali) trained as a teenager.[13]


In 2021, Spalding University was ranked the fifth best college in Kentucky by CollegeChoice,[14] the sixth best college in Kentucky by Niche,[15] and #298 in National Universities by U.S. News & World Report in 2021.[16] In 2020, Spalding was ranked fifth best college with non-traditional schedules by College Raptor.[17]


Spalding University is a member of Division III of the National Collegiate Athletic Association, which it joined fully in 2012. The Golden Eagles have 14 varsity sports programs (six men's, eight women's) and are members of the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SLIAC). About 30 percent of Spalding's undergraduate students participate in varsity sports. Spalding's athletic director is Roger Burkman, who was a member of the University of Louisville's 1980 NCAA Division I basketball championship team.

In 2006, Spalding changed the name of its athletic nickname from Pelicans to Golden Eagles via a selection committee that included student input. The Golden Eagle was picked because it embodies strength, courage and strong vision. The image of the Pelican, which embodies peace, justice, service and spiritual values, remains on the university's official seal. In 2018, Spalding unveiled its first official Golden Eagle mascot, a blue-and-gold bird named Ollie, as selected by a campus-wide vote.

Notable alumniEdit

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c As of fall 2016. "Student headcount by level: All independent institutions (2006-16)" (PDF). Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education. Commonwealth of Kentucky. Retrieved March 4, 2018.
  2. ^ "College Navigator - Spalding University". Retrieved March 7, 2019.
  3. ^ a b c d e Encyclopedia of Louisville. University of Kentucky. 2001. pp. 841–842. ISBN 0813121000.
  4. ^ "1812-1938 Junior College and Academy". The Record. 1938.
  5. ^ Encyclopedia of Louisville. Spalding University Library: University of Kentucky. 2001. pp. 841–842. ISBN 0813121000.
  6. ^ "Spalding Factbook 2016" (PDF). Spalding University. Spalding University. 2016. Archived from the original (PDF) on July 1, 2016.
  7. ^ a b "The Council of Independent Colleges: Historic Campus Architecture Project". Retrieved June 1, 2016.
  8. ^ Jones, Elizabeth F. Tompkins-Buchanan House [Spalding University]. National Register of Historic Places designation report. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior/National Park Service, 1977. "The Beautiful House of Bankrupt Whiskey King Despoiled by Auctioneer--Best People Among Buyers." In Samuel W., and William Morgan. Old Louisville: The Victorian Era. Louisville, KY: Data Courier for the Courier-Journal, Louisville Times, 1975. Originally published in Courier-Journal. December 17, 1884. Louisville, KY.
  9. ^ "Spalding University Catalog". Retrieved June 2, 2016.
  10. ^ a b "Residence Halls". Spalding University. July 19, 2012. Archived from the original on July 1, 2016. Retrieved June 1, 2016.
  11. ^ "Spalding renames athletic building 'Columbia Gym,' where Ali learned to box".
  12. ^ a b "The Council of Independent Colleges: Historic Campus Architecture Project". Retrieved June 1, 2016.
  13. ^ Proffitt, Doug (May 7, 2015). "Tracing a legend: How a smelly gym changed Louisville". Louisville, KY: WHAS-TV. Archived from the original on May 18, 2015. Retrieved May 9, 2015.
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External linksEdit

  • Official website
  • Official athletics website

Coordinates: 38°14′29.4″N 85°45′31.9″W / 38.241500°N 85.758861°W / 38.241500; -85.758861