By Leah Wilkinson

On October 3, Bellarmine will celebrate its platinum anniversary: 70 years.

Bryan Hamann, Associate Director of Student Activities, said the university has a few activities planned to honor the milestone.

“We will have roller skating, music, food, competition for prizes and some giveaways,” he said.

Hamann said there will be a “birthday party” in Lot 4 (the faculty and staff lot outside Clayton Hall) from noon to 2 p.m.

He said T-shirts will also be available as giveaways. 

“Since 70 is the platinum anniversary, our commemorative shirts will use a metallic ink to try and incorporate that theme,” Hamann said.

Dr. Bob Pfaadt, a 1963 Bellarmine alum and 44-year professor of history who retired in June, said although the campus has changed a lot over the past 70 years, the atmosphere remains the same.

Pfaadt talked about the tight-knit campus community he felt and continues to feel at Bellarmine.

“We knew everybody,” he said, adding that he runs into former students and other Bellarmine graduates often.

Pfaadt recalled Bellarmine’s beginnings under Monsignor Alfred Horrigan.

“He did an outstanding job,” he said. “It’s come a long, long way in these 70 years.”

Pfaadt also reflected on his experience as a Bellarmine student.

“When I was a student there, it was all male, and most professors were religious,” he said. “They were [mostly] priests.”

After graduating from Bellarmine, Pfaadt left for Arizona State University to pursue his master’s degree. He said attending a large school was a big adjustment.

He recalled that the area where Bellarmine sits was initially going to be the University of Louisville, noted by the academic street names that remain like “Harvard,” “Yale” and “Princeton.”

Pfaadt said he believes Bellarmine’s location makes it desirable for many students.

“We’re close enough to be in the city yet we’re not in the inner city,” he said.

Pfaadt also said Bellarmine has a history of fighting for equality and racial justice, as it was the first college in Kentucky to have an African-American on its basketball team.

Father Clyde Crews, a 1966 Bellarmine graduate, reflected on the university’s history of inclusivity and open-mindedness.

“It was open to new experiences, and it was open to integration from the very beginning,” he said. “It’s always been socially conscious.”

After receiving his P.hD., Crews returned to Bellarmine to teach from 1973 until his retirement in 2007. He worked as the university historian until 2019.

Crews said one word he feels encompasses many peoples’ Bellarmine experiences is “family.”

Crews compiled a list showcasing some of what Bellarmine means to him and the Louisville community, noting the campus’ values of envisioning the future, probing the depths of one’s truer self, and for faith to speak its lessons.

Like Pfaadt, Crews said he also runs into former students and other graduates often and that there’s always a large sense of community among those who’ve graduated from Bellarmine.

“We all have something in common, and it’s not a few acres on Newburg Road. It’s a sense of purpose and a sense of decency,” Crews said.

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