Cumberland University Announces Dr. Michael J. Spalding Professorship in Nursing

Dr. Beth Chatham and Dr. Spalding

Cumberland University awarded the Dr. Michael J. Spalding Professorship in Nursing to its inaugural recipient assistant professor of nursing Dr. Beth Chatham at the university’s 181st Convocation. 

The Dr. Michael J. Spalding Professorship is awarded to a Cumberland faculty member who exhibits servant leadership in the field of nursing and will support continued educational projects within the Jeanette C. Rudy School of Nursing and Health Professions.

The professorship honors Dr. Spalding’s extensive career in medicine. He began as a general surgeon for the United States Navy in Guantanamo Bay, completed a fellowship at Great Ormand Street Hospital in London and worked as a urologist at Vanderbilt University Medical Center and in private practice in Middle Tennessee. Dr. Spalding, also currently serves on the Cumberland Board of Trust as the Chair of the Academic and Student Affairs Committee. 

Dr. Spalding’s passion for both service and people ultimately led to a friendship with an undocumented student and the establishment of Equal Chance for Education (ECE) in 2014. ECE is a nonprofit scholarship program that pays the cost of tuition for undocumented students. Forty four ECE Scholars have graduated from Cumberland since the program’s inception. 

As the recipient of the professorship, Dr. Beth Chatham has led a distinguished career in medicine as an operating room nurse at Boston Children’s Hospital, a public health nurse in Mississippi, a nurse midwife in the north of England and a missions nurse in Honduras. Additionally, Chatham worked at Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital and Nashville General Hospital, and is also a published author in the Journal of Pediatric Nursing, Journal of Nursing Research and the Journal of Transcultural Nursing. 

“I feel very honored to receive a professorship named for Dr. Michael J. Spalding, who has made a university degree possible for so many deserving students through his founding of Equal Chance for Education,” said Chatham. 

While at Cumberland, Chatham has provided students with a global perspective of nursing by leading practicums to Mexico, Honduras and London. She plans to use the professorship to continue her research in the promotion of healthy weight in children and allow student nurses to expand healthy weight projects with partnership schools in surrounding counties. 

“Dr. Chatham is a shining example of a servant leader who leads with empathy and moral conviction,” said Cumberland University Provost Dr. C. William McKee. “We celebrate her career in nursing and the selfless work she will continue to do with the support of this professorship.”

To learn more about the Cumberland University Jeanette C. Rudy School of Nursing and Health Professions, visit

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