Dan Hall

Southeast member Dan Hall is chairman of the board of West End School.

Dan Hall stopped playing golf a long time ago.

Hall, who retired in 2017 as the vice president of community engagement at the University of Louisville after 31 years, might be busier now than ever.

He calls it a “labor of love.”

“I’ve appreciated the spiritual journey that I’ve been on, and I still see my faith journey continue to grow and accelerate,” Hall said. “I like to say, ‘My cup runneth over with all of these spiritual blessings.’ Well, what am I going to do with that overflow? My overflow is to give back to the community. To give back to teaching these young kids at West End School. To give back to other organizations I’m involved with.”

Hall is currently the chairman of the board at West End School, a tuition-free independent school serving boys in pre-K through eighth grade near downtown Louisville. He serves on the board for Hope Collaborative, which provides a school outreach program mobilizing the church to serve as mentors. He is also on the local missions committee at Southeast Christian Church and teaches a weekend group at the Blankenbaker Campus.

“I felt that I was blessed to have a wonderful platform working at the University of Louisville and to direct the resources of the university back into the community for the betterment of the community. I’m proud of the work we did there,” Hall added. “As important as that was, I wasn’t in a position to really do what I came to realize was most important in terms of community transformation, which is that spiritual foundation. Now, under the auspices of just being a child of God, being a volunteer in the community and wanting to give back—to me that’s the answer to all of our problems. It sounds simple, but it’s a profound truth. Jesus said, ‘I will make all things new again.’”

It’s easy to see that Hall, who will celebrate his 70th birthday later this month, loves his hometown.

“The wholesomeness of our city, the charm of our city, the fact that I had a wonderful childhood and enjoyed growing up here, I just really wanted to be a part of the community where I grew up, and I wanted to give back to the community,” he said.

Hall is married to his high school sweetheart, Sheila. They have three adult children, six grandchildren and will celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary next year.

Following God’s plan

Hall was raised in a big family with four brothers and two sisters. His dad was a bi-vocational pastor for several decades.

“I came to faith at an early age when I was in elementary school. My dad introduced me to Christ,” Hall said.

Though he didn’t have a “sheltered” life, Hall felt safe growing up in the West End. He said they left the windows open in the summertime.

“There was a sense of security growing up in my neighborhood,” Hall added. “It was a very healthy community with churches, grocery stores, entertainment, parks and good schools. We lacked nothing. My favorite thing growing up was playing marbles with my brothers and friends in the neighborhood.”

Hall was an amateur boxer in his younger years and was greatly inspired by Muhammad Ali.

“As a young kid growing up, I watched Ali succeed through the amateur ranks and ascend to the top of the boxing world. He always exuded confidence. He was such an inspiration,” he said. “My boxing background helped me to understand self-reliance. When you’re boxing, it’s just you and your opponents. You don’t have any teammates. It taught me from an early age the importance of discipline and hard training. To have confidence in yourself to succeed.”

Hall graduated from Central High School nine years after Ali, and both trained at the same gym. Hall is a three-time Kentucky Golden Glove Champion.

After high school, Hall earned a bachelor’s degree from Dartmouth College and a law degree from Harvard University. He received a master’s degree in Theological Studies from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in 2009.

While away at college, Hall never strayed from his faith, though he jokes that he was distracted at times.

“I was doing what typical young people do. I was having fun without the constraints of dad,” Hall said.

Hall joined the University of Louisville in the fall of 1985 after spending seven years in Washington, D.C., working as chief of staff for U.S. Congressman Romano Mazzoli. He was hired as the first African-American vice president at U of L.

“Even though we lived on the east coast at the time, our greatest desire was to come back to Louisville and to raise our kids in a community that nurtured us,” Hall added. “So, I always had a heart for the community, and I enjoy spending a lot of my time giving back to this community.”

That was around the time the Halls were having children, and they started taking their faith “more seriously.”

“We got involved in the church, and we got our kids involved in church, leading them to Christ and getting them baptized,” he said. “As a young parent, I started practicing my faith at that point, understanding how valuable that was for me. My dad grounded me in the Word, and I wanted to ground my children in the same faith.”

During his time at U of L, Hall was particularly proud of “The Signature Partnership,” which is a university effort to enhance the quality of life for residents of West Louisville by improving the overall educational attainment levels through the integrated development of health, social and human services and economic viability of the community.

“We have used that as an opportunity to get our students out into the community and to utilize what they learned in their labs, textbooks and classrooms to solve real-life problems and concerns,” Hall said. “I felt that a part of my mission at the University of Louisville was helping families and individuals to become self-sufficient. I felt I was blessed to have a wonderful platform at the University of Louisville.”