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2011 Men of the Year Honoree: Robert Spence, D.D.

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Robert Spence has been a fixture in the Springfield community since 1974, when he became the president of what was then Evangel College. Now, as the university prepares to enter into a new era, Spence readies the Assemblies of God school for its transition.

Evangel University announced in August it is poised to merge with Central Bible College and the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary, which should raise its enrollment to around 3,000 students, up from more than 2,000 today and almost triple what it was when Spence began his tenure as president more than three decades ago.

“Academic programs have continued to expand to the point where we are now offering more than 100 programs, including numerous graduate study opportunities,” Spence says. “From a physical standpoint, the campus has been transformed from a collection of World War II-era barracks that housed the O’Reilly General Hospital to a state of the art campus of modern facilities.”

The consolidated university would operate five schools of study including theological and church ministries and business and communication, beginning in September 2013.

As a leader of the school, Spence says he’s proud that he’s had a chance to be a positive influence on so many students’ lives.

“I am most grateful for the opportunity to make an investment in the lives of thousands of students who came to the Evangel campus as freshmen. … Evangel alumni have reached places of executive leadership in business, industry, military, education and government,” says Spence, who plans to retire at the end of his eighth term in 2014.

Throughout his tenure at Evangel, Spence has demonstrated a commitment to community involvement.

“During my time in Springfield, I have had numerous opportunities for civic involvement that include serving on the boards for City Utilities, Springfield-Branson National Airport, Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce and CoxHealth,” Spence says. “In each of these capacities, I’ve had the honor of serving as chairman of those boards.”

Spence also has served on the boards of various philanthropic organizations including the American Red Cross, Cox College of Nursing and Health Sciences and the Community Blood Center of the Ozarks. He is president of the Springfield Downtown Rotary Club and chairman of the board of directors for the retirement community Maranatha Village.

“I would like to think that I have encouraged those who serve on the Evangel staff and faculty to maximize their capabilities and potentialities,” Spence says.

From 2011 Men of the Year
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