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Robert Spence, right, receives the ceremonial key to the city from Mayor Ken McClure.
Photo provided by city of Springfield
Robert Spence, right, receives the ceremonial key to the city from Mayor Ken McClure.

Former Evangel president awarded key to the city

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Springfield Mayor Ken McClure yesterday presented a key to the city to former Evangel University President Robert Spence.

A ceremonial award recognizing service to the community, the key awarded to Spence is the first given out since former Councilman Ralph Manley received one more than 10 years ago, said city spokeswoman Cora Scott. She said the award is an actual, mounted key. Derek Smith, aka Springfield Batman, also was given a replica key in 2016 in a “fun ceremony” by former Mayor Pro Tem Jeff Seifried, Scott added.

A news release pointed to Spence’s roughly 40 years leading Evangel before his 2014 retirement, as well as board leadership for the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce, City Utilities, Springfield-Branson National Airport and other organizations, and numerous awards. Springfield Business Journal honored Spence in 2012 with the Lifetime Achievement in Business Award, and he was a member of SBJ’s 2011 inaugural class of Men of the Year. Spence in 2004 received the chamber’s Springfieldian Award.

“Dr. Spence has served and continues to serve as a goodwill ambassador for our community, not only with his 40 years of service to Evangel, but with his many more years of service to the community at large,” McClure said in the release.

Currently president emeritus of Evangel, Spence led the school to complete 12 major building projects; expand its academic offerings to more than 100 undergraduate degrees and 10 master’s programs; and double enrollment, according to the release. He also worked on the consolidation of Evangel with Central Bible College and the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary.

Carol Taylor, Spence’s successor at Evangel, recently announced plans to retire in August.

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