Harvard honors Bates President Spencer for service

Phillip Lovejoy, executive director of the Harvard Alumni Association, presents Bates President Clayton Spencer with the association's Harvard Medal on May 25. Behind Spencer is Harvard president Drew Faust. The HAA's annual meeting took place in Tercentenary Theatre, Harvard, during the afternoon program of Harvard's Commencement. (Rose Lincoln/Harvard University)

Phillip Lovejoy, executive director of the Harvard Alumni Association, presents Bates President Clayton Spencer with the association’s Harvard Medal on May 25. Behind Spencer is Harvard President Drew Gilpin Faust. The HAA’s annual meeting took place in Tercentenary Theatre, Harvard, during the afternoon program of Harvard’s Commencement. (Rose Lincoln/Harvard University)

A senior administrator at Harvard University for more than 15 years before coming to Bates, President Clayton Spencer was honored with a Harvard Medal this week for service to the university.

“With conviction and humility that underscore your fierce commitment to higher education,” Harvard President Drew Gilpin Faust said in presenting the award to her Bates counterpart, “you have served as an astute and forthright adviser to four presidents.”

Spencer, who came to Bates in 2012, was vice president for policy and associate vice president for higher education policy at Harvard during the 1990s and 2000s. In conferring the medal, Faust pointed to Spencer’s instrumental role in such accomplishments as the establishment of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, the creation of the Crimson Summer Academy for high school students, and the expansion of financial aid — which remains a priority for Spencer as Bates president.

At Bates, Spencer has also overseen new initiatives in the realms of curriculum, institutional resilience, and campus life — specifically, the establishment of a program in digital and computational studies; the strengthening of programming in campus diversity and inclusion; substantially enhancing fundraising; and, through the Purposeful Work initiative, redefining how the college prepares students for work and career.

Recipient of a master’s degree in the study of religion from Harvard in 1982, Spencer returned to her former school and workplace on a rainy May 25, Harvard’s Commencement Day, to receive the Harvard Alumni Association honor. Also receiving the 2017 Harvard Medal were former museum executive Warren Little and architect Henry Cobb.

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