Robert Spence led Evangel University for four decades.
Photo provided by Evangel University
Robert Spence led Evangel University for four decades.

Longtime Evangel president hospitalized after ‘incapacitating stroke’

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Robert Spence, the 40-year former president of Evangel University, has been hospitalized after an “incapacitating stroke,” according to a news release from his family.

Spence, 84, is currently receiving care through CoxHealth, for which he’s an emeritus board member after 35 years of past board service.

“Well-wishers are simply asked for their prayers,” the release from the family reads. “At this time, the family requests there be no visitors.”

Spence’s hospitalization came just days after he received a ceremonial key to the city from Springfield Mayor Ken McClure.

Currently president emeritus of Evangel, Spence retired in 2014. Over his four decades as president, he led the university 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.

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.

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