Robert Spence led Evangel University as president until his 2014 retirement.
Photo provided by Evangel University
Robert Spence led Evangel University as president until his 2014 retirement.

Robert Spence dies at 84

Posted online

Last edited 10:06 a.m., Feb. 20, 2020

Longtime Evangel University President Robert Spence died on Wednesday. He was 84.

Spence was hospitalized Feb. 16 after an “incapacitating stroke.” A news release issued by Evangel cited the stroke as Spence’s cause of death.

“President Spence lived his life with great integrity and dignity,” said Carol Taylor, the university’s current president, in a statement. “His service to Evangel and Springfield cannot be overstated.”

A public memorial service is scheduled Feb. 23 at Evangel’s Robert H. Spence Chapel. A visitation starts at 1:30 p.m., and the service is scheduled for 3 p.m.

Spence, who last week received a ceremonial key to the city from Mayor Ken McClure, served as Evangel’s president for 40 years until his 2014 retirement.

During his tenure at Evangel, he’s credited with completing 12 major building projects; expanding academic offerings to more than 100 undergraduate degrees and 10 master’s programs; and doubling 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.

Taylor recently announced plans to retire in August.