Saint Martin's College president announces he will retire in 2005

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Lacey - David R. Spangler, Ph.D., who has served as Saint Martin's College president since September 1984, has announced he will retire June 30, 2005. The longest-serving president in Saint Martin’s College history, Spangler, 63, made his announcement to the Board of Trustees at its quarterly meeting earlier today.

In a statement to members of the Saint Martin’s community, “ Spangler said, “My decision reflects my belief that Saint Martin’s is reaching a point where its current success and its opportunities for the future highlight a time for change ... I have thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to lead this wonderful institution, and my wife Jeanne and I have cherished our opportunities to be included in the Benedictine community that is Saint Martin’s.”

A graduate of the U.S. Military Academy with a doctorate in structural dynamics from the University of Illinois, Spangler taught at both West Point and the U.S. Army Engineer School before joining Saint Martin’s as an engineering faculty member in 1982. Along with solid academic preparation, he brought valuable skills as a manager of two large engineering organizations, each with more than 650 employees. The skills proved invaluable to the struggling college he took over in 1984.

Abbot Neal Roth, O.S.B., of Saint Martin’s Abbey on the college campus, said, “Early in his career, Dave led us through some very difficult financial situations and I, as abbot and chancellor of the college, will be forever grateful for his efforts. I think he will be missed at Saint Martin’s, but I personally will miss his presence in our community.”

Board Chair Mary Gentry said that under Spangler’s guidance, Saint Martin’s has made impressive strides as an institution.

“Members of the Board of Trustees are very grateful to Dave for his leadership and commitment to our college, and to his wife, Jeanne, as well,” Gentry said. “With his guidance, the college has had the courage to dream and the stability and confidence to realize those dreams.”

Gentry noted in particular the college’s expanded list of undergraduate and graduate programs; its recent highly successful reaccreditation and ongoing recognition for many of its liberal arts-based academic programs; steadily growing enrollment; expanded program offerings at three extension campuses; the transition from a financially troubled institution to one of stability; and significant growth of both endowment and fundraising support. She also cited the many physical improvements that have transformed the college campus in recent years. These include upgrades and renovations to Saint Martin’s Pavilion, Old Main and Baran Residence Hall, and the addition of the Norman Worthington Conference Center, the Kreielsheimer Arts Education Building, O’Grady Library and a baseball field. The college is just completing an addition to its dining facilities and plans to open a new residence hall in fall 2005.

Spangler’s commitment to a growing international emphasis for the college and for increasing intercultural understanding among its students also is notable, she said. Beginning with a small cultural program with Japan’s Mukogawa Women’s University launched 20 years ago, Saint Martin’s now has several programs operating throughout the year, including a highly successful young program with Shanghai Maritime University’s Pudong Business Administration College, which placed 100 percent of the program’s first graduates in jobs. She said Spangler’s emphasis on service as an important part of education and his dedication to community outreach also have been cornerstones of his presidency, revealing themselves in such events as the annual Minds on the Millennium faculty speakers series with Panorama City and a recent conference for firms wanting to do business with China.

He has consistently modeled those values in his professional and personal life, Gentry said. Among his many leadership positions, Spangler has presided over the American Association of Benedictine Colleges and Universities and chaired Independent Colleges of Washington. He also has served on the board and executive committees of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, the Olympia Roundtable, Lacey Rotary Board and both Lacey and Olympia/Thurston County Chamber boards.

Gentry said the search for a new president to lead the 109-year-old institution will be under the leadership of board vice chair Tom Huff, who also will work to assure a smooth transition next year.

For more information:
Deanna Partlow
Media coordinator / senior editor
360-438-4541 or