VP Spencer Named President of Bates College

Vice President for Policy A. Clayton Spencer has been selected as Bates College’s eighth president, Bates announced Sunday. Spencer, who served under four Harvard presidents, has been an influential advisor to University President Drew G. Faust and has played a role in shaping some the most significant Harvard initiatives of the past decade.

“Bates has made a brilliant choice,” said University President Drew G. Faust in an email to Harvard faculty and senior administrators. “Clayton ... has been an astute and always forthright advisor to Harvard’s presidents, deans, and governing boards for the last fifteen years.”

Spencer’s policy contributions include helping to shepherd the Harvard-Radcliffe merger, spearheading the creation of a summer program for local high school students, and contributing to the broad expansion of need-based tuition support under the Harvard Financial Aid Initiative, according to Faust.

“I have been blessed to work closely with her on every aspect of admission and financial aid during her time at Harvard,” said Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid William R. Fitzsimmons ’67 in a statement. “Her contributions have transformed Harvard in countless ways and future generations of Harvard students will benefit from her tenure.”

Spencer’s work with educational policy issues extends back to her time as a staffer for Senator Edward M. Kennedy ’54-’56. During her tenure with Kennedy, she worked as chief education counsel for the U.S. Senate Committee on Labor and Human Resources.


Spencer—whose father served as president of Mary Baldwin and Davidson Colleges—attended Phillips Exeter Academy before matriculating at Williams College. She sits on the Board of Trustees at both of her alma maters.

Asked how her departure would affect the administration at Harvard, Spencer said that her departure “coincides with a moment in Drew’s presidency when she has assembled a marvelous team.”

“My leaving will free up opportunities for lots of senior people in the ranks,” she said. “You can be irreplaceable without being indispensable.”

Spencer will assume the presidency at Bates on July 1, 2012. Her unanimous election by the Board of Trustees at Bates comes after an international presidential search.

“She is a true national leader in higher education, and she understands Bates in a very personal way, endorsing its innovative approach to the academic curriculum and its unpretentious ambition for excellence in all aspects of the liberal arts experience in the 21st century,” said Michael W. Bonney, chair of the board of trustees at Bates, in a statement.

Asked about her experience working at Harvard under four University presidents, Spencer replied concisely.

“I loved every minute of it,” she said.

—Staff writer Justin C. Worland can be reached at


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