Martha Spence ’84

Profile on Martha Spence, associate dean for academics, who retired after 35 years of service.
  • 2015

Years of service: 35

What was your path to Lewis & Clark?

At the age of 32, I had just finished my undergraduate degree and was considering law schools. I hadn’t been much further west than Ohio and when I saw a Lewis & Clark poster, with its photo of a lovely domed building atop a dramatic bluff overlooking a river, rainbow in the background, I was intrigued. Why not go to law school in the West? I knew I would return to Washington, D.C., where I had lived and worked before going to college. When I got to Portland I was a little surprised to find that Terwilliger Boulevard did not lead to a high bluff overlooking a river, and that the law school was not in a small white building with a dome. It turns out that was Crown Point in the Columbia Gorge. However, Lewis & Clark was charming and beautiful in its own way, so I decided to stick it out. All told, I’ve now been here for 35 years. It was a great decision to come, and a great decision to stay.

What have you enjoyed most about your work?

The variety. The most satisfying has been working with students one-on-one. However, writing and publishing the viewbook, which I did for many years, was a delight because of the great people with whom I got to collaborate and the feeling we were producing something good. Helping the school transition to using computers in the registrar and admissions offices was challenging and a learning experience. And traveling to do admissions recruiting was always great.

What do you consider to be your most memorable moment?

In my 32 years as an administrator, there have been—happily—many high points. I must say that being honored as a distinguished graduate this year was amazing and a definite highlight.

What’s something people might not know about you?

Until recently I don’t think very many people knew how much I like to sing.

What is your favorite place on campus?

I’m not sure if it technically counts, but I love Tryon Park. Even when I’m inside, the view of it makes me feel as if I were about to step into a forest cathedral. It’s soothing and inspiring at the same time.

What will you miss?

The people. My brilliant and generous colleagues, and, of course, the students.

What are you most proud of?

That so many people have let me know I was someone they felt they could count on to help.

What’s next for you?

Some volunteer work; a little travel; even more concerts, plays, and movies than I already go to; and more reading. I also want to be a tourist in Portland. I’d like to get to know the city better by walking the town and taking pictures.