Jack Spencer is commencement speaker for Class of 2017

Jack Spencer is commencement speaker for Class of 2017

March 22, 2017

Jack Spencer ’65, an internationally recognized public health professional known for his expertise in disease prevention, will deliver the commencement address to Maryville College’s Class of 2017 during a ceremony scheduled for 3:30 p.m. Sun., May 21 on the lawn between Anderson Hall and Sutton Science Center.

In the event of rain, the ceremony will be held in the Clayton Center for the Arts’ Ronald and Lynda Nutt Theatre as a ticketed event, due to limited seating. Others will be able to view the live broadcast in Cooper Athletic Center.

Spencer’s address to the approximately 250 graduating seniors is “You Are Now Entering the Mission Field,” and the Scripture reading is from Philippians 2:1-7, Mark 9:35 and John 20:21.

During the ceremony, Spencer will also receive the honorary doctor of public health degree from the 198-year-old liberal arts college.

“Jack Spencer’s career embodies Maryville College’s goal, expressed in our mission statement, to ‘dedicate a life of creativity and service to the peoples of the world,’” said Maryville College President Dr. Tom Bogart. “In every area of his life, from elite professional postings to volunteer service in the community and active leadership in the church, he lives out the admonition of Maryville College founder Isaac Anderson to ‘do good on the largest possible scale.’ He is indeed a worthy model for the class of 2017 to emulate.”

Spencer, who graduated from Maryville College in 1965 with a bachelor’s degree in sociology, has devoted his 50-year career to improving public health programs.

He has served in numerous capacities with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention since 1965, including deputy director of the Division of STD/HIV Prevention from 1988 until 2002. As the program manager and director of operations for the CDC’s largest division, he was responsible for implementation and evaluation of HIV and STD prevention programs across the United States. In this capacity, he interacted with the U.S. Congress, Department of Health and Human Services, state and local health departments and legislatures.

From 2002 until 2005, Spencer served as chief of the CDC Global AIDS Program in Cambodia, developing and implementing the CDC’s HIV/AIDS prevention and care strategy. He later served as a management consultant to the Global AIDS Program, providing management and administrative consultation to several Global AIDS Program countries, including Thailand, Guyana, Angola, Malawi, Kenya, Vietnam, Cote d’Ivoire, Botswana, Swaziland, Mozambique, Zambia, Cameroon, Guatemala, China and Nigeria. He was also a management consultant for international activities, primarily to the Center for Global Health and the Division of Global AIDS, providing assistance to programs in Guatemala, Thailand, Kenya, China, Lesotho, Zimbabwe, Democratic Republic of Congo, Cote d’Ivoire, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, Malawi, Ukraine, and Barbados. 

Most recently, Spencer worked with a pilot program in the Department of Health and Human Services to hire a specialized global health workforce to combat public health threats.

He has received numerous awards, including the Voullant donner medal (the second highest honor for an ex-patriate), presented by Prime Minister of Cambodia for outstanding service to Cambodia’s HIV Prevention Effort; the William C. Watson Medal of Excellence (the CDC’s highest award); the National Hemophilia Foundation’s Special Recognition Award; the American Venereal Disease Association Achievement Award; the U.S. Public Health Service Special Recognition Award; and the U.S. Public Health Service Volunteer of the Year Award.

In 1999, Spencer was the first recipient of the Jack N. Spencer Award, which is given annually at the national STD conference to “honor individuals for a career of exceptional contributions to excellence in sexually transmitted disease prevention characterized by outstanding commitment to effective science based programs, continuous innovation, and profound commitment to helping people.”

He is a ruling elder and deacon in the Presbyterian Church (USA) and serves on the board of directors for Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) in Hall County, Ga. He has been an active volunteer and coach for local youth soccer associations.

A native of Baltimore, Md., Spencer lives in Gainesville, Ga., with his wife, Linda Hayes Spencer ’67. The couple has two children and three grandchildren.

Graduation Broadcast Live

Streaming video of commencement exercises will be broadcast live. This broadcast will be viewable from the MC website for free and archived on the MC website for a short time. A DVD copy of the ceremony will be available for $20 and can be purchased online at maryvillecollege.edu/grad-dvd

Baccalaureate Planned for May 21

Dr. Frances Henderson, associate professor of political science at Maryville College, will be this year’s baccalaureate speaker.

The title of her sermon is “Doing Good on the Largest Scale Possible,” and the Scripture reading is from Isaiah 51:7-8 and Galatians 5:13.

Held in the Clayton Center for the Arts’ Ronald and Lynda Nutt Theatre, the baccalaureate ceremony will begin at 10 a.m., Sun., May 21 and is open to the public. During the ceremony, Maryville College President Dr. Tom Bogart will play the keyboard for the prelude and processional, and the Maryville College praise band will perform the recessional and postlude.

Henderson received her degree in political science from Washington University in St. Louis, Mo. In 2012, she became the first African American woman to earn tenure at Maryville College. Henderson’s research and teaching interests include social movements in the Global South, women and politics, women in the Global South and feminist theory, and issues of race and politics in the United States and other parts of the world. Henderson has served on the Maryville College Faculty Liaison Committee for several years and is currently the coordinator of MC's newly established gender and women's studies minor.

She has published several chapters and articles in peer reviewed journals such as Political Science and Politics and has an article forthcoming in the journal Transforming Anthropology. As an active participant of the Maryville community, Henderson is a member of St. Paul AME Zion Church. She has also served on the Haven House Board of Directors and is co-chair of the Blount County United Education Committee.


Maryville College is ideally situated in Maryville, Tenn., between the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Knoxville, the state's third largest city. Founded in 1819, it is the 12th oldest institution of higher learning in the South and maintains an affiliation with the Presbyterian Church (USA). Known for offering its students a rigorous and highly personal experience that includes an undergraduate research requirement, Maryville College is a nationally ranked institution of higher learning that successfully joins the liberal arts and professional preparation. Total enrollment for the fall 2016 semester is 1,197.