The University of Arkansas at Monticello recently named former Cameron University English professor Mark Spencer as dean of the School of Arts and Humanities. Provost David Ray made the announcement June 23.
“We are pleased to be able to bring someone with Mark Spencer’s academic credentials, teaching skills and administrative experience to our arts and humanities program,” Ray said. “Mark is a wonderful addition to our faculty.”
Spencer holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from the University of Cincinnati and a Master of Fine Arts degree in creative writing from Bowling Green State University. He also attended the doctoral program in English at Oklahoma State University
He taught literature, composition and creative writing for 18 years at Cameron and also served as chair of the department of English and Foreign Languages for the Lawton, Okla., school.
Last year, the dean of Cameron announced she would be stepping down, leaving an opening for Spencer. When applying for the position in the Chronicle of Higher Education, Spencer saw an ad next to it indicating an opening at UAM and applied for it also.
“It was a spur of the moment thing,” Spencer said. “I’ve always liked Arkansas and thought it was pretty.”
Though Cameron eventually offered him the deanship, he turned it down after UAM showed interest and Ray asked him to come down for an interview.
“I really liked the people here at the university,” Spencer said. “I met with the administration and faculty and really got a good feeling about everybody. I particularly was impressed with the top administration.”
In addition to being impressed with the administration, Spencer found UAM better suited his career interests.
“Because the school’s smaller, I could teach and be an administrator,” Spencer said. “I wanted to continue teaching. I love teaching. I’ve always loved teaching. Here I’m able to feel more rounded. I can still be a creative writer, teacher and administrator.”
His teaching experience includes serving as a graduate associate at Oklahoma State, an adjunct instructor of English at Northern Kentucky, a lecturer of English at Cincinnati, an instructor of English at Southwest Missouri State, and an adjunct professor of English at the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma.
Spencer has won numerous awards, including the Oklahoma State Regents Award, the Cameron University Professor of the Year award and the Lawton Arts and Humanities Council’s Educator of the Year in the Humanities award.
“I’ve had a little commercial success and a little literary success,” Spencer said. “I did better than I thought I would when I was younger. I thought publishing a book seemed like something too fantastic.”
Spencer has won four national awards for fiction writing, including the Faulkner Society Faulkner Award, the Omaha Prize for the Novel and The Cairn/St. Andrews Press Fiction Award. He is the author of the novels "Love and Reruns in Adams County" (Random House) and "The Weary Motel" (Backwaters Press) as well as the story collections "Spying on Lovers" (Amelia Press) and "Wedlock" (Watermark Press). He has received four special mentions in Pushcart Prize: Best of the Small Presses.
Spencer said he was glad to be at UAM and plans to be here a long time.
*Media Services contributed to this article.
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© The Voice 2005
Revised 09/17/2007 01:46:43 PM — http://www.uamont.edu/Organizations/TheVoice/3_1/spencer.htm