Ms. Spencer replaces Elaine Tuttle Hansen, who was Bates’ leader from 2002 through last June. She left to become executive director of The Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Talented Youth.
She will take over from an interim president who also has Davidson ties. Nancy Cable, Bates’s vice president and dean of enrollment and external affairs, was appointed last summer when Ms. Tuttle left. A former vice president and dean of admissions and financial aid at Davidson, Ms. Cable will return to her vice presidency when Ms. Spencer starts her new job July 1.
Ava Clayton Spencer, 56, was born in North Carolina and raised in an academic family, the daughter of Ava and Samuel Spencer Jr. of Davidson. Mr. Spencer was president of Davidson College from 1968 to 1983, and before that led Mary Baldwin College in Staunton, Va.
She attended North Mecklenburg High School in Huntersville and Phillips Exeter Academy in Exeter, N.H., then graduated magna cum laude and Phi Beta
Kappa from Williams College. She went on to receive several more degrees: a B.A. in theology from Oxford, a master’s degree in the study of religion from Harvard, a J.D.
degree from Yale Law School.
She has had a widely varied career since leaving Davidson and completing her education. After law school, she clerked for a federal judge, worked at a large Boston firm and then served as an assistant U.S. attorney in Boston. She then went to Washington to serve the staff of the U.S. Senate Committee on Labor and Human Resources. Later, she joined Harvard University as an administrator.
Ms. Spencer has two children — a son, Will, a 2010 graduate of New York University who works as an analyst at Goldman Sachs, and a daughter, Ava, who is a junior biology major at Harvard.
Bates hasn’t been afraid to look to Davidson for talent. Besides Ms. Spencer and Ms. Cable, the Maine college last summer lured Meg Kimmel away from the Davidson College Communications Office for a similar job there, as assistant VP for communications.
Bates.edu press release about Ms. Spencer’s appointment.