“If President Spence had a second title it would be simply ‘Mr. Evangel University,’” said Dr. Carol Taylor, as she introduced the man who preceded her as president of Evangel.
“While he had 20 years of pastoral experience before becoming Evangel’s third president — his life’s service has been investing in the lives of four decades of students,” she said.
Retired Evangel President Dr. Robert H. Spence led a group of four educators who were honored at the 57th General Council meetings of the Assemblies of God held recently in Anaheim, Calif.
All four honorees are connected to Evangel, the national university of arts, sciences and professions of the Assemblies of God, or the AG Theological Seminary, located in Springfield, Mo.
The awards recognized each for their contributions to Christian higher education, and they were presented during a sold-out luncheon on Wednesday, Aug. 9, 2017. The event was sponsored by the Alliance for AG Higher Education.
Dr. Robert H. Spence was named Distinguished Administrator for his 40 years of leadership as president of Evangel University and in the Springfield community. He retired from Evangel in April of 2014.
During Spence’s tenure at Evangel, the institution doubled enrollment, gained university status, completed 12 major building projects and expanded its academic offerings to include more than 65 undergraduate degree programs and twelve master’s programs. He guided the transformation from a college campus of mostly WWII-era barracks, to a state-of-the-art University.
In addition to service to Evangel, Spence is highly regarded for his outstanding leadership and many contributions to his community, including serving as chairman for the boards of the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce, City Utilities and Springfield-Branson National Airport. He also served as president of the board of directors for CoxHealth.
In 2004, he was presented the Springfieldian Award, by the Chamber of Commerce, as well as the Missourian Award, which acknowledges the most accomplished and recognized citizens of the state of Missouri. In 2012, Spence received the Springfield Business Journal’s Lifetime Achievement in Business Award, recognizing his influence and many contributions within the economic and civic arenas of Springfield.
Spence and his wife, Anne, have been married 61 years — they have three sons, all of whom married Evangel alumni, and nine grandchildren.
At the same luncheon, three exceptional professors were named Distinguished Educators.
Dr. Malcolm R. Brubaker is a 1972 history graduate of Evangel and a former faculty member for the AG Theological Seminary at Evangel. He is a professor emeritus at University of Valley Forge in Pennsylvania, having taught there for 33 years. He retired from UVF in 2016, but continues to teach as an adjunct professor there, as well as at a Bible institute in Reading, and at his home church, Grace Assembly in Spring City.
Brubaker is a highly respected author and scholar, and has contributed to numerous books and publications, including 55 articles for the Complete Biblical Library Hebrew word studies. His academic career includes advanced degrees earned from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Westminster Theological Seminary and Regent University.
Brubaker and his wife, Cathy (Larrison ’72), have been married 45 years; they have four children and nine grandchildren. Malcolm added with a smile, “Cathy recently retired as the administrative assistant to the ‘George Wood’ of the American Baptist Association — their general secretary.”
Dr. W.E. “Wave” Nunnally is a professor of theology at Evangel and AGTS; he is also the director of Evangel’s Israel/Jordan/Egypt Study Trip Program. Earlier in his career, he taught at Central Bible College. In 2015, he was the recipient of Evangel’s top honor for faculty — the E.M. and Estella Clark Award for Excellence in Teaching, Scholarship and Service.
Dr. Nunnally has an academic specialty in Early Judaism and Christian Origins, and he is highly regarded as an expert in non-biblical Dead Sea Scrolls.
A prolific author, Nunnally has scores of published articles and contributions to textbooks. He holds advanced degrees from Mississippi College, Jerusalem University, Reformed Theological Seminary and a Ph.D. from Hebrew Union College, a Jewish rabbinical school. He has lived, studied and taught in Israel since 1982.
“What distinguishes Wave is his dual passion for scholarship and the study of God’s Word, and pouring that into both undergraduate and graduate students,” said President Taylor. “Students and pastors and church leaders who travel with Wave to Israel never see the Bible in the same way.”
Nunnally has been married to Lacey for 39 years, and together they have two adult children and two grandchildren. She is the director of the Social Work Program at Evangel.
Dr. Adonna Otwell is a tenured professor at Southwestern AG University. She has taught at SAGU for 40 years, served nine years as chair of the division of arts and sciences, and is currently chair of the general education program. She teaches Bible and physical education classes and has received multiple Distinguished Faculty Awards.
Dr. Otwell’s connections to Evangel include taking post-doctoral classes through AGTS. Her academic degrees were earned from University of Texas–Arlington, Tarleton State University and East Texas State University.
She is an ordained minister in the North Texas District and is a sought-after speaker at churches, retreats and camps. She has served in several leadership positions within the district, including as a General Presbyter.
The Distinguished Educator Awards were presented by Dr. John Davidson, director of the AG Alliance, and Dr. George O. Wood, general superintendent.