01 Aug 1998
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Spangler Family Gift Endows New Campus Center

by Nancy O. Perry

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C.D. ("Dick") Spangler, Jr. (MBA '56), the recently retired president of the University of North Carolina, has made a lifelong habit of answering what he terms "life's cold calls of responsibility." To a gathering of graduating HBS students on Class Day in June, Spangler quoted a passage from Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot: "Let us do something while we have the chance. It is not every day that we are needed."

Together with his wife, Meredith Riggs Spangler, and two daughters, Anna Spangler Nelson (MBA '88) and Abigail Riggs Spangler, Dick Spangler recently exercised this "chance" by making a generous gift to the School to facilitate the construction of a new MBA campus center, scheduled for completion by the summer of 2000. The gift extends long-standing, close ties between the Spangler family and HBS. Both Dick Spangler and his late father, C.D. Spangler, Sr. (28th AMP), as well as his daughter Anna and her husband, Thomas C. Nelson (MBA '88), are graduates of the School. In addition, Spangler has been deeply involved in a broad range of HBS activities and was a 1988 recipient of the Alumni Achievement Award. An HBS professorship also bears the family's name.

Announcing that the new facility will be named the Spangler Center, Dean Kim B. Clark, speaking at the Class Day ceremony, said, "Dick and Meredith have been wonderfully generous in their support of HBS over the years. They live the values and principles the School holds dear. It is an honor to have their names linked to the Harvard Business School in perpetuity through the building that will bear their name."

Speaking briefly, Spangler thanked the Dean for the opportunity to make an investment so closely tied to the quality of student life at HBS. "This building will be built on academic foundations put in place by great Harvard Business School deans and professors and by generations of outstanding students such as those here with us today," he noted. "Thank you, Dean Clark, for giving my family this chance to continue our strong ties to the School."

A Life Devoted to Family, Business, and Education

Born and raised in Charlotte, North Carolina, Dick Spangler attended Charlotte public schools and graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the first in his family to attend college. Following graduation from HBS in 1956, Spangler rose to prominence in his family's construction and real-estate firm and in banking, where, among other achievements, he led a merger of the Bank of North Carolina with the North Carolina National Bank Corporation - now NationsBank - in the early 1980s.

With the enrollment of his two daughters in Charlotte's elementary schools in the early 1970s, Spangler embarked on an ancillary career of public service in education at the local, county, and state level. He was chairman of the state's Board of Education in 1986 when the University of North Carolina named him its fourteenth president, a position he held until his retirement last November. Known as a persistent advocate of affordable higher education for all, Spangler often spoke of the university in familial terms, emphasizing that "no member of the university family should feel deprived of needed resources."

Indeed, in the Spangler household, family, education, and charitable activities have been prominent, coexistent themes for many years. In addition to her official duties as spouse of the UNC president, for example, Meredith Spangler served as a trustee at several institutions of higher learning, including her alma mater Wellesley College (where she continues as a trustee). Along with their parents, Anna and Abigail (also Wellesley graduates) serve as the board of directors for the C.D. Spangler Foundation, a charitable organization founded by their grandfather that supports ventures in education and the arts.

At the Class Day gathering, members of the Spangler family expressed their strong devotion to HBS and its values. "To me, the Harvard Business School has been a humane, sensitive, and creative place for our family," Meredith Spangler said, pointing to the School's talented faculty, its outstanding student body, the beauty of the campus, and the spirit of reunion gatherings. Noted her daughter Anna, "I'm deeply grateful for the discussions, problem-solving skills, and enthusiasm I encountered here."

With regard to her father, Anna added, "I don't think it's possible for a person to have more respect for an institution than my father has for Harvard Business School. Our family's gift is a sincere expression of this respect and of our gratitude."

The Spangler Center

Groundbreaking for the Spangler Center, which is being designed by Robert A.M. Stern Architects, will take place next winter. Current plans, which have been developed with input from a special student advisory committee, call for a building that will serve both academic and practical functions. Sited across the lawn behind Aldrich Hall (see rendering), the new structure will extend into a small portion of the parking lot. It will have three floors, with one level below ground, similar to Aldrich.

"One of our goals is to have symmetry in the new quad we're creating with this building," explains Angela Quinn Crispi (MBA '90), HBS assistant dean and chief planning officer. "Not only will the Spangler Center be similar in size to Aldrich, but it will follow a design that is in keeping with the Georgian style of architecture that we see on much of the campus."

The building will provide a central location for a variety of functions now spread throughout the campus and create additional meeting and dining space for the MBA Program. The Spangler Center will house a large dining hall, freeing Kresge Hall's facilities for other uses; a large, comfortable lounge area; a business center with telephones and fax machines; two multipurpose rooms for receptions; a grill/pub area; a 350-person auditorium; administrative offices for the MBA Program; and retail locations, including a post office, the Coop, a travel center, and automated bank-teller machines.

The top floor of the building will house over twenty "project rooms," sized for meetings of up to ten people and equipped with technology and media service amenities. "As with the auditorium," notes Crispi, "these rooms will be an integral part of the Spangler Center's academic function. The social and academic elements of the building are solidly intertwined.

"We are creating a dynamic new area of the campus," Crispi adds. "Students will finish classes in Aldrich and with a short walk be able to get something to eat, go to the post office, or hold an informal meeting with classmates. It will be a gathering place for the entire community, including returning alumni who will now have new spaces for reunion activities."

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