Andrea Spencer of Bank Street College to Lead Pace University’s School of Education as New Dean

Theory-based educator, mobile learning innovator, entrepreneur, and special education advocate who successfully obtained more than $4 million in federal grants over a four-year period.


Contact: Cara Cea, Manager of Public Information, Pace University

Andrea Spencer of Bank Street College to Lead Pace University’s School of Education as New Dean

Theory-based educator, mobile learning innovator, entrepreneur, and special education advocate who successfully obtained more than $4 million in federal grants over a four-year period

NEW YORK, NY, June 24, 2010 – Andrea (Penny) M. Spencer, Ph.D., associate dean for Academic Affairs at Bank Street College in New York City, has been named dean of Pace University’s School of Education, effective July 1, announced Stephen J. Friedman, president of Pace University.

She succeeds Harriet R. Feldman, Ph.D., who has served as interim dean for the School of Education since 2006 and continues as dean of Pace’s Lienhard School of Nursing.

“Penny’s experience at administrative levels in a regional public education agency, as well as departmental and division levels at Bank Street College, make her an ideal match for our mission and vision,” said Pace President Stephen J. Friedman.

Since joining Bank Street College in 2004, Spencer has worked with students in their supervised fieldwork placements, taught online and traditional special education courses, and provided professional development to general education and special education teachers in elementary and middle schools in New York City.  She also collaborated within the College to develop a successful proposal that brought in more than $4 million in federal grants over a four-year period.

One reason Spencer was attracted to Pace was the University’s dedication to preparing the teachers of tomorrow through Pace High School in Chinatown, which functions as a laboratory for the University’s education school. Another was Pace’s pioneering work in the field of autism education.

A champion for students from underserved groups, Spencer has led a seven-year advocacy and research effort related to truancy and the need to hold public education accountable for the success of every child.  “My own research, having compiled more than 300 case reviews, suggests that teachers must be prepared to recognize and respond effectively and efficiently to support children struggling academically and emotionally from the very first day of school,” she said.

Verizon Thinkfinity grants awarded to a number of School of Education faculty members who support research on the use of videos and web 2.0 technologies in the classroom was another appealing aspect to Spencer. “The 21st century world of education demands the ability for educators and their students to actively seek new and innovative ways to share information,” said Spencer. “In addition to initiating creative, interactive online experiences for graduate students at Bank Street, I’ve explored technology innovation through the literature and in support of faculty transitioning to online formats.”

“Professor Spencer’s research is hands-on and her scholarship tends to question the conventional educational wisdom.  Her careful analysis of early grade attendance patterns to predict truancy and disengagement in middle school, for example, was path breaking. She suggested that early grade absenteeism responds to socioemotional support and questioned the imposition of no social promotion as a response to absenteeism and poor school performance among elementary school students. She will be a forceful voice in her new role at Pace,” said Harold O. Levy, Pace University trustee and former New York City Schools chancellor.

Additional career highlights. In 2004 Spencer was appointed chair, Department of Special Education, Bilingual & Dual Language, Infant and Family Development and Early Intervention, Child Life.  In 2006, she became associate dean for Academic Affairs. Prior to Bank Street, Spencer was director of Quality Assurance, Program Development & Student Services for the Capital Region Education Council in Hartford, Conn. (1991-2001), where she doubled the size of her division in five years from $12 million to $26 million via program and resource development.  As principal of The Institute of Living in Hartford (1985-1990), Spencer supervised inpatient and day treatment educational programs for children (K-12) with serious emotional disorders and mental illness. From 1966-1985, she was a teacher, administrator, and consultant for school districts, universities, and private not-for profit organizations in Maine, Massachusetts, and Connecticut.

Spencer earned a MED in Special Education from the University of Maine and a PhD in Special Education from the University of Connecticut.  As a founding partner of Synchrony Solutions, Williston Park, N.Y. (1996 to present), she serves as an educational consultant to the Center for Children’s Advocacy in Hartford, Conn., where a group of attorneys affiliated with the University of Connecticut Law School focus on educational needs and characteristics of elementary, middle, and high school children with learning and behavior problems with special focus on issues of truancy.

For more than 40 years, Pace University’s School of Education has prepared students to not only meet the requirements for teaching certification, but also be agents of change committed to student success and lifelong learning. Through small classes and opportunities for student teaching, School of Education graduates are ready to start making a difference in the world before they even graduate. Innovative programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels prepare classroom teachers, school specialists, and educational leaders. Our programs for classroom teachers prepare teacher candidates to work with children from grades 1 through 12.  We offer programs that prepare individuals to be curriculum leaders in the areas of special education, literacy, and technology, as well as programs that prepare educators for leadership roles in school administration and supervision.

About Pace University: For more than 100 years, Pace University has been preparing students to become leaders in their fields. A private university, Pace provides an education that combines exceptional academics with professional experience and the New York advantage. Pace has campuses in New York City and Westchester County, and enrolls almost 13,000 students in bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral programs in the Dyson College of Arts and Sciences, Lienhard School of Nursing, Lubin School of Business, School of Education, School of Law, and Seidenberg School of Computer Science and Information Systems.