Norrine Bailey Spencer, age 62, of Blacksburg died peacefully on Wednesday, Sept. 23 at her home in Blacksburg with her husband at her side.
Spencer was born March 19, 1947, in Lewistown, Pa., the daughter of the late Harry J. Bailey and the late Ruth Norrine Phenicie Bailey. She is survived by her husband of 39 years, Edward F. D. Spencer; their son Andrew, his wife Melanie; and her two beloved grandchildren Courtney and Brandon, all of Blacksburg.
She graduated with high honors from Susquehanna University, earned her master’s degree at Syracuse University and her doctorate from Virginia Tech. Her dissertation was named outstanding research of the year by the National Academic Advising Association.
Spencer worked at the University of Delaware from 1970 to 1982 and at Virginia Tech from 1983 until 2008; as associate dean of the Pamplin College of Business through 2004 and then as associate provost and director of undergraduate admissions.
“Norrine Bailey Spencer positively touched the lives of thousands -- students, faculty, and staff--throughout her Virginia Tech career,” said Virginia Tech President Charles W. Steger. “We remember her devotion to students and incredible work ethic, but mostly we remember her cheerful demeanor and sunny disposition. Her positive attitudes about everyone and everything Virginia Tech are now legendary among her colleagues. Working with Norrine was a delight and joy; we will miss her ever present smile and strong student advocacy. We send our deepest condolence to her husband and our colleague Ed Spencer and Norrine’s family.”
“Norrine was a special person who radiated positive energy and joy, said Senior Vice President and Provost Mark McNamee. “She was an inspirational leader who helped to enhance our undergraduate admissions activities in creative and successful ways.”
In reflecting upon Spencer’s more than 20 years in the Pamplin College of Business — first as an assistant dean and then as associate dean for undergraduate programs — Dean Richard E. Sorensen recalled that she once noted that she felt more comfortable being ‘Dean Spencer in 1046 Pamplin Hall’ than in any other role she had had in her professional life.
“Norrine provided extraordinary leadership to our college and was remarkable in her ability to get things done,” Sorensen said. She led the development of a freshman-sophomore advising center, a job development and career services program, and initiatives with the state community college system. She also taught hundreds of students in the Introduction to Business course.
“But Norrine was best known and loved for her enthusiasm, her energy, her friendship, and her thoughtful and caring approach to students, faculty, and staff,” said Sorensen. “There are many, many Pamplin alumni today who benefited from her teaching, guidance, and friendship.”
“The qualities of honesty and integrity in her work were always at the forefront of our working relationship,” said David Ford, vice president and dean emeritus for undergraduate education. “What Norrine brought to the undergraduate admissions program in terms of her leadership far exceeded the expectations, and that was not unusual because that is what we had come to expect from her. She was an amazing leader and friend. We will all miss her greatly.”
Her Virginia Tech service included two terms as chair of the Commission on Administrative and Professional Faculty Affairs, chair of the University Appeals Committee, and secretary of the University Athletic Committee. In 2007, she was one of six university administrators and faculty recipients of the Advancing Women Award.
In 2009 the Pamplin College of Business awarded her a Certificate of Excellence for Lifetime Achievement in Diversity. Upon her retirement in 2008, she was awarded emerita status by the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors.
A member of Blacksburg Presbyterian Church, she was on the Session and taught Sunday school. She also chaired the Cooper House Ministry Board for two years. She sang with the Blacksburg Master Chorale since 1998, served as co-president for two years, and participated in all three European tours.
She also served her alma mater as co-chair of the alumni fund and alumni member of the Board of Trustees. She was also a member of the Board of Planned Parenthood of the Blue Ridge and served as its president in 2006. From 1985 until her retirement, Spencer was a member of the Virginia Board of the American Council on Education Network for Women Leaders, serving as chair for two years. That group honored her in 2008 with a named scholarship for their Leadership Seminar Series.
A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 27 at Blacksburg Presbyterian Church. A reception will follow in the Church Fellowship Hall. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests contributions to a favorite charity or university in her memory.
The family wishes to thank Dr. Harry McCoy, Connie Pennington, and Jan Wilcke of Blue Ridge Cancer Care; Dr. Michael Aronson, and the Carilion Clinic Hospice of the New River Valley for their extraordinary medical care.