Under the glare of spotlights in the packed Main Lounge last Monday, HBS’s spanking new student center was dedicated to C.D. (“Dick”) Spangler, Jr. (MBA ’56) and his wife, Meredith Spangler. In a warm, efficient ceremony that was mostly solemn, but sometimes comical, the heads of the faculty and student body were joined by a senior University administrator in paying tribute to the couple whose name and portrait now grace the Spangler Center.
Addressing a large crowd that included a former professor of Mr. Spangler’s, his old roommate, several fellow members of the Class of 1956 and other distinguished guests, Dean Kim Clark thanked the Spanglers for helping to make the building a reality. As the crowd focused its attention on the podium in the northeast corner of the large room, a few first-years on the opposite end stubbornly tried to tune out the commotion and concentrate on their cases before finally giving up and moving on. Unperturbed, Dean Clark cast the building as a link between the School’s Past and its Future, even as a handful of the School’s Present headed for quieter spaces. The Dean traced the connection of three generations of the Spangler family to HBS, starting in the mid-1950s, when Mr. Spangler and his father, C.D. Spangler, Sr., were one of the few father-son AMP-MBA teams ever on campus; through the late 1980s, when the Spanglers’ daughter, Anna and her husband, Tom Nelson attended HBS as members of the Class of 1988; and into the present and future, with the family’s ongoing involvement with the School. The Dean praised the “custom-designed” building, which he compared to a Swiss watch.
Dean Clark was followed by the University Provost, Harvey Fineberg. Prof. Fineberg, who along with Dean Clark is reported to be one of 30-odd names still on the shortlist for the University Presidency, praised Mr. Spangler’s commitment to the School and University. Prof. Fineberg was followed by the MBA Program Chair, Carl Kester, who remarked favorably on the Spangler Center’s speedy integration into the HBS learning model. SA Co-Presidents, Stephen Moret, OC and Mini Desai, OK, closed out the program with a seamless stand-up routine.
But it was Dick Spangler’s remarks that were the most revealing. He began by joking about the fact that most people on this campus with a building named after them are dead. The decision to name the building was made by Dean Clark, but it was Mr. Spangler who made the decisions to name the Meredith Room (after his wife) and the Williams Room (after his former professor). He remained true to form last Monday. Giving credit to everyone but himself, he spoke for only a few minutes, thanking the School, the architect, the building superintendent (by name), the construction workers, the Dean, the Chief Planning Officer, Angela Crispi, and the students, and generally displayed the kind of self-effacing humility and generosity of spirit that’s probably a big part of why this building is named after him.