Patricia Spencer

Patricia Spencer

Assistant Professor/ Faculty Director for Service Learning, Department of Writing
Faculty, School of Humanities and Sciences

Specialty:Professional Writing and Proposal/Grant Writing
Phone:(607) 274-3770
Office:344 Egbert Hall
Ithaca, NY 14850

My home town of Wellsboro--a mere two hours southwest of Ithaca--is the “gateway to the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon” and the Pine Creek Rail Trail, voted by USA Today as one of the "10 great places to take a bike tour." I canoed and rafted Pine Creek and hiked the trails around the canyon for most of my pre-teen years, before I longed for a bit more pavement. Since I remained within its borders for my undergraduate and graduate programs in education, at the University of Pittsburgh, Penn State, and Mansfield University, I’m a Pennsylvanian. However, Ithaca and New York state has been my home for twenty-five years, and my extended family has almost forgiven me for migrating north.

After teaching writing and working with students with disabilities at IC from 1988-1994, and with the blessing of my colleagues, I hill-hopped to Cornell to test administrative waters. While there, I directed an Instructional and Undergraduate Research Support unit in the College of Engineering, where I earned my title as “Queen of Grants,” since 80% of my unit’s funding came from outside sources—alumni donors, foundations, corporate, and government sponsors. We created peer-facilitated academic excellence workshops for 1,200 undergraduate students, prepared graduate students as teaching assistants, and conducted undergraduate research in diverse fields, including robotics, biomechanics, nanofabrication, and hybrid vehicle design.

After five years at a research university, and motivated by my desire to return to the classroom full-time, I returned to Ithaca College in 2001 to support the Professional Writing concentration in our department and to pilot an undergraduate course in Grant Writing, but with a service-learning twist—live proposals and real community partners. That was twelve years ago, and as I say to my students each semester: “I will stay in the classroom, as long as you keep inviting me back.” When I’m not writing proposals or seeking funding sources for “strategic acts of kindness,” I enjoy other forms of “development”--exercise, excursions, and Ella Fitzgerald; dark comedy, dark chocolate, and eclectic design. As I’ve discovered, life, learning, and writing should incorporate all your passions.

"It is always a writer's duty to make the world better."     -Samuel Johnson


  • professional and grant writing
  • experiential learning and civic engagement course design
  • peer-based learning and cooperative teams
  • technology in the classroom and courseware sites
  • accommodating students with special needs


  • M.E.D., Education, Mansfield University, 1988
  • B.S. Education, Pennsylvania State University, 1983


To support academic excellence in higher education as an innovator in community-based learning

Statement of Qualifications

Twenty-seven years in higher education—from the classroom to administrative units. Twenty-three years of successful college/university‑level teaching experience in Writing and Education at undergraduate and graduate level with over 2,600 students, including ten years of service-learning curriculum development, delivery, and promotion at local, regional and national levels; sixteen years in higher education administration, including four foundational years as Director of Instructional & Research Support at a research university where funding was secured to expand services and increase student participation ($400,000 annual budget), six years as Coordinator of Academic Support for Students with Disabilities and two years of consulting experience in Institutional Advancement at a comprehensive college, and four years of adult education administrative experience at an undergraduate teaching college. Extensive fund development, marketing and promotion experience as an instructor and administrator.

Honors & Recognitions

  • Ithaca Times cover story on my Proposal and Grant Writing course, May 2011, Ithaca, NY
  • Oracle Society Faculty Inductee, Fall 2008, Ithaca College, Ithaca, NY. Founded in 1928, this interdisciplinary first-year honor society consists of students in top ten percent of each school or discipline. Faculty inductees are recommended by students.
  • December 2006 Graduation Keynote Speaker, Finding the Questions, Ithaca College, Ithaca, NY. Selected by graduating seniors as keynote. Full remarks available at:
  • Recognized by Robert Egger, author of Begging for Change: The Dollars and Sense of Making Nonprofits Responsive, Efficient, and Rewarding for All and member of the Nonprofit Times Top 50 Power and Influence 2009 list, as delivering “one of the best service-learning courses” he has observed, during his Fall 2009 presentation to Tompkins County nonprofit administrators. See his blog entry from Monday, February 5th, 2007, Funk and Waffles, for his initial opinion about the coursework:

Selected Scholarship

  • Northeast Consortium on Community-Based Learning, sponsored by The Teagle Foundation, Nashville, TN, January 13-15, 2010. Invitation from Niagara University to join Northeast network of colleges and universities; selected as lead faculty member from Ithaca College to participate in workshop.
  • Theirs, Mine and Ours: Meeting Collective Objectives through Comprehensive Assessment. Member of coordinating committee, Spring 2009 Faculty Development Conference, Ithaca College, Ithaca, NY, May 2008.
  • Institute on Faculty Learning Communities, Pomona College, CA, June 18-22, 2008. Asked to participate in institute with four other IC faculty; received certificate of completion.
  • Evolution of an Undergraduate Service-learning Course in Grant Writing: Lessons Learned. Selected as Scholarship of Teaching presenter at Spring 2008 Faculty Development Conference, Ithaca College, Ithaca, NY, May 2008.
  • Spencer, Patricia B. "Are You Being Productive?” IC (Point of) View 1 (Spring 2008) Excerpt from December 2006 remarks to Ithaca College graduates published in special issue of Ithaca College alumni magazine, IC View. Full remarks available at:
  • Keynote Speaker, Access to College Education (ACE) Regional Conference: Make it Worth Writing About. Lansing High School, Lansing, NY, October 13, 2007. Used the story arc to discuss benefits of a college education with 150 first-generation college students and their parents.
  • Presenter, H&S Panel for Promotion of Experiential Learning Coursework--specifically service-learning models. Ithaca College, October, 2007.
  • Technology in the Service of Collaborative Learning. International Improving University Teaching (IUT) Conferenence, Duquesne University, Pittsburgh, PA, July 2005.
  • Advanced Writing Students: Collaborating and Mentoring through Technology. Technology in the Humanities Conference, Ithaca College, Ithaca, NY, May 2004.
  • From the Classroom to the Community: Practice and Action in Writing. Association of American Colleges and Universities. Practicing Liberal Education Conference, virtual presentation highlighted on conference website, January 2004.
  • Workshop presenter, Follow My Lead: How Your Temperament Impacts Your Leadership. Ithaca College Center for Student Leadership & Involvement. Women in Leadership Conference, Spring 2003, Audience: Ithaca College undergraduates; Summer High School Program, July 2003, Audience: Ithaca College High School Program attendees
  • Hollar, Kathryn, Virleen Carlson, Patricia B. Spencer. “1+1=3: Unanticipated Benefits of a Co-facilitation Model for Training Teaching Assistants.” The Journal of Graduate Teaching Assistant Development 7.3 (2000): 173-182.































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































School of Humanities and Sciences  ·  201 Muller Center  ·  Ithaca College  ·  Ithaca, NY 14850  ·  (607) 274-3102  ·  Full Directory Listing