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Dale R. SpencerDale Spencer’s scholarship, teaching and public service activities focused on the advancement of the free and independent press throughout the world. Perhaps his greatest pride, however, was in the achievements of the hundreds of students he taught during nearly 40 years in the classroom and as an editor for the Columbia Missourian.

Spencer began his career in journalism as a general assignment and sports reporter at the Pocatello (Idaho) Tribune in 1940. He was 15 years old. After serving in the Navy, he came to the Missouri School of Journalism in 1946 and earned his bachelor’s degree in 1948. While a student, Spencer worked as a Linotype operator for the Missourian, the newspaper for which he would eventually serve as managing editor.

After graduating, Spencer left briefly to work for E.W. Stephens Publishing Co. in Columbia. He returned to the School in 1950 as an assistant professor and assistant managing editor of the Missourian and in 1953 became KOMU-TV’s first weatherman.

While a faculty member, Spencer went on to earn master’s and law degrees from the University of Missouri and specialized in communications and libel law, a field in which he attained national prominence. He was a prolific scholar and also active in MU faculty affairs and professional societies. He was a member of Investigative Reporters and Editors and the Federal Communications Commission Bar Association, among numerous other organizations. He served as the national vice president for the Society of Professional Journalists from 1952-54. Spencer later opened his own law practice in Columbia in 1968 while still teaching.

In 1988, the year of his death, Spencer won the McIntyre Professorship for excellence in teaching, awarded by the School of Journalism.


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