Tom Spencer

Tom Spencer
Academic Adviser
160A Burrowes Building

Professional Bio

Favorite Quote: "I’m a pessimist because of intelligence, but an optimist because of will.” -Antoni Gramsci, 1929
What this says to me is that the more we learn about the world, the easier it can be to feel overwhelmed and cynical. A feeling of “what’s the point in trying?” may creep in.

Although research shows that pessimists may see the world more accurately, optimists get more work done. Cultivating, maintaining, and renewing this optimism can take work, but is an essential life task.

Favorite College Memory: Anytime I had the chance to learn more about what we had studied in the classroom in a real world context. This includes ecology and geology lessons in the Olympic Rain Forest (Washington), learning about surrealist art in France and seeing the Palais Ideal (Hauterives, France), and more vividly seeing the intersections of history, (global) politics, race, class, and social change when working as a study abroad assistant in Cape Town, South Africa.

Favorite Campus Location: The duck pond area around the Hintz Family Alumni Center. It's a tranquil place to relax in the middle of a busy campus.

Favorite Color: Blue

Favorite Berkey Creamery Flavor: Russ "Digs" Roseberry

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Penn State researchers seeking to understand the reasons behind people’s attitudes towards wildlife and their decisions to support saving endangered species were recently awarded a Commonwealth Campuses Research Collaboration Development Program Award to address lack of research in this area, by developing an interactive game.

Penn State’s Jason Laine, associate teaching professor, College of Liberal Arts, has been recognized for his excellence in education abroad curriculum design by the Forum on Education Abroad. Laine received this award for his undergraduate course, “Italian Language and Culture for Embedded Experiences Abroad,” which uses a co-requisite model with an upper-level Biology course, giving opportunities for STEM students to engage with language and humanities students to engage with the sciences.

During his time at Penn State, fourth-year Schreyer Scholar Juntae Rocker has dedicated himself to serving underrepresented students and strengthening their communities across the University. In recognition of those efforts, along with his academic achievements, Rocker has been awarded the 2023 Neil C. Patel Memorial Changemaker Honors Scholarship.

Over spring break, more than 100 students had the opportunity to travel to Prato, Italy, for seven days as part of the Multilingual and Intercultural Communication embedded program in the College of the Liberal Arts.

In her time at Penn State, Jordynn Cheatle has sought out experiences that have shown her the value of having difficult conversations and how to have them well.

Student startup Bindr, a dating app that provides a safe space online for bisexual individuals, won $15,000, the largest prize amount, in the 2023 Invent Penn State Inc.U Competition. The competition, part of Penn State Startup Week powered by PNC, saw six Penn State student teams pitch their startups to a panel of judges and compete for up to $30,000 in funding.

In celebration of Women’s History Month, Penn State University Libraries will host a virtual, month-long, Wikipedia editathon focusing on Native American women activists and environmentalists, from March 27 through April 18.

U.S. college students’ knowledge of bees focuses primarily on honey bees and pollination services, according to Penn State researchers, who said findings from their recent study could help in designing campaigns to generate support for protecting threatened pollinators.

Celeste Good, who graduated with a degree in women’s studies in the College of the Liberal Arts, is the recipient of the 2023 Jackson Lethbridge Tolerance Award. The award recognizes a junior, senior or graduate student for outstanding efforts to enhance the understanding of diverse cultures and create a community where all individuals are accepted and valued equally. 

Max Dean, a senior majoring in economics in the College of the Liberal Arts, and Ally Schlegel, who graduated in 2022 with a bachelor’s degree in corporate innovation and entrepreneurship from the Smeal College of Business, have been selected as the 2023 recipients of the Ernest B. McCoy Memorial Award. The Ernest B. McCoy Memorial Award annually recognizes a senior man and woman who have successful athletic participation with academic excellence.