Special Education

Remembering Dr. Sally Spencer

August 15, 2019

Sally Spencer with colleagues

The CSUN community and Michael D. Eisner College of Education honors the loss of our esteemed colleague and friend, Dr. Sally Spencer.

Dr. Spencer was passionate about teacher preparation, especially the area of reading acquisition among older and struggling students.  Known as an expert in teaching students with learning disabilities, she authored and co-authored several books, created new and innovative programs for students in Special Education K-12 settings and at the University, lectured nationally and internationally, and received numerous awards and grants. 

Sally Spencer presenting

Most recently, she also served as the Founder and Director of SIMPACT Immersive Learning, a mixed-reality simulation system that provides a highly realistic virtual platform for practice in social work, counseling, teaching, nursing, and many other fields. Under Sally’s leadership, countless CSUN students had the opportunity to practice critical professional skills in a realistic, collaborative, and safe learning space. In 2018, she was awarded the California State University Faculty and Innovation Award for her pioneering work establishing the SIMPACT Immersive Learning Service at CSUN.

While her career was rich with professional honors and accolades, Sally remained particularly proud of the connections she maintained with many of her former students and their families, always willing and honored to serve as an advocate or advisor when needed. 

Sally Spencer with Chancellor White

When not serving the CSUN community, Sally volunteered countless hours as an animal advocate, working tirelessly to “Save them All” in partnership with Best Friends Animal Society in both Mission Hills, California and Kanab, Utah, where she planned to enjoy her future retirement.  She found great joy in her assortment of adopted animals, including Hobbes, a Macaw, and her most recent dogs, Cherry, Ryder and Hannah, and cats, MistyMay and Bat Girl.

Sally Spencer with her dog

Sally is remembered for her endless dedication to her students, her passion for animal welfare, and her gracious and giving spirit.  Sally leaves a legacy of joy, engagement in instruction, and innovation in educational practices.  Her energy and positivity, combined with her true dedication to making the world a better place for people and animals, were unsurpassed. She will be long remembered as a beloved wife, sister, aunt, friend, colleague, professor, and mentor.  She is survived by her husband of 29 years, Layne; her sisters, Beth and Ginny; and her niece, Tillie.

To commemorate her commitment to teacher preparation, her family has established the Dr. Sally Spencer Memorial Scholarship Endowment.  Awards will be given to financially disadvantaged students pursuing teaching credentials in the field of Special Education. Gifts can be made through the CSUN Foundation’s giving website at www.givenow.csun.edu.  Please indicate your gift designation to the “Sally Spencer Memorial Scholarship Endowment.”