A lifetime of giving back continues with estate gift

An endowed bursary will support Acadia students who will one day teach


F. Pauline Spence ('49)

Before her death, long-time educator Pauline Spence of Liverpool, Nova Scotia made provisions in her will to keep her love of teaching alive. She established the F. Pauline and W. Merle Spence Memorial Bursary as an estate gift to support students in the School of Education at Acadia University.

“I am continuously impressed by the lifelong dedication of teachers to their profession and by their desire to support the next generation of educators,” says Heather Hemming, Vice-President, Academic at Acadia. “It is an honour to remember Pauline Spence and her husband Merle by establishing this bursary for students in Acadia’s School of Education.”

The endowed fund of over $1 million is a lasting tribute named for Pauline Spence who died in February 2016, and her late husband, Merle, an engineer, who predeceased her in 1986. The couple, who met at Acadia, dedicated their lives to serving their community. Her estate plan was designed to benefit numerous organizations that touched the couple’s lives, with the estate residual designated to support future educators.

“She always loved teaching,” says Peter Phipps, who served as Spence’s financial advisor and helped her design her estate. “She knew that supporting students who will one day teach would be a meaningful gift with never-ending impact.”

Born in Somerville, Massachusetts and raised in Newport Station, Nova Scotia, Spence graduated from Acadia University in 1949 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Home Economics. She embarked on a teaching career that took her from the Annapolis Valley to Halifax and finally to Liverpool. During her 27-year career, she was a classroom teacher, teacher supervisor, and a school administrator.

“Pauline’s commitment to her students and her colleagues was unwavering,” recalls Phipps. “She was kind and sensitive, but she had a way of challenging people to do their best.”

During her teaching career and in retirement, Spence always found a way to contribute to her community. She taught Sunday school, adjudicated music competitions, and worked tirelessly for the IODE, holding executive positions locally and nationally. In 1995, she was awarded the organization’s Life Membership.

“She was a giver, and her thoughtfulness and generosity to others will continue long after her passing,” says Phipps. “Since education was most important in her life, the F. Pauline Spence and W. Merle Spence Memorial Bursary at Acadia University will assist students with financial need who pursue an education degree.”

He adds that Spence was a progressive thinker and a humble person. “She understood what it meant to pay it forward,” he says. “She wanted her wealth to become an instrument for something better and lasting.”

The memorial bursary will be awarded annually to deserving students entering or returning to Acadia to complete a Bachelor of Education degree. Along with financial need, the recipients must demonstrate qualities of leadership and/or have added to the quality of life of others through campus or community activities. Preference will be given to students from Nova Scotia. In 2017, five students will receive the award.

Nancy Handrigan, Executive Director of Philanthropy at Acadia, explains that an estate gift, or bequest, is a meaningful way to help sustain and strengthen Acadia University for years to come.

“While it costs almost nothing at the time to create a bequest or planned gift, it provides the donor with the satisfaction of knowing their estate plan will make an impact in the future in an area that matters most to them,” says Handrigan. 

“Pauline led a meaningful life that revolved around teaching,” she says. “This gift to Acadia students will make an enduring difference to those who receive it and to the children who will one day learn from them. Acadia is forever grateful.”

To apply for the bursary

Visit the BEd Scholarship and Bursary information website.

About Acadia’s School of Education

Acadia’s full-time Bachelor of Education program allows students to learn in a small, supportive, and challenging classroom environment. The program is offered in a traditional two-year format and a 16-month consecutive format for those wishing to complete their studies earlier. Students apply their learning with up to 20 weeks of supervised field experience, including opportunities for local and international field placements in their second year. 

About Acadia University

Acadia University, founded in 1838, has long been recognized as one of Canada’s premier post-secondary institutions. With its national and international reputation for excellence in undergraduate teaching and research, small classes, and a technology-rich teaching and learning environment, Acadia provides students with an experience that fosters academic achievement combined with personal growth and development. It is because of this unique approach that Acadia has been recognized year after year with top-level rankings in both Maclean’s magazine and The Globe and Mail University Report Card.

To make a gift to Acadia University

Visit giving.acadiau.ca, contact advancement@acadiau.ca, or call (902) 585-1459.

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