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James and Nancy Spencer

Menlo Park, CA
February 24, 2009

“We felt a serious obligation to MIT. We both got a really good education that made an immense difference in our lives,” says Jim Spencer, who along with his wife, Nancy, recently established the Nancy C. and James E. Spencer Unitrust, which will support graduate fellowships in the Department of Physics.
The unitrust is invested in the MIT endowment.

The Spencers, who both received financial assistance as MIT students, established a unitrust, Jim says, because “it made sense. It offers a tax write-off now, and the income for life is good insurance.” They invested in the endowment fund because “it’s a great way to diversify,” he says, adding that it also offers good growth potential and thus protects against inflation.

Raised in Independence, MO, Jim went to the same high school that Walt Disney and Casey Stengel had attended. At MIT, he earned a bachelor’s degree in 1964 and a PhD in 1969, both in physics. He also met Nancy, who earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics in 1964, the year they were married.

In 1969, the couple headed for Stanford University, where Jim was a postdoc in the physics department and Nancy worked at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center as a systems analyst. After six years in which they both worked at the Los Alamos National Laboratory’s Meson Physics Facility in Los Alamos, NM, Jim and Nancy returned to Stanford in 1977. For the past 30 years, they’ve worked at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center. “We were lucky–we’ve always been together, even for lunches,” Jim says.

“We know Stanford and we know MIT,” he says. “Stanford has better weather. We made the gift to the Institute to even the score in a positive way.

“Stanford treated me well, but life is a little too easy here. Looking back on how you learn, what the conditions are, the lousy weather is actually very conducive to good scholarship. We both liked MIT. It was hard but always fair.”

Donors can now establish trusts invested in the MIT endowment and benefit from its diversified investment portfolio. The income paid by such trusts has the potential to increase over time as the endowment does.

For more information, contact Judy Sager:

617-253-6463 or jsager@mit.edu.

Or visit giving.mit.edu/ways/invest-endowment.

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