Skip to Content
MIT News magazine

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.

Keep Reading

Most Popular

Conceptual illustration showing a file folder with the China flag and various papers flying out of it
Conceptual illustration showing a file folder with the China flag and various papers flying out of it

The US crackdown on Chinese economic espionage is a mess. We have the data to show it.

The US government’s China Initiative sought to protect national security. In the most comprehensive analysis of cases to date, MIT Technology Review reveals how far it has strayed from its goals.

Image of workers inspecting solar panels at a renewable energy plant
Image of workers inspecting solar panels at a renewable energy plant

Renewables are set to soar

The world will likely witness a wind and solar boom over the next five years, as costs decline and nations raise their climate ambitions.

light and shadow on floor
light and shadow on floor

How Facebook and Google fund global misinformation

The tech giants are paying millions of dollars to the operators of clickbait pages, bankrolling the deterioration of information ecosystems around the world.

travelers walk through Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport
travelers walk through Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport

We won’t know how bad omicron is for another month

Gene sequencing gave an early alert about the latest covid variant. But we'll only know if omicron is a problem by watching it spread.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose WongIllustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at customer-service@technologyreview.com with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.