Gayle Spencer, Ph.D.




B.S., Business Administration, University of Nebraska at Omaha

M.S., College Student Personnel, Western Illinois University

Ph.D., Counseling and Student Personnel Services, Kansas State University


Dr. Gayle Spencer has served as the Director of the Illinois Leadership Center since October 2013. She also serves as an instructor in the College of Engineering teaching “Emotional Intelligence Skills” and “Leading Sustainable Change.” Previously, at Kansas State University, she served as an Associate Dean of Student Life and adjunct faculty member in the Staley School of Leadership Studies. Dr. Spencer has also worked at the University of Notre Dame (IN), and the University of Houston (TX). In all her roles, putting students first and finding ways to make sure all students are engaged in both curricular and co-curricular experiences has been her focus.

Dr. Spencer served as the Chair of the National Association for Campus Activities (NACA) Board of Directors from 2002-2003 and was a member of the Board of Directors from 1999-2004. She served on the NACA Foundation Board of Trustees from 2018-2021 and was the 1999 NACA National Convention Chair and was the Chair of the NACA Diversity Task Force. Dr. Spencer is currently representing NACA on the Council for Advancement of Standards (CAS) in Higher Education National Board of Representatives and serves on its Executive Board.

Dr. Spencer currently serves the President of the CAS and will serve a two-year term from September 2023 to August 2025. She also chaired the CAS review of the Student Leadership and Development Standards, released in 2020.

Dr. Spencer has also been actively involved in the International Leadership Association (ILA), currently serving on the Committee for the Advancement of Leadership Programs. She also was a member of the Guiding Questions: Guidelines for Leadership Education Programs Task Force, and the Sustainability Leadership Member Steering Committee, and a Committee Member for the 2021 Sustainability and Beyond: Reimagining Leadership for Just and Regenerative Global Futures Virtual Summit.

Her volunteer experience also includes working with Chi Omega Fraternity, serving as a chapter advisor for several years. She currently serves on the National Housing Corporation Team. She is also the Housing Corporation President for the Omicron Chapter of Chi Omega at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her past national committee work includes the National Committee on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and the Collegiate Engagement Team.

In her spare time, Dr. Spencer is a devoted sports fan, who enjoys watching and attending college football, basketball, baseball, and women’s volleyball events. She is also an enthusiastic Cubs and Blackhawks fan. Dr. Spencer also enjoys reading and traveling. An avid dog lover, Gayle has a chihuahua named Wrigley, who was born the night the Cubs won the world series, November 2, 2015!

Awards and Honors:

  • 2015 Founders Award from NACA
  • The 2005 Western Illinois University Alumni Achievement Award
  • The 2004 NACA East Coast Higher Education Research Scholarship
  • The 2004 American College Personnel Association (ACPA) Commission for Student Involvement Research Award

Selected Publications:

Rosch, D.M., Wilson, K.D., May, R.A., Spencer, G.L. (2023). The hidden leadership curriculum: Alumni perspectives on the leadership lessons gained through co-curricular engagement. Journal of Leadership Education 22(1), 116-130.

Rosch, D.M., Wilson, K.D., May, R.A., Spencer, G.L. (2023). Challenging the perception: Alumni observations of the value of student leadership initiatives. Journal of Leadership Education 22(1), 40-54.

Spencer, G.L., and Smedick, W (2020). CAS standards for campus activities programs: A review of the Contextual Statement and Standards. The Journal of Campus Activities Practice and Scholarship, 2(1), 18-23.

Smith, K., Rooney, G.S., and Spencer, G.L. (Eds). (2018). Leadership development for career readiness in university settings, no. 157. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Rosch, D., Spencer, G.L., and Hoag, B.L. (2017). A comprehensive multi-level model for campus-based leadership education. Journal of Leadership Education, 16(4), 124-134.

Spencer, G.L, and Peck, A. (2017). Soft Skills in Leadership Development. In. A. Peck (Ed.), Engagement and Employability: Integrating Career Learning Through Co-Curricular Experiences in Postsecondary Education. Washington, D.C.: National Association for Student Personnel Administrators


Photo of Gayle