University of Maryland Archives,
Thomas H. Spence (1867-1937), a professor of languages, served briefly as
acting president from 1912 to 1913 following Richard
Silvester's resignation. During his brief tenure, the college constructed a temporary dining hall and auditorium, and the President’s House was converted into a dormitory.
According to an account in the 1909 Reveille yearbook, Spence was born in 1867 at Landsdowne, the home of his parents, Irving and Virginia Humphreys Spence, near Snow Hill, Maryland. He received his early education at home, but graduated from Snow Hill High School in 1885. He later attended Maupin's University School in Ellicott City, Maryland, and the Johns Hopkins University before he became the principal of the Stockton Academy in Worcester County, Maryland.
Spence was elected chair of languages at the Maryland Agricultural College in 1892 and later became a member of the Board of Trustees, vice president of the college, acting registrar, and dean of the School of Liberal Arts, among other positions. He also served on a number of faculty committees, including Examinations, Schedules, Collegiate Routine, Library, Commencement, and Class Day. He also played a role in the organization of the college's first fraternity, Gamma Pi, which later became Sigma Nu. Spence became dean emeritus in 1924 but continued teaching languages and philosophy until his retirement in 1934, after 42 years of service to the university.
Thomas Spence died in 1937 and was buried in his home town of Snow Hill.