The following is a speech read by Principal Kathie Danielson while inducting Dr. Sandra (Whipple) Spanier into the Hoover High School Alumni Hall of Fame.  Dr. Spanier is only the 21st Hoover alum to receive the honor.

Dr. Sandra Spanier

Dr. Sandra (Whipple) Spanier (HHS ’69)

The Hoover-Meredith Learning Community Foundation is pleased to announce SANDRA WHIPPLE SPANIER as the 21st inductee into the Hoover High School Alumni Hall of Fame.

Sandra attended Hoover High School for two years – from 1967 to 1969, and graduated in its FIRST class on June 3, 1969. While at Hoover, Sandra was involved in Student Council, Inter-School Relations, Pep Club, Red Cross, Future Homemakers of America, Drama, and Golf. She was the 1969 Betty Crocker Homemaker of Tomorrow for Hoover High School, based on her score on a written knowledge and aptitude test. She graduated in the top one percent of her class and was the recipient of the Superintendent’s Award in English at the 1969 commencement ceremony.

Sandra continued her education at Iowa State University and the University of Illinois at Chicago, where in 1972 she received a Bachelor of Arts degree in English with a minor in Spanish. After teaching high school English and Spanish in Libertyville, Illinois, for one year, she taught secondary school English in State College, Pennsylvania, from 1973 to 1981. At the same time, she pursued graduate studies in English at The Pennsylvania State University, earning a Master of Arts degree in 1976 and a Ph.D. in 1981. She served on the faculty at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, Oregon State University, and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln before returning to Penn State as a professor of English.

Dr. Sandra Spanier is prominent in the field of twentieth-century American literary studies and is a leading world authority on the Nobel Prize winning author Ernest Hemingway. As General Editor of The Letters of Ernest Hemingway, she directs an international team of scholars in producing a comprehensive edition of the author’s collected letters, which number around 6,000. The series is being published by Cambridge University Press in a projected seventeen volumes. A review in the London Times Literary Supplement described the project as “an astonishing scholarly achievement.”

She wrote the first book about Kay Boyle (1902-1992), another of the American expatriate writers in Paris in the 1920s. The two became friends, and Boyle asked Spanier to edit the authorized edition of Boyle’s selected letters. Dr. Spanier has published eleven books to date, two of them translated into Spanish and Portuguese. In dozens of scholarly papers, articles, and presentations, she is responsible for new interpretations of the works of key figures in twentieth-century American literature. She is best known for her special expertise in modern literary history, discovering manuscripts, letters, and documents that were hidden treasures. Sandra’s achievements have led to her recent designation as Liberal Arts Research Professor at Penn State. Her scholarly work has been supported by competitive grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, and her Hemingway Letters Project was designated a model “We the People” project. Sandra has consulted on documentaries, feature films, and New York theatrical productions, and has given dozens of interviews for newspapers, television, and radio. Her work has been featured on the British Broadcasting Company (BBC), Public Broadcasting System (PBS), National Public Radio (NPR), and the National Broadcasting Company (NBC), among other news media outlets.

Sandra has also been deeply involved in international projects in Cuba, having made more than thirty visits there since 1995. As a member of Penn State’s Cuba Task Force, she has worked to establish educational exchange opportunities for students and faculty. As a Hemingway scholar, she has served as an adviser to an historic cooperative effort to preserve and conserve thousands of Hemingway documents remaining in his longtime Cuban home, with copies coming to the United States for use by researchers. She is a founding board member of the Finca Vigía Foundation, dedicated to the preservation of Hemingway’s legacy in Cuba, including his home itself, now a national museum. She has briefed officials in the U.S government  and has spoken in many forums about her work in Cuba. She has led Hemingway-related tours in Europe and Cuba and speaks frequently at national and international conferences.

Sandra Spanier epitomizes all that is good in the education that she obtained while at Hoover High School. She was motivated by her senior year English teacher, Mr. Jerry Wadden, to major in English in college, and she continued in that field as a high school and college teacher and as a literary scholar. Sandra is modest, always giving credit to her collaborators and students. She does not seek the limelight. She values her roots in Des Moines, where she was born and raised. Along with her husband, Graham, and their children, Brian and Hadley, she returns to Des Moines regularly to visit her mother, family, and friends. She is proud of her experience at Hoover High School and the education she received there from dedicated teachers. To this day she cherishes the lifelong friends she made while at Hoover. She is also very proud that her three younger sisters graduated from Hoover and that one of her sisters and her niece are part of the Hoover family today.

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