Mississippi State names new director of architecture school

July 10, 2021 GMT

STARKVILLE, Miss. (AP) — A professional architect who has worked in higher education for nearly two decades is the new director of Mississippi State University’s School of Architecture.

Karen Spence began her role at the university on July 1. She is a registered architect in Maryland and Missouri and has served since 2015 as associate dean of the Hammons School of Architecture at Drury University, where she has taught since 2002.

While at Drury, she directed the general education curriculum and played a key role in developing a minor in environment and sustainability. She recently finished serving a term as president of the American Institute of Architects chapter in Springfield, Missouri.

Spence said her long-term goals include elevating national rankings and preparing for the upcoming reaccreditation and growing the program.

“Sustainability and equity are critical to me as an architect, as these values are essential to designing a better world. I know that the school has a strong foundation in these, but I would like to extend and expand them,” she said.


Spence earned her Bachelor of Architecture from the University of Arkansas, where she first learned about the Mississippi State School of Architecture through her involvement with AIA Students. Spence also holds a master’s degree from the University of Cincinnati and a Ph.D. from Texas A&M University, both in architecture.

MSU’s School of Architecture offers the state’s only professional architecture degree accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board.