UTA Magazine
First lady to be fully engaged on campus and beyond
Sally Spaniolo plans to immerse herself in all things UTA

Sally Spaniolo plans to take an active role in university life as she builds relationships with alumni and the Arlington community. Sally Spaniolo smiles when she recalls the day she met the man destined to be her husband.

Sally Spaniolo
Sally Spaniolo plans to take an active role in university life as she builds relationships with alumni and the Arlington community.

They were undergraduates at Michigan State University. She was president of the Panhellenic Council; he was campus editor of the student daily. And she had a request.

"I thought the council needed a little more coverage [in the newspaper]," she said, and she told him so. She didn't get the answer she wanted. "He told me he thought the paper's coverage of the Greek system was 'just fine.' "

Their paths continued to cross. She was majoring in history and minoring in political science, his major, so they were in a few classes together. She would often notice him slip into class, carrying a briefcase and sometimes holding a pipe.

But it wasn't until after they graduated and both began working at the Governor's Commission on Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice that they became friends.

"I was told when I started working there in the summer of 1969 that Jim, who had already been working for the commission, would rejoin its staff in the fall when he got out of the Army." He did and they began dating shortly thereafter. They became engaged on Valentine's Day 1970 and married that August.

The Spaniolos have a son, Jamie, who is a client manager for CreateHope, a firm that helps corporations facilitate employee support for philanthropic projects, and a daughter, Sarah, who recently joined the Discovery Channel as a production assistant. Jamie graduated from Furman University in 2000 and Sarah from MSU in 2003.

The third of four daughters, Sally was born in Washington, D.C.--her father was an economist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture--and raised in Alexandria, Va. An avid historian, she holds a master's degree in history from MSU.

She left the governor's commission to become associate director for student affairs at Lyman Briggs College, a residential college at Michigan State with a focus on natural science. While her husband was in law school at The University of Michigan, she worked in the Office of Career Planning and Placement and in the Personnel Office as a compensation analyst and staff and union relations representative. From 1998 until March, when she became UTA's first lady, she was an academic adviser, recruiter and coordinator of special programs for the MSU Honors College.

 She isn't sure yet what her role will be at UTA.She does know she will be "fully engaged in the campus community as well as focusing on outreach to the alumni and Arlington community."

Partnerships with the community are important, she says, noting the strong ties between the city and UTA. "They are supportive of one another, and that's a real positive."

She first toured the campus last fall and liked what she saw. "One of the things that really impressed me was how beautiful and practical the campus is," she said, citing the walkways between buildings and the overpasses. "I love the layout and the architecture. It is very pleasing. The buildings blend together so well."

She also points to the accessibility of UTA buildings for people with disabilities. "This was something I hadn't seen before on other campuses."

But what impressed her most was the interaction among UTA students with each other and their faculty. "There is such an overall feeling of welcome and openness here. And the friendliness was a factor in our thinking that this was a place we would like to be."

She and her husband like the fine arts, sporting events and other campus programs. "What we really enjoy about university communities is that they offer a wealth of opportunities--good and affordable theater, concerts, lectures and athletic events. We want to take part in as many of those as possible," she said.

"When I was a student, I kept saying that if I just didn't have all the demands of being a student, I would have the opportunity to attend many more events. It's difficult because you could be doing something all the time, but that's what's so exciting about the university community."

Her calendar is quickly filling up with those events, and Sally Spaniolo is eager to find her niche.

— Donna Darovich

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