The Adams State University 2023 Fall Commencement Ceremony begins at 10 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 16, in Plachy Hall. Alumna Patricia “Patsy” Spier ’91, is the commencement speaker.

As the graduating class of 2023 enters the next phase of their live, Spier will encourage them to trust their instincts. “When making life decisions, listen to your instincts and follow through.”

Spier will share her life experiences to illustrate the importance of not letting disappointment, or tragedy, cause the graduates to give up on their dreams. “Ask questions and listen to what people have to say, when you need help.”

Patsy Spier and student recipients of the Rick Spier Memorial Scholarship
Patsy Spier and Kade Hankins & Abigail Kemper, recipients of the Rick Spier Memorial Scholarship.

Spier received her master’s in education at Adams State in order to teach internationally. She and her late husband, Rick Spier ’88 ’91, loved being teachers. In 2002, Rick and three others were killed and 11 others injured, including Patsy, by terrorists in West Papua, Indonesia, during the Timika Ambush.

After recovering from her injuries, Spier took her skills to Washington, D.C. and for the next four years traveled back and forth from Denver to DC, to advocate for justice in the Timika Case. She worked extensively with congressional offices, including Senate Foreign Relations and Appropriations Committees; House Appropriations and Foreign Affairs Committees; and the Colorado Delegation to facilitate the passage of HR 2673 in the 2004 Consolidation Appropriations Bill, which withheld International Military Education and Training funds to the Indonesian Military until the US Secretary of State determined the Indonesian authorities cooperated with the FBI, in the Timika investigation. During this same time period Spier also assisted the Office of Victim Assistance to develop training videos for FBI Special Agents in making effective connections with victims; served as a media spokesperson; worked directly with offices including the FBI Director, Attorney General, Deputy Secretary of State, Deputy Secretary of Defense, and with the Indonesian Government.

Spier’s advocacy worked and many of the gunmen were captured and stood trial in Jakarta, Indonesia. Spier testified and attended the full trial. “Everyone has a voice and can make a positive impact in this world.”

From 2008 until retiring in 2016, Spier was a Victim Outreach Specialist, with the US Department of Justice (top secret clearance). She assisted US citizen victims of international terrorism, when their cases were tried overseas; provided training within the department to prosecutors, investigators, and victim advocate staff; provided outreach to foreign officials on the needs and concerns of victims of international terrorism; and was a presenter for United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.

Spier earned a Master of Arts in 2007 from the University of Denver; a Master of Arts in 1991 from Adams State; and a Bachelor of Arts in 1979 from the University of Northern Colorado; and she currently has a valid Colorado Teaching License.

During the fall undergraduate commencement ceremony, Adams State will award 266 undergraduate degrees including 136 associates; 53 Bachelor of Arts; 42 Bachelor of Science; and 35 Master of Arts. Duane Bussey will deliver a greeting from the Board of Trustees. William Lipke, D.M.A. professor of music, will accompany James Lind, D.M.A., on Grand Overture No. 1, for the special music.

For those unable to attend in person, the event will be livestreamed.