Because of the behind-the-scenes nature of his work, few people may realize the impact Sam Spooner has on almost every aspect of ASU campus life.
A native of Cleveland, Ohio, Spooner spent 21 years in the U.S. Air Force, six more as civilian head of safety at nearby Goodfellow AFB, and two years at the local Ethicon plant before joining ASU in 2017 as director of risk and emergency management.
“I thought ASU would be a positive environment, and that has proved to be true,” Spooner said. “When they say, ‘Ram Family,’ it really is a Ram Family here. Our environment is different from the government or corporate worlds in that everyone has the same mission and focus. We’re all pulling together for the same cause – what’s best for our students.”
As head of ASU’s Office of Environmental Health, Safety and Risk Management, Spooner oversees everything from pollution prevention and recycling efforts to laboratory, construction and day-to-day safety issues to all the university’s insurance and claims. But what is perhaps his most notable achievement is also his most visible one – spearheading ASU’s efforts to prepare for, defend against and recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It was intense and it was a marathon,” Spooner said. “It was also a complete team effort. We put together teams to figure out what type of equipment we needed for both safety and conducting classes, how we were going to do the wellness screenings, quarantining and isolating, how we were going to support families, and when and how we were going to come back to campus. We also still had to conduct the normal business of this office.”
“When they say, ‘Ram Family,’ it really is a Ram Family here.”
Moving forward, Spooner said he also keeps a close eye on current events, like the increase in active shooter incidents across the country, so he can help ensure the campus is prepared for any type of emergency.
For his tireless commitment to the health and safety of the Ram Family, the ASU Alumni Association has named Spooner its 2022 Outstanding Staff.
“It’s awesome, and I’m kind of taken aback because I never expected anything like this,” he said. “I was floored when I found out, and it feels really good. Our office’s work is usually behind the scenes, so this is really neat.”
Spooner has also served as an adjunct instructor in curriculum and instruction. He is married to Tammy and has two adult kids, Emmett (ASU Class of 2018) and Emily.