Mike Spinelli doesn’t like to be the center of attention; he prefers to stay in the background, lauding the achievements of friends and colleagues and going about the business of making things happen. But a time comes when the modest man behind the scenes must be recognized for all the good he has done. So when Spinelli was honored recently for his philanthropic support of Plymouth State University, while his discomfort with the attention was obvious, he smiled graciously, put up with the “roasting,” and looked forward to the hour when he could slip back into his comfort zone.
Spinelli, who graduated from Plymouth State in 1968, received the Richard E. Collins Medal for Distinguished Philanthropy at a dinner in his honor earlier last month at the Bedford Village Inn. He is the second recipient to be so honored.
The following morning, Spinelli cut the ribbon on the new Spinelli Center for University Archives and Special Collections at Plymouth State’s Lamson Library. Spinelli is shown with Archives/Special Collections Librarian Alice Staples at the dedication.
PSU President Donald P. Wharton spoke of the time in 2001 when he asked four alumni to assist him in establishing the Plymouth State University President’s Council, whose sole purpose would be to raise funds and build permanent endowment for PSU. Spinelli was the first alumnus President Wharton called. “Early on, Mike’s generous support for our Roads Taken capital campaign and his excitement about the vision for the University seemed to be essential criteria for a fundraising volunteer,” President Wharton recalled. “His extraordinary loyalty and dedication to Plymouth State University is a fine example to us all, as is his integrity, modesty and vision.”
While his name is often associated with Spinelli Theaters, the chain of movie theatres he operates in New Hampshire, Spinelli Companies, Inc. develops other commercial and industrial properties as well. Spinelli is also a director of Spinelli Family Properties, located in Boston, Mass.
Most Spinelli Theaters, such as those on Main Street in Plymouth and Lancaster, are located in the heart of town, enhancing the downtown experience, and saving and restoring historic buildings for their
Spinelli says, “I had a great experience at Plymouth, and I’ve done well, so I feel responsible for ‘doing good’ by giving something back. Now that my daughter is attending PSU, I’m a parent as well as an alumnus … that’s twice as much motivation to give.” Spinelli has also been active with the St. Mary Academy School Board, has served on the Dover Economic Development Association and the Atlantic Trust Band, and was a cemetery trustee for the city of Dover.
The Collins Philanthropy Medal is named for Richard E. Collins of Alton, a longtime benefactor to Plymouth State University. Collins had a long and distinguished career in business and education in New Hampshire and Maine.