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K-State Today

October 29, 2012

K-State Olathe appoints Spears as interim associate dean to move programs, research forward

Submitted by Communications and Marketing

A longtime Kansas State University education professor has been named interim associate dean for academic and research programs at Kansas State University Olathe. Jacqueline Spears, who was appointed to the post by Dan Richardson, K-State Olathe CEO, will begin her new duties Nov. 5.

Spears, professor of curriculum and instruction and director of the Center for Science Education in the College of Education, will work with the K-State Olathe team to implement the strategic goals identified by the K-State 2025 planning process. Specific responsibilities will include planning, promoting, and administering academic programs, with priority on the five initial graduate degree programs announced earlier this year. She also will develop and implement proposed programs, implement and managing all credit and noncredit educational programs, and provide leadership for the coordinated process of hiring faculty.

"We are very fortunate and pleased to have Dr. Spears join our enthusiastic team at K-State Olathe," Richardson said. "Her skills and experience in higher education, as well as her proven capability to promote collaboration, will help guide this campus to greater success as our academic and research programs continue to expand and make a bigger footprint in the greater Kansas City area."

Spears will transition into a 50 percent position in her role at Kansas State University's Manhattan campus as she takes on a 50 percent role at the Olathe campus.

"I'm very excited by the opportunity to integrate my experience in higher education with ongoing efforts to explore ways by which a land-grant university links its resources more effectively to contemporary needs," Spears said. "Distinctions between rural and urban are fading as we find ourselves drawn increasingly into a global economy. K-State Olathe offers faculty members with what I see as truly remarkable opportunities to explore new ways of linking their expertise and research to both locally specific and global needs."

Spears began her career as a high school physics teacher before moving into higher education. She has co-authored two college-level textbooks and has worked extensively in contextual issues in education, directing projects supported by the Ford Foundation on multicultural education in rural schools, rural literacy projects supported by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, and gender issues in science teaching supported by the National Science Foundation.

Her current research interests include increasing the participation of individuals from underrepresented populations in STEM fields -- science, technology, engineering and mathematics -- and developing strategies to integrate contemporary STEM research into high school science classrooms. Spears and collaborators currently work on projects funded by the National Science Foundation: two GK-12 projects, a research project focused on student math placement in moving from high school to postsecondary education, and projects linking climate change research with K-12 education. She also works on a Kansas Board of Regents STEM teacher development initiative.

Kansas State University Olathe advances the mission of Kansas State University by integrating education, research and entrepreneurship, focused on animal health, food safety and security, to meet the needs of a rapidly changing world.