Jackie Spears: A New Path

Jackie Spears (BS in Physics 1969, MS 1972) leads Faculty Senate through what she feels will be a busy year. Jackie Spears said she took an unusual path to her current position as associate professor of secondary education at K-State, but it’s certainly helped her in another position she holds -- president of Faculty Senate.

Spears has seen nearly all sides of the education process through her previous positions -- she's worked as a high school physics teacher, taught physics to education majors, co-authored a physics textbook, worked on a team to develop a telecourse in rural sociology, taught gender courses in the K-State College of Education, directed the K-State women's studies program and served as an institutional planner for a small college in Salina -- Marymount.

"It pays off in Faculty Senate that I've worked all over," Spears said.  "My background is different and that's been helpful."

Spears took over in June as president of Faculty Senate.  She has been on senate for five years.  Spears said she feels, with the model of shared governance the university follows, that everyone has a responsibility to participate at some level.

"My time on Faculty Senate has been enjoyable," she said.  That said, Spears knows there are a lot of projects she'd like to take on during her time as president and there are also a lot of challenges that await her.

"Our primary goal continues to be salaries, benefits and tuition waivers for faculty and unclassified staff," she said.  Spears said last year Faculty Senate was able to introduce salary enhancements for some faculty members, but that it would still "remain a focus" this year.

"This is critical to enabling us to get good faculty and keep them," she said.

The second issue she plans to focus on is looking at the way teaching is evaluated across campus.  Spears said some departments only use student feedback for evaluations.  Although Spears said she feels student feedback is important, it is not the only way to indicate performance.  She said they will examine the process this year and suggest a more balanced approach.

She said they also hope to streamline some of the processes in Faculty Senate to make the most of the senators' time, and she is in talks with the president of Student Senate now to tackle the issue of plagiarism on campus.  In addition, Spears plans to have the academic affairs committee look at the issue of the general education program, which she says is currently too bureaucratic.  These are only some of the challenges she sees on the horizon.  But she also knows she will enjoy this year.


"My colleagues in Faculty Senate are great to work with, as is the central administration," Spears said.