Interim Dean and CEO of Kansas State University's Olathe Campus
Jackie Spears, Ph.D., is the interim dean and CEO of K-State's Olathe campus, serving in the role since June 1, 2019.
Previously, she was the associate dean for academic affairs, a role she began in September 2018. In that role, she oversaw and guided the various degree programs, enrollment and recruitment efforts at the Olathe campus. Her priorities have been on strengthening the campus' existing academic programs in animal health, food safety and security; working closely with the Manhattan campus to provide access to students and industry in Greater Kansas City; and establishing partnerships with community, private and public colleges in the region as a way to further develop a pipeline to Kansas State University's degrees for students living and working in the metro region.
Spears also is a collaborator on a U.S. Department of Agriculture-backed project that helps high school teachers in Kansas and Missouri develop robust curricula and educational materials around biotechnology and animal health. The goal is to inspire and educate the next generation of talent who will work at the National Bio and Agro-defense Facility, or NBAF, in Manhattan and at other federal facilities and companies throughout the Kansas City Animal Health Corridor.
Spears has served in various roles at Kansas State University since 1985 and has been a part of the university's Olathe campus for most of its operations.
Spears first joined the Olathe campus in 2012, serving as interim associate dean for academic and research programs. In July 2013, she also was named acting CEO of the campus and served in both capacities until December 2013. Following these interim leadership roles in Olathe, Spears resumed her full-time roles at the Manhattan campus as a professor of curriculum and instruction and director of the Center for Science Education in the College of Education.
In January 2016, she once again joined the Olathe campus in a part-time role that focused on helping regional school districts and higher education strategically reform and improve STEM education so that students' knowledge and skills better translate to industry needs. She also worked with higher education on putting more emphasis on STEM-based bachelor's and master's degrees so that the universities can better meet the industry needs for an increasingly qualified workforce.
Throughout her tenure at Kansas State University, Spears has been a long serving member of the faculty senate.
Spears earned a bachelor's and master's degrees in physics, a doctorate in curriculum and instruction — all from Kansas State University.