Northwest Mississippi Community College President, Dr. Gary Lee Spears was recently named 2014 Alumnus of the Year for the School of Education at the University of Mississippi. At a ceremony held on May 9, Dr. David Rock, dean of The School of Education, presented Spears with the award.
“Dr. Spears is a champion of education,” Rock said. He commended Spears for Northwest’s online program being named one of the Best Online Universities and Community Colleges in America in 2013. Northwest was the only Mississippi college named on that list. “It is important for educators to react to the needs of students by making higher education available wherever they are,” Rock said.
Spears has served as the president of Northwest since 2005. He began his career at Northwest in 1975. He worked as an instructor, vocational counselor, assistant to the DeSoto Center director, vice president of Student Affairs and Registrar and director of Admissions and Records.
A native of Hernando, he earned an associate degree in education from Northwest and a bachelor’s in social science and master’s in counseling from Delta State University. Spears earned his doctorate in educational leadership from The University of Mississippi in 1991. He wrote a comprehensive history of Northwest for his doctoral dissertation. Spears taught courses in higher education at The University of Mississippi as an adjunct.
Spears is a member of the President’s Association of Mississippi Community and Junior Colleges and chairman of the committee that honors Phi Theta Kappa students. He is a Paul Harris fellow and past president of the Senatobia Rotary Club. Spears is also a former member of the Tate County Economic Development Foundation.
During his administration, the college has experienced growth in enrollment and has added several new programs to its list of available options for students. The college’s online programs have increased, and the college has grown physically as well, with renovations, additions and new construction taking place on all campuses.
Spears expressed appreciation to the School of Education for the award and the support he received when he was pursing his doctorate at Ole Miss. “I well remember the professors who took a special interest in me and who provided extraordinary support and instruction. It is with both gratitude to them and sincere humility that I accept this award, “ Spears said.
Spears and his wife, the former Marilyn Red, are the parents of two sons, Jared and Daniel. The Spears have two grandsons, Jack and Samuel, who are the children of Daniel and his wife Julie. They are active members of First Baptist Church in Senatobia.
For more information on Northwest, visit the college’s website at www.northwestms.edu.
Pictured: Northwest Mississippi Community College President, Dr. Gary Lee Spears, right, was recently named Alumnus of the Year for the School of Education at The University of Mississippi. Spears earned his doctorate in educational leadership from The University of Mississippi in 1991 and has served as president of Northwest since 2005. Dr. David Rock, dean of the Ole Miss School of Education, presented Spears with the award. (Photo by Sybil Canon)
Story by LaJuan Tallo, Communications Assistant