People of the Year: Jeff Spires


Jeff Spires

Victoria Pino, Maroon-News Staff

Each year, The Colgate Maroon-News chooses a topic to highlight for a Special Edition. This December, our theme is “People of the Year,” modeled after Time Magazine’s annual “Person of the Year” issue. In this special section, we have profiled sixteen individuals who have had made significant—and perhaps lesser-known—impacts on Colgate’s campus this year, be they in the classroom, at the football field or even on the Cruiser. Inside, read about what defines them as worthy of recognition.

On the surface, Professor Spires is simply a Senior Lecturer in University Studies at our beloved Colgate University. Beneath the title and the 14 years of dedication to Colgate, he is so much more. The simple mentioning of his name to a group of students automatically spurs comments from both those who have had him as a professor, as well as those who have not, about how inspiring Professor Spires is.

Class with Professor Spires is a unique and unforgettable experience to say the least. Sophomore Michael Caron spoke about his experience in one of Spires’ classes.

“I don’t even know how to start. First things first, I can genuinely say that his class was both the hardest and most rewarding class of my freshman year, coming to Colgate from a high school with a heavy focus on lecture-based learning,” Caron said.

“Spires’ class was quite the reality check in terms of in-class discussion. Spires created an equal playing field with all of the students in his class, asking for the opinions of all rather than those who simply raised their hand. This way of teaching allowed me to hear and internally analyze the views of my peers, which helped me to shape my own beliefs.”

Professor Spires stated that this in and of itself is the most rewarding experience.

The day to day experience of seeing students being challenged and watching them rise up to meet the challenge is incredible. Honestly, watching students learn how to navigate the world is a really cool experience,” Spires said.

Spires added that his favorite part of working at Colgate is the quality of students and the priceless interactions he has with them in class as well as in office hours. He thoroughly enjoys bridging the gap between student and professor.

“Once students trust me and stop acting like what they think I want them to be, that is when they are completely themselves which is great,” he said.

Students often speak of Professor Spires’ helpful and kind nature.

“Professor Spires is really great. He took the time to figure out my entire schedule which took about 30 minutes, even though he was not my professor nor was he my advisor,” sophomore Kevin Porter said.

Spires utilizes the opportunity presented by Colgate’s size to maximize his interactions with students. Everyone is welcome into Spires’ office.

“I get paid to do my two favorite things: teaching and learning. This is my dream job,” Spires said.

Spires is not solely accessible for academic purposes, but also tells his students that he is always one call away no matter what the situation may be and no matter the time of day.

Professors have complete control over the presentation of material in their classroom and Spires maximizes this freedom unlike any other. He pushes each student to challenge themselves and push past their personal perspectives and biases in order to explore new ones, as well as to question their original stance.

“Spires taught me that there’s always more than two sides of every story, so we should hear the stories of others not commonly expressed to understand the struggles of other people instead of ignoring them. Only through putting yourself in both shoes can one make a decision, but only for themselves,” sophomore Andrew Jimenez said.

Spires does not shy away from the societally deemed “taboo” topics, but rather embraces them. “Professor Spires is one of the most thought-provoking, entertaining and intelligent professors I’ve ever had. I was legitimately excited to attend his class each day because I knew I would find myself in an engaging discussion regarding some of the most controversial topics in our society today,” sophomore Ellie Kucera said.

Spires expressed that the most significant moment he had on this campus was in 2013 when his father passed away suddenly and there was a complete outpour of love from the students.

“Every student was incredibly involved,” Spires said.

Spires is loved both inside and outside of the classroom, leaving every student hungry to learn more and continually challenging themselves to understand new perspectives. He is an integral part of the Colgate experience.

Contact Victoria Pino at [email protected]