Dr. Julia Spears

Assistant Provost of Online Education & Certification
Old Main 200


Julia M. Spears, Ph.D., is the Assistant Provost of Online Education and Certification. She has oversight for online education, the Design Center, microcredentials and certification. She is the campus coordinator for Quality Matters (QM), State Authorization Network (SAN) and the WV Higher Education Policy Commission Virtual Learning Network (WVVLN). She also serves on the Strategic Enrollment Management committee. As a Certified Practitioner of Human-Centered Design, she will use design thinking strategies to shape the future direction of Marshall’s online programs.

Dr. Spears came to Marshall in 2022 from the University of Pittsburgh where she was the Associate Vice Provost for Academic Innovation. In this role, she was responsible for developing and executing the Personalized Education Initiative in the Office of the Provost which focused on building infrastructure to connect students with the tools, information and resources they need to “forge their own path.” Working with the Office of the Chancellor, she redesigned the Pitt Seed program to strengthen collaboration and innovation across the institution. She also leads a national community of practice of academic advisors for the Association of Undergraduate Education at Research Universities (UERU). From 2015-2017, Dr. Spears served as associate director of the Barger Leadership Institute at the University of Michigan focused on developing leaders through real-world projects. She also launched the Michigan Leadership Collaborative to connect leadership resources and programs. Prior to that, Dr. Spears held the position of associate vice provost for engaged learning at Northern Illinois University, a position she was promoted to after serving as the founding director of the Office of Student Engagement and Experiential Learning. She had broad oversight of undergraduate research, community engagement and learning community programs. She also served as the NSSE campus coordinator. From 2003-2009, Dr. Spears served in various roles at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. She launched the Research Rookies program, directed the McNair Scholars and SUIC Illinois Louise Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation.

Dr. Spears has published in the National Resource Center for the First-Year Experience & Students in Transition, Education Research International, and Learning Communities Research and Practice. Dr. Spears has a PhD in educational administration and higher education from Southern Illinois University; a Master of Public Administration from California State University, Long Beach; and a Bachelor of Arts in sociology and speech communication from the University of Washington.