Madison College’s Dr. Howard Spearman
Holistic Collegiate Approach
For the past 21 years, Dr. Howard Spearman, vice-president
of student affairs at Madison College,
has devoted his life to
helping students graduate from post-secondary academic
institutions
Part 1 of 2

By Jonathan Gramling

Dr. Howard Spearman is just the kind of person you would want as a vice-president of Student
Affairs: informed, intelligent and personable. Spearman, who started at Madison College as its VP
of Student Affairs on January 22nd, grew up in Beloit, Wisconsin and is a proud alum of Beloit
Memorial High School and the Purple Knights. From there, he headed to UW-Oshkosh.

“I graduated with a human services degree or bachelor of science in human service,” Spearman
said. “I worked at Oshkosh for several years. During the time that I worked there, I also earned a
master’s degree from UW-Oshkosh in student affairs and college counseling. After leaving there, I
went to UW-Milwaukee and worked there for several years. And while working at UWM, I attended
Cardinal Stritch University to earn my Ph.D. Professionally, I have 21 years of higher education
experience, basically student affairs from pre-college programs to multicultural programs to
academic advising and enrollment management overall.”
In some ways, Spearman is that “invisible” background presence that is always watching, always analyzing, always trying to make sure that all students graduate
through collaboration with other Madison College units and through the implementation of services and programs.

Spearman has responsibilities that extend to several Madison College campuses. There are about 10 staff who report directly to him and approximately 400 within
his department.

The number one objective is to help the student believe they belong and they can graduate.

“The whole idea is that every student should feel comfortable identifying on campus and feeling that they can be successful on campus,” Spearman said. “My job is
to figure out ways that we can do that and help the large group of students be successful, feel they have their own identity, feel confident in the classrooms, and see
themselves being successful. And then if we can figure out how to do that, as a team, then how do we scale that up, how do we consistently do that? I have a team
whose duties range from recruitment to graduation ceremonies to help the students succeed every day on campus so they can continue to grow and build and find
success even to the point where those who go through career and employment services, we help them land positions or internships as well.”

While every department or unit has their own defined area of work, the missions of those units often overlap and are dependent on each other. And so Student
Services interfaces with most other units in Madison College.

“We do influence what goes on in the classroom,” Spearman said. “We advocate for the students or we are coaching the students on how they should act as a
college student. We work with faculty and the learner success, which is academic affairs, on what is the appropriate way to grow out student engagement. When we
think about a program, we think holistically. I don’t think I develop programming just for student affairs. Before you really implement that program, you have to vet
and think through how this program or initiative impacts a student throughout campus regardless. So then you talk to others about it. You make sure, as much as
possible, that everyone is on the same page because we all work with that same student. How do you accurately refer a student to the right resources if you don’t
know them? You want to make sure that faculty members are informed about those resources and that they are comfortable accurately referring students when that
student confides in that faculty member because that is whom they see on a regular basis. And it is vice versa. If a student is struggling in the classroom and doesn’
t want to share with a faculty member, they may share with an academic advisor. The academic advisor has to provide adequate resources and accurate referrals
to say, ‘Hey, this is how we can help you succeed. Go to this faculty member’s office hours and ask these questions.’ From that, we know that these certain
questions will prompt that faculty member to help that student get comfortable with maybe study habits and study skills and other areas to help them be successful
in the classroom.”