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Head of Kansas Masonic Literacy Center Selected

January 23, 2017

Dr. Dennis J. Kear has been named the executive director of the Kansas Masonic Literacy Center.

Masons across the state of Kansas partnered with Emporia State University to create the Kansas Masonic Literary Center (KMLC) on the Emporia State campus. The initiative was publicly announced in March 2016. Kear will begin his duties on January 30.

“I am thrilled and honored to be named the executive director,” Kear said. “The KMLC will focus on collaborating with schools, teachers, families and organizations to strengthen the promotion of literacy learning for all Kansans. I am deeply grateful to the Masons of Kansas and the Kansas Masonic Foundation for their vision to create and fund the center.”

The $4 million gift from the Masons of Kansas to create the state-wide literacy center was the largest gift in the history of Emporia State. The goal of the gift is to impact all Kansans and allows the nearly 20,000 members of the Masons in the state to help facilitate literacy programming in local communities. 

Kear began his career in education as an elementary classroom teacher in Kansas. He served as a professor and associate dean at Wichita State University, and was appointed as the dean of the college of education at Missouri State University from 2008-2012.

“He is a teacher, professor, department chair, dean, and career scholar in literacy. He is well known across Kansas for his tireless advocacy of literacy,” said Dr. Ken Weaver, Dean of The Teachers College at Emporia State. “His leadership is exactly what is needed to launch the KMLC on its way to fulfilling its mission of providing service and support to learners from birth through adulthood throughout the state of Kansas in the area of literacy.”

Kear earned two degrees from Emporia State — a bachelor’s degree in education in 1970 and a master’s in elementary education/reading in 1975 — before completing his Ph.D. in elementary education/reading at Arizona State University in 1978. He wrote and co-wrote books and numerous articles published in professional journals, and wrote curriculum and instructional materials for students.

“Dr. Dennis Kear possesses a breadth and depth of literacy and administrative experiences. His professional expertise and well-honed personal attributes will allow him to be successful in this endeavor,” said Dr. Roger Caswell, chair of the search committee for the KMLC chief. “Dr. Kear firmly believes in the five guiding principles of the KMLC — family & culture, social interactions, developmentally appropriate, learning experiences and research — and believes these principles should remain at the forefront of decisions."

Kear served as the president of the Kansas Reading Association, the president of the Kansas Reading Professionals in Higher Education, chair of the review panel for the National Assessment for Educational Progress 2009 Reading Framework and director of the South Central Kansas Writing Project. He was also the director of the Institute for School Improvement at Missouri State University, which completed collaborative research with southwest Missouri school districts. 

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