William R. Speer

  • 2018 Lifetime Achievement Award Recipient

    William Renwick Speer

    Henderson, Nevada

    Dr. William Speer has spent most of his life working to improve mathematics education in more than fifteen different roles over the years at institutions across the country. He is known for his tireless efforts and contributions to advancements within the field. He received two Fulbright Awards, to the Bahamas and to England, and has spoken or consulted in thirty-six countries on six continents.

    A former student and eventual colleague recounted the first time he met Speer during his time as an associate professor of mathematics at Bowling Green State University in Ohio:

    “Even in 1980, he was already well known on the campus for being innovative and inspirational-the type of teacher that influenced his students to think differently about what it means to be a mathematics teacher. It was many years before I had fully appreciated how far ahead of his time he was in the teaching methods he promoted-hands on, inquiry-based, student centered-all of the teaching strategies that research backs today.”

    Speer has played several roles in the development and publishing of key mathematics standards and materials alongside the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM). From helping to create NCTM's Professional Standards for Teaching Mathematics as a member of the writing team in 1991 to serving as the editor of the IDEAS section for Arithmetic Teacher and editor of the INVESTIGATIONS section of Teaching Children Mathematics to serving as the general editor for the final series of NCTM Yearbooks, Speer has undoubtedly made contributions that benefit both NCTM and the broader field.

    It is no surprise that he has been the recipient of numerous awards over his years of commitment to mathematics, including Outstanding Service in Math Education Awards from both the Ohio Council and the Nevada Council; the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Distinguished Teaching Award; the Distinguished BS Alum of Northern Illinois University College of Liberal Arts and Sciences; and most recently, the Distinguished PhD Alum of Kent State University Award. He has also served on more than 40 research projects; has published a textbook with a lifespan of 12 editions and numerous other scholarly books or chapters; and has been a speaker on more than 700 occasions.

    Dr. Speer is a past president of several professional organizations, including the Research Council on Mathematics Learning, the School Science and Mathematics Association, the Ohio Council of Teachers of Mathematics, the Ohio Mathematics Education Leadership Council, the Nevada Mathematics Council (two terms), and the Nevada Association of Teacher Educators (two terms). 

    Speer is currently a mathematics professor and Founder/Director of the UNLV Mathematics Learning Center at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, where he continues to make an impact on everyone he encounters through transition, retention, progression, and degree-completion initiatives.

    “Dr. Speer can always be counted on to step in and be a part of any task that will help the Nevada Department of Education further its mission and the goal of the ALL Students College and Career Ready by Graduation [initiative],” said a nominator and current colleague. “We are proud that Dr. Speer represents Nevada on a state and national basis.”

    Speer holds a PhD in Curriculum, Instruction, and Supervision from Kent State University, and both an MS Ed in Secondary Education and a BS in Mathematics from Northern Illinois University. Now in his forty-eighth year of teaching, he has amassed classroom experience at each level and inspires those around him while continuing to influence and motivate both students and colleagues with the trajectory he set in motion many years ago.