Bill Jacobks, longtime instructor of history and government at MCC, and Carlo Spataro, who shaped MCC’s new Speech and Theater Program in the mid-1960s and served as its guiding force for many of his 44 years on campus, were recognized with Distinguished Faculty Awards by the MCC Board of Trustees in April.
Both were formally recognized in Collegiate Hall – Spataro on Aug. 19 and Jacobks on Aug . 20 – by MCC faculty, staff and friends for receiving the highest tribute given to an MCC faculty member by the College. Their portraits will hang in the College’s Blue and Gold Room.
A native of Chicago, IL, Jacobks taught at MCC from 1987 until his retirement in 2010. He created the first courses in Women’s Studies, World History, and World Religions at MCC. Together with Richard Ford, an MCC colleague, he co-hosted “Variations on Themes: Great Books of the Twentieth Century” for a decade on MCC TV.
During his MCC tenure, Jacobks twice chaired the Social Studies Department. He was instrumental in hiring many faculty members, including Jay Zarowitz, Sherri DeBouf-Chandler, Kurt Troutman, Papa N’jai, and Angela Spaniolo-DePouw.
Jacobks was an advocate for positive change, a faculty leader, and an enthusiastic teacher who brought history to life in his classroom. In 2007, he devoted his summer vacation as a volunteer teaching English to fifth, sixth and seventh grade students in Chiang Rai, Thailand.
He earned a bachelor’s degree in history from DePaul University and three master’s degrees: an M.A. in History and an M.A. in Government from the University of Texas at Austin, and a Master of Liberal Arts from St. John’s College in Sante Fe, NM. He earned a community college teaching certificate from the University of Texas.
Prior to coming to MCC, Jacobsk taught history and government at Austin (Texas) Community College.
He and his wife, Peggy, who was the assistant director of financial aid at MCC for over 20 years, reside in the area. He volunteers at the USS Silversides Museum, where he provides information for museum exhibits and catalogs books. In retirement, he continues his decades-long work on “Culture and Consciousness,” a subject area dealing with the connection between neuroscience, history and culture.
The indefatigable Albany, N.Y. native retired in January 2010 after having directed more than 100 plays in Overbrook Theater, including the very first one. He served as a humanities instructor in his later years.
A former elementary teacher who earned his bachelor’s degree in education from State University of New York College at Cortland, Spataro loved bringing theater to younger audiences. From 1963-65, he directed Monroe (Mich.) High School students in cutting edge shows. At MCC, he annually produced one play primarily targeted to elementary student audiences. His MCC students toured and performed in the Upper Peninsula at the invitation of school superintendents there.
Spataro earned a master’s degree in speech and theater from Purdue University and a Ph.D. in theater from Michigan State University.
In 1965, MCC hired him to transform theater from an extracurricular activity to become a part of the curriculum as a combination of speech and theater. His arrival coincided with the construction of the current MCC campus. Spataro ranks his input into the design of Overbrook Theater, which opened in 1969, among his notable accomplishments at MCC.
MCC’s participation in the American College Theater Festival (ACTF) and the College’s willingness to produce original plays were other Spataro career milestones. For decades, MCC was only one of two community colleges in the region – which encompassed Michigan, Pennsylvania and parts of Ohio and Indiana – to participate in the ACTF competitions, which encouraged producing new plays.
He inspired many MCC students to pursue careers in theater. Some became theatrical directors, designers and performers in the local communities, while others made their artistic mark nationally.