Jack Staggs

Professor Emeritus Provides Gift Of Equipment To Education

Jack Staggs was class valedictorian and a member of the honor society. Like so many of his generation, he also served his country during World War II in the South Pacific.

During his time in the service, Staggs realized not everyone enjoyed a high school education.

"When I was in high school, I associated with the top students," he said. "I didn't know about these kids who were dropping out of school. I had my eyes opened in the military."

It was in the military, working with enlisted men who were high school dropouts, that Staggs decided to become a teacher. This fascination with educating led him to get his teaching certificate at Central Arkansas University.

He taught math for a few years while working on his master's degree. In 1949 he completed his doctorate at the University of Houston in educational leadership and counseling.

In October 1959, while giving a speech for the Texas Personnel and Guidance Association Meeting in San Antonio, he met Elliott T. Bowers, the student union director at SHSU at the time. After the speech, Bowers approached Staggs, asking him to come to Sam Houston, and though he initially declined, he was eventually persuaded to join the SHSU faculty.

During his 34 years at SHSU, Staggs served as director of the education department, later combining developmental psychology with the department and eventually developing the program from two courses into its own separate department.

He helped transform the education department from a 12-member faculty to a 40-member faculty. Staggs also helped create the campus Counseling Center and began teaching in counselor education. He retired in 1992 and shortly after was named professor emeritus.

While working with Kappa Delta Pi, the undergraduate honor society in education, he was approached about having a scholarship created in his name. Through his and other contributions, the Jack Staggs Kappa Delta Pi scholarship is given annually to several students.

"I wasn't interested in anything being in my name, but the Kappa Delta Pi people said ‘yes', so that's all right," he said.

With his efforts and contributions, Staggs has helped create the Valine Hobbs Elementary Education Scholarship, Mozelle Powell Spanish Endowed Scholarship and the Jesse A. Lewis Reading Scholarship.

"When we started the doctoral program here, I decided it would be wise to give an award to the best dissertation every year (because) that's quite an effort to do a dissertation," he said. "So I established an endowment that awards a plaque, puts the recipient's name on the wall and gives them a $1,000 check. We also have a reception for the recipient."

Recently, Staggs donated more than $50,000 for audio-visual equipment for the counseling doctoral program.

According to College of Education Dean Genevieve Brown, the equipment allows counseling faculty to observe masters and doctoral students who provide free counseling to people in the community as an outreach program.

"It is really state-of-the-art equipment," Brown said. "We're just real excited about it.; it's going to be so beneficial to our programs."

Staggs volunteered to donate money for the equipment, which includes such things as cameras and recording devices in the recently built practicum clinic and provided the clinic with the "latest specifications for use in a counseling clinic setting."

"We wouldn't have been able to do it without the donation," Brown said. "It was critical to the program, and it was such a wonderful gift."

Because of their generosity, the clinic, which will be operational in the fall of 2004, will be named after Staggs and his wife, Kathleen.