Walter R. Jacobs is the Dean of the College of Social Sciences at San José State University, and a professor of sociology. From July 2013 through June 2015 he was the Founding Dean of the College of Social Sciences & Professional Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside. Prior to joining UW-Parkside he was on the faculty of the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities for 14 years, including five years as the Chair of the Department of African American & African Studies (2007-2012). He received his B.S. degree in electrical engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology (1990), and his M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in sociology from Indiana University-Bloomington (1995, 1999). He has received department, college, and university awards for undergraduate teaching.
Jacobs is the author of Speaking the Lower Frequencies: Students and Media Literacy (State University of New York Press, 2005), is co-editor (with Jeffrey Di Leo) of If Classrooms Matter: Progressive Visions of Educational Environments (Routledge, 2004), and the author of Ghostbox: A Memoir (iUniverse, 2007). He has published 25 journal articles and book chapters, and co-edited a special issue of the journal Symploke. His current research explores personal and social possibilities of undergraduate students’ generation of creative digital nonfiction; an article he co-published about digital storytelling in the online journal Seminar.net provides a good overview (http://z.umn.edu/seminarnet). He is a member of the Board of Directors for StoryCenter [formerly known as the Center for Digital Storytelling], a founding organization in the global digital storytelling movement that uses innovative story development practices and participatory media methods to support people in sharing personal narratives rooted in their own life experiences.
Jacobs is deeply invested in higher education leadership mentoring activities. He is on the Board of Directors for the Council of Colleges of Arts and Sciences (CCAS), a professional organization for university deans. He was the Co-Director of the July 2015 CCAS Seminar for Department Chairs/Heads, and Director of the October 2015 CCAS Seminar for Department Chairs/Heads. He meets monthly with new faculty in the San José State College of Social Sciences to provide mentoring, and also meets monthly with new department chairs to make sure that they are becoming experts in their new roles. During the 2016-2017 academic year he co-directed the San José State University Deans’ Leadership Academy, in which faculty explore leadership opportunities, informal as well as formal.
From 2013 to 2019 Jacobs maintained a blog about leading a social science college (http://thesocietypages.org/newdean/). He occasionally tweets as @wrjacobs.
Jacobs is a fan of college women’s basketball and college men’s football. Another of his non-academic passions is science fiction movies and television. He has hosted informal discussions of The X-Files, and currently encourages everyone he meets to watch The Expanse.
Jacobs lives in Oakland, CA, with his wife Valerie Minor, a management consultant.