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A civic and corporate leader, Richard W. Spear’s commitment to improving education in the Commonwealth has impacted generations of Kentucky students. A native of Ashland, Ky., Spears joined Ashland Oil, Inc. as a staff attorney in 1964. He rose through the ranks from deputy counsel in 1975 to vice president in 1976 then administrative vice president in 1976 and senior vice president, law and human resources in 1980 until his retirement in 1992. Spears is a past president of the Boyd County Bar Association and a past member of The Conference Board’s Chief Administrative Officers’ Council. 

During his tenure with Ashland Oil, Spears spent a considerable amount of time promoting education in Kentucky as president of the board of Ashland Public Education, Inc. which raised significant moneys to enhance education at all levels in Kentucky. He served on the boards of Northern Kentucky University and Georgetown College, and is a University of Kentucky fellow. Through Spears’s leadership, Ashland Oil established the Ashland Inc. Legal Scholars Program that provides two needs-based full scholarships to students at the College of Law each year. They also established two Ashland Oil Professorships at the College of Law during Spear’s tenure.