Longtime member of UAS English department passed away on March 22
By: Don Cecil, former English faculty
Jo Devine-Acres, a member of the UAS English department for more than 20 years, passed away on March 22 due to an inoperable brain tumor. She taught a wide variety of courses on the Juneau campus, but her specialty was expository writing. She served on many committees related to student writing, but she was most proud of her work related to UAS’s regional on writing assessment program. She was one of a handful of faculty in the late 1980s who researched writing assessment at other universities around the country and built a very successful lower-level student portfolio review program for UAS. During the program’s early portfolio reading sessions, it was obvious to some of us that Jo’s students overall were undertaking more complex writing tasks and carrying them out at a higher level, which immediately caused those of us with lower expectations for our students to “up” our expectations significantly—a major benefit of the program.
Those English faculty who knew Jo well will remember her as a steadfast champion of the community college mission and lower-division education. A prolific reader, she loved to expose her lower-division students to new and challenging ideas for the purpose of generating writing that allowed students to practice clear and independent thinking. Most of all, Jo was a dedicated and passionate colleague who loved to talk about teaching and who participated vigorously in the life of the department.
Although she was only 60 at the time of her death, Jo was fortunate to be able to enjoy several good years of retirement on Whidbey Island at her cabin, where she spent most of her time reading, gardening, and visiting with her grandchildren. She is survived by her husband, Greg Acres; her two sons, Bradley and Mason Leland; and her six grandchildren.