Mass comm prof wins top faculty award

Cooper Miller

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Mitzi Lewis, an assistant professor in mass communication, received the Faculty Award at graduation in December of 2013.

Mitzi Lewis, an assistant professor in mass communication, received the Faculty Award at graduation in December of 2013.

Just based on first impressions, Mitzi Lewis, an assistant professor of mass communication, comes across as modest and shy. Her office is filled with memorabilia and books. Lots of books on all aspects of social media, the Internet and design. But after half-an-hour of discussion, it wasn’t her work in social media, blogs or curriculum that stood out as unique and different. It was her work as a bartender in New Mexico.

“I used to be so shy and introverted,” she said. “It was very hard for me to talk to people and what broke me of that I think was repeated exposure and (being in) situations that I felt uncomfortable in. But working at a bar, bartending, you cannot survive if you cannot hold a conversation with someone and be completely awkward and totally uncomfortable.”

Now, Lewis, teaches, among other courses, speech communication, and was the recipient of the 2013 Faculty Award.

“I was surprised and really shocked and humbled,” she said of winning the award, beating out Sheldon Wang, chair of the McCoy School of Engineering. “He’s a nice colleague, and he seems to be really focused on students. It was quite an honor to even be among the people who were nominated.”

Janis Salter, assistant to the dean in the College of Fine Arts, said, “She’s one of my very favorite people up here. She’s so efficient and on time with everything. She’s friendly and has a good relationship with her students.”

Lewis said the top-notch, student-focused faculty and small size of the department give students more opportunity to get involved.

“I love that MSU is a smaller school, a liberal arts school,” she said, “My colleagues in this department are very fun and smart, and I learn from them all the time.”

Kayla Sims, a junior in mass communication, said, “She is very helpful, and she’s always there to ask questions. She keeps the class together and focused.”

Dinalee Peterson, a senior in mass communication, said, “She has a positive attitude, and I rarely see her angry.”

She said her interest in mass communication didn’t start until she was in college at the University of New Mexico. Originally, she said she wanted to be an engineer, like her father. But then one of her professors, John Condon, who taught multicultural communication, influenced her change.

“Once I started doing (engineering), I realized it wasn’t for me. For a while I thought I was going to be a musician. I love music,” she said, preferring to play classical music to her husband’s preference, rock.

She has been teaching at MWSU since 2008 and received her doctoral degree in communication from the University of North Texas.

But in addition to her personal research, her work with undergraduate research at MWSU and her other service to the university, Lewis said she loves to travel. As a child in a military family, she traveled a lot and has lived in Alaska, where she was born (“I thought I was an Eskimo until I was 10.”), New Hampshire, Mississippi and Germany.

She said she appreciated any chance to travel “and experience other places, other people, other cultures (that’s a lot of fun) and see new things.”

In addition to travel, she said her family, including her husband of more than 18 years and two dogs, both rescued in Henrietta, that seemed more like children than pets.

“Why buy a dog when there’s one that needs a home?”

One, a fluffy mix that looks like a collie. The other, like a greyhound.

“They are just goofy rescue dogs,” she said. “A dog loves you no matter what.”




The Faculty Award is an award given by the faculty to a full-time faculty member for teaching excellence and service to the university.

1976-77 | Dr. Arthur F. Beyer | Botany
1977-78 | Dr. Harlan J. Steph | Education
1978-79 | Dr. Robert E. Clark | Sociology
1979-80 | Dr. F. Robert Madera |  Accounting
1980-81 | Billy C. Brackeen | Engineering
1981-82 | Dr. O. Emerson Capps | Education
1982-83 | Dr. Norman V. Horner | Biology
1983-84 | Dr. William E. Hinds | Math
1984-85 | Dr. Emily E. LaBeff | Sociology
1985-86 | Nancy A. Scott | Biology
1986-87 | Dr. John W. Meux | Mathematics
1987-88 | Dr. Michael J. Flavin | Political science
1988-89 | Dr. Sherry Gillespie | Physical education
1989-90 | Dr. Donald Maxwell | Music
1990-91 | Dr. Charles D. Ramser | Management
1991-92 | Dr. Ranette Halverson | Computer science
1992-93 | Dr. Frederick B. Stangl, Jr. | Biology
1993-94 | Dr. Jefferson H. Campbell | English
1994-95 | Dr. Robert G. Welch | Chemistry
1995-96 | Richard P. Simpson | Computer science
1996-97 | Diane M. Spiller | Math
1997-98 | Dr. Martha M. Harvey | Business
1998-99 | Dr. John V. Grimes | Biology
1999-2000 | Dr. Henry Van Geem | Finance
2000-01 | Dr. Stewart Carpenter | Computer science
2001-02 | Sandra Church | Nursing
2002-03 | Dr. Michaelle Kitchen | Counseling
2003-04 | Dr. Nelson Passos | Computer science
2004-05 | Dr. Yoshikazu Fukasawa | Business
2005-06 | Dr. John E. Martinez | Business
2006-07 | Dr. Harry P. Hewitt | History
2007-08 | Donald F. Henschel, Jr. | Theater
2008-09 | Dr. Ruth Morrow | Music
2009-10 | Dr. Beverly Stiles | Sociology
2010-11 | Dr. Sally Henschel | English
2011-12 | Dr. Stuart McClintock | French
2012-13 | Catherine Stringfellow | Computer science
2013-14 | Dr. Mitzi Lewis | Mass communication


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