Dr. Gladys S. Lewis, University of Central Oklahoma
2012 Oklahoma Medal for Excellence in Teaching at a Regional University/Community College
The recipient of the Oklahoma Medal for Excellence in Teaching at a Regional University/Community College is Dr. Gladys S. Lewis, professor of English at the University of Central Oklahoma in Edmond. Lewis, whose teaching career spans 49 years, has earned every major teaching award offered by the university and has inspired and mentored many students to pursue professional careers in academia.
“Dr. Lewis’s courses in the areas of British and American literature are among the most demanding and most successful in our department, and she is by far the most popular and effective director of master’s theses on our faculty,” said Department Chair David Macey.
Former student Dr. Lisa Niles, now an assistant professor of English at Spelman College, recalls how Lewis met weekly with her as a graduate student and provided a model for conducting research that Niles uses to this day. “I attribute the success I achieved in my doctoral program (at Vanderbilt) and in my subsequent career as an English professor directly to Professor Lewis’s rigorous training.” Lewis has a deep love for literature and “shamelessly recruits any and all who will travel with (her) in pursuit of this knowledge.”
She enjoys helping students discover connections between ancient and classic literature and modern movies, television and politics. To help students connect to literature, she has worn safari clothing to teach Ernest Hemingway’s “The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber,” invited her 19th-century British literature students to her home for a “Victorian Saturday,” and worn a Darth Vader mask to discuss Herman Melville’s “Billy Budd.”
“Dr. Lewis unabashedly reaches through the walls between student understanding and professorly wisdom to mine those teachable moments,” said former student Mischelle Anthony, who now teaches at Wilkes University. “She teaches students how the language of the scholar intersects with and enriches our humanity.”