Wayne Community College has recognized an outstanding instructor with its highest faculty honor.
Dr. Dean Lawson, a history instructor, is the recipient of the college’s 2021 George E. Wilson Excellence in Teaching Award.
Lawson began his own higher education journey at Wayne Community College. He went on to earn a bachelor’s and a master’s degree from East Carolina University and a doctoral degree from The University of Alabama, all in history.
Lawson began teaching at WCC in the fall 2015 semester. Prior to that he worked in both grade school and university settings.
Faculty, staff, and students contributed to Lawson’s nomination for the award. A committee of community leaders was tasked with selecting a recipient who demonstrates the highest standards of teaching.
Citing how Lawson “interacts with students as both an instructor and as a guide,” Humanities, Social Sciences, and Fine Arts Department Chair Christine Nicodemus said she could not help but be impressed by him.
“Dr. Lawson touches students’ lives in more ways than ‘just’ as an instructor. He helps them develop holistically into lifelong learners who will hopefully pass their passions on to future WCC students and community members,” Nicodemus said.
“I have witnessed Dr. Lawson take time out of his busy schedule to talk to his students and further discuss his class. I’ve also noted him giving life lessons or offering to tutor when extra help is needed. He does this graciously and without rushing the student. He truly is dedicated to their wellbeing. I have also seen him simply chat with his students or even play the guitar with his students,” said Art Instructor Angie Waller.
“Dr. Lawson would use humor to help us remember different topics, which I loved because the jokes would be history based, keeping in line with what we were learning. I found this helped me to remember information during tests,” said Sadie Lassiter, a student who took his World Civilizations II course. “While covering heavier topics within the course period, he never made light of the situation and was very honest about how it affected people at the time as well as its effects on people today.”
“His overall authenticity and open discussion engaged my entire class to fully listen during his lectures, which helped us soak in the knowledge,” Lassiter said.
In addition to a full course load of six classes and his advising responsibilities, Lawson contributes to campus activities such as Constitution Day lectures and Martin Luther King Jr. Day panel discussions and co-coordinates a study abroad effort. The program has taken WCC students, employees, and stakeholders to Italy and Spain and will take travelers on an excursion to London, Paris, and Amsterdam in 2022.
“The amount of time and energy he dedicates to ensure that students in our relatively small, rural community are able to experience the world is truly excellent and unselfish,” Nicodemus said. “WCC is very fortunate to have such a dedicated instructor in our midst!”
“Clearly, he is admired, loved, and deserving of this award,” said WCC President Thomas Walker in announcing the award.
Lawson was presented a framed certificate and stipend from the Foundation of Wayne Community College. The designation makes him Wayne Community College’s nominee for the 2022 Excellence in Teaching Award given by the State Board of Community Colleges.
He also will be recognized with an Excellence Award from the National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development and the Dale P. Parnell Distinguished Faculty designation by the American Association of Community Colleges. Both organizations hold special events at their annual conferences at which they honor recipients.
This is the 36th year that the award has been presented. It was established with the Foundation of Wayne Community College by an anonymous donor to honor the late George E. Wilson. Wilson was known for his service to others and his contributions as a WCC trustee and civic leader in Wayne County and the state.