Outstanding Faculty Mentor Award

Each year, The Foundation for WWU & Alumni requests nominations from WWU alumni for the current or retired Western faculty member who has made an enduring impact on their lives as a student and professional.

Selection Criteria

  • Candidates may be current or retired WWU faculty members.
  • Visiting faculty are not eligible.


The award recipient will be presented with a Western medallion award at the Celebration of Excellence Awards in May.

Award Administration

If you have questions about this award, please contact The Foundation for WWU & Alumni at forwestern@wwu.edu.

Nomination Process

A “call for nominations” email is sent to all alumni in the WWU alumni database in the fall, inviting them to submit the name of a faculty member who made an impact on their life as a student and describe in detail why that person deserves this distinguished recognition. 

Nominations for the 2024 have CLOSED! Thank you to all the alumni who took the time to nominate a faculty member for this award!

Additional Information


Professor Harris with a thoughful smile wearing an collared shirt and v-neck sweater and a WWU award medallion on a neck ribbon

Lyle Harris - Journalism (Retired)

Journalism Professor Emeritus Lyle Harris Sr. had the pleasure of teaching on the WWU journalism faculty from 1976 until retirement in 2005. His high expectations of student journalists, combined with unwavering patience and encouragement, continue to inspire a generation of WWU journalism graduates. 

“Lyle Harris changed the course of my life when he wrote on my end-of-quarter paper ‘You’re really good at this. Keep at it!’” one alum wrote. “I’m now 20 years into a journalism career where I feel like I make a difference in the world every day. I thank Lyle for inspiring and motivating me while I was in school. Every student should be so lucky to have a Lyle in their lives.”

Harris was a professional journalist before coming to Western, working for United Press International and the Evening Star in Washington, D.C. He completed his Ph.D. at the University of Missouri and was a fellow at the Washington Journalism Center. While teaching at Western, Harris was also a public speaker and expert witness on First Amendment issues. 
After retiring from Western, Harris continued to be involved with campus classes and leading teaching abroad programs. He and his wife Betty will soon celebrate their 59th anniversary. They raised three sons, Lyle Jr., Jack and Nicholas. Nicholas passed away in 2019 from complications relating to MS. They have two grandsons, Sam Harris and Coleman Harris.

Past Awardees

1 awardee(s) for this year

2022 Awardees

Wayne Landis wearing WWU award medallion

Wayne Landis - Institute of Environmental Toxicology & Chemistry

Wayne Landis served as Director of the Institute of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry from September 1989 until December 2021. He is now a Research Professor within the Institute that is part of the now College of the Environment. He graduated with a BA in Biology from Wake Forest University and his MA and Ph. D. in Zoology from Indiana University. His first research position was as a Research Biologist, Toxicologist for the Chemical Research and Engineering Center of the US Army at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland. At WWU his research and teaching focused on toxicology, population biology and risk assessment. Since arriving at WWU, his group has published over 140 papers and books, most with students as coauthors and many with undergraduate or graduate student first authors. He also taught three Honors courses on the history of the formulation of Evolution by natural selection and the scientific and cultural impacts of synthetic biology brought about by CRISPR technology. Since 1990 he has been a regular at the Noontime Basketball Association at Carver (now at the Rec Center) and enjoys flying light aircraft. When he got the announcement of the Outstanding Faculty Mentor Award he could not think of a better recognition from Western.