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 Adminstration

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


Dr. Nicole Hoekstra stands in front of Old Main wearing a magenta shirt and WWU award medallion

Nicole Hoekstra - Engineering & Design

Nicole Hoekstra is a professor in the Polymer Materials Engineering Program and will be retiring this June after 26 years in the Engineering and Design Department. She started her career at WWU after finishing graduate school and working in industry as a process and design engineer. Since her arrival she has served many roles, and mentoring undergraduate students has been the most rewarding. 
Even though Nicole received this award, there is a whole team in the Engineering and Design Department that contributes to the student experience, from their first term to graduation and beyond. Nicole’s favorite mentoring activities include teaching capstone senior project classes, advising industry-sponsored research projects that align with students’ career goals, organizing lab tours that showcase research and class projects, coordinating industry tours, hosting guest lectures by alums, and assisting graduates who are interviewing and negotiating offers. 

Past Awardees

1 awardee(s) for this year

2023 Awardees

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.