50 for 50

Rick Lewis – Builder of a Fine English Department

Rick Lewis

Rick Lewis arrived as the new head of the English Department in 1972. In 2011 he retired--and is happy to report that in all those years between he never lost the joy of teaching and learning.

“Perhaps it was because of the wide, wonderful variety of students,” he offers. “In the same English class, an 18-year old who just earned a GED could be sitting next to a retired military colonel sitting next to a displaced factory worker. That’s the joy—and challenge—of being a Sandhills instructor.”

Professor Lewis, raised in West End, had been teaching at Pinecrest High School when the new Dean of Instruction, Harry Beard, hired him.

“I saw so many changes at Sandhills over the years, of course, including physical changes to the campus such as the impressive Boyd Library and Dempsey Student Center as well as the addition of many worthwhile academic and cultural programs,” Professor Lewis says. “Another change? When I started in the department, we had two typewriters but by the time I left, students were composing on computers.”

He describes a shift in the English department over the years, to meet emerging needs. “We started hiring faculty members with a talent for teaching writing, including technical writing,” he says. “Many students go on to careers where they must write proposals, reports and the like and Sandhills makes sure they have the skills they need.”

In 1987, Professor Lewis became the first Distance Learning Coordinator and in 2009 became the Dean of Humanities.

“Throughout my Sandhills years, I was keenly aware of the incredible support of staff people," he says. "One day when I arrived on campus, I counted that there were more than 50 people who had already been at work to make the classroom experience possible, from the person who unlocked the door to the financial counselor making sure students could attend classes. Nice thing is we all feel like family.”


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