Douglas Lewis honored with Emeritus Faculty Award

Yakima Valley College is pleased to honor Douglas Lewis with the 2024 Emeritus Faculty Award. First presented in 1981, this award recognizes retired and retiring faculty who served at least 10 years of full-time employment at the college. A committee overseen by the President’s Office makes the selection from nominations submitted by students, faculty, staff and community members.

Lewis earned his bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Washington State University (WSU). Initially not considering a career in teaching, his future course was shaped by his experiences at WSU.

“I started tutoring a student in math to make money while in college,” says Lewis. “That student went from doing poorly to getting an A, and it felt great. Just to see that happen and to see the light go on for him made a big impact on me. I started tutoring more students and they ended up having a lot of success and it was really fun to see. [I thought] ‘I should do this.’”

Lewis continued to hone his teaching skills at WSU and tutored more students, helping them develop their own love of mathematics.

He started teaching at YVC part-time in 1986 while also teaching part-time at Davis High School. After completing a master’s degree at Central Washington University, he began teaching full-time at Davis for a few more years and continued part-time at the college. In 1992 he was hired full-time at Yakima Valley College and continued in the role for more than 30 years.

“Doug’s dedication to students was clear to faculty in the math department and outside it,” said Biology Instructor Claire Carpenter. “His classes and his attitude towards teaching were intensely student focused — he perpetually asked himself and others — ‘what can be done to increase student understanding and success?’.”

Throughout his career Lewis taught a variety of math courses, everything from developmental courses to advanced calculus. He was also instrumental in helping reimagine the Math Center to be a more inclusive and welcoming space for students and spent several years as director of the center.

In addition, along with his colleagues, Lewis helped revamp the math curriculum to help promote student success.    

“Doug dedicated countless extra hours to meet with students. And his friendly demeanor made it easier for students to approach him with questions,” said Biology Instructor Matthew Loeser. “He was active in changing his teaching practices to be more effective for our student population. During the ESCALA professional development series, Doug was a great leader among his colleagues and eagerly shared ideas on how he was improving his own classroom.”

Over the course of his career, he was also active outside the classroom serving in a variety of roles with initiatives like campus recycling and club advising. He also helped plan and support the annual Yakima Valley Math Olympiad. For Lewis, these experiences helped him build connections with students, something that made all the difference.

“Making connections with students and building relationships that have lasted a long time is probably the most significant thing that I was involved with during my time at YVC. It was wonderful to be part of a student-centered department and I had so many great colleagues,” continued Lewis.  

Now retired, Lewis is focusing his time on making art, rock climbing, swimming and spending time with his grandkids. A large portion of his time recently has been spent helping the Yakima Valley Artists Association and Yakima Coffeehouse Poets put together an art and poetry show that will be held in the Larson Gallery in January 2025. The show will feature art, in a variety of media, inspired by the work of poets in the Yakima area. The goal is also to have submissions from YVC faculty, staff and students.  

The emeritus rank provides use of the library and participation in academic, social and other functions. The Emeritus Faculty Award will be presented during YVC’s Commencement ceremony on June 14.

Press Release Contacts:
Dustin Wunderlich / 509.574.6870 /
Stefanie Menard / 509.574.4646 /